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.

Most detailed NFP explanation to date

No quick takes today…but I did want to let you know that I wrote a completely non-controversial article on natural family planning over at the Bubble today.  Its the most detailed explanation I’ve written yet, so if you are curious about what NFP is and how it can possibly work (physiologically and practically), please go check out the post!

And give some love to that cool graph I made.  I’m going to post it here again just because it took me so long to make it and it needs to be published as much as possible!


Updated graph with fixed progesterone!

 

Go to the Bubble to see more details!

And feel free to ask questions and I’ll do my best to answer them!

Cheating at NFP

When we first got married, I feel pressure (from myself) to make sure that we followed the rules of our NFP method exactly.  I did want to be the one to show that NFP does work to postpone pregnancy.  It was important for us to avoid, so it was equally important for us to follow the guidelines of the method (which included abstinence if unsure about that days observations).  I do think that the success of using NFP is partially equivalent to the seriousness of avoiding pregnancy.  Imagine my surprise then, when I discovered on an online NFP forum that there were what seemed like multitudes of women who had ‘accidentally’ used a day and were concerned at the possibility of pregnancy.

I realize that I am a naive, recently married, and now sub-fertile woman with a whole life of supposed ‘fertility’ left, so there are many situations that I have yet to encounter in my marriage (that honestly, right now, does include a fair amount of sex – did you notice the sub-fertile part?) but I was amazed at the number of women that basically seemed to ‘cheat’* at the rules of NFP.  This is not an admonishment (and I did learn about this back in my blissful “I must be fertile because my sister is” phase), but I started to wonder if I was in the minority of couples who rigorously followed the rules.

So a nosy question to all those who have used NFP to avoid pregnancy: I am curious, have you ever ‘cheated’ at NFP?  Do you regularly cheat?  Cheating for the sake of discussion here is when you knowingly break the guidelines of your method of NFP, i.e., when you knowingly decide to have intercourse on a fertile or unsure day, despite previously deciding to not attempt to achieve pregnancy. I do also want to say that understand about the frustration that accompanies long abstinence required during breast-feeding, but I still want to include being unsure about your signs s breaking the rules of NFP here.

So my answer first (because once upon a time, we did use NFP to avoid pregnancy).  We have used the peak + 3 evening before and I remember feeling the need to tell someone that we technically could be pregnant that month, just so they wouldn’t blame it on the method!  And I remember being really excited (hence my hypothesis that not all cheating is really cheating after all) at the possibility of pregnancy.

If you don’t want me or others to see your name, please feel free to make up a name/email or comment as anonymous.  I promise no judging, I’m just trying to gauge if couples generally follow the rules to the tee or not.  Thanks!

*And yes, I get the awkwardness of using the word cheat to define a personal decision between you and your spouse, so please forgive me.  Or suggest a better word?

My marriage/faith/fertility time-line

I compiled this nice little time-line of my marriage/faith/fertility a while ago and never published it.  I guess I will now, just to share.  Its way more detailed in terms of life events than a treatment history but, maybe understanding where I’ve been will help you understand where I’m coming from and serve as a reference on this blog.  Enjoy learning more about me than you ever cared to!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

April 2012 – After being on progesterone shots and suppositories for 36 weeks, we gave birth to our healthy son, Samuel, at home!  God is good!

August 2011 – Get chastised for not taking my temp 4x’s a day to increase my T3 dosage (still at 7.5 mcgs – which is funny, considering someone once told me Dr. H won’t even look at temperatures?) Parlodel, both 2x a day.  HCG on peak +3, 5, 7 and whoops, ran out of it on day 9.  Order it for next month.  Did  my blood draw, took a pregnancy test on August 15th – peak + 12 and nothing.  Waited for the cramps to bring the flood but they didn’t.  August 21st – peak + 18 took another test.  Positive – we have conceived for the first time!  First full cycle after antibiotics + surgery combo!  Wow.

July 2011 – Finished up antibiotics.  Did HCG on peak +5,7, and 9.  Noticed increased irritability, anger, and strong emotional reactions, but luteal phase was 14 days.  Symptom review from Hilgers comes back and makes me a candidate for new thyroid study.  Started T3 on next CD1

June 2011 – Visit Omaha for a week to complete: laproscopy, selective HSG, endometrial cultures, and ultrasound series.  Some endometriosis is removed from pelvic lining and left ovary, tubes are open and with good pressure, and ovulation occurs on day after peak with 2.6 cm follicle.  Diagnosis of chronic endometritis of the uterus.  Culture results come back positive 2 weeks later and start 5 weeks of antibiotics.  I guess I’m in “treatment” now.

March 2011 – Perform and send in to Omaha a month long blood draw panel for thyroid and other hormone testing.

February 2011 – Finally send in new patient forms to Dr. Hilgers after finding out he’s covered by our insurance starting Jan.1st.  Increasing folic acid amount (from 400 to 1200mcgs), starting loaded veggie diet with (intentionally) limited meat and no low-fat dairy.

November 2010 – Miss a cycle for the first time in over a year due to distance from husband.  Wow, it feels good not to wonder if I’m pregnant.

October 2010 – Receive referral back from Hilgers.  My cycles are “functionally abnormal”.  Now what.  Stop taking magnesium, messes my stomach up too much.  Wait.

August 2010 – Send in our 2 months of charts to Dr. Hilgers and move to Mexico.  Per practitioner’s recommendation, now taking  magnesium and vitamin D3 in addition to B-vitamin, flaxseed oil, folic acid.  Tired of peeing bright yellow already.

July 2010 – HSG shows slightly tilted uterus with two open tubes.  Pain feels similar to my period and self-proclaim that I’m a hoss…maybe I got lucky or maybe those period cramps are pretty painful after all…

June 2010 – Meet the Creighton practitioner, begin classes and begin charting.

May 2010 – Appointment with doctor on day 28 of my cycle. Charges me $50 to tell me I’m not pregnant.  Blood test for Progesterone and CA-125 (indicator of endometriosis):  Progesterone comes back low (get period next day) and CA-125 is low too, indicating no endo? (not entirely conclusive).   Go back two weeks later for ultrasound of my follicles.   I guessed which follicle I thought was maturing based on pain and was wrong.  That’s not right.  Despite that, great follicle growth and post-coital test reveal all systems go on day12, 12 hours after the deed.  Email Sew (yes, she made my timeline) after reading about her history involving ovulation pain.  She strongly recommends Creighton (surprised?).  I sign up for classes that day. Decide to learn Creighton to see what the hype is about and to practice charting when we move to Mexico, because oh yeah, we’re moving to Mexico.

April 2010 – Husband receives grant in Mexico.  Actually toy with the idea of going.  Make a doctor’s appointment to see what’s up.

January 2010 (also) – Have a chance to talk to an NFP-only family practitioner at an NFP training course and she mentions that my ovulation pain (still present, some months much stronger than others) and irregular temperatures in the luteal phase may indicate a hormone issue that might be helped with certain vitamins.  I eat healthily but it’s a good place to start anyway.  Begin taking evening primose/flaxseed oil and continue with the Optivite (which I was also on due to PMS symptoms.  Also was already taking folic acid).

January 2010 – Famous misread pregnancy test incident (2nd I’d ever used – from a 2-pack). Think I’m pregnant and am delusion-ally happy for a full 20 min. before my period starts.  I had never understood those commercials that said 1 in 4 women misread pregnancy tests, but afterward understood how one could “will” themselves to see two lines.  Develop deep contempt of my 17 day luteal phases and pregnancy tests and upon husband’s advising, vow to never take another test again.

September 2009 – Husband applies for grant in Mexico for 2010 year while I’m in China.  Attend retreat and have unintentional spiritual guidance (is spiritual guidance ever intentional?) regarding starting our family.  Realize that now all of our personal reasons for postponing are non-existent, unfortunately for the study.  We know we need to change something.   Take a leap of faith and decide to leave the study after 8 months (which we were told would not affect the statistics) and stop using NFP to avoid.

Summer 2009 – Gnawing feeling that this study is not what we should be doing.  Talk about how having a child before graduation might actually be more flexible/speed-up graduation.  Discuss with husband and decide that we will not back out on our commitment for the year.

Spring 2009 – Begin to realize that reasons to postpone children should come from within rather than outside forces (read: a study).

February 2009 – Finish NFP certification process and begin teaching classes jointly.  With each passing month, will and reasons to postpone feel weaker.  Decide to enter an NFP study for  a year to recommit ourselves to postponing pregnancy for another year, since we do feel like a unique couple who would love children but would probably be best to wait (We did note that there is an option to leave the study if intentional).

November 2008 – After some prompting, begin the process to become NFP teachers.  Think “Who is going to listen to teachers who have only been married for a few months?!” (fortunately, this girl did) but quickly realize that before we have children is a great time to get trained, if anything to ease the load of the teachers with kids.

October 2008 – Get married.  We are both still 2 years from graduating and live far from family, so we decide that will use NFP to avoid pregnancy until I’m closer to graduation (he’s ahead of me – so we thought probably in 1-2 years).

January 2008 – He proposes, I say yes :)  We get stuck in an elevator for New Year’s/our engagement.  Go to mass at the L.A. cathedral the next day.

Summer 2007 – Curious about this NFP thing.  Order kit and start charting, just to see if it’s possible.  Surprised at the ease and fall in love with the data. Nerd.

Easter 2007 – Confirmed in the Catholic Church and the boyfriend’s whole family flies out for the big day and my parents/brother come too. Good times.

October 2006 – Went to doc for increasing pain around my abdomen around the middle of my cycle (later realize it’s probably ovulation pain, but something’s off – it really, really hurts for up to 4 days of my cycle).  Get one ultrasound done and am supposed to come back in two weeks to get the other.  Pain goes away and I don’t go back, to “save money”.  Stupid (grad) student.

Summer 2006 – Entered RCIA classes to “learn more”.  Famous last words :)  Also started strong acne medicine that requires you be on birth control.  Convince my doctor that I do not need birth control because I will not be having sex.  Hard sell, but she lets me sign a waiver (and the rights to sue her).

Spring 2006 – Learn about NFP (and call my now-husband crazy, as he is the first person I’ve met in my life who doesn’t want to use contraception in their marriage) and later, Catholicism. (much more detailed version of my conversion here)

January 2006 – Get off the pill on a whim, 2 months after meeting my boyfriend (now-husband) mostly to help us commit to a chaste relationship, a change for both of us.  Normal cycle returns soon after.

Teaching NFP as a subfertile couple

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.

Not meant to be? Discerning parenthood

“I think clearly God is telling you guys you’re not meant to be parents right now.”

I was catching up with a friend the other day and this was what she came up with after I had filled her in with the going-ons of our life these days.  All I could think of in response was,

“Well, duh.”

I wasn’t upset she said that, because it is probably the most direct and obvious statement of the truth I’ve heard in a while.  In fact, if I were to get upset, I guess the response would be purely an emotional one, more along the lines of “Well why doesn’t God listen to ME because I WANT to be a parent right now” and not actually refuting the truth of what she said.  That would be besides the point.  Her statement still rings true.  It stings and is hard to swallow probably because yes, in my situation, it is true.  I don’t believe God could be making a mistake right now.

I have to remind myself as a married couple we have been called by God to be open to fertility, not necessarily to be parents on demand – which very well may have been our desire.  I think back to how we discerned to no longer use NFP to avoid pregnancy and I remember the decision vividly.  While the decision was complex and personal, it was blatantly clear we no longer had just financial reasons and while neither of us had graduated and had certain jobs, we would have been in a position to properly care for a child had one come along in 9 months.  I’m slightly embarrassed to say that it was not that we had a strong pull that now was the time for us to become parents, although part of me wishes it was so I could have more clarity on our move from here, its just not true.  And in hindsight, I would consider it a blessing that it didn’t happen that way for us.  It was only that our just reasons to not share our fertility with each other were gone, which thankfully, is more than enough reason to not use NFP.  While one great benefit of NFP is that it can help you target your fertile time to achieve pregnancy, NFP’s main purpose as far as morality is concerned is to help those with just reasons to avoid pregnancy.  I do not believe the Church teaches anywhere that NFP is meant to be the default condition of all married couples.  What it ultimately came down to for us was that we knew by using NFP to avoid pregnancy, we were literally holding something back from one another.  Yes, we had not contracepted and done anything immoral, but we were both conscious of the fact that we were not entirely giving ourselves to one another.  For just reasons, our fertility still remained guarded.  And over the course of a few months, it became clear to each of us, first separately and then together, that we weren’t being called to hold back from one another anymore but to take what came.

Take what came.

What came is that we discovered that the opposite of a call to avoid pregnancy is not a call to pregnancy, which unfortunately, many people of varying degrees of fertility believe.

1664 Unity, indissolubility, and openness to fertility are essential to marriage. Polygamy is incompatible with the unity of marriage; divorce separates what God has joined together; the refusal of fertility turns married life away from its “supreme gift,” the child

This is why the comment,

“Perhaps God’s just telling you guys that you’re not supposed to be parents right now”

is so funny to me.

What else could God possibly be telling us?  We have given him ample opportunity for Him to bestow on us the ‘supreme gift’.  Just as I don’t believe He makes mistakes with “oops” babies, I know that if we give Him the openness of our fertility, He’s not up there saying “Oh crap!  Those little guys missed the egg again!  Sorry Moonheads, I’ll try harder next month!” In fact,  I believe that only by giving Him the openness of our fertility after responsibly discerning parenthood can we be certain that our desires aren’t getting in the way of His will.  Just like we can’t accidentally become parents, we can’t accidentally not become parents.

Which then brings me to the statement which I do find rational disagreement with,

“Why don’t you just adopt?”

I’ve stated the call to not use NFP to avoid pregnancy is not necessarily a decision to become parents.  God gets to make that decision.  For us, God has made the decision to not make us parents so I do believe I should approach our journey to continue to be parents with the utmost prayer and selflessness, which of course is not an immediate decision.  I’ve talked to other women who felt, much like I did, that the first year of not postponing pregnancy felt more like a year of being a mother without a child, rather than just a woman with no children (which is in reality more accurate).  I believe that it was because somewhere in there, in either my anguish to hide the fact that I wasn’t pregnant or in order to try to keep hope alive and prepare for what still may have come statistically,  I made the decision that I was to be a parent.  At this point I’ve realized I have no power to make that decision.  (I will add in here for those who wonder that my husband has remained level headed and not had to play these mind games with himself.  One difference of how infertility affects men and women!) The fact that God is so clearly not making use of our biology, is a large, harsh, but realistic sign to me that perhaps not only am I not to be a parent right now, but not at all.  Maybe we are supposed to fulfill our desires to become missionaries or some other non-traditional way of serving others, as opposed to parenthood, at least at this moment.

In order to “just adopt”, I would want to be sure that God is calling me to parenthood, which does not necessarily follow from not being able to have children biologically and in fact may be a large sign that we’re not.

I must also add that while adoption may not necessarily be the conclusion for all infertile couples for a variety of reasons, I do believe this period of being open to fertility is quite necessary as a step towards adoption.  I don’t know of any couples that have used NFP to avoid pregnancy while pursuing adoption, although that doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen.  God can use this time to plant this seed, prune us and see if we are called to parenthood.  However, that of course means that the time of working through the grief accompanying infertility is also necessary for adoption.

In short, I’ve learned (the painful way) that being open to fertility is not necessarily the same as discerning parenthood and that for some people, the painful way is how discerning parenthood has to happen, because God does not accidentally leave those childless.

On goaltending

Thank you for your kind comments.  A long Saturday morning Skype conversation with the hubs averted the derailment of the sanity train – at least this time!  [Note to self that not exercising for 3 weeks may also not be good for my mental health.] In case it ever appears that I have it all together, let it be known that I don’t.

I did want to share a funny story.  This weekend, while I was holding back tears after a friend asked if we stopped trying – because if we’re not pregnant by now we must have stopped, right? – and then quickly changed the subject as if the question had never been asked when I answered that yes, we were still trying (maybe I just imagined the whole thing?),  my husband was answering his own questions in Mexico and with way more pizazz!

I don’t know all the details of the situation, but he was at dinner with other people in the program and there was a conversation about kids.  Everyone was chiming in with their “We want 1.5 kids” when my husband responded “Oh yes, we want an army” – an answer that he likes to give because, well he would welcome an army of children and he enjoys seeing people’s reactions who have just professed to have a fear of children.  He can be obnoxious like that, but he likes to answer with humor rather than preaching.  Of course, the response, as always is “Well, what about Alison though…does she want that?” because as we know, all women hate children.  “Of course she does.”  And then came the next question,

“So then, are you guys going to pull the goalie?”

At which point in the Skype conversation, I started hysterically laughing.

Apparently my husband responded in his gangster wanna-be way, “Oh, the goalie’s been done pulled!”

Have you heard that saying before?  Pulling the goalie?  Really?  Hilarious.

I couldn’t help but think later that that phrase isn’t very accurate for NFP couples because, well, there was never really a goalie to begin with.  So I started brainstorming phrases to respond to next time people ask if we “pulled the goalie”.

–  The goalie didn’t even get to practice with the team!

–  The goalie never even showed up to the game!

–  You guys play with a goalie?

–  What’s a goalie?

–  Anyone who uses their hands is cheating.

–  We don’t play with a goalie, our offense is that good.

 

Ok, that’s all I got.  Perhaps I have taken this analogy too far.

 

…or maybe I didn’t take it far enough!  Got any others?

Free BC?

This article makes me sad, but I guess its not really that different from the uphill battle we already face.  It just makes it feel a little steeper.

I recently went grocery shopping with my friend at Whole Foods to get chicken and veggies that were sold without hormones and pesticides.  All while she’s ingesting a tiny pill jam packed full of hormones everyday.  I resisted pointing out the irony, as she already knows my stance on contraception.  I don’t know if I’ll be as strong the next time.  I do want to be a peacemaker but I could cut the hypocrisy with a knife.

This is the same girl that I listen to routinely complain about her nausea and lack of sex drive.  What else can I say?  Are the other options really worse?  And when I explained the next steps medically recommended for us to try to have children, she remarked that “taking a little pill everyday is so much easier”.  Yes, yes it is.  Unfortunately, that little pill won’t give you a baby.

Of course, then she could just pop in an IUD, which sound even more terrifying.  Its interesting that while she will take the pill, at least she draws the line at an IUD.  I guess everyone has their limits of what’s ‘natural’?  I don’t know how a woman could ever make the decision to put one of those in their body.

The things we do to have control.

In our hands?

A while back I updated how I’m now learning the Creighton method of NFP.  It seems to be the sub-fertile thing to do, so I hopped on, thinking I could get some good information about my cycles and talk to doctors that would understand and respect my stance on ART.

I think its finally hitting me what this all means.

I have two months of charts now.  Two months of charts that will be sent off to Dr. Hilgers for his assessment of the situation (which according to my practitioner, he’s very likely to suggest that I have endometriosis based on lack of any other reason and recommend surgery).

And then the treatment can start.

Because all of this up til now, this was nothing.

I cried in the car right after we had our last session.  I almost started crying during the session, but I managed to hold off.  Just something about having to go through all of these steps to have a baby creates anxiety.  Steps that so many other people don’t have to go through at all, that you shouldn’t have to go through.  Its not the way God designed our bodies.

And this was all after my relaxing birthday weekend of beach time, spa treatments and massages, so I really was at my absolute ‘chillest’.

As much success as I’ve had charting with the Creighton method (and my charts look the same, by the way, just now with colored stickers!) I have to say, this idea of control is what is freaking me out more than anything.  I’m weary of this promise and hope that Creighton and Naprotechnology is providing.  I believe in the method working, I just fear that putting my faith in these doctors will consume me and our pursuit of family.  We also fear blindly following our desire for biological children.  Its really easy to keep going on as we are, but it will take a concerted effort to up the treatment.  I’m an extremely indecisive person anyway (seriously, I can’t figure out what to order at restaurants most of the time!) and I’ve realized I don’t like to be in control but find pleasure in going with the flow and adapting.  I also know that I have a fear of wanting something only to not get it (I actually dread birthdays because of that – all the hype!).  I can’t imagine going through the initial 2-week treatment required in Omaha without stressing out. And that’s just the beginning!  It just all sounds so intense, which is the opposite name of the game I’ve been playing with myself these days.

I know we need to up our prayer life a lot to discern what’s right for us as this progresses and while we know that its not right for us to start anything now (see this), it has hit me how much harder this is going to get.  And that statistically, waiting around much longer doesn’t have the best odds.

I have a renewed sense of respect for all the women going through treatment now.  So my question is, how did you do it?  How did you and your husband decide when to start your treatment?  Was there a distinct moment, or was it gradual?  Also, did you and your husband agree on when to start?  We’ve only done diagnostics at this point and they’ve all come back a-okay.

I’d love to hear from those of you that have gone through this.

What I did for NFP week

NFP week is almost over and I realized I never wrote anything substantial on it!  I’m not feeling entirely inspired to write anything deeply personal, although if I did want to write something about how NFP helped me fully represent my feminist views, it would look a lot like this.  I did want to mention a few of the things that we’ve done over these past few weeks to celebrate NFP.

NFP Witness Talk

Of all the things I wanted to do on my birthday, this really was at the top of the list.  So high up there in fact, that we delayed ‘celebrating’ until another day so that my husband and I could put on the monthly NFP witness talk.  And I’m sad we didn’t volunteer to do it earlier!  The class is basically an information session on NFP geared towards advertising NFP and getting couples to sign up for the real class.  We give a witness talk about how NFP works in our marriage and then go over the basics of what NFP is.  This month’s class was packed.  Every chair was taken by a couple that had probably never heard about NFP, which is a lot of pressure on us to make a good impression.  As we did introductions it was apparent that everyone had either been dating for 10 years or was already married civilly.  I think we did a good job and we got several comments afterwards about how people had never heard of NFP and were so impressed by our talk that they wanted to sign up for the full class.  Just hearing that comment once was worth it!  And we were sure to mention the words ‘sex’ and ‘intercourse’  a lot (maybe too much?)!  We even met the manager of a local major restaurant and he wanted to invite us out for a free dinner.  Hopefully we’ll be able to cash that in before we move!

Some funny questions included:

“So how long does that ‘honeymoon’ period get to last though?” – (didn’t quite know how to answer, usually people ask how long they have to abstain, not how long they have to have fun!)

“Where do you have to stick the thermometer?” – (a classic…answer? your mouth)

Additionally, the hubs had bought cupcakes for my bithday and made the whole class sing me Happy Birthday before we would give them their certificates.  Cute?  Yes.  Abuse of our power?  Probably. 

Oh, and we even got our picture taken by this cute couple documenting their marriage prep process!  Super cute.

NFP Awareness Week Mass

This Mass was held last Sunday.  Although we weren’t able to go to the Mass itself because the hub’s family was in town (we had gone to Mass earlier and we had to say goodbye to them in the evening), we did head over there for the potluck portion.  It was a nice event, although there weren’t as many people there as last year.  We did meet up with another couple that is in the process of adopting so that was great to catch up.  We decided to find a table that there were no kids at, which at an NFP appreciation Mass, was extremely hard to do.  But we found a young couple we didn’t know and plopped ourselves next to them.  It turns out, they weren’t married but had just wandered over because they had heard the announcement during Mass and were curious what it was all about.  They weren’t even engaged yet, but it was nice to see a couple that easily could have been the hubs and I a few years back just looking into all aspects of married life, making this decision carefully.  We all went around and talked about how we met, how we learned about NFP, etc.  Again, it was great to remember (for me) that we do have a place to help others now, since if I had little ones running around I may not have had time to pay attention to that young couple and help them feel welcome (they did look a little like “What have we gotten ourselves into??).

Anyway, NFP week has come and gone, but I, like Elizabeth’s husband Heathcliff ;), think that every week is NFP awareness week!  Now excuse me as I prepare a packet of information for my doctor the other week who went on and on about how NFP doesn’t work.  I told him I’d send him a few of the studies that prove otherwise.  I have it all printed out, I just need to get it in the mail! 

Is that too crazy?!