Momlogic's Julie: It started like any other lazy Sunday. The kids woke up before 7 (why, God, WHY?), and we were sitting down to a breakfast of chocolate chip waffles when my daughter said it...
"Mommy, my head itches."
Hmm. I thought maybe she had dandruff. I mentally made a note to add Head and Shoulders to the grocery list. But then she said it again: "It REALLY itches."
I took a look at her scalp and there they were ... brown little bugs crawling around. I shrieked. LICE!
In my eight years of motherhood, I've never experienced lice. Yes, there have been many notes sent home from preschool and elementary school saying my children's class had been exposed, but we had dodged the bullet up til now. Payback time.
Here is my diary of the next 24 hours:
10:00 AM Discover lice
10:10 AM Google lice shampoo. Get freaked out by the reports of kids dying after using it.
10:15 AM Call a friend whose kid had lice last year, take meticulous notes on what to do.
10:30 AM Call everyone we've seen in the last week -- including six sets of parents we were with on Thanksgiving, and two unlucky friends who had hosted my kids for a sleepover on Friday. Man, it sucked to make those calls.
10:45 AM Go to three pharmacies to find Licefreee!, a nontoxic lice-killing hair gel.
11:15 AM Strip all beds of pillows, comforters, and sheets. Remove any piece of clothing my daughter or son has worn in the last week. Bag up throw pillows and stuffed animals so the "lice will suffocate" (gross).
11:30 AM Begin the first of ten loads of laundry.
11:40 AM Leave a message canceling daughter's afternoon play date.
11:45 AM Hubby begins to vacuum couch and mattresses while I apply lice-killing hair gel to both kids.
12:00 PM Oh God, my son has lice, too. One is crawling on his forehead trying to escape from the gel-trapping shower cap. EW.
12:15 PM Begin to scratch head. Do I have it?
12:45 PM Start combing out my daughter's long, curly hair with the "nit comb." Takes over two hours. I never knew there could be so many lice eggs ("nits") on one head. Every time I comb out a dead bug, I about die. She cries every time I brush out a strand, and says it hurts. I bribe her with Popsicles and promises of presents, all the while praying I got 'em all.
2:30 PM Play date arrives. Oops, she didn't get the message. I mention the L-word and she slowly backs away. My daughter waves from the window. We're quarantined.
2:45 PM Comb out my son's hair. More dead bugs and eggs. My husband is still cleaning up a storm.
3:45 PM Now cleaning under every bed. Who knows where those lice are hiding.
4:45 PM Get a call from my friend -- her son has it, too. Oh God, we've infected our pals. Feel so bad.
5:00 PM Still itchy. Send hubby out for more lice treatment. Certain I have it, too.
5:15 PM Wash kids' hair again and slather with conditioner. Begin combing through again, per friend's instructions. More lice.
6:00 PM Send out for pizza. No way are we cooking in here. There might be lice in the kitchen! Continue sanitizing.
7:00 PM Apply lice treatment to my scalp. Must sit under shower cap for 1 hour.
7:45 PM Put the kids to bed. Realize they have no comforters or pillows. Scrounge up old sleeping bags and uninfected throw pillows for them to sleep on. Daughter cries for her fave stuffed animal. Sorry, babe, it's out of commission for 2 weeks.
8:00 PM My husband begins combing out my hair with the nit comb. What a turn on! Not only can he gaze at my gray roots under a bright light, he can search for dead bugs in my hair, too! Within minutes, he combs out the first one. It's official: I have lice. Spend the next two hours cringing as my husband "de-louses" my hair. I bet he never thought when he married me he'd be combing out lice out of my locks one day. How romantic.
10:00 PM Wash my hair, condition, and have him comb it out again. This sucks.
11:30 PM Email my bosses. Better work at home tomorrow. I'm in the middle of a full-blown lice infestation.
12:00 AM Nothing to sleep under. Freezing. In the middle of the night, cover myself with my winter coat, which serves as a makeshift comforter. Feel like a homeless person. With lice.
Yesterday was spent at the computer, working, while my husband ran around like a mad man going to the laundromat, cleaning every pillow, sheet, and comforter that we own. He's at the dry cleaner's now, dropping off every stitch of clothing that I've worn for the past two weeks. I'm getting ready to wash the kids' hair and break out the nit comb again. Then my hubby can do mine. Hopefully, we've got 'em. Because I'm freaking exhausted.
I'm mentally preparing myself for calling the school to warn them of my kids' lice outbreak. This time, when the note is sent home saying the class has been exposed to lice, I can feel the shame of knowing it's my kids' fault.