It took me a while to get up the courage to write this post.
I’m contemplating never, ever hitting the publish button.
It’s one of those things that Theo and I will look back on, and maybe muster up a little laugh. Maybe. Like, in 15 years…maybe. Like, maybe a little half-smile, like ‘remember that horrible week?’
We arrived home at 2 am on Monday morning. A 12 hour drive at 34 weeks pregnant is not recommended. A 12 hour drive is just not recommended, period. I was ready to tumble into bed right away but the cats had gotten into some food and left a disaster everywhere, so Theo and I started to tidy up just a little bit. A couple minutes after being in the house, I looked down at my feet and saw bugs crawling everywhere. All over me.
“Theooooooo, what is this???!????” I hollered.
He looked down, gasped, and said, “fleas.”
I froze. I completely froze. Which did absolutely nothing because they were absolutely everywhere. Theo had to literally haul me to the bathtub, put me in it, and wash off my legs. I started BAWLING. I can STILL feel them crawling on me, and at that point I was convinced that we would have to murder the cats, and burn down the house with every single thing we owned in it. And the baby is coming so soon!!
We (and by we, I mean Theo. I was still puttering around whimpering) immediately kicked it into high gear. This was an infestation. The cats went straight into the garage. They were MISERABLE and COVERED, poor things. If I wasn’t so attached to them, they would have immediately been thrown outside, never to enter my house again. We noticed that our one (hideous) couch seemed particularly bad (the cats lay there most often), and so we simply hauled it out on the front lawn. Every blazing light in the house was on, and the vacuum cleaner came out. The neighbors must have thought we were crazy. Theo grabbed a can of gasoline and started to burn the throw pillows, the vacuum bag…anything that seemed to be hopping with fleas that would simply be better off GONE. This went on until 4 am, when we decided we just couldn’t do anymore.
Our fingers were crossed that the fleas were only in the living room section of the house, as we had closed up all the bedrooms before we left. But, alas…that was not the case. They were also in our bedroom. Cue ugly cry #2 from me, and calm reassurance from Theo. We did our best to haul all the linens out, remake the bed, and then fall into it. Honestly, I was torn between how horrid it was that we had fleas to not caring a single bit because I needed sleep so badly.
I slept fine, but my mind and body knew that there was so much to do, and we were up and at ’em just four hours later. Not only did we have all the post-trip chores and things to do, but now we had an infested house on top of it all. I didn’t even want to bring my bag with with toothbrush inside. I had gotten really bitten up the night before, so my ankles were on majjjjjjjor itch alert. We vacuumed again….twice. I looked up how to get rid of fleas, and started on some ‘natural remedies’, like boiling lemon water and spraying that around, and sprinkling baking soda on all the carpets before vacuuming. Theo mowed the lawn, and bathed and sprayed the cats and kept them exiled in the garage (again, poor things…it was SO. HOT. and they were probably even more itchy than I was!). I swept, bleached and mopped the tile floors- twice. I then proceeded to bleach, clean and wipe every single shelf, drawer and surface in the dining room and kitchen. We bought foggers, shut up the entire house and left it for two hours to kill all the bugs inside. We stuffed all the linens in the car, took them to the laundromat and put them in the dryer for 30 minutes (I don’t have a dryer!!!!).
We had no groceries in the house. No milk. No bread. No clean laundry. No clean surface to sit on and cry. But I cried anyways. Remember?…. Flea infestation? Itchy? Hot? 12 hour drive the day before? Only a few hours of sleep? Pregnant? Discouraged? Yeah, I cried.
Oooooh, yeah…then I got a message reminding me that we had agreed to pick up our new puppy! How does 4:30 sound? Ummmmmmm, how could we handle one more thing? How could we handle one more live creature…a creature that could bring more fleas, get the fleas or just be one huge handful while I already barely held it together? But we picked up the puppy…and he has been a bright little spot of sunshine! We treated him for fleas before he even came in the house (we couldn’t put him in the garage because….the cats). He’s been scratching himself, though…so that is just one more thing on our list of things to do to get rid of these nasty buggers.
Throughout the day, (and the rest of the week) the Lord truly kept reminding me to be thankful. Fleas are virtually harmless…annoying, but harmless. It could have been some other kind of insect that causes diseases or are impossible to get rid of (read: ticks, bedbugs, etc). The whole situation would be a million times worse if the baby was already born, and not safely tucked away in utero. I can’t think of anyone other than Theo that I would rather go through this with. He has been so strong, so hardworking, so loyal and so sweet to me. On Monday night, after that loooooonnnnng day (see all of the above- that was ALL Monday), he turned to me and said, “You are so strong. You have not complained once all day.” Aren’t I so blessed?
Today is day three of this fiasco. There are still fleas in our house, although it’s to the point where it is bearable for me. Bugs don’t usually get to me, and I can deal with one or two fleas here and there, but it’s still a little bit worse than that. The cats have been bathed again, and Theo just took a buzzer to them today, shaving off ALL their fur. Oh, goodness…if I wasn’t so overwhelmed and discouraged about the whole thing, I would be laughing hysterically at them, the little baldies. We continue to vacuum several times a day, and I’ve gone through several boxes of baking soda, just sprinkling it on the carpet, so that they will come out and I can vacuum them up.
But guys….I’m so discouraged. I’m so embarrassed. I feel horrible. In the middle of my great desire to prepare my ‘nest’ for our baby girl, the exact opposite has happened, and I’m terrified that my nest isn’t even livable. I walk around feeling like they are crawling on me. I can’t sleep at night because I’m terrified that if I stop cleaning for one moment they will take over again. I am deeply embarrassed to say anything to anyone (hence why this may never get published), and I’ve been wanting to wear long pants and socks out in public to cover up the flea bites on my ankles. I feel like they scream “I am DIRTY! I have FLEAS! I am IRRESPONSIBLE, and not a fit parent or wife!” I feel so sorry for the cats, who have been locked in the hot garage for 3 days without anybody petting them or loving on them. I know that should be one of the least of my worries right now, but I AM attached to them, and I do feel horrible about how bad the fleas were. I’m doing my best to hold it together. I’m doing my best to bring my house back to how it was before. I still don’t have any groceries in the house (honestly, I don’t know what we have eaten the past 3 days). I have washed about 6 loads of laundry. I hung one load out on the line today, and when I took it down and brought it in, a bunch of earwigs fell out of the sheets. I just started sobbing. MORE bugs? Will I ever feel CLEAN again???
You may ask…how did this happen? And, honestly…I don’t know. It is summer time, and we have pets. Fleas are not unusual with that combination. We have seen fleas on Moose before, but it’s usually 1 or 2 every couple of weeks. When we left, we closed all the windows and I think that the heat along with no cleaning or moving around the house just caused them all to hatch and breed and spread and AGH….do you have the heeby-jeeby’s yet???
And your second thought is probably…”I will never, ever visit them again.”, or “I’m gonna sit as far away from them at church!”, or, “What a DIRTY person, I’m judging you…”
But, honestly…I just need your help. I need you to remind me of all that I have to be thankful for. I need you to pray for me, as the waves of discouragement hit each time I find another bug (it doesn’t matter what kind of bug it is!). I need you to pray that Theo and I will be patient with each other, and will work together on and against this. I need you to pray that the baby does not come early…I would weep if I had to bring my baby home to this house right now. I need you to pray the simple prayer that my ankles will stop itching. I need you to ask God that Theo and I would both be willing to learn from this. It seems so stupid, so trivial, so unnecessary in the grand scheme of life…but I know God can use it to teach me/us. Pray that we can get rid of the fleas off the pets, or that I have the strength to let them go. And please…if you have some similar story/situation…share it with me! I feel like we are the only people to have EVER had this happen to us…. Or if you have some remedy…I’m willing to try anything! So far, everything we have tried seems to have worked, but if you have some magic trick up your sleeve…PLEASE share it.
And please…don’t warn me about using chemicals while being pregnant. We are being careful, and there are simply no other options right now. I am doing my best to be wise and safe, but this is the situation right now, and sending me down the guilt-trip path won’t help. And at the moment…I don’t want to get rid of the pets. So please don’t recommend that.
P.S. I wrote this post several days ago (on Wednesday). Things are really looking up! We have almost completely gotten rid of all the adult fleas, and continue to fight war on the unseen eggs and larva. The pets are doing much better, and they do look pretty funny shaven. My ankles have stopped itching and that makes a huge difference! And if you come to our house…I promise that you will NOT get fleas. I promise. So please don’t stay away just because I decided to actually hit publish on this post.
But it’s still a struggle, and it is really humbling for me to post this one. It’s discouraging and embarrassing, but I am all about honesty and vulnerability. You as my readers should know that life is not always perfect for us. Life sometimes involves the dirty, the nitty-gritty and the “real-life” stuff. This post reflects how my week has been, and I wanted to be able to write about that and share it with those who truly support Theo and I in our life. Any maybe it will even give you a little chuckle here or there. I mean…come on? Didn’t you laugh just a little picturing Theo and I at 3 am burning stuff, vacuuming and throwing linens/couches out on the front porch/lawn? And maybe it will encourage you. Maybe there is something going on in your life that you feel is too big a deal, or too embarrassing to share. Nope. No such thing here. No such thing with me or Theo. Life is dirty. Life is messy. Sometimes, life even gets flea-infested (maybe figuratively…or maybe literally).
And maybe it will take me a little less than 15 years to laugh at this….maybe more like 10 years. 😉