In case you weren't aware, this week, July 21st-July 27th is Natural Family Planning Week (NFP).
If any of my esteemed readers aren't familiar with NFP, NFP is simply a method whereby a woman charts her monthly cycles and collects data from her body....this data could include things such as cervical mucous, cervical position, basal body temperature, and the presence or absence of a LH surge as detected by an ovulation monitor to determine when she is or is not fertile and then uses that information accordingly if the couple wishes to pursue or avoid pregnancy.
It's all very scientific and sounds a lot more complicated than it is.
As practicing Catholics. we don't use artificial contraception, but NFP is fundamentally different from artificial contraception, because with artificial contraception, a couple has sexual intercourse but does or uses something (a pill, condom, IUD, what-have-you) to prevent pregnancy. However, with NFP, IF the couple should choose to avoid pregnancy, they simply avoid sexual intercourse during the woman's fertile time (about 9-10 days out of every month).
And, there is actually a lot of confusion out there about NFP...I've talked to a lot of friends who say NFP didn't work for me, but really, they just didn't know how to use NFP, because they were misinformed about the actual length of the fertile period. So, if you are interested in NFP, I highly recommend you take a class or meet with an actual instructor.
And, you know what...when NFP doesn't work you end up with a baby...which really isn't so bad after all. In fact, it's a pretty good thing.
All that to say...in 12.5 years of marriage...we haven't used NFP (to avoid pregnancy) all that much and still only managed to pop out 4 kids (5 pregnancies...1 early loss at 7 weeks).
Here's why. Children, really are a blessing. And, in my experience, the babies that come along at the worst time, bring the biggest blessing.
Like this one...who was born after 14 months of marriage. We were young...only 24 and Ben was teaching at a Catholic School and I was working at the same school and then later got a job teaching at a different Catholic school. Most people thought we were too young and should wait until we had more money or were more established. But, you know what...I was a better mother back then than I am now...I had more energy and more patience. That's a big benefit of having kids young. And, she brought a lot of blessings to our life...she blessed our marriage at a difficult time and having her helped me grow A TON as a person. We've gone through a ton of moves and changes, but having children actually helped ME deal with those changes better, because the children ground me, keep me sane (sometimes...sometimes they drive me crazy) and give us a reason to persevere through hardship.
With Heidi, I discovered ecological breastfeeding....which I will elaborate on more in a different post...but let's just say here, that it works (for me) and without having to use NFP or anything, it CAN space babies.
Let me also say, that I think a couple's fertility falls on a scale...and we are probably on the lower end. We're not infertile obviously. but we also aren't super fertile and with the next two babies, Greta and John, we used NFP to TRY to conceive after several months of simply letting the chips fall where they may.
|Greta Marie..born Oct 19, 2004|
|John de la Croix, born Feb. 26th 2008 (only 3 days later, and he would have been a leap year baby).|
Then, when John was about 1, we dealt with unemployment and Ben decided to go to law school and we decided it was best to avoid pregnancy for awhile...because we were poor and he was going to go to school. So, that was the first time we really, truly used NFP to avoid. So, Ben got a scholarship at Ave Maria School of Law and we moved down to Naples and got assimilated into an absolutely wonderful Catholic community where we had the beautiful witness of lots of young families having lots of babies..even during law school, even when they were poor...and they were fine. In fact, they were happy....they were even thriving. So sometime that summer after the first year of law school, we stopped using NFP to avoid and started just letting the chips fall where they may. And, because we really aren't all that fertile...it did take several months...but eventually at the beginning of the 3rd year, this beautiful baby was born.
|Elsa Rose, born Sept 11, 2012|
And, the 3rd year of law school is the most stressful...with job applications and bar applications and decisions to be made. And the summer is stressful, with the looming bar exam and job applications and more moves.
But, how can one be stressed or anxious when they look at this bundle of adorableness??
|Sporting the baby top-knot.|
You see the baby doesn't really add to the stress...she actually helps alleviate it (except when she'is trying to eat cat litter).
And, this baby has been a huge blessing to our family. She has brought the older kids closer together as they all fawn over/play with her and cheer on every milestone. She had the biggest cheering section when she started smiling and rolling over and crawling and standing up, and standing up without holding on to anything, etc., etc.
So, will we use NFP in the future (to avoid)? I hope not. We've already had a baby when we were poor..and it was fine..we've always had everything we needed. I'm already 35, so my baby-bearing years are quickly zooming to a close and babies really are such a blessing, so I hate to waste time avoiding when we don't have too much longer anyway. You see, generally, families don't regret the children they do have, only the ones they don't. But, who knows what the future will bring...we may end up dealing with serious illness or something which makes NFP necessary. But for now...ecological breastfeeding is still pretty good at spacing babies and we're looking forward to having another when Elsa is a bit older.
Linking up with NFP and Me for NFP Awareness Week, cause you know...I got to do every link-up that comes around. .