Believe it or not, one of the first things I thought of when we didn’t get pregnant right away was
Oh great, now no one we know is going to believe that NFP works.
And I don’t think that was a crazy thought. I’ve been in the NFP world long enough to know that when women or couples are considering usage of NFP, barely anyone actually does their own research (though these amazing people do exist – and can I include myself in that list? ha!). In fact, I would venture to say that after hearing about NFP for the first time, the overwhelming majority of people rely purely on anecdotal evidence when discerning whether or not to use NFP. For example, the couple that taught them NFP may be old and totally ‘out of it’ or they knew someone they once heard of who got pregnant using NFP or the couple teaching them has 6+ children so NFP must not work.
I wanted so badly to be that teaching couple that people could relate to. And I know that in reality that translates into making a good first impression. Being that young couple that looks just like them. Still in school, trying to figure out how to foster the best marital relationship. My husband and I feel so passionately about promoting healthy marriage and this being such a huge part of my conversion story, we just knew that this was our calling.
But now part of me feels like we have just another reason for people not to believe us when we stand up there, explaining the scientific details of how NFP works.
Oh, they can’t get pregnant. No wonder they’re down with NFP.
And it sucks. I don’t want to be another anecdote. And I don’t understand why God would give us such a calling and at the same time, such a handicap to hurt our effectiveness along the way.
But, eventually, I know its not about us or what we do or say that will change people’s minds anyway. I could shout from the rooftops what a gift fertility is (and I have and will continue to do so) but that doesn’t mean people will listen. It is not people that change people.
When we get a new class of clients, before we start our first NFP class we make small talk and study those faces, some eager, some bored, some there for the other one. They don’t know anything about us, maybe other than we’re going to talk to them about mucus and sticking thermometer’s where? (correct answer: mouth!). But a single question will bring everyone together and remind them why we’re here.
We just ask about their upcoming wedding and there’s an instant smile on everyone’s face. An excitement that we all can relate to about the new relationship about to occur, as the bride looks at her soon to be groom and gushes about the details of the event. An appreciation for this new, sacred relationship. After all, that’s why they’re pursuing a Church wedding and taking the necessary classes.
And then as we warm up to each other, there are always those same first questions. Somewhere along the lines of
“So you guys are going to teach us how to not have 20 children, right?”
And that’s when my heart sinks. I realize how different my husband and I are. How our path is not the common path. I remember that naivety that I see in their faces. The thought that oodles of children and the associated financial and emotional drain is the biggest marital concern that everyone is trying to avoid. The innocence that there’s not something worse out there that’s capable of tearing at the very seams of your marriage.
I just want to grab them by the shoulders, shake them, and tell them now that they should be so lucky! I want to save them from planning out their life and getting their hopes set on dreams that they have no control over. I want to tell that even if things don’t go as planned and they have a ‘surprise’ baby that was not orchestrated in the month they set aside, that there are still worse things.
But I don’t. People don’t change people. The spirit does. We laugh and continue on, because our path is not the common path. Even in our NFP class, we’re instructed to not spend too much time on the infertility slides because statistics say that the young couple sitting in front of us will get pregnant. And while I once held my breath that everything would be OK with our client’s fertility, when I do hear from past clients about their new pregnancies, I breathe out a sigh of relief. And I am once again reminded that our path is not normal. Normal people get pregnant.
As a subfertile couple teaching couple, those Duggar family comments make me realize how even though our path may be different, we can still focus and teach about what a gift fertility is. Because we believe so strongly that if there’s one thing that’s worse and threatens the sanctity of marriage more than oodles of children and the associated strain they cause, one thing that’s worse than the physical and emotional pain of infertility, its the lack of appreciation and respect to that gift of fertility.
And we’re there to provide an example and to teach that if they keep their focus on God, they will be able to get through the things that life throws their way if they just stick together. Because ultimately, that’s what we’re doing too.
I just hope they see it like that.