Tuesday, February 4, 2014

When spontaneity goes out the window

Sorry, dear reader, for the delay in posts, but when wrestling season and the holidays hit our home, I really can't focus on much else. I'm finally beginning to get back to a "normal" schedule and finally having some extra time to devote to this blog. Plus, the fact that I haven't been able to go to sleep for the last 20 minutes means I need to get up and do something. ;)
First a little disclaimer to this post. I have never used or wanted to use the pill or any form of contraception. If I didn't want to use NFP, it means I just wanted to "wing it". Also, I'm talking about times when we have prayerfully discerned that we needed to avoid a pregnancy for a serious reason.

 Excuses, excuses. I had many excuses for not wanting to use NFP and this could be one of the lamest, but also one of the most important to me. You see, I wanted to have sex whenever we were "in the mood", or better yet, when I was in the mood. But that meant we had to be spontaneous about having sex. I also thought that if we weren't spontaneous, we would be having a whole lot less of sex. I just didn't think we could do that.

And it's true, about 10 days of the month, Jeff and I have to abstain, but ironically, this has not affected our spontaneity. In fact, I would say our sex life has flourished because of NFP.

First of all, we have a whole lot MORE sex using NFP. Say what?!?!? We just took one third of the month away and now we have more? The math doesn't add up. It may not be as spread out and even throughout the month, but before using NFP, I thought I was being a "good" wife if we had sex once a week. With NFP, we have at least doubled the amount and the reason is simple. During phase 1 (before the fertile stage) if I know that tonight might be the last night we can have sex for 10 days, I get "in the mood" pretty quick. But if the next night is still a green-light night, then we just had sex 2 nights in a row (btw, if this is tmi for you, then you're probably reading the wrong blog...ha ha!) and so on, until I hit phase 2 and become fertile. Now, for most women, our fertile stage is when we are most attracted to our husbands and so waiting for 10 days while thinking about how wonderful and handsome and funny and attractive and caring and hot my husband is, makes me raring to go by the time phase 3 comes and that lingers for several days. Not to mention, that whenever we deny ourselves something, we realize how much we really enjoy it and look forward to the time when we get it again.

Sometimes I laugh at how much I didn't want to let go of our spontaneity because my sex life is so much better now. The spontaneity that I thought we had was pretty sad to what we have now. Half the time, I became "spontaneous" just because I knew we hadn't had sex in about a week and it was probably my wife-ly duty to make love to him. And now, I can hardly remember the last time that I was having sex just because I felt I owed it to him. I feel so much more on the same page as him and our sex has become something for us to show each other how much we love each other, not to mention the graces we receive from re-consummating our marriage. If you need a different out look on sex and how beautiful and holy it really is, you should check out the book, "Holy Sex!: A Catholic Guide to Toe-Curling, Mind-Blowing, Infallible Loving" by Gregory Popcak. I know I mentioned it before, but the more I read it (yes...I'm still trying to finish it), the more my eyes our open to what God intended sex to be and the more I realize how united Jeff and I are through our sexual union.

So, all I'm really trying to say is give NFP a try...I bet you'll be surprised. And if NFP can take one third away and then times it by two to give me more, I wish I could find it's counterpart for my hours of sleep. Oh! think how many more blog posts I could write with all that time. :)

Thursday, November 21, 2013

When God gives you a miracle

(This was written on November 19th)
Today, I have experienced God's joy and suffering all at once.

But the story begins about 3 weeks ago when my daughter Zelie approached me and said, "Mommy, you are kind of taking a break from babies." I responded, "I guess I kind of am." "Well, that break is going to be over in a couple days." And by golly, she was right!

I always love the excitement of the first few weeks of pregnancy. Announcing it to friends and family is one of my favorite things to do and thinking about how this little baby will fit into our family, home, etc. before I start feeling sick is lovely. When we told our daughter Zelie, she immediately looked at my belly and said, "Ohhhh! She's sooooo cute!" and as I would be heading out the door telling my children to be good, Zelie would run up and pat my belly saying, "You be good little cutie!" It was so much fun to have a child who completely understood the concept of a baby and a new sibling (obviously a sister in her mind).

This child, living within the protection and comfort of my womb, was my sixth miracle. God has blessed me so much!

And God blessed me today by taking this child, Gabriella Mary, to Heaven.

How can a child who has only existed for maybe a month, and who's existence you've only known about for a couple weeks, whom you've never seen, touched, listened to, held or kissed have such a hold on your heart already? I'm in love with this little baby. Madly in love.

So, today when I cry, I have to remind myself that my tears are really tears of sorrow for myself and my family because we are thinking about all the things that we wanted and will never have (this side of Heaven). Zelie cried for awhile and would say, "I just want her back. I want my baby back!" How this broke my heart! So, it was easy to cry for Zelie's pain. But, how can I cry for Gabriella? What a beautiful life she has had! To be created and wake up in Heaven seems like the best life I can imagine. And as a mother, there is such a joy and a relief in knowing that I have accomplished in this child what I want for all my children...to make it to Heaven.

One thing that I have learned from my faith and NFP is that life begins at conception. This video helps show it. But, not only that, it's such a miracle. Today, I look at each of my children here on earth and realize what a tremendous gift each of them are to me and that God has been so generous. I think about my three children in Heaven and smile at the thought of them running into the arms of Jesus and asking Him to watch over their family here on earth (I know I'm biased, but how could Jesus resist such sweet, innocent babies?) I think about how not only are our children a product of the love between my husband and I, but are a materialization of our love. They are love itself. I am so incredibly blessed!

So, one might ask (as my husband and I have been thinking all day), why? Why did we conceive just to miscarry a few weeks later. Besides the above mentioned reasons, it's really beyond me. Maybe we needed an extra intercessor in Heaven, but I think there's another reason. God is giving us the gift of sharing in His suffering. A friend of mine recently told me this analogy that she had heard. God doesn't need us to suffer so that we can be redeemed, but He allows us to participate so that we may share in His act of love. For instance, a mother can easily bake a cake without her child helping. In fact, she can do it perfectly on her own without spilling, being efficient and quick. But, her child says, "I want to help you mommy. I want to be a part of it. I want to share this experience with you." So, the mother allows her child to be a part of the process and patiently guides the child and shows them the way to do it. Jesus is allowing us to be a part of His suffering, not because it will make it more perfect, but because He loves us and wants us to be a part of it all.

I will leave you with a few quotes from people who can say what I'm trying to say much more eloquently:

"It is a great honor to you who are married that God, in His design to multiply souls who may bless and praise Him for all eternity, causes you to co-operate with Him in so noble a work." - St. Francis de Sales

"Jesus' mission is expressed in the language of love. Indeed, the Sacrifice of the Cross is wholly wrapped in love; and from it draws its most profound meaning." - Pope John Paul II, Homily, Sept. 14, 1986

"Count it all joy, my brethren, when you meet various trials, for you know that the testing of your faith produces a steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing." - James 1:2-4

"There is needed a patient effort to teach people, or teach them once more, how to savor in a simple way the many human joys that the Creator places in our path: the elating joy of existence and of life; the joy of chaste and sanctified love; the peaceful joy of nature and silence; the sometimes austere joy of work well done; the joy and satisfaction of duty performed; the transparent joy of purity, service and sharing; the demanding joy of sacrifice." - Pope Paul VI, On Christian Joy

Thursday, October 10, 2013

But I'm no Wonder Woman

Unfortunately for you, dear reader, this blog is not on my priority list. So, you must understand that my posts will be few and far between. Not because I want them to be, but between preventing three young children from destroying themselves or the house, being the best wife I can be, and making sure to get at least a little prayer time in (besides the constant "Dear Lord...HELP!!!"), this blog seems somewhat insignificant most days. And that's the way it should be.

How fitting is it then that as I write this I hear my dear son, who turns into a beast the minute he wakes up, yelling for me. I will probably go in there and his younger brother will be standing in his crib smiling and oh so happy to see me, while big brother needs his milk like his dad needs his coffee before he truly wakes up. And so....I shall return!

Ahhhh. He didn't wake up his little brother and is now happy with his milk.

The other thing that you should understand about this blog is that even though I may portray us as the "perfect" family, we are not. Let me repeat that...WE ARE NOT PERFECT!!! I definitely have my moments of losing my patience, of being irritated at my husband, of stressing over things not getting done, of feeling very unattractive, of being lazy, of complaining, etc, etc. But, this is not what I want to focus on and the more I do focus on these kind of things, the worst they become (or seem to me). I just want to make a point that even though we may come off as always loving each other and never doing anything wrong, we are human just like all of you. I don't want to make any of you feel inadequate or like all of this is unattainable. I want to inspire and encourage you to live out a good and holy marriage.

That being said...let's get to the good stuff!

So that I don't bore you with a tremendously long post, I will make my NFP spiel quick today. Currently, I'm reading two books (or I should probably say browsing when I get a couple of free minutes, usually before bed). I highly recommend both of them for you and your spouse. The first is "Holy Sex! A Catholic Guide to toe-curling, mind-blowing, infallible loving" by Gregory Popcak. Now if that title doesn't catch your attention, I don't know what will! I know that it says "Catholic" but I feel like this could benefit any married couple. I thought that Jeff and I had a decent sex life but after reading some of this, I have realized that it can be so much better and that there is so much room for growth. I think we might finally have this whole sex thing down by the time we are 80. Ha ha!

The second book is "Sex au Naturel: What it is and why it is good for your marriage" by Patrick Coffin. I especially liked the chapter in this book that shows what the Bible says about birth control.

Hopefully, in the near future, I will be able to write about a few of the points in these two books and how they apply to NFP, but for today I must get back to my little blessings.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

My Journey through NFP

Jeff and I took our first class learning the Creighton model, which focuses on mucus observations, during our marriage prep. I observed and charted using this method during our engagement and I was a text book candidate. My cycle was easy to decipher and very predictable.

Once we were married, I threw my charting out the window since Jeff and I wanted to conceive asap. And we did. I found out we conceived our first child about 5 weeks after our wedding. Unfortunately, about a week later, I miscarried our little Raphael. Realizing how it might not be as easy as we had thought to maintain a pregnancy, we wanted to conceive again and soon. I remember noticing peak type mucus two weeks after my miscarriage and I excitedly texted Jeff, "Peak type mucus!" (A little fyi, peak type mucus is what appears when you are fertile.) We conceived again, and this time I was able to carry the baby up until 10 weeks. I miscarried our second child, Therese. It took 6 weeks to conceive after this loss, but we did and God blessed us with the birth of our third child, Zelie, 9 months later.

After Zelie was born, my cycle went hay-wire and we had a difficult time figuring out what was going on. Jeff and I were open to more children right away, so we weren't concerned with charting and didn't worry too much about my cycle being hard to decipher. We conceived 9 months after Zelie, and our little Rocky joined our growing family.

After Rocky, my cycle was still being difficult and we still weren't charting. Quite honestly, I was not wanting to make the commitment of observing my mucus, and ccl classes were rarely available in our area (ccl uses the Sympto-thermal method, which uses mucus and temperature signs to chart compared to Creighton that focuses only on mucus). Not to mention, we didn't really want to spend money on taking a class (excuses, excuses!). So, since we decided to do nothing, we conceived Max, 7 months after Rocky. And Max was such a God send...I'm so glad God intervened on that one!

I had some issues with post-partum blues after Max was born and it was a very difficult 2-3 months. We knew that we needed to take a little break from having children, and so, we signed up for a ccl class and quickly learned the answers to our questions about my crazy post-partum cycle. We have been so impressed with NFP, especially through using the Sympto-thermal method, that we decided that we needed to become a teaching couple and share our experiences with others.

And so, that is the reason for this blog.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Where it all began

I will simply start this blog off by posting what I had written on facebook during NFP awareness week in July. This will give you a taste of what I hope this blog will become. I took a leap of faith to write these posts and there seemed to be an interest in the topic, and so, I'm attempting to continue it. And thus it begins...

July 23, 2013
So, I know what most of you are thinking (the two of you who will actually read this!). How can Jeff and I say NFP "works" if we have 3 kids ages 3, 2, 1? First, to educate a little bit. NFP is not "birth control", it's "fertility aw
areness". You must use NFP along with Responsible Parenthood, the "virtuous application of the knowledge of fertility awareness within marriage, either by using the fertile time in order to try to conceive a child, or by having marital relations only during the infertile times in order to postpone a pregnancy." That being said, NFP has been very successful for us in conceiving 4 planned children (I miscarried 2 blessings before Zelie) and one unexpected (Max). But, to clarify, we weren't using NFP when we conceived Max and had not serious reasons to try and not conceive at the time. (And ironically, Max has been the easiest, happiest baby ever...Thank you God! I should learn to trust You more!) Jeff and I have "successfully" been using NFP since last August and I have been truly amazed by what I have learned about my body and how God has given us everything we need to be responsible parents. Pretty lengthy, so I will say, to be continued...tomorrow.

July 24, 2013
NFP Part 2... What I have learned most from using NFP is that "I am fearfully and wonderfully made" Psalm 139:14. While using NFP, Jeff is responsible for charting and doing most of the deciphering. If you use NFP and you(r) husbands aren't really involved, I HIGHLY recommend it. I love being on the same page as Jeff and not having to explain why tonight might not be a good night, why the last couple days I've been irritable, or having him tell me "Tomorrow you will be starting your cycle." He knows more about my fertility than I do! And having to communicate about this very personal and intimate part of ourselves has drawn us even closer to each other. I never could have imagined when I married him that I could love him even more, but I do. Each and every day, through consummating our marriage or abstaining and finding other ways to communicate it, we show each other we are madly in love (ok...not every day...remember I have those irritable days and somehow Jeff patiently waits through them and then forgets they ever happened!). I truly believe our love has grown through the use of NFP...I don't feel used and he doesn't feel rejected. Also, I've learned that certain things can throw your cycle out of whack, especially your diet. During Lent I gave up sweets, especially things made out of white refined sugar. When Easter came, I definitely went to town with all the chocolate and jelly beans laying around the house. I had the heaviest, longest, extra days of abstaining because we had no idea what my body was doing cycle since charting. I looked up in my book "Fertility, Cycles, and Nurtrition" by Marilyn Shannon and found out it was because of my sugar increase. So, if you struggle with charting, conceiving, or anything in between, I highly recommend looking at this book. Lengthy, once again. To be continued...

July 26, 2013
NFP Part 3... So far, I have painted a really pretty picture of NFP. But it's definitely not hearts and roses all the time and it's definitely NOT easy. It will probably be one of the hardest things you will do in your marriage...at first. But I promise, it gets easier and oh so rewarding! Of course, the hardest part is abstaining during the fertile time if you need to postpone having a baby. If you don't already know this, us girls get a little more interested in the love-making business during our fertile days, and we also send off some kind of hormone that makes us a lot more attractive and appealing to men (studies have been done about this and I heard about it while listening to Janet Smith's "Contraception, why not?" cd). Jeff and I have a joke that goes something like this: "Your looking good today." "It's because I'm fertile." or "Thanks for vacuuming the rug." "It's because you're fertile." and etc! Obviously, this is all for a reason...God loves us so much, he wants to make sure we keep more of us coming! Despite the wait, I love the anticipation leading up to our "go" day. You always appreciate something so much more when you have to give it up for awhile. But what I have found to be even more frustrating than that is postpartum, when you're waiting for your body to get back on track. Nothing is consistent and even if you think you have your "cycle" back you might not be ovulating (this is called break through bleeding). This is what happened to me. Every women is different, but for me, I have seen a consistent pattern of ovulating right when I have reduced my breast feeding significantly and I get (pretty much) back down to pre-pregnancy weight. I want to finish this awareness week with a couple more NFP related items, but I'm curious if anyone wants me to talk on or find something in particular. Comment or message me with ideas!

July 28, 2013
NFP part 4... Now, to one of the most important parts of NFP. Trust. All of our efforts to achieve or postpone a pregnancy must be done with complete trust in God's will. If we don't keep this at the center of our marriage, it's easy to become upset when things don't go our way. The beautiful thing about NFP is that even though you may be using it to postpone a pregnancy, you never shut out the Author of life. I had a very hard time understanding this concept right after I had Max (I'm sure my whacked out hormones had nothing to do with the emotional state I was in!) Here I was holding this precious, beautiful baby that, if we had been really diligent in using NFP, we would have "not" conceived. How could we use NFP if it could get in the way of God creating a soul that He has destined to be for all eternity? Jeff answered that he believed that if God wanted us to conceive a child, He would find a way. NFP doesn't close the door to life the way birth control does because contraception can destroy life (among other things). God wants us to be responsible parents, and even though some of us are called to have as many children as we physically can, most of us must pray and discern each child. God asks us to be responsible with all the gifts He bestows on us. In comparison, God calls some people to give all of their money away and rely totally on Him to provide for them, but most of us are called to spend and give our money responsibly, especially when we have others to care for. We must remember children our a gift from God, so we should joyfully accept them, no matter when God decides to bless us with one (or more!) "Lo, sons are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward..." Psalm 127:3-5 God bless!