Jul 31 2015

My Strange (Pregnancy) Addiction

Now that the baby is occupying every last square millimeter of available abdomen space, food cravings have gone by the wayside these last few weeks. I ate my weight in Busch’s pico de gallo early on; but recently, nothing sounds all that delicious, and I know that even something mild will cause serious heartburn at this point. I eat because I know I have to. It’s sort of disappointing, since identifying exactly what you want and then satisfying that craving is one of the great joys of pregnancy. Oh and plus, I can actually use my kitchen now! More on that later.

Instead, my human-growing body has submitted to a different sort of craving, and it is BIZARRE. I want the scent of cleaning — specifically things that contain tea tree oil — ALL. THE. TIME. Like most certified germophobes, I’ve long appreciated a good bleachy smell every now and again because it means something has been recently sanitized. But this is bordering on a strange addiction.

Before this, I’d never heard of scent cravings during pregnancy. I certainly never experienced it with Peaches. Even though a minimal amount of research has proven I’m not exactly the only one, I still feel pretty weird about it.

Before you think pica disorder, I should probably clarify that there is absolutely NO desire to eat any of these things. Just sniff (and sniff and sniff). Don’t worry, Baby Boy: I’m not going around huffing chemicals. I even try to hold my breath if I’m behind a truck with extra-nasty exhaust or if I pass someone smoking outside. Promise. But there are certain “clean” smells that have made me inhale just a little more deeply these last few weeks.

Our neighborhood pool is the first blissful thing. Well, not the pool itself — this place uses a salt-based filter, which smells nothing at all like chlorine. This is probably for the best. If it were chlorinated, I’d never be ANYWHERE but the pool at this point. Mmm. No, my current Heaven exists in the little clubhouse on the way into the pool. I have no idea what’s happening in there — air freshener? Some kind of supermagical Pine-Sol? — but I never want to leave. I could just stand there in the tiny lobby and breathe in and in and IN and never out like a complete weirdo.

Next up: the car wash. Cleancleancleanclean bubbly soap, flowing right through the air vents as my car makes the two-minute trek through the tunnel. YES. Luckily, they encourage unlimited washes here for one set monthly fee — and trust me, I more than get my money’s worth. They know me there. It’s embarrassing.

car going through car wash machine

I wish this blog were scratch-and-sniff.

And then there is the tea tree madness happening right now in my house. I’ve never been a fan, but Baby Brother must really love it. Generally, I don’t do minty things on my person — I’m a hardcore vanilla/candy/gourmand aficionado. (I’ve seriously tried almost everything with a vanilla note, even the niche and hard-to-find stuff.)

tea tree bath products

Tea Tree Takeover

At the moment, though, there are all manner of tea tree bath products collecting on the counter. This is absolutely baffling to me, especially considering that my ultimate addiction — Kiehl’s Tea Tree Oil Shampoo — is something I found borderline disgusting when I first bought it a couple months ago. (Then why did I make the purchase in the first place, you wonder? Neurosis, of course. I read that spiders dislike the scent of peppermint and tea tree, and when we moved into the rental house with all of its initial bug issues, I was ready and willing to try anything.) The shampoo is strong and kind of astringent-y, and I semi-hated it. And then, with no warning at all, one day I jumped in the shower much earlier than normal because I could not WAIT to open that bottle. Overnight, it became the soapiest — and therefore most delicious — scent in the world. It’s tea tree and lavender and ivy and CRACK, apparently. I want to diffuse it into all the rooms everywhere around me and replicate it into a perfume and carry it with me wherever I go. But this is not practical, so instead I just look forward to my shower and then feel a little sad when I rinse the suds out of my hair.

Pregnancy. Dude. You’re getting weirder and weirder all the time.

A rental house update:
It took almost two full months, but we can finally use our kitchen! It’s still outdated and the previous tenants left dried food on the ceiling that I cannot for the life of me scrape off, but we can USE OUR KITCHEN. This is mostly because we did stuff that should not have been our responsibility. Al installed the microwave and oven combination all by himself, so we are now able to heat things. And we paid for pest control to come and spray the still-empty pantry.

Even after hiring a professional, the moths continued to materialize on our pantry walls at least once a day. I’m sure pest control was a helpful step. But what FINALLY seemed to do the trick? Caulking the absolute hell out of the pantry shelves. Al grabbed his caulk gun and sealed every single crack and crevice he could find. Then he caulked some more. Nowhere for you to lay your eggs now, suckahs!

caulked pantry shelves

A brief how-to: Caulk. Caulk again. And then, when you think you’re done, you should probably keep right on caulking.

The property manager agreed: it didn’t have to be pretty. It didn’t have to match the paint. It just needed to solve the problem. We continued to leave the pantry totally empty; everything kitchen-related was still piled high on our countertops.

A few days after The Great Caulking of 2015, we saw one moth. A week after that, I caught a single squirming larva (EW) struggling across one of the barren shelves, probably in search of something to eat. And then — please God, don’t let me jinx this — nothing since. After a couple more weeks, I cautiously moved some non-food items back into the pantry, waited a few more days, and eventually relocated our cereal and crackers (all sealed in hard plastic containers, of course).

food in an organized pantry

LOOK! It’s a pantry! With ACTUAL PANTRY THINGS in it!

The hives have improved a billion percent after cleaning the air ducts. There are still some spiders here and there, but fewer since pest control came out.

At the moment, things actually feel — dare I say it — clean. Now I just need it to smell that way 24/7. 😉

About Melissa

Melissa Bowers is a high school teacher from Michigan who (reluctantly) moved across the country when she was six months pregnant. Her days used to be filled with great works analyses and discussions of intricate film and literary techniques, but they are now consumed by a curious toddler, a spirited 4-year-old, and the desperate urge to write ALL THE THINGS -- which generally occurs a paragraph at a time whenever the children happen to nap. Since moving to California, her work has been published by Writer's Digest and The Writer, and her articles are regularly featured on The Huffington Post, Scary Mommy, BlogHer, and others.

2 comments on “My Strange (Pregnancy) Addiction

  1. Thank you for sharing this blog! You’re such a talented writer. I’m enjoying reading some of the posts ?
    Now for the relevant comment: I was ADDICTED to the smell of my musty car air conditioning in the weeks before Arthur was born. I could only get the right smell if I turned the air conditioning on and then off, and the short burst of wonderful scent lasted about twenty seconds. I would do this over and over again. There, I’ve admitted it and it’s out there in public! However, I’m afraid that this confession only unites us in weirdness rather than absolves you from it.
    Congratulations again on the sweet bundle!
    Love, Julie B.

    • When I was desperately searching for other pregnant tea tree addicts, I stumbled across a bajillion “addicted to my car’s air conditioning!” posts. No lie. You are definitely not weird! P.S. My favorite part is that you had a method to getting the “right” smell. 🙂

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