I imagined she would smell like lilac, or lavender, something perfumey. To be specific, her head. I didn’t expect her entire tiny body to smell like a dryer sheet, just her head.
My husband made the remark (a few times) that his second born son from a previous marriage had the best smelling head, how he couldn’t get enough of the intoxicating scent. I told myself that my baby, our baby, would smell just as good or better. It was a little contest I had enrolled myself in “who could have the best smelling baby”.
Right after she was born and cleaned up, I smelled her head for the first time among thousands. Time number one to time number three thousand five hundred and ninety two, her head smelled the same, regardless of which soap or lotion I used on her head. It was a sweet ripeness, but earthy smell; this wild wet hay mixed with sun baked mud smell. A blend of organic, raw, simple scents. None of them being flowers. She smelled nothing like flowers; nothing cultivated, flowery or typical.
I blamed my soiled womb. The place that another unborn child called home years before. Yet still, I soaked her up, and breathed her in every chance I got. I memorized her scent, memorized every facial expression, memorized her.
It wasn’t disappointment I felt, but more of a scared nervous sensation that crept into the marrow of my bones like a fungus as I realized she is a lot like me. All of the good, and the bad. She smells of raw determination, unruly and effortlessly complicated. She is my child.