Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The Crazy World of Natural Family Planning (NFP)

Lately, I have had several people ask me about Natural Family Planning (NFP).  I have tried to write e-mail after e-mail but I can't get it all into an e-mail so I decided that I would just use my blog as my avenue.  For all I know, it will find its way into a lot of other people's lives because it's posted here.  I guess I'll just start from the beginning. 

So, NFP...

I do not believe in contraception.  I believe that our fertility is a gift.  So, when P and I were talking about getting married, I knew that NFP would be how we planned our family.  I have never craved an extremely large family.  What I did crave was to seek God's Will because I knew that it was the only way to find fulfillment.  This goes either way.  If His Will for me is to only have three kids, then as much as I may humanly struggle with that, I'm okay with it.  And if His will is for me to have 15 (and Lord knows I'd struggle with that)...well...by that point, I'm sure I'd be okay with it.  My point is that I wanted to give God the first shot.  He created me, He created my roadmap, He's going to know what will bring me fulfillment, I sure as heck was not going to put an obstacle in His way.  He has already proven Himself, no need to give Him another test.

Okay, so enough on why I chose it, back to NFP.  So, what NFP consists of is tracking a woman's cycle to determine her times of fertility.  With each month, based on the couples discernment of God's Will for their family at that time, they can have sex or abstain from sex.  This period for most couples, is about 7-10 days.  Without a doubt, abstaining during this time is very difficult.  God was smart when he created our bodies to desire intimacy the most when we are fertile.  He told us to 'be fruitful and multiply' and then did everything He could to make it happen...haha.  Smart man! 

So, how do you track these signs?  Well, there are several 'methods' of natural family planning.  Each method focuses on different ways to determine fertility.  I use the marquette method that along with charting bodily changes, I also use a monitor that tells me when there is a switch in hormone dominance (signifying fertility).  Whatever method you choose, Marquette, Creighton, Billings, etc, they will all teach you to accurately track what is going on with your body.  The first step is finding a teacher for the method that you think best fits your lifestyle.  This website can help you find someone in your area.

The Pros of NFP:
In the words of my husband,
"I'm not saying that I like it but NFP is one of the best things we've done for our marriage."
*NFP, without a doubt in the world, forces constant conversation about a couples sex life.  This includes ones likes and dislikes, fertility issues or concerns, and what each spouse is discerning about the future of their family.  It completely takes away the hesitance to speak up about anything.  When I first got married, I was very embarrassed about sex.  Because of the constant conversation about where we were in my cycle, one conversation would lead into another which would lead into another.  I rarely had to bring anything up out of the blue and the knowledge that we were always on the same page created an incredible trust and bond within our marriage.

*NFP makes it much easier to fix an irregular cycle.  Because you are tracking your symptoms on a daily basis, it is easy for a doctor to help you figure out what is going on to make things irregular.  This is also very helpful when dealing with fertility issues.

*More frequent and better sex.  I know, that's kind of blunt but it's not just coming from me...it's proven.  Because of the increased conversation about your sexual relationship, sex is more fulfilling.  Your likes/dislikes have already been talked about and you are more likely to speak up if something comes up.  Also, because there are times of abstinence, couples who practice Natural Family Planning, experience the 'Honeymoon Effect' much more frequently than those who have no restrictions on their sex life.  

*Deeper intimacy with your spouse.  This is HUGE.  One of the biggest things I have learned while using NFP is that intimacy does not mean sex.  Intimacy is anything that brings you are your spouse together and allows for an emotional, mental, or physical connection.  During times of abstinence, a couple can not just disconnect for a week...they have to find other ways of staying connected to one another.  P and I have found so many other ways of staying connected that we would have never known about if we would not have practiced NFP.  This is definitely one of my favorites!

*Confidence that you are giving God the first shot at your life, family, and fertility. 

The Cons of NFP:

*It's hard.  Let's face it, constantly opening yourself to something that might not be 'convenient', abstaining during an anniversary trip, and having to be persistant about charting can be a pain.  (But a worth it pain, I promise.)

*Surprise Pregnancies.  We have not planned any of our pregnancies.  I have to be honest and say that I cried after finding out I was pregnant 2 of the 3 times.  After the fact, what I have learned about NFP and 'Surprise Pregnancies' is this:
1) Surprise pregnancies have nothing to do with NFP.  At the same time that I was having my children, I had multiple friends who were on birth control ALSO find out they were pregnant.
2) While a surprise, I know exactly why I got pregnant with Little P and Little C (God must have willed Mini-C because I have no clue.)  NFP is 100% accurate if done right. 
3) There is great comfort in knowing that you are always open to the lives that God wants to give you.  I'll admit, it took me some time to say that I genuinely felt this way but I really do.  One thing I never want to experience is going to the gates of heaven and meeting the children that He wanted to give me.  I want to be open to whatever He has for me.
4) God is SO MUCH SMARTER THAN ME!  When I think back to when I got pregnant with Little P, it astonishes me that he wasn't in my plan.  We have no clue what will unfold in our lives, how can we 'plan' for something that we know nothing about?
5) I have learned more from my 'surprise pregnancies' than I ever could have imagined.  There were lessons that I NEEDED to learn and character qualities that I needed to gain in order to be the woman I was meant to be.  I never would have learned those things in 'my plan'.

So there you have it.  That is everything I have about NFP.  I do want to make one thing clear.  God gave us common sense, intuition, and a brain.  These are also things that need to be used while discerning.

If you have any questions, I would be happy to answer them.  I just wanted to get the base line out there.  Also, a lot of my friends are on birth control, there is no judgement (and I hope that they all feel this way).  If any of this came off as preachy, I did not intend for it to be.  My heart is genuine in laying it out for those who are inquiring.

3 comments:

  1. Love this! Your honesty is beautiful (especially about the surprise pregnancies.)

    We are beautifully designed why would we ever want to alter it? Thanks for sharing your story! :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Organized content is the best way to display or post an article, thank you for making it easy to digest your post.

    Family Planning in Oxnard, CA

    ReplyDelete

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