What to Smell When You’re Expecting

As little as possible, if you can.  You will go right off scent.  That was my experience.  Awful, I know, but the nausea of pregnancy makes most perfume torture, and in my experience it lasted all the way through.

I mean the aversion.

And the nausea too, come to think of it.  Unfair, isn’t it?

That having been said,  I should add that it was scent that helped me get through it all.  For a very long time,  the sickness was greatly ameliorated by the sharp smell of fresh ginger.  I made certain of having some ginger root in the refrigerator at all times, and if the nausea was truly awful- and sometimes it was- I would cut a slice of ginger root, sit back and, oh yes, I inhaled.  A lot. 

My husband and the Shih Tzu Mr. Tang had to put up with all the food fads as well (frozen blueberries at midnight? Even the dog ate them. Well, it was summer).  I suppose they got used to home smelling rather medicinally of ginger at all hours of the night and day.  Simplistic, I agree, but effective.

As for my perfumes, they were hidden.  I could not even bear the sight of my favorite perfume at the time, Guerlain’s Chant d”Aromes, nor could I stand the sight of my alternative, Eau de Hadrian.  Both disappeared into the closet, but one smell I could not banish and that was the ambient smell of a cigar shop that was directly underneath our apartment.

Now cigar smoke at the best of times can be noisome, but when you are pregnant, and the smell of some nice lady’s Must de Cartier is enough to make you hurl, it really is just about unendurable.  I opened a heck of a lot of windows that summer.  And I always knew when it had been a banner day on the S&P because half of Westport would congregate in that cigar store and guffaw and smoke thirty dollar cigars and generally fumigate the place.  They were having a high old time of it, and I was turning chartreuse on Friday afternoons.  In a word, it was ghastly.

My salvation, along about the seventh month of my pregnancy, was a sample of Creed’s Bois de Portugal, given to me by a nice SA at a local perfume store.  I’m not sure why I was given it, because I was avoiding perfume counters like the plague at the time, but somehow or other I came into possession of it, and thank heavens.

I could stand it.  In fact not only could I stand it but it actually decreased my nausea like the ginger root, and it also did something the ginger root could not: make cigar smoke endurable.  I’m not sure what it was in the formula of Bois de Portugal that accomplished this feat because the notes of this 1987 release are conventional enough: bergamot, lavender and a base of sandalwood, vetiver, ambergris and cedar.  Maybe on second thoughts, it was the cedar, because humidors often have a cedar like aroma about them.

If it all sounds too unbearably masculine, I should remark that living in that apartment meant that the ambiance smelled like a gentleman’s club or a branch of Dunhill’s no matter what you did.  You could not-trust me-have worn a feminine perfume and gotten it too register over all that wood and tobacco and smoke.

Bois de Portugal seems by the way to have avoided the worst of the awful notices that seem to follow Creed about like a ball and chain.  Even the notoriously picayune posters on Basenotes liked it far more often that they disliked it.  But I was, at the time, not at all familiar with Creed.  I only knew Fantasia de Fleurs which was a complex old thing that smelled like Queen Victoria’s petticoats.

So I have a certain residual fondness for Creed.  They got me through a tough month or two just on that one little sample (Bois de Portugal is strong) and when my baby was born I happily went back to wearing perfumes- though never again Chant d’Aromes- for my chemistry had changed.  Oh well.

(FOOTNOTE – another odd result of pregnancy (aside from the baby) was a sudden 180 on the subject of beer.  I had loathed the smell and taste of it all my life.  Then, post-infant, the baby’s father and I were lunching at a brewpub and he ordered a sampler which arrived while he was in the men’s room.  Those shot glasses, all gold and amber and mahogany brown, so pretty to look at.  And that at smell.  Familiar yet new.  It was – intriguing.  Curiosity overcame me.  New beginnings and second chances and all that.

By the time he came back, half the sampler was gone.  The look on his face….)


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4 Responses to What to Smell When You’re Expecting

  1. Michael says:

    Blacknall, my wife had very similar experiences to you. She suffered badly from morning sickness with both our children (don’t know why they call it morning, because she suffered from it morning, day and some nights). She went off the smells of perfume, coffee, beer and wine, and lots of other stuff too. As for cigarette smoke, one whiff and she was retching. I can’t recall any smells making her feel better but I recall Coca Cola settled her stomach and for a while, the only food she could eat was bagels with cheese and pickles!
    As for Creed, there are plenty I don’t like too much in their current line up, but I too have a fondness for Bois de Portugal. It is a lovely perfume indeed.

    I’m happy to report that my wife now enjoys perfume again (mostly; some can still set her off) and has a fondness for beer and wine!

    • Blacknall Allen says:

      At the least your wife had the good sense to eat cream cheese (calcium, after all). At the beginning of the pregnancy, all I could tolerate was salty stuff. My French bro-in-law kindly kept me supplied with potato chips, pretzels, and cheese doodles….

      It’s a wonder our daughter has proper bones and teeth at all!

  2. Mals86 says:

    Oh yes, the all-day sickness. Had that with all three pregnancies, and it only got worse. By months 2-5 of pregnancy #3, I was spending the day sitting upright on the couch and praying that nobody would jostle me (a hope often disappointed: Bookworm was almost-five and Gaze was 16 months old).

    B-complex vitamins didn’t help. Sea-Bands on my wrists didn’t help. Ginger didn’t help. Luckily, we were pretty broke most of the time, so I wasn’t even bothering with any perfume.

    I still don’t like beer. Love the smell of a brewery, hate the smell of beer in general. (My anti-alcohol, strictly-Baptist mother was absolutely HORRIFIED when we visited Busch Gardens and I went around sniffing the air and saying it smelled wonderful around the park, but it was that earthy, wet-leaves, tobacco-y sort of smell I adored.) I wonder if it’s that American-lager smell I dislike, and I might like something heavier… I do vaguely remember liking Samuel Adams Export Ale, but you can’t get that here, and I don’t even know if they still make it anyway.

    • Blacknall Allen says:

      That last pregnancy of yours sounds like a toilsome one. I at least didn’t have already existing wee people rushing about,yelling for their lunch. As to beer, I really, really did do a 180 on it. Used to hate it, now love it, and it may indeed be lager you don’t care for, as ales, light and dark have more complexity in their smells-I think. It’s akin to the baking bread note.

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