I was not one of those little girls who dreamed about her wedding and had the names of all her kids picked out by the time she was 10. In fact, I barely thought about being married and being a mom, until my late twenties, when biology kicked in. One day I was dead set against having a family and the next day I thought I’d die if I didn’t. I began researching pregnancy and childbirth and tracking my basal body temperature; my new Bible was Taking Charge of Your Fertility.

It worked. I got pregnant. It was splendiferous, wonderful, magic. Until about four weeks later, when the side effects started to really kick in.

My husband and I took a vacation to Salt Springs, on Vancouver Island, at about this time. My body hadn’t settled into its nausea groove just yet; instead of the constant drone of discomfort that lasted from about week six until week 16, the sick feeling faded in and out, like an unpredictable radio signal. For the most part, I was pretty chipper. So chipper that I decided to buy a bunch of stuff from Lush, which at the time was only in Canada. This pregnancy thing is a snap, I told myself.

On our way to Salt Springs we stopped in Vancouver and I stocked up on bath bombs (Rose Queen, Fairy Jasmine, Sakura), shampoo bars (Jumping Juniper, Squeaky Green), and soap (Karma, Sea Vegetable, Sultana). I probably spent about $100 U.S. We got to our Salt Springs rental, and I stuffed my new stash of soap into the closet with my clothes, looking forward to luxurious baths in the rental’s large tub.

It was about day three when I noticed that I couldn’t enter our bedroom without the nausea level dialing way up. The fumes – I mean scents – from all that Lush stuff was just too much; when I began to associate roses, juniper, and jasmine with the urge to barf I realized what was going on: I’d developed the so-called Pregnancy Nose.

In 2004 Swedish researchers published a study in Chemical Senses that found 76% of women reported abnormal smell and/or taste perception in early pregnancy. Apparently, I had joined their ranks, and my $100 worth of Lush products was literally making me sick. But I didn’t throw it out. I could not stand the thought of that money going to waste, so I endured the rest of the vacation and even brought the soap back home, putting it in a closet near the bathroom. I’d hold my breath when I passed – it never occurred to me to just give it away – and eventually I lost enough of the sensitivity that I forgot about it.

Shortly after my baby was born we were moving (yes — crazy, I know) and I came across the soap, the bath bombs, the shampoo bars hidden away in the closet. I pulled the bag down from the top shelf, excited that I could use the stuff now that I was safely through pregnancy. But no. One whiff of jasmine made my stomach turn, even though I wasn’t pregnant.

Later, my husband got rid of all of it and I literally breathed a sigh of relief. I’d crossed over from the Land of Lushness to the Universe of the Unscented, but at least I wasn’t nauseous anymore.

About Kate

Things are weird in the wide world -- and like everyone else, most days I'm used to it. But to shake things up for myself, I like to notice and write about stuff that strikes me as both beautiful and strange, fascinating and repulsive, sweet and sour -- like how the steamy, stinky air that comes up from the BART vents at 16th Street Mission reminds me of being twenty-two, apparently immortal, and in love.

2 responses »

  1. danette says:

    this one made me laugh! way back in my little town of soldotna, i’d never heard of this exotic sounding lush. when i did discover it, i spent almost a whole paycheck ordering what i was sure was going to be the most incredible smelling bath treats ever. i was so excited, that i had the box delivered to my work. when it arrived, all of the girls gathered around – they were probably sick of me talking about it all the time. before i could even rip off the tape, the smell came through loud and clear. after the tape was off, it was like a stink bomb of yuck. every single item smelled horrible – sort of acrid and off. not at ALL what i thought my awesome bounty was going to smell like. i couldn’t admit that i hated everything, so there was some quick ‘ooohing’ and ‘ahhhhing’ before the offending bubble bars, lotions, and perfumes were hastily crammed back into the box. the smell was so strong that my boss asked me to put it out in my car. l wish randy would have been there to throw it all away for me. i, too, hung on to it until i moved. then i sold it all on ebay, but that’s another story! thanks, kate for sharing so many memories and revelations. you have a gift. xo

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