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Can a Super Sense of Smell Drive a Pregnant Mama Crazy? In a Word, YES

Now that I’m finally feeling pregnant, all the crazy hormone-induced superpowers are kicking in. Ability to fall asleep instantly, anywhere, if given the opportunity? Check. Creating, then shedding enough hair to knit myself a sweater, or perhaps another pet? Check. Lightning-quick germ-spotting skills and stamina far beyond normal when it comes to heavy-duty housekeeping tasks? Check.

But nothing is more freakishly enhanced than my sense of smell. If I were a superhero, I’d be Sniffer Girl, in thigh high boots, shiny red tights, a gold maternity tunic and a flowing cape emblazoned with a giant, wrinkled-up nose. I. Smell. Everything. All the time. Everywhere. It’s gotten so bad, I find myself wishing for a summer cold just to clog things up for a while.

This morning I tossed every last sippy cup we own into the sink and turned the water to scalding hot, dumping in dish soap until foam poured out onto the counter. I went to give E a cup of water and smelled—ugh—mold. So I got another cup. Mold again. I had to force myself to dump them all in the sink and not the trash, that’s how offensive the smell was. Two cycles through the dishwasher, and I’m still afraid to take them out and check again.

My water bill—and the environment—are suffering terribly, since I’ve begun re-washing laundry that comes out of the dryer smelling “funny.”  I can sniff out a dirty diaper ten feet away. Poor E is often falsely accused of being stinky, when really it’s the kid three swings over, or a baby riding in a shopping cart a whole aisle away in the supermarket. The lovely woman who drives my grandmother on Wednesdays came in today to say hello; her clothes reeked of cigarettes. I spent a full hour agonizing over whether Grandma should be driving around town exposed to second-hand smoke. Never mind that she’s been happily doing just that for a well over a year—and I never noticed.

I smell rotting fruit in the refrigerator now matter how many times I empty and scrub it. I check, and recheck, and recheck the milk again. I’ve begun to dread trash day, walking by the seafood counter at Whole Foods, and trips to the dog park. Tucker is getting so many baths it’s ridiculous, especially considering how exhausting it is to bathe a small, wriggly dog when you’ve just finished washing a small, wriggly child in the same tub. My back aches just writing about it. I spent 20 minutes comparing deodorants in the pharmacy yesterday (mine seems to have stopped working.) Half a bottle of my favorite perfume has disappeared in the last three weeks. I’m perilously close to digging up my old scented candle collection, toddler be damned.

Is there something wrong with me? Am I going crazy? Surely there’s a better explanation for this than the universal pregnancy excuse of “hormones.” Maybe I really do have superpowers. If Sniffer Girl could use her sensational olfactory talents to sniff out crime, or find lost children, or interpret supernatural messages from the beyond in the scent of a roasting chicken, I’d be all set. Sadly, it seems I’m doomed, at least for now, to smell every ordinary odor with superhuman precision.  The best I can do is close my eyes, hold my nose, and hope for better things to smell—baking pies, the ocean at sunrise, Arabian sandalwood incense burning in yoga class. E’s tummy after her bath. Her third today, in fact—since as far as this pregnant mama is concerned, there’s no such thing as “too clean”…

Visit Jenny's personal blog Karma, Continued.

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