I am not known across the land for my general housekeeping skills.  Let’s just say, I’ll never make the cover of “Good Housekeeping”….unless I am pregnant! 

While normally disorganized in the realm of maintaining an orderly home, I’m a total dynamo when I am with child!  

I would get up in the morning when pregnant with my firstborn and have a cleaning schedule that involved dusting, washing base boards, and mopping, things I normally don’t pay much attention to until I have to rescue someone who has gotten stuck to my floor.  

I’m not exaggerating when I say that at night while winding down before bed, I would crave the smell and feel of pristine white porcelain.  I’d sneak into my bathroom just to run my hand along the tiles and sink, relishing in the untarnished gleam I’d created by polishing them within an inch of their lives.

Every time I got pregnant, my  husband would say, “Oh, yay, the house is going to be so clean!”

It seems that soon after birth, however, the hormones shift, and housekeeping loses its appeal,  the dust bunnies once again free to reproduce under my bed.

Aside from becoming a bonafide clean freak when pregnant, I developed a bionic nose.  A lot of women report this, but I think mine operated at a startling level.  Even though this is so counter-intuitive for a pregnant person who is supposed to eschew toxic chemicals, I fell madly in love with the smell of cleaning fluids.  Not the fluffy, eco-friendly, gentle-enough-to-eat products.  Oh no.  My nose liked the really harsh ones. 

I could be set off into paroxysms of olfactory bliss by the merest whiff of a floor freshly washed with Mr. Clean.  If I got anywhere near a big ol’ soapy bucket full of hot water and cleaning product, I had fantasies of swimming naked in it.  

I knew these products weren’t good for me or my baby, so whiffs were guilty little hits I got unintentionally from other peoples’ homes.

If our paths had crossed outside of a laundromat, you may have noticed a look of ecstasy on my face and my feet floating above the earth at the sheer bliss of the warm, scented wafts of fabric softener. To my non-pregnant nose, fabric softener reeks of bug spray.  

It wasn’t just cleaning products, either, that triggered this scent related glee. 

The bike repair shop owner near my place must have wondered why this very pregnant woman would step into his place of business every day, take several large whiffs, then skulk out sheepishly.  It was the smell of WD40 I was after.  And don’t get me started on gas stations!  The tantalizing fragrance of gasoline when we pulled in to fuel up had me bewitched.

As we know, smell is related to how we experience flavour.  When pregnant, it felt like my taste buds were on steroids.  

I use to be a card carrying member of the “I Hate Cilantro” Club.  If there were remnants of the foul green stuff on my food in a restaurant, I couldn’t eat it.  Cilantro made me angry. And then my third kid was conceived.  

Like a switch flipping on in the taste centre of my brain, I began to crave the smell and taste of cilantro with a mighty passion.  I couldn’t get enough.  I put that stuff in everything.  I wanted to wear it as a necklace so I could smell it and nibble it throughout the day.  Oddly, though giving birth took the edge off my nearly obscene love of cilantro, to this day it remains my favourite culinary herb.

As high as the highs were in my pregnant experiences of smell and taste, the lows were just as intense.  

When I got pregnant with my second kid, before I even knew he was in there, I developed a strong desire to bake my own organic rye bread.  Don’t ask me why, I have no idea, but I did.  I went to an organic co-op and bought a bag of rye flakes with the intention of creating magnificent loafs.  

When I got home, I opened the bag to smell it, expecting something tantamount to an olfactory orgasm.  But no!  Like a slap in the face, the smell of the rye flakes triggered a nausea deep within that was practically existential.  I tossed the bag wildly into the cupboard and ran away to hide under the bed covers until my husband came home to remove the offending object. I whimpered pathetically until he assured me it was gone.  

To this very day 21 years later, the mental image of that poor innocent bag of rye sitting forlornly in the cupboard makes me feel ill.

When I was pregnant with kid #4, I discovered a gorgeous white tulip growing in a neighbour’s yard.  It was so pretty and inviting, that my pregnant nose couldn’t resist going over to sample whatever delectable scent it might have to offer.  I buried my nose in, breathed in deeply… and almost dropped to my knees from the wall of stench that hit me.

That devious little tulip was evil.  I can only describe its smell being as if something had crawled inside it and died.  My family couldn’t figure out why I found it so offensive when they smelled it.

Even weirder, was that it smelled SO bad,  I couldn’t stop myself from sniffing it every time I walked by, just to reassure myself that it really was as horrific as I had remembered it.

It has been ten years since I’ve had a baby of my own, but my work as a doula gives me plenty of opportunity to enjoy quirky stories of how pregnancy literally messes with the senses.  

Pregnancy can be weird.  Enjoy!