I took the Pill in college for a year, and then for a year after grad school. Willing to try anything, I heard it cleared up acne. Plus, in my women’s studies class, I heard that all women in their child-bearing age should take the Pill for at least five years to prevent ovarian and uterine cancer.
I’m not a medical expert by any means, so when I learned the side effects of fake hormones, I was angry and felt like I had been lied to. I didn’t feel great taking the Pill either. I just wasn’t myself. One of my friends needed to counteract the side effects of the Pill with an anti-depressant. Not fun. It’s amazing how we put stuff into our bodies without really knowing what’s going on.
I learned about Natural Family Planning (NFP) at the pregnancy center I worked at in Spokane. I heard other people mention it before; but I was skeptical. I had an a ha moment when I listed to the tape (yes, a cassette tape) entitled “Contraception, Why Not?” It’s a lecture given by a Catholic woman about the Pope’s predictions on the effects of birth control and the benefits of NFP.
I grew up going to a Free Methodist Church rather than a Catholic one, but it just all made sense to me. It was a while ago, and on paper it’s 25 pages, so the exact details are a little fuzzy. But I do remember how much it opened my eyes and inspired me to learn more. I had a new appreciation for the sanctity of life.
Soon after, I heard a local woman talk about her experience with NFP; then one of my work friends who was getting married, took the class with her husband, and told me about it. I made the decision then that I would practice NFP when I got married. It was a moral decision. Though, as I learned, there are health and relationship benefits as well.
Is Hubby game?
While dating and preparing for marriage, I shared my desire to do NFP with my husband. He was on board because he respected my desire to not take the Pill; but also a little skeptical, like I was, at first. We signed up for the class so we could learn how to detect and chart my fertility. During the three 3-hour sessions we learned the science behind fertility – much more than they told us in high school health class or college biology! I was frustrated that I went so long without knowing about the inner workings of my own body. It’s really fascinating.
I started charting my fertility so I could practice before we got married. It’s not that hard once you get used to it. But it does take some time and effort. My husband has always been supportive and helpful. We are in it together.
Does it work?
When done correctly, it’s just as effective as other kinds of birth control. I can tell you that after our wedding we avoided pregnancy for four to five months, and then got pregnant on the very first try. Zoe was planned – we wanted to start a family soon after we got married. Zubair wanted to wait a couple more months but I convinced him it would take a while. The funny thing about fertility and pregnancy is that even when all the parts are working like they should, there is still only a 25-35% chance of conception. Life really is a miracle.
Starting again after baby
After birth, and while breastfeeding, fertility is not as predictable. I keep saying I will start charting again soon so I can be sure of my fertility when we try for another baby. I wish I already started – maybe I would have known I was pregnant before the miscarriage. Like remembering to take my vitamins, it’s just one more thing to do. I am just being lazy; so one of these days I will get my act together and start taking my temp and charting again. At this point, I am okay with having another little munchkin whenever…
I appreciate the notion that with all the birth control methods available today, we lose sight of the connection between sex and life. I am amused when I hear people are surprised to be pregnant even if they used birth control. It’s almost like it’s out of the realm of possibility; when, in reality, procreation is one of main functions of sex.
Fertility Awareness is like NFP, but without the spiritual component. So whether or not, you consider yourself a spiritual person, it’s beneficial to learn about your fertility. Our bodies are pretty darn amazing.
If you practice NFP or fertility awareness, please share your story in the comments section!