Since this week is NFP-awareness week and I’ve never done an NFP-related post, I thought I’d share some of my thoughts on it.
So, jumping right in, why do we practice NFP?
First, and most importantly, we practice it because using artificial contraception is not technically allowed by the Catholic Church. Before all my non-Catholic family gets on my case about following rules just because the Church says so, it’s actually much deeper than that. The “no contraception-rule” is one of those things that I feel is known by everyone, but it’s never really explained. No one ever says Why you can’t use birth control, they just say you can’t use it.
In a nutshell, this is how I understand it. God’s love is Free, Total, Faithful, and Life-Giving. Marriage is also Free, Total, Faithful and Life-Giving. And if we take out Life-Giving part of Marriage (as in we remove the openness or ability to conceive a child from the marriage act/use artificial birth control) we essentially remove ourselves from fully entering into God’s love. Does God still love us? Yes. But, we are putting a barrier between ourselves and God. We are in essence telling God that we know best when it comes to our fertility, not Him. I don’t about you, but whenever I “know best” when considering God, I always tend to fall really hard.
We also put a barrier between ourself and our spouse. I know this from first hand experience. Before we joined the Church, Jared was anti-artificial birth control (it was how he was raised, but I don’t know what reasons he was given for why it was wrong), I was adamant that I was going to use birth control after both my boys were born because I absolutely didn’t want to get pregnant right away. I hadn’t looked into any alternative methods of preventing pregnancy, and I was just stubbornly going to use birth control whether anyone said it was ok or not. Well, that went over REAL well with Jared. We’ve always been a couple who have more than a few arguments more often than I’d like, but during those times I was on the Pill…… man. oh. man. They were rough. I haven’t done the research, but I’ve heard there have been studies (not necessarily religious) where they’ve found that being on the Pill is not necessarily great for relationships.
Second, I’m pretty convinced that the second time I was on it, I did something to mess up my cycles just enough to where it wasn’t “easy” to conceive. Medically, there wasn’t anything wrong with my cycles, but I’ve gotten to know by body pretty well in the last few years, and something was off. Again, there’s research out there to support this, but I’ve not gone and investigated it to the point where I feel comfortable sharing a link.
How do we practice NFP?
Short answer: we don’t use any particular method.
Long answer: there are various “official” methods to practicing NFP (Creighton, sympto-thermal, Marquette, etc…). We don’t officially use any of those. The primary reason being, as I stated above: I know my body pretty well and (the last 18-months aside), I’ve been blessed with a very regular, very predicable cycle. I also happen to have a degree in Biology (concentration in animal studies), which means that I studied in quite a bit of detail how the reproductive cycle is supposed to work, etc… And as I’ve stated, my cycle works pretty much how it’s supposed to. Before Baby-H-the-4th, I recall four specific times when I said “if I have sex on this day, I’ll conceive”. It worked three of those times.
Before we conceived Baby-H-the-4th, I looked into the methods, specifically Creighton, but we never took a class or learned it specifically. I did a lot of charting my temperatures and paying attention to other bodily symptoms. I ended up getting very frustrated with it all. Especially as month after month passed and nothing happened. A few days after Jared made the comment that I was getting really obsessed with it, I realized that for my own sanity I needed to let it go for a while. And I didn’t actually go back to charting. I probably won’t go back to charting in the future, unless things get really wacky.
For further reading on the subject:
Haley at Carrots For Michaelmas did a series on NFP, I think it was last year. Anyways, she made a post (located here) earlier in the week with all the series’ post located there. Really great info.
Also, this post from Kendra was also pretty great!
And finally from a guys perspective, this one from Daniel (Haley@Carrots’ husband)