Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Our Journey Through NFP

Catholics aren't supposed to use contraception.  I’ll start with that statement, because I realize that every reader who comes across this blog may not know it.  I was married in the Church and went through RCIA and I didn’t know that rather basic fact.  We’d gone to the Engaged Encounter weekend at a “convent” and that rather simple, important fact, never came up. 

I say “convent” because the location of our Engaged Encounter was a place where these rather grumpy nuns lived (we got yelled at for sitting in a hallway working on a workbook as we’d been instructed)… but it didn’t really look like a convent, with the Buddha statues and the Buddhist prayer maze thing… and actually now that I’ve found their site online and looked at their schedule of events, I guess “center” is a much better description. 

Anyways, there were some valuable points in our Engaged Encounter weekend.  We learned about the importance of praying as a family.  And we talked about how much money spent on an item was considered a “big expense” that needed to be talked over before it was made (in our house that would be $10…).  But I honestly don’t remember any talk of contraception coming up. 

I knew about NFP (Natural Family Planning) from a class I’d taken during college, but I didn’t really understand why Catholics would use it, because that big piece of the puzzle, the knowledge that the Church hadn’t signed off on birth control, was missing. 

For those of you who don’t know, NFP is one way that Catholics, after careful prayer and deliberation, are able to postpone pregnancy if they have a serious reason to.  NFP uses knowledge of a woman’s cycle and fertile times, through various methods that include temperatures, cervical position and mucus, to determine when a woman is fertile each month.  It can have a steep learning curve, but for some couples, once you get the hang of it, it can be difficult to not know when you’re fertile because the signs become hard to miss (not everyone experiences this, but it has been my experience). 

The serious reasons I’ve heard given over the years vary widely and go from “we’re living in poverty” to “I’d like to take a big vacation every year and I’d like for each of my kids to have their own room” (I have really heard that second one given…).  Because of the difficulty that many people have using NFP, I’d lean towards believing that most people do use it for bonafide “serious reasons” but every time I hear a reason like the one described above, I kind of wince. 

NFP can also be used to achieve pregnancy.  By knowing when you ovulate you can know which days are best for trying to conceive.  And since there aren’t all that many fertile days in a month it can sometimes help couples who have struggled to conceiving do just that. 

Now that we’ve gotten my very basic description of NFP out of the way, I’ll finally get down to the point of this post:  I’ve become increasingly bothered by a certain way of thinking I’ve noticed over the last couple of years in the online Catholic world.  It’s the idea that using NFP and “avoiding” all the time is almost the default position for Catholic couples. 

I know that times are tough.  Believe me, I know.  These days I’m grateful for things like indoor plumbing and warm water.  I’d be a horrible person to have on House Hunters because I would literally walk into every single house and say:  “This is wonderful… Look, a house of our own honey… I love it!” 

But I wish a little less time was given to saying:  “NFP is 99% effective at avoiding pregnancy!” and a little more time given to whether or not we actually need to be avoiding.  Should most young couples be avoiding when they first walk down the aisle (If you follow the link you’ll find a great article written by Joseph from Defend Us in Battle for a Catholic Dad’s site) ?  Is “we need time to get to know each other!” an actual reason (and isn’t “getting to know each other” what dating is for?)?

Occasionally you’ll even run across those in our little Catholic online world who act as if anyone who doesn’t use NFP, and lets children be spaced as they will, is somehow irresponsible.  And that really bothers me.  NFP is accepted by the Church for use with serious reasons.  It is not required.  It never has been.   

The path we’ve been on regarding these decisions hasn’t always been easy.  But I’ll be forever grateful to the now-retired priest who looked at me like I was crazy when I told him our “Serious Reason” (we’d been saving for two years for a two year backpacking trip around the world and were only two and a half months away from leaving when we found out I was expecting).  Rather than just cheering that we had decided to use NFP to avoid becoming parents, he examined my concept of “serious” and shook his head.  

Eventually, as a result of that conversation/confession, I began to see being open to life in a whole new light and began to truly see life as a blessing.  In our case that no longer involves NFP.  And I can honestly say that I hope that it doesn't involve NFP ever again.  Because it isn't the default path in our lives, it's the in-case-of-emergency-route... it may someday be necessary but I really pray that's it's not.  

You see, using NFP can strengthen a relationship, but so can being open to life and simply trusting in God through the seasons of life.  And both are equally valid choices.


  1. NFP is what showed us how desperately messed up my PCOS had my body. It's hard to get pregnant if you never ovulate. Thanks to NFP we were able to show the doctor and get the medication needed to help straighten out my body and eventually nudge it into having a baby. 2 1/2 long years latter we were finally pregnant and have our beautiful little girl (well not so little at 5)

  2. >You see, using NFP can strengthen a relationship, but so can being open to life and simply trusting in God through the seasons of life.

    Heh. :) See, this is just one of many reasons I relate to your blog, and have been a reader for ... wow, it must be two years by now. (This is that older Lutheran woman again. ;) )
    My husband (who was raised Catholic) and I have both embraced that sort of attitude from the start. Neither of us have ever used any type of birth control (neither artificial nor NFP), nor have we used any fertility treatments despite being infertile. We were both virgins at marriage, by choice, so birth control was never even thought about. And we knew we would have fertility issues before we even married (I'm PCOS), so we decided way back while we were still dating, that if God decided we'd have a baby the old fashioned way -- fine. If God decided 'no' to that, then we would adopt a child who needed a home. We've left it all *entirely* up to Him (except for our initiating the act of adoption, I guess you could say, though we had two unique coincidences happen, regarding the child that China gave us, that really seemed too coincidental to not have been positive messages from on-high). I was 29 when we married, and I'm 42 now. And we continue the same way ... entirely up to Him.
    So anyway, maybe you'll understand when I say that I think I really "get" this statement: "simply trusting in God through the seasons of life."
    Hope things continue well in your new home. :) And I'm going to pick up brocolli at my next groceries run, to try that amazing sounding soup. :)

  3. Not that I disagree with you, far from it, but you woke up this morning and said to yourself "today I feel like dancing on a fire ant mound" didn't you? Every time I have tried to talk about this, especially around Catholic women, the response has been to tar, feather and run me out of town on a rail. Might be a guy thing, or just being me.

    One article you may enjoy from Crisis Magazine is "Making Babies" by H.W. Crocker III. Not quite the same mindset as your article, but relevant.

  4. NFP can strengthen a relationship, but it can be hard too. I have a medical reason to avoid pregnancy and I can tell you I would much rather not use NFP and welcome a new baby in our family if it were possible.

    I think it is difficult to discuss the serious reasons to avoid pregnancy because they can be so varying. For one couple a serious reason to avoid may not be serious for another couple (personality and ability to deal with stressors can be so different for different couples). I have talked at length about this with priests and they all say the same thing, that they can help guide a couple, but it is the couple that can only truly discern whether they have a serious reason to avoid pregnancy or not, and therefore, use NFP. When it comes to finances, spacing of children, etc, some couples may not be able to handle the stress of a pregnancy at that time, and therefore, it may be better for them to wait.

    With that being said, I think the beauty of NFP is that God is still in charge.

  5. Thanks for sharing your story/input.

    We don't use contraception and we don't use NFP. We have a grave enough reason to use NFP but we can't at this point because I have a serious health condition that makes tracking nearly impossible. I do go to a pro-life OBGYN and he feels that it is very unlikely that we would be blessed with a child and if it did happen I would discontinue the treatments that would but the child in danger. If it was possible for us to use NFP, I would because I would not be avoiding long term and I would be doing so for my own health and the health of any children. However, I think NFP will be more useful for us when we are trying to conceive then to avoid pregnancy.

    One thing I really don't understand is why so many Catholics use contraception. That's probably for a whole other post but I have met countless couples who have used contraception via pill or IUD and see no problem with it.

  6. I would like to add that my recommended article is exceptionally sarcastic and over the top. It is not to be taken at face value.

  7. We are well versed in NFP but don't use it. We don't avoid. We don't try to conceive. We just let God do what he wills. If we felt we had a serious reason to avoid a pregnancy, we could but we don't discern we have one right now.

    The Church wisely lets couples discern for themselves what reasons are serious but it is a shame the word "vacation" would enter anywhere into such an argument. I generally avoid NFP discussions because there have come to be too many people who think their way of using NFP (or not using it) is the way everyone else should be using it and the "holier-than-thou" beast rears its ugly head. I'm sure some people would find us irresponsible. Others wouldn't. The Church has left the discernment to us and I don't see anyone else's opinion as important.

  8. I am completely with you on this one. I read a blog lately on large family size and enjoyed their answer, "we have children because I love my spouse". Which is a great answer. Children are a result of love between husband and wife, a very visible one. So, having children for me are a display of how much I love my husband. :)

    I didn't know about NFP until a few years ago, shortly before I got married and I listened to Janet Smith's "Contraception, Why Not" (love it). I had no idea that you could accurately track your fertility. When I was in school I was told, "you can get pregnant at any time, even when you're on your period" which the timing could be true for someone with a short cycle.

    My husband and I tracked my fertility before we got married and I then used it to determine if we were pregnant after we got married. The nice thing was knowing the conception date. When I went to the OBGYN, I told them when I had my last period and when I ovulated and when my due date was. I was one day off according to the sonogram, the chart was a week off, and the nurse was 3 days off. I win.

    My father always recommended that we wait three years before having children to get to know one another. But I couldn't see that as a good idea. Once you have children, you change. You will never be the same person you were. Your tastes change, you like new things, even your work ethic changes. Add on top of that that the longer you put off having kids, the harder it is (physically and mentally). My mom says, "having children is for the young". At 33 and having 1 child who is 9 months old is really hard. If I had married at 18 or 20, I'd have a teenager right now and enjoying a new age of sleep. Also, when my little guy is so busy I can barely keep up my mom tells me, "this is why people have more than one child, they keep each other busy and let you rest". My mom would often put me in the playpen with my brothers and tell me to play with them so she could get some work done, and I would do just that, giving my mom an hour or two of rest time or work time.

    Having children are a wonderful gift, I want many more and we don't do anything to dissuade getting pregnant.

  9. I definitely want to stress that I think the using NFP to conceive, especially when there have been infertility struggles, is totally wonderful! They always make me smile (although they make me very sad that anyone has to go through that in the first place...).

    And to my Lutheran friend, your story is amazing too! I love reading about that sort of trust in God in a relationship and in your lives!

    And Baron- I did kind of want to spice up my blog a bit. :0)

    I'm almost kind of ready for the potential firestorm that could follow.


    And I think it is harder for you to be "allowed" to write about it because your a man. A lot of women seem to think that men just can't have opinions about these things at all! It's kind of bizarre and Paul has a name for that sort of "logic", but it's not a name I could print on my blog with it's G-rating....

  10. Future NFP user right here I have already started learning how to get the hang of it. Your blog has truly inspired me and it's definitely encouraged me in my walk in being a Catholic since I as well am a convert after going through RCIA last Easter. I also have been drawn to the Latin Mass and will be attending a SSPX parish when I move.

  11. I'm in a unique position that I am using the birth control pill for medical reasons as a Catholic, but my husband and I are abstaining completely while I am on it for moral reasons. I am trying to get in to see a NaPro doctor so that I can figure out my medical issues without having to take the pill.

    We normally use NFP, so that's how I answered your poll!

  12. Prayers Anonymous! That would be such a hard position to be in (I've always thought that if I were in a position where I had to take the pill that's the only thing I'd feel okay with doing) and I pray that you find a wonderful NaPro doctor who can work out the problems and help you! God Bless!

  13. One of the reasons that this is a difficult topic to discuss even among NFP using Catholics is that our "serious reasons" are something to be discussed in the privacy of our bedrooms. You may not understand mine... I may not understand yours; its that intimate and ongoing discernment within the context of marriage that holds the key. It is unfortunate that many Catholic people discuss NFP as if it is the approved contraception. But praise God that they aren't harming their bodies and souls with artificial devices... their NFP intentions and motivations are only for their spouse and God to know.

    My husband and I know how to use NFP but just never have because our babies have been naturally spaced from our use of on-demand breastfeeding through about 18 months. This has given us about 2 to 3 years between children (including the delay we had because of our miscarriage). I do not think the prayerful use of NFP is wrong, however, and encourage all couples to learn it and get to know and understand the miracle of fertility. There certainly may be times in life where a little pause is needed and this knowledge will be helpful.

    As an aside... there comes a time in parenthood and married life when something like panic sets in. For some, it is with child number two and a rocky marriage; for others it is child number 6 and a lost job. When that moment hits it is suddenly crystal clear why the world is drawn to artificial contraception. The attraction and temptation rises before one's eyes as the tears hit the floor. It is a shocking moment; one we never thought would tempt us. At these moments, it is a blessing for a couple to have already embraced and learned about NFP. It may provide a legitimate way for a couple to take a step back, breath, reconnect, calm down... and start again.

    The imperfect use by some is not a good reason to discourage its use in general. Since NFP use is permitted by the Church and almost all Catholic couples (96 to 98%) contracept instead, it seems good to encourage Catholic married couples to pursue an understanding of this beautiful and healthy option.

  14. I definitely see the value in knowing it, although at times I wish that I didn't. I'm not always grateful that by default I know exactly when I'm fertile each and every month, because the signs are, for me, so glaringly obvious (and I realize that it's kind of strange that it bothers me because other people would love to have that "problem."). Because it makes every month a decision: are we trying? or are we avoiding? But that's just my own personal little annoyance with it, that's not really here or there, and that I'm sure is a far smaller complaint than many that are out there (especially with the struggle for some to avoid).

    And there are definitely valid reasons for it. My only complaint is that it does seem like it's almost assumed that we "should" use it and I have heard people say that it's "irresponsible" not to. And that really bothers me.

    I don't think that opting out of NFP is irresponsible at all. If I were to go back and start over I think it is something I'd probably rather not know, and would learn if the need arose (either to try to conceive or to avoid).

    In the end I definitely agree that it's not inherently wrong (I hope that came across), although it can be misused (as in my own personal example of a trip around the world... rampant misuse of "serious"!). I just hope to never have to use it.

    We've gone the nursing for spacing route too and it's worked really well for us. I wouldn't mind a 18 month to around 2 year gap, if that is part of God's plan. Although I'm sure there will be times (like this afternoon) when I feel a bit like tearing my hair out as everyone melts down at the same time in a show of sisterly solidarity!

  15. We used NFP both TTC and TTA for many years, through several miscarriages, breastfeeding, and right up to an early menopause. I can't really say that I have fond memories of it; in fact it was actually a cause of stress, as I think it can be when there are serious reasons.

    One thing I feel I must point out; when there are real medical reasons to take hormones ("birth control pills") it is simply NOT required to abstain. In fact, if one keeps in mind the Church's emphasis on both the procreative and UNITIVE
    aspects of marital relations, one might gain a different perspective. It is sometimes easy to be over-scrupulous in these areas, when that is not what the Church teaches at all.


  16. Hi Marie- It isn't required to abstain, but with most (all?) birth control pills being having abortive qualities which prevent implantation, I wouldn't be able to sleep at night with the knowledge that I'd accidently aborted a child that. Even if it weren't intentional, it wouldn't be something I could deal with. Thankfully I've never been faced with that choice, but when we've discussed it both Paul and I've agreed that using a drug that has abortive qualities while possibly creating new life isn't something either of us could live with.

  17. Complicated, difficult topic. Seems like something The Church needs to explore A LOT more, considering that the vast, vast majority of Catholics see nothing wrong with contraception and use it throughout their lives. I'm not suggesting The Church needs to accept birth control, but something is very wrong when this "rule" is blatantly ignored by most because they feel it is impractical, unimportant and/or outdated (or worse - ridiculous, strange and damaging to marriage.)

    My older sister has used contraception since her fourth child was born in 2005. I asked her why, as a Catholic, she did so. She looked at me and simply said: Matt and I definitely do not want any more kids, I never, ever want to be pregnant again, and as the exhausted, burned-out mother of four, I'm just not willing to take on NFP and worry every month that I might be pregnant... We hardly ever have time or energy to have sex as it is! Not sure what to say to that sentiment!

  18. I wonder if priests teaching about it more during Mass would help at all? In my experience it was something that just didn't really come up, so that one could attend Mass and be active in the Church and, if I hadn't done additional research on my own, never know that it was wrong. Then again, I can understand why it's avoided because of the reaction so many people have!

    I am surprised by the results of the poll so far! It's not what I expected at all!

  19. I hope this isn't too personal but when using nfp do you just chart or use a fertility monitor?

  20. Hi Lexie-

    That's not too personal. I always charted, but if I could've afforded a fertility monitor I probably would have gotten one when I was first figuring it out. These days I can tell pretty much by the signs and symptoms of my body, without the cervical checks or the temps.

  21. After I voted, I was surprised to see the results thus far as well. I guess that tells you a little bit about your readership. :-)

    I would have to say that I am on the Pro NFP side of camp, but for TTC. (Also TTA for grave reasons but I don't have any so I wouldn't use it to TTA)

    When I got married, I was on the pill for medical reasons and I actually switched doctors twice to find one that would give me another option. (But that's a whole other story)

    I'd always assumed that I would use NFP to avoid. Like you, I feel like I was poorly catechized about it...no one ever mentioned "grave reasons" to me! After the issues that caused me to go onto the pill, and the continued fertility struggles I have today, hubby and I decided that if we are ever blessed with more children, (I have one adopted you can read about that here:http://sabbyink.blogspot.com/2011/08/about-me-becoming-25-year-old-mother-of.html) we would not space our children at all.

    Today I maintain an awareness of fertility symptoms but am actually discerning weather or not to take a NFP class in order to help achieve.

    As for your struggle with "are we trying this month or not," I generally just followed the line of thinking (because we are up for God's timing and however many children) not to turn my husband down without good reason (like being asleep, or sick, or in public). It may help take off some of the pressure of always being so aware.

  22. Just FYI - The Catechism does not call for a couple to have "grave reasons" to avoid conception. The word the catechism uses is "just." It states:
    "It is their [ the parents'] duty to make certain that their desire [to avoid conception] is not motivated by selfishness but is in conformity with the generosity appropriate to responsible parenthood."

    Humanae Vitae states that the reasons for avoiding pregnancy should be "arising from the physical or psychological condition of husband or wife, or from external circumstances."

    Gaudium et Spes that states:
    "Parents should regard as their proper mission the task of transmitting human life and educating those to whom it has been transmitted. They should realize that they are thereby cooperators with the love of God the Creator, and are, so to speak, the interpreters of that love. Thus they will fulfill their task with human and Christian responsibility, and, with docile reverence toward God, will make decisions by common counsel and effort. Let them thoughtfully take into account both their own welfare and that of their children, those already born and those which the future may bring. For this accounting they need to reckon with both the material and the spiritual conditions of the times as well as of their state in life. Finally, they should consult the interests of the family group, of temporal society, and of the Church herself. The parents themselves and no one else should ultimately make this judgment in the sight of God. But in their manner of acting, spouses should be aware that they cannot proceed arbitrarily, but must always be governed according to a conscience dutifully conformed to the divine law itself, and should be submissive toward the Church’s teaching office, which authentically interprets that law in the light of the Gospel. That divine law reveals and protects the integral meaning of conjugal love, and impels it toward a truly human fulfillment."

    Sometimes individuals take the sentiment to the extreme - they believe and indicate to others that a couple must have "life or death" concerns to avoid conception, or cannot make the choice to delay/avoid conception (through NFP) for anything less than the most extreme - or grave - of reasons. And, that just isn't so. The Church explicitly implores couples to choose responsible parenthood, and to use their own prayerful judgment about what concerns a "just" reason for limiting family size.

  23. Thanks for the quotes. I was actually waiting for someone to say "it doesn't say grave", because that always comes up in NFP conversations, usually much sooner than it did today. For that specific reason I didn't use the word "grave" in my post, although I realize others did in the comment section. I used "serious" which I don't believe is inappropriate in light of the context of the quotes given. It is a serious matter and to come to a just conclusion must be given serious thought.

    No one here, so far, has implied in the least that the reasons must be "life or death." I merely stated, again, that avoiding pregnancy shouldn't be our default mindset. We should have a "just" reason. It shouldn't just be assumed that it's something that everyone should automatically do, just because it's so common.

    The entire point of the post actually, was just to cause people to question the automatic/default mode that I have witnessed some people fall into when discussing NFP and to urge them to really think about whether or not they have "just" reasons to avoid. Because frankly the idea that using NFP automatically makes avoiding okay, doesn't hold water. We do all have to prayerfully decide for ourselves, but it should be with the knowledge that selfishness can come into the equation and that we must truly consider our motives, instead of looking at NFP as "Catholic Birth Control."

    It can be used with a contraceptive mentality and that was the point of this post. Not that it always is: but that it can be.

    And people can be responsible parents without NFP. Again, nowhere does the Church require it. And that's what bothers me. The implication that I've seen so frequently that it's something we MUST learn. Because it isn't.

  24. This kind of explains my passions. I admit I haven't read it sent I wrote it but I think I still feel the same way.


  25. Something I am grateful for is the advances in modern science (and our knowledge of sanitation) that makes childbirth much safer than it was a century ago. Back then, there was legitimate medical reason (people thought) for needing to space pregnancies out every couple of years.

    Nowadays, I think we can definitely say that pregnancy and childbirth are safer and the risks are so much lower--that leaving family size up to powers beyond our control doesn't pose nearly as many risks as it did to our grandmothers.

    Just my two cents on the matter :)

  26. Oh, I realize you didn't say "grave." I wasn't trying to argue with you : ) Just pointing out that while there is nothing wrong with not using NFP, there's also nothing wrong with prayerfully limiting family size for legitimate reasons.

    Interestingly - I've found a lot of the opposite of what you've found. The large families at our parish are seen as the "good Catholics," and the most virtuous - and the smaller families are often assumed to be using contraception or somehow less virtuous or less dedicated to The Church. In fact, a friend of mine had a life-saving hysterectomy due to a severe postpartum hemorrhage after having her second child. One day, at our Catholic school, she good-naturedly remarked to a mother of 6 that, "She really had her hands full." The mother replied - "Well, we didn't quit at two!' My girlfriend was horrified. She would have loved to have had more children.

  27. Hi Anonymous- Hopefully I didn't sound too argumentative either. :O) I was just trying to answer every question, because I also don't want you guys to think that I think that NFP is wrong, only that it shouldn't be the default for all marriages that's used all the time.

    I've definitely heard the other side of the argument too, where people take it too far and assume that everyone else is avoiding or using contraception. I can't imagine that the cross that infertile couples bear the snarky comments people make too...

    The way doctors and nurses at the hospital act after my two c-sections, a postpartum hysterectomy is on my mind a lot, as a possible end to our families fertility. I try not to think about it too much, and am really hoping I can find a way to have a VBAC, if we're ever blessed with another.

  28. It's a very complicated topic, and people get very emotional about it. My girlfriend had a severe hemorrhage after a totally normal, vaginal, unmedicated birth. She had no risk factors and no warning signs. Her previous birth had been uneventful. It was very shocking and very upsetting. She and her husband are in the process of getting approved for an overseas adoption, now, though!

    While I agree that NFP should not always be a default - this is a hard world to raise a large family in. If you want your kids to participate in extracurricular activities, play sports, play a musical instrument, go to Catholic school, get braces, have good medical insurance, eat fresh foods - if you want to drive a safe car, take the family on the occasional vacation, contribute to charities - those things are all harder and harder to do the more children you have, unless you are quite wealthy (and don't mind living in the car!) I have to be honest - I have three kids, and each one plays one sport and one instrument. These activities alone (which I consider to be sort of necessary) constitute about 10 after-school and weekend round trips for me per week between practices, games and lessons. That's not even counting all the other obligations we have as a family. My oldest wants to be in the school play. That's three practices a week. My youngest wants to do Girl Scouts. I hate to say "no" - because I think GS is a great program. My middle is interested in our children's choir at church... On top of all these, each activity costs hundreds (if not thousands) of dollars per year. My middle is about to get braces put on. That's $4,500, minimum. I'm not sure I could AFFORD six or seven kids and raise them the way I want to raise my kids. And we're not jet-setting, designer-wearing, Mercedes-driving people, either. It's just hard.

  29. That is true that it has a lot to do with lifestyle and what priorities you give various aspects of life.

    We live well below the poverty level, but do alright (unless an unexpected expense like the hospital bill, despite our insurance comes up, like the one I'm now disputing). I clip coupons (even before the current craze) and usually can bring home $600 worth of merchandise for anywhere between $3 and $40. We drive a used mini van. We sold our more expensive car because it wasn't practical. We try not to drive much because gas is expensive, but that means we all get a little more exercise, which isn't a bad thing.

    Fresh foods are more expensive, but you do save money on other foods when youdon't buy pre-prepared meals. I can soak beans and peas and use chicken stock with less expensive fresh veggies and make a lot of healthy food for a pretty low price. And that's a big part of my job!

    We are planning on homeschooling (no big school bills!) and I am blessed to be one of those people who got paid a lot of money to give lessons, once upon a time, for rock climbing and swimming and karate and almost for dance (I didn't take the dance job because of the pressure!) so I plan on adding some of those lessons to our curriculum. But even without those things I'm not sure I could (and this is a personal thing!) use activities as a reason to postpone. But again, that is very personal and it is something we each have to figure out for ourselves.

    I'm sure my personal experience heavily influenced that view. I would have much rather had more siblings than another dance class or another sport. Other people who were basically raised as only children (I have a sister more than a decade older than me) think it's great.

    You might want to look into the GS thing a bit more. Here's a few links:


    I won't even buy there cookies after some of their publications hit the web a couple of years back. And I love thin mints. There's an agenda, at least at the national level, and I definitely don't want to be part of that.

  30. Oh wow - I had no idea about GS! We have a troop out of our parish! That is really upsetting to read. Thanks for passing on the info.

    Best of luck with everything! You are right that it's very personal. At what point does adding another child start being too much of a hardship for the existing family members? The answer is different for everyone.

  31. I know! The GS thing just about killed me to read. I love their cookies! And I still oh-so-badly want to buy them!

    Good luck to you too!

  32. I am the Anon above who was taking the pill for medical reasons and was trying to get into a Napro doctor for alternative treatment. Well, you must have someone's ear up there because our prayers were answered already! I saw the only Napro doc in our city today and I officially took my last birth control pill this morning. I am going to be starting on a different hormone treatment that doesn't conflict with my values.

    My husband and I decided to abstain for the reason you listed. Even though it isn't required, we felt that with the knowledge we had we couldn't do differently. We didn't want to unintentionally abort a child due to the pill.

  33. Oh praise God! That's so wonderful that you were able to see a NaPro doctor! Now prayers that he or she figures out what's going on quickly and that there's an easy fix so you can be healthy and happy! God Bless!

  34. Hi cam, love your blog :) my husband and I currently do not use anything to prevent a pregnancy, including NFP. I am exclusively breastfeeding, but we know a pregnancy may still occur and we are open to the possibility. Can I just say that church teaching is wonderful? There is nothing better than looking at your husband and your beautiful new baby and saying, "You know, it would be totally cool if we had another one right now. Or not. Whatever." We have our fair share of crosses and reasons to postpone, but changing our perception of children and refusing to use contraception has given us SUCH PEACE, whether we decide to postpone pregnancy for the time being or not. It is beautiful. I don't think anything makes me feel more loved and appreciated than my husband being open to having as many children as god gives us ...It makes me feel like he values me as a mother. What a gift.

    Oh I also wanted to comment because your sentence about "House Hunters" made me laugh out loud. I am the EXACT same way! It drives me crazy when people on that show go through the houses and sneer at the countertops (they always have to be granite, for some reason....?) and the size of the bathrooms/bedrooms...I would be jumping for joy if I could afford a house, I wouldn't even care (or notice) what kind of countertops it came with!

  35. When I think of a "grave reason" to avoid a pregnancy, I just think of facing God and justifying my reason. That does the trick! I can trick myself into all kinds of ridiculous business when I'm justifying it in the mirror, but I know God sees my heart clear through. It has nothing to do with forgiveness, of course - it has to do with the brutal honesty that we have to take with ourselves when we admit that God knows our every thought and intention. It just makes it so clear, and it's a burden lifted.

    Sadly, I have lost my best friend of fifteen years over my desire to be pregnant immediately following my wedding this past June. Doesn't that sound strange? Why should she give a flying fig? She has never been this way before. I don't know what it is about being open to life, but it genuinely upsets some people. The last conversation we had, she insisted that I wait three years or my husband was going to leave me - and trust me, this is not his position. I have wept, and I have forgiven, but I still just don't understand...

  36. The first half of your comment articulates the way I've tried to view it to (and a lot of other questions): What would God think of my "explanation" for whatever choice I make.

    And I'm so sorry for the second half! I don't understand either... I've noticed a few couples who I know online getting flak from friends and family for conceiving right away and it's kind of baffling...

  37. I, too, am someone who has really obvious fertility signs and am always surprised so many people find NFP hard to use. I suspect I am a bit older than most posters at 45 which brings a slightly different view of the thought of more children. Menopause does not always happen in your early 40s and I have been warned that I am looking at at least 10 more years of potential(but likely decreased) fertility. I am already a mom of 5(my youngest is 4) and a grandma of 3. It is very easy to say bring on the babies when you are less than 30 and rebound easily from a pregnancy but after a pregnancy(and unmedicated childbirth) after 40 you just don't bounce back. Pregnancy is more tiring, taking care of a baby is more exhausting. While I am hardly "old", and actually in the best health since my teens, I just don't have the stamina I did with my oldest kids. My point is, be enthusiastic about having those kids, every one is a joy, but don't be too hard on those older ladies(or their motives) who might be able to conceive another but just don't think they can handle it. Oh, and don't let those nosy people who feel you have gone over your reproductive limit get to you. I told one rude young man who commented on my 5 kids and 3 grandkids that I was aiming to have my DNA take over the world, that it was really a world domination scheme. He was speechless!

  38. It's nice to read a conservative view on this subject as my DH and I often feel we are the only ones who just don't accept the morality of the way NFP is promoted and used.

    I endlessly read that it can be as "effective as contraception" which to me underlines exactly why we should not us it. How can we be justified in having sex if before we do we put so much time and effort into making sure it will be infertile and are so careful not to be intimate when there is a risk of conception.

    When we have felt the need to space things out we have simply abstained until we were ready to be open to God's will. I know we have been lucky - I really feel for those with a medical need to avoid pregnancy I honestly I question whether NFP is the answer.


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