Thursday, April 30, 2009

April 30, 2009 - Poultry Mites and Busy-bodies

Ok, so I have two stories today.

First, our house has been infested by "poultry mites".  YUCK!  Who has ever heard of such a thing!?  Kristoffer and I have been getting bitten in our bed at night by bugs that we couldn't see but could feel.  The bites are tiny and excruciatingly itchy.  We tried all kinds of sprays and things to get rid of the invisible bugs, but when Grace started getting bitten we finally called a pest control company.  They came yesterday and quickly determined that we have these "poultry mites" which come from birds (often chickens, but other kinds of birds too) and that somebody who had been somewhere with these mites brought them into our home.  We think it is likely to be our staff, Ida or Charles, but there is no way to know.  And my dad read online that they can be transferred through a handshake so that makes it really hard to tell because we shake hands with a lot of people, although the pest control guy yesterday said most likely someone sat or touched on our furniture and transferred the parasites.  GROSS! GROSS! GROSS!  Grace and I were exiled to our compound's pool for a few hours yesterday while the house was fully fumigated.  I guess poultry mites are just part of the package when you live in Africa!  AH!

The other story I wanted to share is that Kenyans feel, according to Kristoffer's colleague, that babies belong to the community.  So they feel that they can pretty much say or do anything to/about someone else's baby.  We have definitely experienced this, but with a significant degree of discomfort!  Kenyans believe that babies should be kept really, really hot.  They put them in layers and layers of clothes and blankets in all temperatures.  This is actually really bad for babies because being too hot can cause sleep apnea (when you stop breathing in your sleep) and babies' don't have the ability to wake themselves up if they stop breathing in their sleep the way adults do.  So actually, keeping babies too hot leads to a lot of infant mortality in Kenya (and probably other African countries, according to a colleague of mine at UNICEF).  Anyway, because Kenyans believe babies should be hot and because we dress Grace temperature-appropriate, we OFTEN receive comments from people about this (strangers who obviously think they are entitled to an opinion about our baby!).  We received comments from the nurses in the hospital and often from other people.  Recent Example 1: at brunch on Sunday morning with our friends the waitress told me once that she was going to put covers "on the baby because she is cold", even though Grace was sleeping peacefully in her car seat and was wearing weather-appropriate clothes and was not hot!  Of course I think this is very rude of her, but the waitress thinks I am a bad mother for freezing my baby apparently.  This went one step further when Grace and I were at the eye doctor yesterday.  Recent Example 2: a mother and her 12-year-old-ish daughter came into the office when I was nursing Grace (because we had to wait an hour to see the doctor).  She was wearing a short-sleeved onesie, pants, socks, and I had a light blanket over her.  Now Grace tends to be really hot to begin with - just ask my father who would be covered in sweat after Grace took a nap on him!  Of course I knew Grace wasn't cold, but this lady thought otherwise.  Instead of saying something to me, she said to her daughter aloud, "That baby is so cold, she needs more clothes.  Remember that when you have babies, they need to be kept very warm.  That poor, poor baby, she is just so cold."  How passive aggressive!  Now I know that Ida thinks we don't dress Grace warmly enough (when it is 85 degrees outside!) but she at least has learned to keep her comments to herself.  Imagine what Kenyans would think of Danish parents who let their babies sleep outside in the winter...scandalous!

So here in Nairobi I am battling "poultry mites" and busy-bodies who think I don't know how to care for my baby!  It is a good thing Grace is so cute to help me deal with all of this! 



Anonymous said...

Hope that you have got rid of poultry-mites and can have a free scratching week-end ahead of you. Might be more difficult to get rid of the busy-bodies. Try to keep calm Lisa and thank-you for unloading your thoughts on your readers. Keep smiling ! :)

Kdahlface said...

don't feel too bad about the busy bodies. they're in the states too...everywhere, though not nearly as united in their opinions. i once had a 50-year-oldish stranger man on the street in DC say very loudly on a 50 degree day when Henry was a wee thing, "Don't you have a hat for that baby?"