My Friend Pica

This post has been a long time coming. It is a personal experience that I felt I needed to share with others, as I truly felt alone dealing with pica during all my pregnancies.
Pica is describe as : “the intense craving for – and eating of – non-food items, such as soil, clay, laundry starch, ice, ashes, plaster, paint chips, and coffee grounds. Pica (which comes from the Latin word for magpie, a bird known for eating almost anything) is a worldwide phenomenon and seems to be more common during pregnancy as described .
I had an unusually strong craving for the smell of  Lestoil. Pinesol would do in a pinch, but Lestoil was my smell of choice. I was told that my Grandma used Lestoil in her house but I was very young when she died, so don’t I really remember that part of her. I was very far from my close knit family and childhood home during all my pregnancies and maybe this was my minds way of finding comfort in my new home. The smell engulfed me, it made me feel safe, warm almost euphoric.
I didn’t notice a problem until my husband came home and complained that the house smelled like a urinal. I was completely offended, how could he say that this clean & welcoming home smelled like a men’s washroom!
The worst of this situation came about as my husband headed to the airport to get my parents at the end of my first pregnancy. I decided that there was no way my parents could stay in a room with dirty windows. In my pregnancy wisdom, I decided to climb onto the roof of our front porch to clean the windows. Yes, picture it. Nine months pregnant, Lestoil, Windex and paper towel in hand, cleaning the outside of the windows. As I was cleaning my parents arrived. Let’s just say, they talked me in off the ledge.
As my parents eyes began to water due to the strong smell of Lestoil, I final realized the full extent of my issue. My wonderful OBGYN, was more than understanding. She explained that as long as I didn’t want to drink the Lestoil I was fine. I did fail to tell her I had been tempted to drink it but didn’t and that twice during my pregnancy I drove panicked to the 24 hr grocery store in the middle of the night to buy more cleaner.
Interestingly, enough the moment I returned home from the hospital with baby in tow, the effect had worn off. The smell became offensive, empty almost hollow. Each of the subsequent two pregnancy had the same symptoms, the house was clean but smelled overwhelmingly like an hockey change room bathroom stall.
Very few people knew about my little Lestoil addition, but after speaking to a pregnant friend this week, who is having a little pica moment of her own, I wanted to share my experience. Pica is normal is usually signifies an iron deficiency. The message in the post is simple, you are not losing your mind this too will pass and I wish someone had shared that with me that 10 years ago.

One Comment

  1. The first time I learned what pica was is through a novel I was reading in college…years and years ago. One of the characters was a pregnant mother who would sneak out into the backyard to eat dirt. I thought it was something the author of the book “made up” until speaking with some friends who knew better.

    It completely surprised me. But isn’t it interesting how the pregnant body reacts when its deficient in a vital nutrient.

    I’ve never heard of Lestoil…I’ll have to find some in-store somewhere just to smell it!

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