The Great Bed Bug Debacle of 2014

March 22, 2014 was an incredible day.  It was the day my daughter, Hazel, was born at Methodist Hospital.  I brought all the crap I was instructed to pack for the two day hospital stay, which is probably more than you’d take on a trip to Europe.  (I won’t be making that mistake again.)  I had a duffel bag and my purse, and David also had a bag for clothes and blankets and things of that nature.

Once Hazel was born, we were taken back to our room where I would stay two nights.  We just threw our bags wherever.  We were exhausted.  There was a chair in the corner that pulled out into some half-assed form of a mattress.  This chair was gross.  I mean seriously, really gross.  Think of all the men who have slept on this vinyl glorified piece of trash, all the food spilled on it, all the baby barf that has been spewed upon it.  But David was in it to win it, and he slept at the hospital to get up with the baby because I felt that if I stood up, my uterus might actually just fall out of my body.  It doesn’t even seem that irrational.

The next day, David’s parent’s visited us, so we folded the chair back into its natural position.  When we took off the blankets, there was a lovely dead cockroach between the precious afghan hand made by David’s grandmother and the white sheet we had spread over the “mattress.”  Like I said, this chair was gross, and possibly the whole hospital was disgusting.

The following day was a Monday; we could finally go home.  David noticed he had some red bumps, almost a rash, on his arms, which he thought was strange, but we thought nothing of this.  We were just eager the get the hell out of the hospital, eat our own food, and lie in our amazing bed that is basically a cloud in heaven, so we packed everything up hastily only to wait an hour and a half to get somebody to wheel me out.  Apparently that is necessary hospital policy, though I find it to be bullshit.

The next two or three weeks passed quickly, yet slowly, and I was waking up a few times a night to breastfeed Hazel.  David would sleep in the guest bed on week days so he wouldn’t be disturbed when I would get her up, so it would be just Hazel and I in our amazing cloud bed in heaven.  One morning at about 4:00, I was drowsily feeding her and watching Netflix in bed, and I looked down to see a strange bug that looked like an apple seed.  I was like, “Ew, a tick.”  I grabbed a Kleenex to kill it, and that thing popped like a cherry.  I thought, that’s weird, ticks normally don’t do that.  At some point that afternoon, I was in Hazel’s room changing her diaper.  I saw one of those bugs crawling on her changing table.  I flushed it down the toilet without a thought.

About five minutes later, I had a minor freak out that those were bed bugs, and not ticks.  I’m not sure what put the thought in my head, but after looking at the second one more closely and in the daylight, I felt that it really didn’t look like a tick.  And why would I have two ticks in the house?  So thanks to nifty google, I determined that it was, in fact, bed bugs.  IN MY HOUSE.  IN MY AMAZING CLOUD BED IN HEAVEN.  WHERE MY BABY SLEEPS.

I called David right away.  He, in turn, called Terminix.  They came out the very next day and confirmed that yes, we had bed bugs.  How did this happen?  We hadn’t gone anywhere other than the hospital in the last two-three months, and surely we didn’t get them there?  The kind fellows at Terminix said we probably only had them a few weeks, because they only found two or three and only on our bed, but these assholes of the bug world can multiply insanely fast, as you may know.  We had them spray two days later to kill them all.

Nothing makes you want to rip off your skin more than thinking you have bugs crawling on you all night.  It’s disgusting and in a time where you’re already sleep deprived doesn’t help at all.  We had to sleep with these weird covers on the mattress for three months.  We had to take every piece of clothing and all of our shoes and put them in plastic bags.  We then had to dry them on high heat or freeze items.  We had to clear out our closet to be sprayed.  I had to disappear from the house with my baby and three dogs for like six hours.  What the hell would you do with a newborn for six hours?  We had no place to go, so we sat in our car in an HEB parking lot until they were done.  That was fun.  (Sarcasm.)  We had to pay $1,200 out of our savings to get rid of them, which we had hoped to hold on to for, ya know, they baby we just had.  As it turned out, they didn’t get them all, and had to come back a week later.  They were living in our headboard.  My beautiful headboard I had just made that I could no longer trust to not have bedbugs.  I contemplated throwing it out and making a new one.  But who has time for that?  So I set it aside for like four months: the logical decision.

And it all goes back to Methodist Hospital.  I kept thinking, if we had just been more careful, if we had just set our bags on the table, if we had just burned all of our shit before walking through the door.  The signs were there, David had obviously been bitten by bedbugs when he was sleeping in that terrible chair/bed, but we didn’t realize.  We assumed it was some weird rash, and bedbug bites never occurred to us.  We thought we were safe because we were in a hospital.  WRONG.  Remember all those husbands who slept on the chair/bed before David?  The sloppy ones who spill food and let babies barf on it?  Yeah, they could travel from anywhere and bring anything into a hospital.  How often would you guess Terminix comes into your local hospital and sprays poison onto all the chairs, curtains, and wardrobes?  Probably never.

Please learn from my mistakes.  It’s taken me a whole freaking year to be able to admit publicly that we had bed bugs, but I feel that so many pregnant people should know: don’t assume you are ever safe from bedbugs anywhere.  We are pretty much terrified we will bring them home now, so we are very careful these days about traveling, especially when we stay in hotels.  Oh, and make sure you have a Bed Bug Fund  Emergency Savings Account because you never know what will come up when you’re least expecting it.

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