Bat Season

I was in bed this time last year, when the bats invaded our home. Little E was two weeks old and, during a middle of the night diaper change, I heard the quick slam of her bedroom door. Tyler was in our room in seconds, holding E in her blue monkey swaddle.

"There's a bat in her room," Tyler said. "I shut the door."

It was a dream and his words were strange. I settled E into the rocker next to our bed. I collapsed into my pillow, ready for a bleary hour of sleep.

The next morning, our conversation lost, then found, I wondered out loud, "A bat?"

But the bat seemingly vanished. We searched for it in all the dark corners of E's bedroom. We went about our days, those early days in a baby's life, when everything feels small and central, the ceilings lower, the walls at steeper angles, moments cruising and capsizing on pieces of furniture: the bed, the couch, the chair.

I was on the couch, this time, tucked in the corner of the sectional. It would come to be the corner I nursed in, the one I nurse her in, still, before bedtime, far from the 4 year old's chatter, next to the warmth of the lamp, and the cool breeze of the window.

The bat flew down the stairs, flapping past us, soaring into the darkened hallway. It was midnight black against the pale walls and soft wood. It circled the dining room table, then sailed into the guest room. I'll admit, I screamed.

We turned, immediately, to the google machine, try this, no, not that, this, well, okay, then that. We had a bucket. Blue. We had thick cardboard from a box of already-delivered diapers. I didn't move from my corner of the couch. I sat with the glow of my iphone and scrolled. It was August. Bat season. It was the baby bats. They didn't know their way. That's how they ended up in people's homes.

I shushed and leg-bounced E.

In the guest room, Tyler held on to his bucket and his cardboard.

I listened. Cardboard shuffled against the blinds. A blue bucket smacked flat against the wall.

This bat would survive. The blue bucket and the cardboard made a trap and, when Tyler slid the cardboard aside and let it go, the baby flew into the night.

The next bat, wouldn't. We would call Ray the bat guy (his literal title, it said so on his business card.) He would talk of how he hadn't slept in days, how he wouldn't sleep that August, his busiest season. He would catch the bat with his bare hands and pack it in plastic, then send it for rabies testing. He would seal the chimney and patch the eaves on the roof. He would place a plastic contraption into the inaccessible crawl space of our home. It would send any babies that found their way in, out.

Days later, we'd get a call from the health department. The bat we sent was not infected.

I sat on the rocking chair and held on to E. I smelled the sweet milk of her head. Her body stayed tucked and tight in its swaddle. Her eyes stayed closed. They had to. The world was not a womb.

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