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It's the Smell

I've mentioned before the superpower with which pregnancy curses me: an ultra-bionic sense of smell. Some of you thought this sounded cool when I did so; I assure you, it is not.

It is not cool to know exactly what is in the kitchen garbage can at any given moment.

It is not cool to be able to determine with precision what the person behind you in the supermarket line had for breakfast.

It is not cool to be able to tell from six feet away whether or not your kids have brushed their teeth yet this morning.

It is not cool to be awakened by the smell of old fish as the cat gives herself a midnight bath at the foot of the bed.

I feel assaulted.

In the very cool movie The Matrix, an artificial construct named Agent Smith (played by the fabulous Hugo Weaving) characterizes the human plane of existence thusly:

I hate this place. This zoo. This prison. This reality, whatever you want to call it, I can't stand it any longer. It's the smell, if there is such a thing. I feel saturated by it. I can taste your stink and every time I do, I fear that I've somehow been infected by it.

I know; he's a bit extreme. But I can identify, I really can.

Fine ladies in medieval times carried around scented handkerchiefs, pomanders, or ripe fruit to ward off the pervasive scents of the vast unwashed all around them. There's even an heirloom melon called "Queen Anne's Pocket," grown only for its rich, powerful fragrance (its taste is utterly bland; the vast majority of its volatile compounds are found in its skin, not its flesh).

Do you think anyone would notice if I wore a clove-studded orange around my neck on a ribbon for the next nine weeks?

Reader Comments (23)

Oh, how well I remember those smelly days. I could walk into a house, and if they had a damp patch the size of a pea, I could detect it right away.

Now, the reverse has happened, and I can walk past blossom and miss the fragrance.

Not good. These days, I worry if my deodorant is working.

April 7, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAnne Bradshaw

you should tottaly wear the orange for the next nine weeks :)

My wife and I used to say she was Wolverine when she was pregnant because of her heightened sense of smell. :)


April 7, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterstrugglingwriter

Yikes. Makes me appreciate the fact that my nose is stuffed right now.

April 7, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterLilacspecs

I sort of have that problem even whe I'm not pregnant. (shudder) I think the cloved orange is a wonderful idea. Maybe I'll try it.

April 7, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterKarlene

Oh! oh! I have a suggestion (Of course, I have no idea where you'd find one, but I know they exist, and if I had one, I'd be demanding your mailing address).

They also had small bottles they wore on chains that they would fill with fragrant oils. And small mesh-weave baskety decorative pendants they would fill with cloves. I've seen them modernly in stores that cater to the new-agey crowd, so I know they're out there.

But seriously, any small container with some cloves in it would probably make you feel better. When I've been scent-sensitive, I've carried around a spice jar in the past. People looked at me strangely, but I figured if it kept me from puking on them, they'd probably be grateful if I explained (which I didn't)

Sorry that bionic smell is getting you down - it made me crazy when I was pregnant with Punkin. We had a dachshund who smelled like corn chips, Really kinda nauseating at 30 weeks.

April 7, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterThalia's Child

Totally understand. Mine isn't only with pregnancy however. It is a genetic disorder -- all of the women in the family have this incredible sense of smell. It can be a huge curse especially in a packed subway...Oh I remember one time I was pregnant and in the packed subway...Oh I want to forget....

April 7, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterrjlight

I had the same experience when I was pregnant with Becca. The only plus was that I didn't burn anything during those months. I always knew when the cookies were done.


And nine weeks? Really?!

April 7, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterKimberly

wow. Its been so long since I was pregnant (my son is almost 12) I forgot all about bionic sense of smell.

tough times.

April 7, 2008 | Unregistered Commentermeleah rebeccah

Oh boy do I remember...I knew I was preggers when I smelled coconut
suntan oil on the beach..or buttered popcorn..I would heave..disgusting...

Hubby claims he never got sick as a child because his grandmother tied garlic around their necks to keep sickness away..I figure they just smelled to high heaven...

April 7, 2008 | Unregistered Commentermauniejames3

Oh sweetie. So sorry. I LOVE the Wolverine comment. I "smell" a new nickname for you...

April 7, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterP

Similarly, the whole concept of a judge or magistrate carrying a posy? It's because the prisoners smelled so bad.

April 7, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterLia

I have that superpower during pregnancy also. What is worse is that we only have one bathroom, and it seems like the boys find a reason to need to use it when I am trying to shower. I have found that if I keep the shampoo bottle under my nose and squeeze it a little here and there to get the smell of the shampoo to shoot out, it helps. Maybe you could tie some potporri under your nose...

April 7, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterHeffalump

I am plagued with the same affliction during pregnancy. Even not pregnant I have a bionic sense of smell. Very rarely helpful. But as for the clove-studded orange? If anyone could pull it off, it would be you.

And I cannot believe you are down to nine weeks!!!!

April 7, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJenna Consolo

Yes! Wear it! I triple-dog dare you! You could totally get away with it. Plus, those smell really really good.

My friend Diana wore a Tahitian gardenia behind her ear throughout her pregnancies for that very reason: the bionic nose. (in the background, we now hear the music of the Six Million Dollar Man that played during his bionic feats...)

oooh, nine weeks, wow!

April 7, 2008 | Unregistered Commenteranjmae

when we had to disect sharks in AP Biology we would put perfume in the crook of our elbow, which we could easily access for a more pleasant smell without ever having to take off our gloves. however, thank goodness no one wears "exclamation!" perfume anymore, because it makes me think of shark insides.

April 8, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterpainted maypole

Oh how I know your pain. It's insane what I smell and from what distance when I'm preggers.

April 8, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterSummer

How funny, our son was watching The Matrix last week and I saw about 5 minutes of it (I have watched it a couple other times), and that line was in that 5 minutes I watched. It sound like a curse. I know definitively that I am not pregnant nor can be, but in the mornings my sense of smell is quite acute and I have an over active gag reflex in conjunction with the bad smells I come across. At least you only have a couple more months to deal with it.

April 8, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterdawn

They would probably notice the orange thing....but these days they would just think you're nuts and just keep going their separate ways. I've never had a sense that was so overpoweringly sensitive that it consumed me. Hope it becomes less so for you soon.

April 8, 2008 | Unregistered Commentersirdar

9 weeks? Wow! I know it'll fly by for the rest of us, but those are always the most uncomfortable weeks.

Hang in there--I too remember the bionic sense of smell. Nasty!

April 9, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAnnette Lyon

Ugh! I remember it well. I wish I could pass my hayfever over to you so that you can be all stuffed up and unable to smell anything. It's a blissful life, I tell ya! (And I'm being completely serious. I love not being able to smell the poopy diapers.)

9 weeks. I can't believe it!

April 11, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterBrillig

i'm sure people would notice. but i don't think anyone would ask about it. and may i suggest a blood orange? the colors are so much better.

April 11, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterdeb

Go for it! I think you could start a new trend!

Congrats on your pregnancy.

April 13, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterCandace E. Salima

oh gosh that is a curse. And seeing the comments, so many pregnant women suffer from smells. I didn't know (well I have not been pregnant yet). Generally my sense of smell isn't well developped and I'm often relieved for it .

I'm sure you can find/make a necklace with a litle container that can hold a fragence?

April 13, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterGoofball

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