8:30 Cheerios with milk and honey
9:00 Two pieces of cheese toast
11:30 A chocolate malt
12:30 A whole package of ramen
3:00 A blueberry/pomegranate smoothie and a Chicken Ranch McWrap
6:00 Tortilla chips and milk
7:00 Salad with croutons, an entire wedge of Brie (just about) and french bread
And I would have eaten the leftover birthday cake if I'd been able to stay awake that long.
I eat these days. All I do is eat. The only time I am not queasy is when I am eating. The only time I'm not eating is when I'm sleeping. My brain capacity is so diminished that I feel the functional equivalent of a cow, either grazing or chewing her cud at all times. I don't throw up, which means that there's no relief. Either I am consuming, or I am consumed by pangs of nauseating hunger. Eating has become a chore (though fast-food chicken sandwiches make it more bearable).
Once upon a time, about a month ago, the kids and I had been exercising. We were ready to Get In Shape, no more fooling around. We faithfully worked out, four days a week, to the dulcet strains of Jillian Michaels' 30-Day Shred. Even the two-year-old was doing jumping jacks and squats and twists. We felt invincible. I felt invincible. Look at me, five weeks pregnant, if not fully shredded, then at least mildly deckled around the edges! I was going to keep exercising as long as I could. I was not going to get fat and slothy this pregnancy.
From my bed of quease I look back on those days as a distant, foggy memory. I got up and walked yesterday -- to the frozen custard shop. On Mother's Day I spent the day mothering, literally -- too sick to get out of bed much, sleeping for four hours in the afternoon and waking up heavy and sluggish and queasy again. I'm wearing knit pants from Lands' End because they're the only thing that fits, and I don't even care that much.
I really hope it's true that woman will be saved through childbearing, because that's all I have right now. I can't count on my expanding body, my reduced mental acumen, my practically non-existent works, my barely-there housekeeping, my current "go change yourself" parenting philosophy, my incoherent prayer life. I am bearing a child, and it consumes me physically, mentally, spiritually. It doesn't burn away my old self -- only Christ can do that -- but it has taken the physical manifestations of the vices to which I'm most prone, sloth and gluttony, and transformed them into hard acts of service. You like to eat? Then eat without ceasing from necessity, because another life depends on it! You like to do as little as possible? Now your inactivity is compelled, not chosen!
One thing I have been doing in this time of enforced inactivity is reading through the New Testament letters multiple chapters at a time, not in the shorter passages of the daily readings. Reading the books as books instead of brings continuity to what can sometimes seem like unrelated chunks of spiritual meditation. Here's a passage from Romans that stopped me: "More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us" (Rm. 5:3-5). I could follow the progression from suffering to endurance, and endurance to character, but why would character necessarily produce hope? Lo and behold, three chapters later an answer appeared, one that I might not have noticed had I been reading piecemeal:
I consider that the suffering of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed in us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God; for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of him who subjected it in hope, because the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the glorious liberty of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning with labor pains together until now; and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is unseen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it in patience. Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness, for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words (Rom. 8:18-26).Character is that endurance which is not merely plodding, but which has the imagination, the grace, to grasp at the prize that is unseen. Character believes that we endure our current futility not because futility is the natural condition of everything, but this futility has a purpose and a duration: we have been subjected and therefore will one day be set free. Character is more than the existential survival of endurance; "waiting in patience" presupposes the hope that underlies the patience, because patience means waiting for something, not nothing. Suffering consumes; endurance plows on despite the consumption; character sees purpose in the consumption; hope lifts us beyond endurance, allowing us to be burned away but not consumed (Ex. 3:2) because hope is God and God is hope.