(Note: Fertility awareness and NFP are the exact same thing. However, I think some people equate NFP with the rhythm method, which it is not, and sorta has a bad reputation. Being aware of one's fertility and the signs that go along with it are exactly what Natural Family Planning is, whether or not not that person actually has a "family" in mind at the moment.)
This story starts out with the fact that I was a whopping 21 years old when I found out that Natural Family Planning was a thing. It seems crazy to me, but somehow I missed that the church isn't okay with birth control. I missed it, or didn't care at the time so I ignored it. As someone who decided early on that it "don't mean a thing if you ain't got that ring"--aka: I was waiting for marriage--I guess it was a subject I didn't really need to know about either.
It was at the FOCUS Conference in Orlando, FL over New Year's when I was a senior in college that I heard for the first time what birth control really did to a woman's body. It was at this same conference that I heard the term "NFP" thrown around as an answer to this. It was during a session at this conference that I came to understand just how serious the church was about not using birth control. It was also during this conference that I met the man who would be my husband. Divine intervention, much?
So I get home from this fabulous conference (which really didn't focus on fertility issues, I just happened to attend a few speakers who talked about it!) and am "talking to" this wonderful guy, and the subject comes up. I remember Brandon saying that he knows his wife will never be on birth control.
woah. Either this man is crazy or wants 23 children. I didn't think that I agreed, so pushed him on it, although I'm not truly sure where the confidence to talk about something like this with a cute guy I had recently met came from.
Conversations continued as we dated, and I began doing lots of research. Now, if you know me in the "real world," you might know that anytime I ever have a question or concern or thought about anything, I do research. What this really means is I google my question and read perhaps every article/blog/forum ever written about the subject at hand. (You can imagine how many times I have googled something since Silas was born three months ago. If you guessed at least 30 times a day, you'd probably be right. I just like having information from a variety of sources!) I do typically stay away from wikipedia, because in college my professors told me it was bad, although I'll use it to cross-check information sometimes.
Anyways, over the next year I began looking at things like the USCCB website for Marriage and Family, the Catechism, websites on NFP, listening to "experts" talk, read Good News about Sex and Marriage by Christopher West, and chatted with some women in a Bible study (we happened to be studying the Feminine Genius and JPII's encyclical, Mulieris Dignitatum).
Exactly a year after we met at that conference, Brandon got down on one knee and proposed in the most wonderful way at the most wonderful place and I cried, which rarely happens. That's another story for another time, I suppose. My "yes" meant that I got to spend the rest of my life with him, and also meant that I would need to start thinking about this fertility stuff a little harder.
|He proposed on that bridge behind us, my favorite on the Riverwalk, where we had our first date.|
In the months that we dated I experienced a conversion of sorts. It's funny how I thought I "disagreed" with the Church, and now so passionately agree with her after doing this extensive research. It's also funny how the Holy Spirit sure has a way of changing my heart and head.
Three months after we became engaged, I started learning the Creighton Model Fertility Care. Five months later we were married, and by that point I felt like we had the observing and charting down.
I didn't choose that NFP was right for us solely because that's what Brandon wanted. The good Lord knows (as does Brandon) that if I disagree with something, I make it known loud and clear. I also didn't decide NFP was right for us just because the Catholic Church says so. Perhaps I should be able to do that, but I guess when I was thinking about my own future and that of my family, I was too stubborn to just accept this teaching without asking a million questions first. I feel so blessed that the Catholic Church encourages questioning!
So why do I choose NFP/fertility awareness?
I choose NFP because it takes the burden off of me and places it onto us. I watch my body's signs throughout the day and Brandon records them at night. He has as much of the responsibility of our fertility as I do. It's not up to me to remember to take that little pill each day. Also, it's not a conversation about whether I have a "headache" at night...it always has to do with our fertility and whether we're open to children at that time.
I choose NFP because it increases our communication. Discussing things like mucus signs are awkward at first. But over time I have found that it increases our ability to relate to one another. Brandon is able to predict my moods based on our chart. (I kind of hate that he's always right on...but I kind of love that he is so in tune to my ups and downs that he's able to care for me better because of the information!)
I choose NFP because we're working with our bodies, not against them. Birth control is one of very few medications that actually makes a woman's body work differently than intended. NFP is completely natural, no chemicals whatsoever are going into my body. Which means I have no side-affects and never need to worry that I forgot to take a pill. wooot.
I choose NFP because it's cheap. Yes, you have to pay for the introductory session, the follow-up sessions, and the chart materials...but once you know what you're doing, there are very little costs associated!
I choose NFP because it gives me knowledge about my own body. It is rather incredible how smart God made women's bodies--I absolutely love knowing so much about what is going on in there! Through the Creighton Model, we've learned how to speak the language of my body/fertility.
I choose NFP because it can be used to avoid or achieve pregnancy. We used the system to avoid pregnancy for 10 months. Silas was conceived on our first "try"--boy, are we blessed! NFP took the guess-work out of it, each and every day you know whether or not you're fertile.I choose NFP because I can live out my Catholic faith, showing respect for my body and fertility!
(I'm writing everyday this week thanks to encouragement from Jen. Check her page out to see others who are taking up the challenge!)