Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013


Here's what I ate yesterday:

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.


bearing said...

"at least mildly deckled around the edges!"

In case you're wondering if that would be taken as cleverly funny, I'm here to tell you that it was.

Brandon said...

I like the way you link up character and hope here; it's something I'll have to think about more.

Your eating list looks almost exactly like a day I would have. The other day I ate a bowl of oatmeal, two packages of crackers, a wedge of blue cheese, a package of ramen, two glasses of chocolate milk, a baked potato with trimmings, a bag of gummy worms, some sushi, half a bag of tortilla chips with cheese dip, and a pint of Ben & Jerry's Cherry Garcia. Of course, I don't eat like that every day, but it's not an atypical day, either, especially during grading season.

MrsDarwin said...

Bearing, it was a line that came to me in the shower.

Brandon, from all I've heard, grading sounds like a period of time that calls for extreme endurance and character. And thanks for making me hungry, again. Why don't I have any gummy worms around here? Why is there no Cherry Garcia? Why did I eat all the tortilla chips yesterday? Do I have any potatoes left? I am SO HUNGRY, I can't tell you. If only eating didn't require me to get up and look in the fridge and actually make something.

Jenny said...

"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."

I love this section. I always start each pregnancy with this hope. I will keep moving! I will not turn into a sloth! It's during that precious week or two when the pregnancy is confirmed but before the symptoms start for real. And then the hammer drops. By seven weeks I am always face-planted on the couch as my children learn to bring me the bucket.

Who are these people who exercise throughout a pregnancy? Not me.

And the eating, eating, eating. Constantly eating in order to feel, umm, not horrible, but just bad. It isn't even fun to eat, just required. My whole mental capacity is consumed by thoughts of food and nausea. What am I going to eat next? Am I going to throw up now?

I always tell myself, "only two more weeks." It's usually a lie, but it does remind me I will not be in this condition forever. The nausea will end.

It puts other aches and pains in perspective. The baby may be regularly bumping her head into my spine, but at least I'm not nauseous anymore!

I hope your nausea subsides soon. Only two more weeks!

Finicky Cat said...

Oh, yes... This was me last fall - and you descriptions bring it all back till I'm shuddering at every phrase. The entire first two trimesters, food and I endure an unpredictable and mutually abusive relationship.

Now - thank God! - I'm just two weeks from the due date...but let's not talk about birth. Just the tiny, floppy, cuddly, sweet-smelling package of adorableness with the downy head to pet and pet and the earnest little questing-mouth to fill.

Congratulations again...and remember that it's all worth it.

BettyDuffy said...

You know me, I gain ten pounds in the first month. It's horrible. I always want fried pork tenderloin with mustard sandwiches. Of course, that is the only time ever in my life when such a thing sounds appealing. This most recent pregnancy, I took the medicine for morning sickness. It helped a lot.

tso said...

Wow. Great post.

Rebekka said...

Me, too. I had only fatigue with Dagmar, so this time has been a rude surprise: nausea, exhaustion, round ligament pain, indigestion (which I've never had before and which is an amazingly miserable form of misery), hysteria... I switched jobs right before I found out, so I'm doing full time in intensive care instead of 80% in a specialty I can do more or less in my sleep, and I haven't told them yet, so the fatigue is insane, and I can't always get to the food when I NEED it. When I'm at home I lie on any horizontal surface, or wish I were lying there, eat, have stomach aches... Sour gummy candy is the way forward. I don't know how long my tooth enamel will last, but this cow does not care.

Anonymous said...

Maybe it's twins!

John Farrell said...

Woh! How about some protein to go with those carbs....

Amber said...

Wow, great post, Mrs. D! I'm so impressed that you were able to put that together, that's way more than I can do right now.

This pregnancy is weird because I can't read in the evenings. I crawl up to bed either before or after dinner and huddle, freezing and miserable under the covers wondering if dinner, provided I did manage to eat it, will actually stay down. Reading makes me more nauseous, which is such a bummer. I've been watching movies, which is weird for me because I'm really not much of a movie watcher normally. I think my husband is jealous as it is a favorite activity of his... but really, at this point, I'd much rather be downstairs riding the kids to pick up their messes, helping with the dishes, and reading stories. I must admit the break from all that was kind of nice for the first couple of days (It can be my least favorite part of the day!) but now it just is lonely and miserable.

Every pregnancy I hope and think I can be the equivalent of that woman who ran marathons during her pregnancy and the day before her birth if I only keep moving, take my vitamins, and eat all the right things... but really, the reason why she got so much press last year (or whenever that was) is that she is a FREAK OF NATURE!! not a normal human being. Or at least that is my consolation right now.

Jenny said...

I second the protein. Try to eat some eggs or a sausage biscuit. It is revolting to try to eat, but I always felt better afterwards.

I can never read during the first half of pregnancy without being nauseous. And the computer screen gives me horrendous headaches which makes my work on a computer database really, really fun for awhile.

lissla lissar said...

I find that the more crappy the food, the better it stays down, at least for the first trimester. I think it has to do with getting protein and fat without having to chew.

bearing said...

My theory is that food aversion in pregnancy is for the same reason that kids suddenly quit eating vegetables when they enter the toddler years. Only high-fat, high-carb food will do, because you have to work too hard to get the calories you need out of things like broccoli or zucchini. They aren't worth it. Pass the nachos.