Monday, July 22, 2013

My NFP Story

{This has been sitting in my drafts folder for longer than I care to admit, because I've been too chicken to hit publish. In honor of NFP Awareness Week this week, I decided to be bold.}

I've never set out to write a "Catholic" blog. Mostly, I just set out to write. Since my Catholic faith is an important part of my life, it certainly creeps into the conversation.

While I enjoy learning about my faith, and as such know a lot about it, I don't have the deep knowledge of a theologian. I don't have the clear explanations of the apologist. I don't have the hutzpah of an evangelist. I'm left being a lame, "Preach the Gospel at all times. When necessary, use words" Catholic (quote falsely attributed to St. Francis). Only, as one homilist pointed out -- in our society, words are usually necessary!

So, for a variety of reasons, but especially the "words are necessary" one, I'm sharing with you my own journey to not just using NFP, but truly embracing it and loving it. I am so passionate about it, how can I not share it here?

As I begin, I'd just like to say, first, that I'm not here to condemn those, especially those friends and family members, who might be reading, who use/have used other methods of family planning. I'm sharing my experience. Second, I'm not here today to explain the science or theology behind NFP. There are lots of places to find that allllll over the internet/blogosphere/bookstore. I might suggest starting at for some fun, modern, user-friendly information written by real women who also use and love NFP. Third, I am not here to debate what "good" or "just" or "grave" or whatever reasons are to use NFP. Again, I'm just telling my story.

Anyway, the story really begins with a rewind back 5 years. At that point, I had been Catholic for a couple of years. I had just started dating a really nice guy. And I had what I considered "typical" positions held by pretty much all the Catholics that I knew. Among these were, "abortion is wrong, and I would never have one myself, but I don't know if they can/should be illegal" and some version of "artificial birth control rules, NFP drools." I have always thought that IUDs were scary and were clearly abortifacient as (what I now know to refer to as) a method of action. I truly believed that life begins at conception, but things like condoms and the Pill that prevented conception and still brought the husband and wife together in the marital act couldn't be all that bad.

(Side note: I just said "marital act." I really have turned into an NFP person.)

Notice how I slipped, "had just started dating a really nice guy" into that last paragraph? He was smart and nice and cute and Catholic. The thing was that he was pretty passionately pro-life in all respects. Like big time. And he was sure. Positive. Without a doubt. NOT going to use contraception when he got married. Which is all well and good and stuff except that I was pretty sure that I wanted to marry him (spoiler: I did!) and our views just didn't seem compatible. I needed to figure out how to rectify that if the marry him thing was going to happen.

The thought didn't form word-for-word like this, but this is pretty much how it went: I need to know about this NFP stuff. It will prove one of us (him) wrong, and we can move on from there. So, thanks to the wealth of information available with a click of the mouse, I learned a ton about NFP. In the process, I learned some things that totally surprised me: 1) real people, like people I would be friends with, used NFP; 2) it works (define "works" as you will; for me, then, it meant that if you were serious about delaying pregnancy, you could); 3) it kinda made a lot of sense.

Along the way, I was doing a lot of praying, both about the relationship and about "finding the truth" or something like that. (When I don't like the answer I'm getting, I tend to pray in lame, generic terms in vain hope of getting a different answer.) I married the guy and I fell head over heels in love with NFP. In the opposite order.

What changed? My perspective. For my whole life, I lived on society's junk food message that the more sex the better and that everyone should just plain be on the Pill unless they were actively trying to get pregnant. In my research, I learned about the biology of NFP. I learned about the various methods of NFP. I started to understand, for the first time, Church teaching on marriage and sexuality. I started to get excited about NFP. My heart and mind just grew more passionate and open from there.

Mostly though, I learned how empowering NFP is. For the first time in my life, I wasn't ashamed of how my body worked. And all the things you didn't talk about? God made those! He gave them to me! Fertility is not a disease that needs to be kept at bay with creepy chemicals! It is a gift! If it ain't broke, no need to fix it! And if it is broken, it should be diagnosed and treated, not just patched up with a pill to "regulate" your cycle until it's time to have babies.

All of this is before touching on legitimate concerns about carcinogens and abortifacients and estrogen levels in our water supply. 

I'm not saying NFP is perfect or easy. There are couples that struggle mightily with it, and I respect them so much and offer them my prayers. Certainly, it requires a shift to understanding that sex is for marriage, and that any act of sex can result in pregnancy. Certainly, it requires self control. Certainly, it requires trust, in yourself, in your body, in your spouse, in God.

The thing I want people to know, though, is that I'm Catholic and I use NFP. But I don't use NFP because I'm Catholic (though certainly they are related). I use NFP because I truly, 100%, with my whole heart, believe that it is the only moral way to space pregnancies. Because I believe that it truly upholds the dignity of women. Because it works. Because it is real women's health.


P.S. All my graphics are from Thanks, girls!

post signature

1 comment:

  1. Thanks so much for sharing. I loved reading your story. I wavered so much, too, in deciding whether or not to post this...but then a (non-Catholic) friend who I taught NFP to a few years ago reminded me that she never would've known there was any option besides her birth control if I hadn't mentioned it. So hopefully others who read your post will be just as thankful to learn about some of the most empowering and basic biological health information to ever change lives. And as one of those women who has a condition (endometriosis), I can personally attest that NFP/FAM have helped me far more than ANY doctor trying to prescribe HBC as 'treatment'. Learning NFP was the best thing I ever did for my health!
    Anyway, awesome, awesome job-I'm so glad you posted! :)


Comments happen, too. I'd love to hear yours.