Natural Family Planning has been a big conversation topic lately among Catholic women in the blogosphere and internets. Jennifer Fulwiler wrote on it the other day for the National Catholic Register blog, how more Catholic women are becoming aware of the Church’s teaching on contraception. My friends Mary wrote about an app she has been using. A Catholic mom’s Facebook group I am in discusses it nonstop. I am going to talk about my awesome practitioner who taught me the Creighton Model System when I was a 19 years old and engaged to be married.
|Photo by Jen Pagnan|
That first meeting with her when I had only been charting four weeks, with my fiance (M of course), was definitely potentially very awkward. I don’t remember any of the details really, except that I was not having normal mucus. (Ewww, I am going to talk about mucus.) Anyway, through her help and through the research that has been done on mucus discharges, I learned to distinguish different types of mucus and follow my cycles. It was not easy and I had to be consistent in checking for mucus every time, EVERY TIME, I used the toliet, showered, went swimming. I charted for 15 months before I got married, and 12 months from the wedding we were fairly certain that a honeymoon baby was in order. She came nine months and a day from our wedding…
Then came the postpartum charting, which is super confusing, especially when you are nursing a baby and have nonfertile mucus most of the time plus not really sure if you are having cycle again or not? My practitioner reminded me to start charting again after my pregnancy, did follow-ups and chart reviews, and helped me understand what was going on with the my body. I can’t remember how many times I have called, emailed, or Facebook messaged her to get advice on whatever I was charting on various days. She always looks into the research and the studies and gives me helpful advice. When I have been so confused and needed support, she has listened to me cry and helped me figure things out.
Last week, we had my first postpartum follow-up after baby F. I had been having some confusing days of charting again, and when she looked at my chart and the research (I had already messaged her about things before the follow-up) she recommended that I go see my doctor for some progesterone to help balance out my hormones. It was then that I realized that I had been having a lot of symptoms of postpartum depression and needed to be treated. If it had not been for my charting and follow up I might have continued to wallow in my fatigued, overwhelmed, unhappy state. Since I was treated just a week ago (with a progesterone injection), I have noticed a huge difference in my ability to handle everyday life. Also, my childrens’ behavior is slowly improving. We are no longer dealing with temper tantrums in the middle of the night or right before bed (though the help of new parenting strategies have aided us there as well). We would not have been able to say calmly, “It is time to be obedient. It is time to be in bed,” a billion times if I had still been dealing with being depressed. It affected everyone in the family, and the fact that I was charting revealed the problem we did not even see. It is worth it not just for knowing when I can “achieve” and “avoid” having another baby, but for all aspects of my health as a woman.
So, not to go on a tangent from the point of this post, but I really wanted to say that Natural Family Planning takes work and effort on your part and you cannot really do it alone. Even the iPod app requires a doctors advice from time to time. Pick a method, find a practitioner, and stick with it. I have a regular doctor I see for my medical needs and for prenatal and postnatal care, my kids and husband have a doctor, I go to a doctor for my eyes, I go to one for my teeth, so why not use an expert to understand my fertility and help me live my life within the moral teachings of the Church which I love so much?