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 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!