Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Why NFP is Good for Girls, Regardless of "Mrs" Status.

This title may be a bit odd to some, who think of NFP as the "Catholic contraception."  It's not, and I have another post on that later. Suffice it to say  that it is nearly impossible to use NFP selfishly. Can't you just hear your husband, "Honey, I need a break from all this sex. Let's just skip half of each month for the next year, okay?  It'll be fun!"  Yeeeaaahhhh not. Anyway - onwards.

(Obligatory picture; otherwise blogspot puts strange and random icons on my posts.  
This is a honeymoon pic; it's the first chapel built on Aruba.)

There are, obviously, a gazillion kinds, but I'm talking about the more detailed kinds here. Billings, Creighton, Sympto-thermal, etc.  Rhythm Method ain't cutting it these days.  We are in the 21st century, ya know.

I learned Creighton, so that's what I'm going to go by here.  However, the others are probably just as good, as are some of the methods aimed directly at teens, such as the TeenSTAR method that Dr. Hanna Klaus is promoting here in the USA.  Creighton just has the most medically advanced aspect at this point, due to Dr Hilgers work in Omaha, and I picked it due to a niggling suspicion I'd be wanting that medical help at some point.  But I digress.

(Warning here!  This may be a bit...mmm...TMI for some folks.  
I"ll keep it technical and what I consider non-graphic, 
warning provided, just in case.)

We women know that our bodies are complicated.  Really complicated.  How else could the majority of men be so well trained to know that "women's issues/girl troubles/that time/etc" were terms of inexplicable and utter respect.  These terms require immediate submission to whatever request proceeds them.  "It's that time honey, I feel awful.  I need to curl up and die for the next hour.  Can you do the groceries?"  What man will answer (will dare to answer!) anything but, "Yes dear, of course."  Smart men!  Don't we love 'em?

Let me preface this by saying that I am not arguing that every woman chart for every day of her fertile life.  That would be a little extreme.  But doing it for a year or so during the mid-teens, and picking up again in engagement, perhaps.  

So, what's the reason for a teen to do it?  One, to learn respect for her body.  It's hard to take for granted something that is so complex, and there's no way to get in tune with it like following and tracking the patterns.  Two, to learn what is normal and what is not.  This is crazy, ladies.  There is so much that happens to us that is considered "normal" because no one talks about it, that isn't!  For example, PMS.  Totally normal, but not when it starts more than a week out from good ol' Aunt Flow.  Whoda thunk it?  Super heavy or super light periods - not normal either!  Never being dry during the cycle - you guessed it.  Not normal either.  And, biggie here girls - extremely painful cramps.  Call-off-work-when-advil-doesn't-cut-it cramps.  Not normal.  Wouldn't it be nice to get these things fixed (or at least know that they may need fixing before marriage/kids)?  A year of charting, or less, and a couple simple doc appointments could fix that.  Lastly, the TeenSTAR abstinence program is quite successful.  Can't beat that!

Okay.  Second scenario.  You want to have kids, millions of them, and you have no desire to ever postpone them.  Your future husband wants the same.  Great.  I applaud you, I really do.  But what happens when you're pregnant, your husband loses his job, and then your other kid gets sick.  Really sick.  Now, you have a newborn, you're living off savings while hubby is away interviewing all the time, and you've got gobs of worries and medical bills for sick child.  I know - it's not a nice thought.  That might be a good time to postpone having #3 since, as we mentioned above, you're Fertile Myrtle and pop 'em out 18 months apart max.  

Stop throwing stones at me!  Let me finish :)  If you want to keep having kids and you truly feel that God is calling you to continue despite outside circumstance, then go for it.  Leaps of faith happen.  I'm no advocate for testing faith, but leaping in faith is a beautiful thing.  

Either way, wouldn't you like already knowing how to postpone, should you need to do that?  Because you realize that the highly successful/highly scientific methods often require a month or so of abstinence while you learn the basics.  Not great for your marriage, in the above situation.  It'd be nice to have the knowledge and skills already, so that, if you ever need them, they are available.   This is why I'm an advocate for learning an NFP method during engagement.  The churches that allow this to be skipped are doing a huge disservice. Because really, what do you have to lose by learning? Nothing. Just like algebra; it's good to learn even if you don't think you'll ever use it again. Abstinence during engagement is healthy, it will help your fiance learn and respect what's going on inside you, and prepare you both for coming together in marriage.

Second scenario point five.  (2.5, if you didn't get that.)  You're married, trying for kids....and.....nothing.  Keep trying, more peeing on sticks......nada.  Guess what you're going to get told when you go to your secular doctor?  "You need to try for at least a year before you're considered infertile."  Just what a wanna-be mom wants to hear.  You can't blame the doctors; this stuff isn't taught in standard medical school and most doctors don't go to the extra training seeking it.  See the end of this post for some resources if you're trying to find an NFP only, ie. no contraceptive prescribing, doctor.   

Let's keep going with scenario 2.5.  What if you'd been charting your whole engagement, and you'd noticed some of those funny signs mentioned earlier.  Your periods were a little funky, kinda spotted brown endlessly, but hey, it's light and ignorable, so who cares.  Plus, they were super painful and you always had to call off work, but again, aren't everyone's?  Then, you started charting and your instructor suggested that you have a trained doctor check you and your chart out.  Lo and Behold - you have minor endometriosis and your progesterone is low enough that you'd be at risk of miscarriage without support. It's a good thing you caught the endometriosis early since it can cause infertility and requires surgery to remove (which may or may not return your fertility), and for the progesterone, now you can take your little progesterone supplement pills and make it all the way through a happy and healthy nine months. 

Because, isn't that how we all want it to go?  First marriage, then two little pink lines and nine months of excitement - repeated as many times as desired - leading to a full house and happy family. 

If we take the time to get our annuals, isn't it worth doing this too?  Life has enough heartache and suffering...there isn't much reason to go looking for more.  And don't tell me it's a tiny minority who has problems because unfortunately, it ain't. Yours truly knows of what she speaks and is part of that not-minority.  

Anyway, enough ranting. I feel like the women's health aspect is a huge element to NFP that gets overlooked, and shouldn't.  I'll do more on this another week, but since I just had my first doc appointment for all this (after being told to do it a year ago...yeah i know. What can I say?  I was busy twirling through the marshmallow fields of upcoming matrimony and not in the medical mindset) it was on my mind. 

Info stuff:

OneMoreSoul.com - website that, among other things, lists doctors who are typically Christian and do not proscribe contraceptives. Some of them are very highly trained in various NFP programs (usually on how to use it to help infertility), others less. But none of them will push you to get a tubal after baby #4.  I have several doctor friends on here; they're all big fans. 

FertilityCare.org - this is the main Creighton website for finding a trained doctor or instructor. The instructors use a sliding scale by the way, so it's always affordable. 

NaproTechnology.org - the website for Creighton NFP as a medical tool for infertility, hormonal issues, endometriosis, PCOS, etc. Kinda interesting. 

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Jaime said... [reply]

I really liked this! My husband and I always joke (well kind of joke) that NFP is easy when you are young and on baby #2....Now that we aren't quite as young and have 9 babies it gets more challenging. I will definitely start talking about charting more with my 15-year-old. We have talked a little about it, but maybe she'll be open to charting and learning a lot about her body. Wish me luck. She cringes now when I have her alone in the car and she can't run away when I want to talk about stuff. ;) God bless!

Kate @Our Epic Life said... [reply]

You're right - I bet it is a lot more challenging! Definitely more of a discernment process on how to use it also :)
Good luck with your daughter. I didn't see much in it when my dad made me chart for a year when I was about that age, but then again, that goes for a lot of things. He seems a lot smarter now that I'm not 15 anymore haha. And keep up those car trips - my sister and I both claim those as some of the best conversations we've had with our parents; after all, there's no escaping!

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