Awareness after NFP

A new spin on things this year.  Instead of talking about the science of NFP, how NFP is one aspect that helps us live our lives differently than atheists, feminine empowerment, or what constitutes just reasons for using NFP during this NFP Awareness Week and anniversary of Humane Vitae, I’m going to talk about things that NFP has made me aware of in my own life.

While no doubt I enjoy the science behind it, learning the theology of why NFP was a crucial point in me understanding religion that was finally consistent and to having a more complete understanding of what true love is and what it means to be human.  I’m going to try to unpack a little more what that means, since its a little abstract.  And this year, while being a sub-fertile NFP teacher has its own challenges and the worries about abstinence during Phase II seems like a distant memory compared to what I’ve continued to learn about myself by using NFP, I thought I’d focus on that.

Ultimately, the reason why its necessary to create awareness of NFP is because it helps change lives for the better.  So in my little life, NFP has helped me by making me aware of:

  1. My limited fertility.  Not in the sense that I am sub-fertile, but in that waxing and waning fertility is part of my life and by understanding my fertility I understand myself better.  My fertility is not constant and should not be taken for granted.  Even in the months that I’ve not actually charted (bad NFP teacher, but the perks of not needing to postpone pregnancy!) through the knowledge of NFP I am aware of my fertility just by going to the bathroom.  Confusion has been replaced with knowledge and the ability to make an educated decision in regards to how we would like to grow our family.  Even though we never have the concrete ability to say “YES a child please right NOW” and will a pregnancy, we will always have that potential and that understanding of my body, as well as how our bodies work together.
  2. How we are connected to other people.  Using NFP forces me and my husband to stand together as a unit with God.  Our fertility and our potential to co-create a life is only in our union.  Our fertility is truly our fertility, not severed but connected at all times.  It would be easy to think that I am alone in this marriage or I have problems that he does not understand or that I am independent of him.  The truth is we are connected and we do need each other, when we discuss our life dreams and goals, now in the struggles of sub-fertility and with God’s grace, maybe one day through the blessings and trials of parenthood.  Without contraception, we are completely unified in our efforts to understand our fertility each month and not separate beings who occasionally come together.  This consistent unity has helped build trust in our marriage and I believe that filters into how we interact with other people in our lives.  We are not as independent like we would sometimes like to think and relying on others and God has helped us live more responsively and connected with those around us as well.
  3. Our vulnerability as humans.  I guess this ties into learning to be dependent (which did not come easily for me), but NFP has helped me tolerate, then accept and is leading to embrace my vulnerability as a human, which means that by being open I can love deeply and truly, but things are difficult at times and ultimately some things are out of my control.  How can something so simple as acknowledging your reproductive capabilities and acting accordingly while honoring them do something so great?  To be human and to live is to be vulnerable, but its easy to see vulnerability as a weakness when it doesn’t penetrate all aspects of your life, only some.  Cutting out a part of our life, our fertility, and choosing to ignore it would mask that vulnerability.  This has nothing to do with the efficiency of NFP, which is as high as contraceptive methods at postponing pregnancy (much more effective, however, at achieving pregnancy).  By using NFP we either can realize that we are not all powerful, but vulnerable human beings who are incapable of creating life without God’s blessing, healing after miscarriages, or in need of His grace to help us through the day with our children and bless us through the difficult abstinence required that allows us to care for ourselves and our families present needs.  Both options include NFP and allow us to healthily deal with our vulnerability instead of boxing it up and pretending like it doesn’t exist and that it is possible to do it all on our own.  I can so easily remember my secular view that weakness and vulnerability is bad and that Christians are kept under slavery by their religion to think its good.   But the fact remains that vulnerability is a part of life no matter how much we try to control it.   If we can learn to have true peace during the hardest times in our life through Christ, then we can get through anything and our strength is limitless.  I am not saying that NFP is a tool that will make this easier, only that it will make it possible.  I still have to choose daily to accept it.

Since having the awakening that I am not all powerful and that there is a truth out there bigger and greater than I ever could have imagined was the start of my conversion process, I am grateful that I have learned about NFP to made that conversion continuous through all my days.

By using NFP I am aware of where my limits lie and where God’s take over.

Accepting steadfast love

“But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope:

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end;

they are new every morning;

great is your faithfulness.

‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘therefore I will hope in him.’

The Lord is good to those who wait for him,

to the soul that seeks him.

It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.

It is good for one to bear the yoke in youth,

to sit alone in silence when the Lord has imposed it,

to put one’s mouth to the dust (there may yet be hope),

to gives one’s cheek to the smiter, and be filled with insults.

For the Lord will not reject for ever.

Although he causes grief, he will have compassion according to the abundance of his steadfast love;

for he does not willingly afflict or grieve anyone.”

-Lamentations 3:21-33

I am thankful for these days of uncomplicated peace.  No trying to figure it out, no unsettled feeling, no fear of the future.  I am grateful I can enjoy these days and pray before I fall asleep, Thank you for today, Lord.  Today was a great gift, no matter what transpired and really, truly mean it.  A friend sent me this verse and it fits these days perfectly.  This may not be the happy ending I imagined but this clearing of grace is a beautiful, refreshing view along this journey.

HCG Question

So…I just finished up my first series of post-peak HCG shots to take care of that PMS and type-III luteal defect and I’m finding that I feel worse than normal.  Like, way worse.  Like, completely not in control of my normally quick emotional response to the extent that I have to put a muzzle on myself or leave the room to keep from punching people.  I have been pretty resistant to starting any type of fertility treatment because of the side effects of taking all these drugs and sometimes I already feel like it takes all my control to not lash out at the world, so I’m curious if this is just me or if other people have felt the same. I thought what I had read and been told about HCG is that its supposed to make PMS symptoms better, not worse.  Instead I just feel amped up, shaky, super fast heartbeat, and really aggressive.

My husband informed me that body builders use HCG to pump up so it basically acts like a steroid, which explains my quick-to-anger-ness.

(Which might also explain the chest acne, haven’t had that in years.)

(He also asked me not to punch him).

I thought HCG was like, baby fertility drugs?

So, dear internets-who-have-HCG-experience, is this normal?  Did/do you have similar responses to HCG?  Am I just crazy?

This roided up girl appreciates your comments…

Most families are special

One of the great perks of moving is finding old boxes of memories.  Well, not really finding, more like trying to escape your parents cleaning out the house and giving you all your old stuff you thought would be stored there forever and then having to sift through it to figure out what’s worth keeping when you finally reach your destination.  And by “old stuff” I mean everything from my little ponies to elementary school progress reports to cards to my mom congratulating her on my birth (wait, why did I end up with those?!).

Old pictures are fun too, such as gems like this one.

I’ll spare you my awkward teenage years.

Something I found that is definitely going in the ‘keeper’ pile is this little book I wrote about 20 years ago about my family.

"My Family Book"

"This is my cat. He is funny. This is my sister. She is pretty."

I like to think I wrote it in order of my favorites, so naturally, the cat is first.

"This is my b(ig) brother. This is my mom."

"This is my dad. He is looking the other way. This is my l(ittle) brother."

Is it weird that I remember making this?  And I remember messing up my dad’s face and thinking it was brilliant that I would hide my mistake by pretending I needed to make him look the other way.  Yes, brilliant.

"This is me. Most families are special. My family is special and yours is too."

So prophetic.  Most families are special, but not all.  But don’t worry because ours are. (Whew).

Yes, my family is special.  Which is why I’m going cross-country to Virgina to visit them!  Well, mostly just that pretty sister and b. brother of mine, but still.  Its hard when we all 6 of us live in 5 different states and 4 different time zones, so I’ll take what I can get!

Apricot fruit leathers

I overcame my silly fear of the food dehydrator this weekend and I thought I’d share what I learned and document what I did to remember it later.

First I got the ripe apricots from the tree (duh).

Note: It is hard to get to the ripe apricots before the parrots do..

Then I pureed the apricots in my blender by adding just a little water.  Since I didn’t really measure the puree, I then added a whole lemons worth of lemon juice and a third cup of honey (maybe? measuring honey wastes honey!) to a blender full of apricots and blended a little bit more.  Up next was positioning in the dehydrator.  I spread the goop evenly on the “fruit leather plastic trays” it came with and also used saran wrap since I read online that works too.

Trays

Plastic saran wrap

Each fruit leather used about a half cup.  I also learned that you shouldn’t cut the plastic wrap too big otherwise it might blow into your goop and prevent it from drying which = no fun (especially after waiting so long…).

Speaking of waiting, I had read online to not use temps over 100F but after 20 hrs of drying at that temp, the middle wasn’t dehydrated, so I increased the heat to around 130F and it was dry in a few more hours.  I think it would take no more than 10 hrs at 130F-ish.  So here’s the final product:

I know, really exciting huh?  It looks like a fruit roll up!  Yum yum.  Only thing is that I would recommend putting a tinsy bit more honey if your fruit is less ripe (like mine was).  And I’m also now experimenting with using real sugar and brown sugar as well, to see what makes the best.

The final most important thing I learned is that the fruit leather trays are bogus.  Waste of money (at least mine came with my dehydrator).  Maybe they’ll be good for something else, but for fruit leathers they are a waste of time.  They might work if you grease them, but saran wrap is easier and you don’t have to grease them, so you know what I’m using next!

Finally, anyone know what to do with figs?  I have a tree full of them and unfortunately, drying them didn’t turn out as nicely as the apricots…

Take 7 – Truly Random

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My Hispanic husband was very confused by the gazpacho I made this past week.  I come in to find him eating it with chips and asking why the salsa was so runny.  Oh honey…

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Knitting was a lot more fun when I had TV channels to watch while knitting.  Plus, I think knitting is more fun in cold weather anyway, I just want to be outside these days!

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I ordered a food dehydrator last week but I’m scared to use it.  We have a tree full of apricots and the figs are almost ripe (I think?  I don’t know what they’re supposed to look like…) but I just would rather eat them fresh because I know I won’t screw them up.  I’ll break it out this weekend and let you know how it went…

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Fresh squeezed orange juice is waaayyy better than store bought.  Only thing is, I ran out of the low hanging fruit and even with my tall frame am having a hard time reaching the oranges at the top of the tree (and that’s with a fruit picker!).  Isn’t that some sort of metaphor?

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My “happy family jade ball” continues to mock me.  When I unpacked it immediately my heart sank.  Stupid ball.  I bought it in China right before we started trying to grow our family.  It was supposed to resemble our interlocking generations with the dragon (male) and phoenix (female) carved on the outermost ring and our children within.  Its not like I actually believed it would bring good luck, its just one of those things that’s associated with a naivete I’ve long lost.

Hard to see the carvings in this picture, but you can see the interlocking layers.

 

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Had a 3rd interview for what seems like a dream job and it went well.  I will find out in a few weeks if I got the job.

I have a lot more conflicting feelings on the subject of looking for work while dealing with sub-fertility and the anxiety that surfaces when purusing a career at a time when I thought I would be preparing to be a stay at home mom, but that’s not really a quick take.  So I’ll save that for later.

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Not only is my house/neighborhood full of fruit trees, but its also full of animals.  Someone asked if we live in a zoo.  If you’re my facebook friend, you’ve probably seen these pictures, but here they are anyway.

Mini pony out our window! (Before the apricots were ripe)

This happened while we had guests..."Umm, why is there a peacock in the street??"

 

It turns out the horses live down the street...and our grass is tasty :)

We definitely live in a strange neighborhood….

 

Ok, that’s all my quick takes for this week.  Go over to Jen who’s hosting it at Conversion Diary to see more quick takes!