Sensory Overload

And not just olfactorily.


We’ve all heard about the superhuman ability to smell EVERYTHING that pregnant women have. Unfortunately for me, I already had that ability before getting pregnant. For example, I once detected a friend’s Altoids in a bag inside her suitcase from across my apartment when we walked in the door without knowing they were there. I walked in and said, “What’s that smell? It’s either Bengay or Altoids.” Yes, I freaked both her and John out with my bloodhound nose. Now, imagine that ability ramped up because of pregnancy hormones, and you’ll get a small glimpse at the special kind of hell I’ll be in while walking the smoldering streets of New York City in the summer. Here’s hoping I don’t have to be in the city much this summer…

But what this post is really about is what you don’t hear about, and that’s the fact that, at least for me, all of my senses are heightened. I guess a more sensitive sense of taste is a given, especially since it’s so connected to our sense of smell. One day I could swear that I could taste the smell of something that John hadn’t even opened, and I was already complaining about it before he opened the bag. Likewise, as I mentioned before, textures have been a big problem for me while eating, like dry nuts as opposed to those coated in caramel in a Payday, but this texture issue extends to everything. I don’t want to touch that bag or wear that shirt or use that scratchy towel. Sometimes I want to be touched by John, and other times I don’t want anyone or anything near me, which is a problem when even my pets are inclined to cuddle more than usual.

Then again, and without giving away too much information, my sex drive is also ridiculously high, and the extrasensitivity is sometimes a blessing and sometimes a curse. Let’s just leave it at that.

Oh, and sight. Don’t get me started on light sensitivity. I took a nice long nap on the floor of my office last Thursday, and even though I could turn the light out in my office, the hall light was still shining through in this weird partially glazed “window” into the hall. I almost turned the hall light off… at 4pm on a busy week day. That’s how irritable the light made me. Every day I’m in this office, I’m wishing I had a dimmer on these bright florescent tubes of evil. I used to complain about our lack of overhead lighting in our late 19th-century house in the Hudson Valley, but now I’m so grateful that all we have are our lamps with mild lighting. And the kitchen “overhead” lights (they’re weird…) have two dimmers. The foyer chandelier has only one working bulb in it, and I’m okay with that.

This sensitivity in my sight is true for colors as well. When I dyed my hair last Friday, I was hoping for a rich dark teal, but, sadly, they were out because, who’d have thunk it, three of us wanted teal within two days. Unfortunately, I was last and ended up with bright reddish pink and purple. When John came home and we were chatting in the bathroom, I was updating him on my hyperactive senses and confessed, “Even my pink hair is almost too much for me. But it’ll fade so it’s okay.” Hahaha. My own hair is annoying me now.

The real kicker, however, has been my sensitivity to sound. As an introvert, I already retreated from being overstimulated by sound, from turning my phone on silent so that I don’t hear the constant notifications for group chats with friends to reading the new iPhone transcription of voicemails instead of listening to them. The worst part, though, is that, for the last two weeks, I couldn’t listen to music at all. It made me irritable and angry (not that the Rage Monkey and I need much help in that department). Bands that usually soothed me when anxious or annoyed, like Los Trios, Amos Lee, and, yes, Enya, made me we want to throw my headphones into someone’s head.

The slightest whisper in the quiet car drew my ire and menacing glare. My dog barking too loudly at a suspicious noise in the driveway freaked me out–like last night when John came home an hour after I fell asleep. Gizmo started howling in a way that I had never heard (because he’s grown ridiculously protective since I’ve been pregnant), and I totally flipped out, yelling at him to “Shut the FUCK up!” Then I rolled over and fell right back to sleep.

So, this is all to say that, yes, I know pregnancy is different for everyone, but it would’ve been really nice for someone to have mentioned the fact that all senses have the potential to go into hypersensitive mode before I contracted the little Rage Monkey. WHY DIDN’T I KNOW THIS??

Now, I’ll go listen to The Cranberries because, thankfully, this weird symptom seems to be lifting… at least a little bit, maybe only for select bands…

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