Nesting Infesting



You almost literally will not believe what happened to/atop of us this week...until I show you pictures.

Let's set the stage: I am 37+ weeks pregnant. Getting up out of a chair is cardio for me these days (which is why I mostly DONT get up). My kids sense this weakness and therefore their powers grow ever-stronger by the day as they realize they can run much farther amok and I am helpless to stop or retrieve them. I have just 4 office days left to train my temporary replacement so missing work to stay home is so not an option right now.

On Monday I decided to be super productive. I finished up the last (HURRAY!) of my Etsy orders and turned my attention to a jumbo KitKat breaking down half of the studio room into what will be a quasi-nursery with enough space for a crib when Noa eventually moves out of our room (bedside-sleeper for the first few months).  I also needed to set up all of our Fall decorations around the house that we had just hauled down from the attic and were just sitting in a big bin in the living room depressing me instead of making me feel all the cozy clichés of autumn like they were intended.

So I was in-process for awesome. But with me, this usually means I have just made a big mess getting everything spread out before me so I can form a battle plan. It's about to all go into new and clean and wonderful places, but for now it's just a teased-out mess. I'm so totally, gonna get back to it and finish it wonderfully.

I stopped at 1pm to go get the kids from school. As I am in carpool line the School Director comes up to my window. This is unusual but not unheard of. We are friends.

And then she says, "I have some bad news. Both of your kids..."

And my mind is trying to finish this sentence:

 "...attacked classmates today and are now expelled." 

"...attacked each other in the hallway and are now expelled."

These attack/expulsion scenarios are as far as I get when the REAL predicate of the sentence falls from her lips:

"...seem to have lice."

Jaw: dropped

A thousand deaths: died

10 years: taken off my life

Skin: Crawling

Noa: clawing her way back up the birthing canal all, "ummm, okay, no, I think I'd rather not come out after all. I'm good in here."

But the first thing I say? "Oh my freaking gosh, I think I have it too."

My head has been itching like MAD for a week or so. The pregnancy websites say this can happen in late 3rd trimester. Hormones can even cause scalp psoriasis and crazy-itchy dryness. I had complained to Jesse about had bad it was and we lovingly began calling it "my mange." We went so far as to have him examine my scalp for crazy rashes or even bugs and there was nothing. So even when the kids began scratching  their heads rather more than usual, I just didn't think anything of it. (Like a big dumb, dummy, dumbass).

But now the perfect little tetris piece slides down into place and it all makes sense. (Prepare for your head to itch badly as you read this. It's inevitable).

I get up to the front of carpool line to pick the kids up, and the director shows me in their hair what they had seen (Judah had been crazy ape-scratching so his teacher had asked that he be checked). I was expecting plague-like proportions of buggy-hoards to be traversing his scalp, but actually it was just tiny specks attached to some hairs about an inch from the scalp. This was my first lesson in Lice Education 101 (I stand here 4 days later holding a Doctorate Degree from the School of Hard Knocks Nits).

I am just mortified and apologizing profusely to both of their teachers and the director, and I am brought up short by how they are all saying, "No, no WE are sorry!" I'm like, wait, our family exposed yall to this scourge and you are saying you are sorry for us?!?!

I should have taken this as a sign of what was to come. The teachers knew...oh, yes, they knew what was in store for us.

I have never had lice. Not as a kid, not never. My kids have had the warning letters come home saying there was a confirmed case at the school, but preventing it is way easy. We just got this kit from the drugstore and sprayed them before school each day and cycled in the shampoo during regular baths. Easy as pie.

Yeah, but once you already have it? My parking lot phone research was quick to inform me: DIFFERENT BALLGAME.

We headed to the store to get a treatment kit and I braced myself for one horrible day of work: laundry, vacuuming, treating, combing, coaxing, bribing. 10 hours later I fell into bed exhausted. Everything had been sanitized or quarantined and I had spent 6 hours in my kids' hair combing out nits and the occasional live bug (can't even believe that sentence is something I am typing) and sweet, uninfested Jesse had uncomplainingly treated and combed all of MY hair when he got home.

i'm covered by the  "in sickness and in health" clause. also by jesse's neverending grace and love and awesome.

The house was destroyed. The baby and fall stuff was still scattered everywhere but forgotten.   There are trash bags full of stuffed animals and pillows all in quarantine. Fast food detritus on the counter because, yeah right, who is cooking during THIS!?! All hopes of "productive" have fled and we are on hardcore survival mode.

But it was worth it. Once the kids are treated and nit-free (gag), they are good to return to school. So when I woke up--sore beyond belief from being bent over the kids' heads for hours and from nonstop housework--I was tired but relieved that the nightmare (nit-mare? sorry) was behind us.

Dropoff is at 9 am. At 9:15 my phone rings. Yeah, they found a live bug on Judah.

I think my low point in all of this was when I went to the director's office to pick them back up, and my kids are sitting on the floor like happy little sprites (praise jesus they are too young to understand stigmas..Judah was happily announcing "Bugs laid eggs on my head and now they are HATCHING!") and I just plop all 90 million pounds of pregnant, hormonal me down next to them and start crying the director. "I dont know what else to do. I could not have possibly done more."

One thing my research had found was that this will often become a weeks or months long ordeal. If you miss one egg, the cycle can start all over again. And I am just extrapolating this out and realizing it's only going to get harder. That I'm getting less and less functional, and OH YEAH, there is a newborn about to jump on the scene as well. I just CANNOT keep doing this only to have it fail time and again.  All that effort and work wasted.

After pulling it together--now I am readily accepting all of the staff's sweet, "I'm so sorry" condolences. I start researching some more. I need another option because this has gotten way bigger than I have the capacity to handle right now. Turns out there are services and places just for lice treatment! Who freaking knew?

The price list was a little scary, but I am calculating the physical and emotional toll that just ONE day of DIY treatment took on me and the kids and Jesse and our house, and the hours spent, and the work and school missed, and the absolute NEED for this to be over and done with before the baby comes, and all of a sudden $150 per head and a guaranteed cure in one day seems pretty worth it.

And I know that everyone has a DIY home method they swear by: olive oil, Cetaphil, tea tree oil (we actually use this as preventative).mayo, vinegar, etc. I looked into these and they all looked pretty viable, but I just did/do not have the time to implement even one of these messy options and just hope it would work I  needed something I KNEW would work, and physically removing every trace of varmint by hand from our heads was the only way out for us when I needed a final, sure cure that very day.

Enter "Elimilice" (Love that name. Clutch branding, bros). They are Atlanta-area only I believe, but there are similar salons all over as far as I know.

*NOTE: I am writing this allllll on my own and received no discount or compensation for blogging about this place (though if I had been smart I might have asked beforehand because it was pricey...though worth it).*

Horrible, almost-funny irony: Elimilice is opening a branch 5 minutes away from us...in two weeks. Right now the closest one was an hour and half away. NO MATTER: nit-pickers can't be choosers! Off we went, stopping only to pick up a box of Dunkin' Donuts Munchkins for lunch because I just could not be waving this white flag any harder, yall.

We arrived and  I just remanded us into custody of the capable hands of professionals. "I can't do this myself.  Please fix us."

And over the next 3.5 hours they did just that. All three of us sat in a room together and had a technician work on us individually. Judah happily and quietly played iPad, and Layla, sensing a captive audience chirped, talked, sang, and performed her heart out in a never-ceasing and loud display of showing-off that nearly broke my brain.

I realized that I could never have combed the kids hair as thoroughly as was needed to completely eradicate this scourge. I didnt have the tools, the facilities or the skill to systematically go over every single hair multiple times. They treated us all with a conditioner type stuff (the whole shebang is all natural) to start with and let it sit for a while. This is a special stuff containing an enzyme to dissolve the glue the holds the eggs onto the hair shaft (I know. I'm dying too, having to read that..and I lived it!) so that they would come out when combed.

little lice spa babies.

After each and every stroke, the techs would rinse the comb into a bowl of clean water. They would do the entire head and then check the bowl. If there were nits or bugs they would repeat the process, going until an entire head's worth of combing produced water with no evidence. Judah had three rounds, and Layla and I had two. They said we all had really light cases (pride points? but, no, there are none to be had in this ordeal).

They said that it was no wonder I didn't get all of Judah's because his hair is so very thick. My parents, Jesse and the teachers had suggested shaving his head just to end the entire saga for him, but I absolutely couldn't. He is my little Samson, and his hair seems such a part of him! Plus, with the baby coming, there are going to be pictures taken that will be around forever! Unless a life is on the line: his lush locks remain!

The kids finished faster than me because my hair is so long and so tangle prone due to highlights. My tech had my hair so sectioned off and organized to be able to scour every millimeter of hair, that it was seriously impressive...if not super cute.

it was a rough couple of days.

The kids got to go into a special playroom JUST for the lice-free and they had a blast for an hour while I finished up. They also were thrilled to be treated to free snacks during the process (they had been offered DVD players from the start, but since we had brought our iPads, we didnt need them).

We left with scalps singing from being combed raw and clean, and with a guarantee that the process would work. We had to come back for a followup check and had to bring Jesse since he lives among the infested and would have to be checked and treated if necessary. Additionally we have to use the preventative stuff we already had on hand going forward so that it won't get passed back (I'm praying it was never passed from my kids to anyone else) or reinfested in any way, and we will need to do comb-through checks once a week.

At our followups we were declared still clean and Jesse smugly listened as he was declared never-infested to begin with (he's become a total Calvinist about the whole thing. He thinks he's elected to be more lice-resistant than us).

We marched proudly back into school on Wednesday and dared anyone to scorn or shun us (PS, this would never happen bc the staff is awesome and they keep the identities of the infestors confidential...I am exposing myself here). We have the cleanest heads in all the land, dammit!

It's funny because you hear all your life that lice has nothing to do with cleanliness, hygeine, socioeconomic status or anything controllable (you'd have to live the life of a hermit to 100% protect yourself. People being around people is what causes lice). And I totally believed that and tried to never judge when there was an outbreak. But knowing it's not their fault didn't stop me from branding the unknown child/family as  "UNCLEAN" in my head.

After taking a turn as the leper, it was really important to me to come out loud and, well, not proud, but just loud. One of my favorite bloggers, Rebecca Woolf, dealt with lice in her family (4 kids) for THREE MONTHS doing DIY treatment, and was just so upfront and honest about it that it super impressed me, and helped to break down a lot of the hush-hush shame that surrounded lice (it doesn't hurt that she is gorgeous  and brilliant and fashion-y and an amazing mom, and yet they STILL got lice. Those things shouldn't matter, yet i'll admit they did in my judgemental brain ).

So here I am saying it: The Dukes got lice.  It sucked.  What's more, we seem to have been Patient Zero at the kids' school since no one else has reported having it. I am sorry to all the other families who got the note from the school, and had to take preventative precautions. But I am also saying we kicked its ass and it's over. And that if your family gets the lice-whammy through no fault of yours, considering skipping the hassle and hours and mess in your own house and just let the pros handle it.

I have readjusted my hopes and again hope Noa will have hair when she is born, now that the threat has passed. The autumn decor is cheering me up daily from their appropriate positions around the house, and there is room for the crib and all of the baby clothes in the 3rd bedroom. Life has now returned to the crazy-insane abnormal normal that is life.

Suck it, parasites (just the figurative "it," not my family's scalp-blood. mmmkaythanks).

Have yall battled this beast? Dealt with prolonged recurrences? Been shamed by the L-word? Let's talk about lice!!!

If you read that whole post without your head itching then you are a jedi.


  1. I've never itched so much while reading a blog. Even the deep insides of my ears itch now.

    1. i know! it's unavoidable. writing it makes me itch too, which is super stress free. every time anyone touches their head now i am like radar-engaged. they said we SHOULD itch for about two weeks after just from human allergy to the lice saliva (youre dying, right?), but i'll never see someone scratch their head again without thinking about it!

  2. I cried and cried as I cleaned and cleaned...

  3. We moved into an apartment last week and realized that it was crawling with bedbugs and cockroaches. nothing like a welcome party of several hundred 6-legged friends. i fairly seriously suggested just leaving all our stuff there and starting over in the high arctic.

    1. NO NO NO! please tell me someone is paying to have it completely taken care of. Im hurting for you

  4. I can't tell you how many times I had to treat myself for precautionary reasons when I was a preschool teacher. It's a wonder I still have hair!!! Absolutely horrible.
    Not what a mama wants in her last 2 weeks in pregnancy!!!! Glad it's all worked out!

    1. i know! i want to gift every teacher the prevent spray as a christmas gift. classy and seasonal, no?

  5. omg I am investing in that preventative kit! (even though the spelling errors on the amazon listing are a little sketch.) all I've ever heard of before is to use tea tree oil as a preventative measure. I don't have kiddos but I work with them every day at my job and have been exposed to so many lice infestations!

    1. yes, preventative will now be a part of our daily walk-out-the-door routine. and i didnt even read the listing, but am now dying. geez sarah, didnt you know things could be "Scientficly substaruted to be gental?" that is sketchy as hell, i got mine at CVS...no english necessary! :)

  6. I have been home all week with three children with some sort of crappy fever, throat pustules virus. I was starting to feel a little sorry for myself. Not anymore! This is vacation compared to that. I cannot even imagine. So so very sorry that happened to you guys and especially that pregnant. Only good things should happen to pregnant women. Glad you shared - had NO idea there were places to handle lice for you. Genius.

    1. i know! i kept thinking, "oh i would KILL for a stomach bug right now." hahaha. at least the vomit cant scurry away.

  7. I had it as a kid and I seem to remember a mayonnaise treatment? I am so sorry you had to deal with that right before Noa's arrival. As usual, it provided some great fodder for your blog :)

    1. yeah that is the silver lining to every life/lice drama for sure. every time i say "this is so bad i wont blog it," but eventually it always has to come out. it's my therapy

  8. I wish I had been able to suggest a professional nit picker when I was principal of the Primary School. Some poor parents got so frustrated when they thought they had done everything only to have us call them to come pick up their child again. What a great idea! I bet their business is very good.

    1. exactly! it is soul-crushing. not only is all that effort wasted, but it feels personal since YOU are the one who failed!

  9. My 2 year old got lice when I was 36 weeks pregnant and upon finding out I sat down on the floor of my bedroom and sobbed. I cried so hard I couldn't breathe, on and on for almost an hour. Later my husband told me he was just waiting for me to pass out before he called 911 (I had some shortness of breath issues during the whole pregnancy). The 2nd time around the 2 year old was almost 5 and the unborn baby almost 3 and I handled it with much more grace and patience. Great job!!!

    1. exactly! i KNOW the pregnancy amped up the panic more than it would have normally, but oh well, i AM pregnant, so here we are. I hopt there is never another chance to prove that theory, but glad to know it would likely be better!

  10. No lice for the Hynsons...yet. BUT! I have heard that those little buggies LOVE clean hair bc its easier to hang on to. So, whenever I hear of lice in the school, we all refrain from washing our hair for days...even a full week once. I think probably I've come close to having DFACS called;) WOW! I'm really itching right now. I think really...it's not a matter of IF you'll get lice...it's WHEN. They just seem to be everywhere!

  11. My oldest (of 4) got lice 9 times in kindergarten!!!! Someone in her class never got treated and kept reinfecting her. She slept with olive oil and a shower cap every night for close to a year, even after it was all over because I wanted to be sure they were GONE! The grand finale happened when she spread it to her siblings and then I found a nit on my head--and (wait for it)...I had hair extensions! And we were on a road trip! My husband lovingly helped me get all my extensions out in the hotel bathroom and helped me shave the boys' heads and treat everyone...Thank God we've not had them since. And I wish you all the best with Noa! I've been reading your blog for years now and I was so happy for you to have baby #3!

    1. i think i just had an out of body experience. NINE TIMES!?!?! heaven help you.this is almost unbelievable. what a complete nightmare!

  12. MAYONAISE!!!! Next time, heaven forbid there is a next time. Just. Use. Mayonaise. My daughter had a severe infestation last year and yes, it came at the most inoportune time; we were packing up our house and moving... and once we were all unpacked at the new house, discovered the lice. And her case was bad. Lice of varying sizes, lots of nits, a very happy party all in all. We tried lice treatments, I went through her hair for weeeeeeeks. And finally tried maynoise slathered in, shower cap on, slept that way, and that did it. Who would have known?

    1. yeah that was one of the miracles i heard/read about too. I just couldnt try another DIY and risk it not working completely on all 3 of us.maybe if i wasnt pregnant, i'd be up for it. hopefully i'll never have to find out. :)

  13. thats impressive that a sibling had it but not you! mayowas definitely up there on the things to try list before i just gave up.

  14. Holy crap and omg you're pregnant!!! So thankful I now know about the pros. What's your preventative trick?? I need it! My husband's gone for a long while!