Wednesday, April 24, 2013

"NFP doesn't work. You have so many kids!"

Recently I shared this little NFP interview that Haley at Carrots for Michaelmas published.  Do you know how long ago she sent me those questions?  A long, long, long time ago.  But it took forever for me to respond.  And do you know why?  Because I kept thinking "No one is gonna want to hear what I have to say about NFP because, like, look at all these kids I have. They're gonna think it doesn't work."  I was embarrassed to act like I'm some kind of ambassador for natural family planning what with the fact that, I don't know, we have a family and all.

Friends of mine have said and written things like "Well, obviously I suck at NFP because I keep getting pregnant."

Articles I read say things like "But does NFP work?"

You guys, we have fallen into a hole.  We've fallen into the hole of defining life the way corporations want us to define it.  "Family planning" has come to mean "child prevention" and we simply accept that, "natural" has come to mean "non-chemical" and we simply accept that and I, for one, am tired.  I'm tired of feeling obligated to feel embarrassed that our family contains children.  I'm tired of my friends having to tell the world that they "suck" at NFP because their families contain children.  I'm tired of everyone I know who knows about NFP having to constantly justify marriages resulting in children.

Stop the crazy train of poor definitions!  I wanna get off!

First, let's start with the word "natural."  Sure, it can mean non-chemical.  But what it can, and should, also mean is "in accordance with nature."  I'll explain.  Water is natural.  Drinking water is natural.  But trying to live only on water is not in accordance with nature.  If you tried, you'd quickly find yourself dead.

Water is natural but living only on water is not in accordance with nature.

As for family planning meaning child prevention in our culture, well, it's true, right?  I mean, if pressed, anyone would say "no! Obviously both achieving and avoiding pregnancy!" but the reason we say and hear "does NFP work?" all the time is because people want to know if you can use it to have sex but not make babies.  And I'll be totally honest here: every time I read or hear that question, I balk.  I want to answer "Does it work to what?" but I know that would be snarky of me because, you know, I know what they're asking.  I just don't like it.

Natural Family Planning, NFP, is the planning of your family not only without chemicals but also in accordance with nature.  And it is the planning of HAVING children, not just preventing them.  Because... and deep breath, quick like a band-aid, say the thing I've been leading up to this whole time.... it is not natural, in accordance with nature, for a physically and emotionally healthy married couple to not have babies.

There.

I said it.

Now, not everything that is in accordance with nature is always Good, of course.  That's why we've been given the gifts of reason and intellect.  Maybe a person suffers from debilitating postpartum depression or maybe she's delivered three pre-term infants and having another baby would be physically dangerous to both mama and baby or maybe a thousand other things that I could never guess.  For these situations, we can use the knowledge that NFP gives us to prevent or postpone pregnancies for the greater good.  And sometimes it will be very, very hard, but God will give us the grace to get through those periods of abstinence because our reasons for avoiding are greater than the natural pull to come together and make those beautiful babies.

But if you and your husband (or wife, if there's a guy reading this [yeah right]) have not discerned that preventing pregnancy is an absolute MUST for the survival of your family and you end up making lots of babies, YOU DO NOT SUCK AT NFP.  On the contrary, you rock at NFP.  You are planning for your family to be as robust as God wills it to be and are living in absolute accord with nature.  That is a perfectly wonderful, self-sacrificing way for your love for each other to manifest itself.

I want to encourage you.  I want to lift you up.  I want to say "stop apologizing for loving your spouse."  Sex is great for a reason.  Healthy marriages include sex for a reason.  Children naturally result from fertile sex between healthy people, which is the most bestest sex a person will ever have by the way, for a reason.  I don't want couples who practice NFP to have to justify the fact that children result from their happy unions.  I don't want couples who use NFP to feel like they have to use it to prevent pregnancies under all circumstances just so that society doesn't "judge" them.  That is not natural.  Marriages resulting in babies is natural.  I am so happy for you and your house full of babies!  You will never have to apologize to me, swearsies.


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177 comments :

  1. Oh my gosh! I'll just say Amen, sister friend! I will be the first to admit that when I thought I was pregnant when I was supposed to be NFPing for pretty serious health reason, my first thought was, "I am a failure." I didn't actually end up being pregnant, but I had to examine my thoughts on NFP. It's not about being successful in child prevention, it's about being open to God's plan! Amen!

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  2. This is amazing, Dwija. I'm one of those people who always hesitates saying "We use NFP" one, because we only KINDA practice it, and two because I think people will look at all our kids and say, "Yeah. I knew that stuff didn't work."

    Not all of our children were "planned", in a "we have decided that this month we are going to try to add to our family" sense. And that's good, because I think that mentality is followed closely by the idea that children a consumable goods, created for the pleasure of adults, rather than individual, fearfully made creations of God.

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    1. Cari, you and Dwija have this SPOT ON. Thank you!

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  3. I appreciate what you're saying, but I still feel like I suck at NFP, or at least the types I've tried so far. My reasoning: because post partum I can't tell one thing from another and 3 of my 6 pregnancies were when I was trying to avoid.

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    1. Bonnie, you don't suck at it! You were open to God's plan! You are EXACTLY what Dwija is talking about here! Plus, you have some awesome babies! <3

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    2. My favorite line from this whole post is this, "And sometimes it will be very, very hard, but God will give us the grace to get through those periods of abstinence because our reasons for avoiding are greater than the natural pull to come together and make those beautiful babies." I have only heard one women who conceived more than one baby while trying not to actually admit that it wasn't NFP she and her husband sucked it, it was abstaining. In other words, the method didn't fail them, they just couldn't not give into their desires when the method told them it was a fertile time. As someone who has had what we considered very serious reasons for avoiding conception for a substantial amount of time for many different reasons which required sometimes very lengthy periods of abstinence while my cycles played havoc with the most conservative form of the ST method, I have to say... when it is that serious, it's not as hard to abstain. Hard... yes, it's always hard but as Dwija said, the reasons for abstaining have to be greater than those natural desires. I don't know about your specific situation but maybe, you and your husband just haven't reached that point yet.

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    3. Postpartum charting is really hard. Finding a good teacher who can work through your charts with you instead figuring it out yourself can really help. Creighton was the one we found most helpful during breastfeeding postpartum.

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    4. You could try Creighton's. We have a 13,12,8,7, and 2. So yeah. I'm a T1 Diabetic trying to be nice to my body, but those post partum days are not easy. We didn't start Creighton's until after number 4...

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    5. I agree with you Charlotte, we have a serious reason for abstaining, and I will be honest, it has not been that hard. I think there is a lot of grace there when there needs to me. My youngest is 5 now, and so it has been years now. It is not always easy, but I am often surprised at the grace that is there.

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    6. Maybe I'm an anomaly, but I've never had any postpartum problems with NFP. I followed the breastfeeding advice in "The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding" pretty religiously - babies nursing on demand around the clock - and with all my seven babies I had a full 10 months of amenhorroea with no confusing symptoms. I was so serious about it that I woke my babies, who slept with me, if it had been more than 3 hours since they had nursed and I was full. For the first year, my babies went with me everywhere. I had only mild sleep deprivation :) and learned to function pretty well with this new normal. Maybe I was so paranoid about it because my mom (who was not a committed breastfeeder) had a baby yearly for seven years. (No, she was not a failure!) I charted a few months after the return of my cycles before conceiving again. Premenopause - now, that's a confusing time. My charts looks ridiculous.

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  4. That has got to be one of the best things I've read about NFP. You said it plainly and very well. Thanks, from my husband, my six kids, and me. :)

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  5. Dwija, this is solid gold. Can I repost it and direct peeps your way? Because sooooooo many couples need to hear this, Catholic or no. Heck, I needed to hear this today.

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  6. YAY, Dwija!! The world needs to hear truth and you presented the truth beautifully here!!

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  7. Nailed. It.

    I taught an NFP intro to a group of (mostly non-Christian) women friends while hugely pregnant with my 4th baby (a "surprise") in under 6 years. I laughed and said something to the effect of: It works if you actually *do* it. Now I look at my adorable son and wonder: Why the hell would I ever apologize for the gift of you? *That* is not natural!

    "I am so happy for you and your house full of babies! You will never have to apologize to me, swearsies."

    Thank you, and right back atchya.

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  8. You're exactly right, Dwija. When my husband and I conceived our second child, when our first child was only 6 months old, I was embarrassed for exactly the reasons you pointed out - I felt like we had failed at NFP and that we weren't a good ad for it anymore and that people were going to think we were crazy, having babies only 15 months apart. Then I miscarried, and I felt even worse about being embarrassed and would have been ecstatic to have babies so close together.

    Sorry for getting off on a tangent, but I just wanted to thank you for your blog, your openness to life, and your refusal to accept the terms our society is offering.

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    1. Oh Rebecca....I also had a miscarriage after proclaiming I wasn't ready for another baby. Know just how you feel. This was a great tangent, thank you.

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  9. Very eloquent, Dwija! I kind of had the idea (back in my fertile Myrtle days), that NFP was kind of unnatural because to avoid pregnancy, a couple had to abstain just at the time when the most natural time to have sex (like when the woman is fertile and really, really wants to) was the most "dangerous". After one healthy pregnancy (Phoebe, age 27) and then a miscarriage, followed by another miscarriage, followed by an ectopic pregnancy (scary), we managed to have our Miguel (age 21). I like to think that if the three babies I lost had lived, that we still would have Miguel and I would be the mother of five healthy children, instead of two living and three in heaven. We were advised to not try again. If we hadn't, we wouldn't have Miguel...

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    1. So it's interesting that the world tells us to see the avoiding sex as unnatural but not the avoiding babies, right? I used to feel the same way. And then I realized "Oh! We're not supposed to avoid sex unless we have to! I get it now!"

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  11. I love this post Dwija! I'm always kind of baffled by the question: "Were they planned?" It just throws me for a loop every time we're asked. Because the only response that comes to mind is: "Well... we were having sex...so..."

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    1. Cam, I love that answer! I'm using it.

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    2. Love that reply! A pet peeve of mine is when people say they had a surprise pregnancy, but they were having sex and not using any kind of birth control so...shouldn't be much of a surprise then.

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  12. I like this post. I think I need to write my own, because I've been struggling lately with having the right attitude about using NFP. But this is very good.

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  13. This is great -- can I just be your copy editor though and say that maybe you meant the word "physically" in this sentence: "...it is not natural, in accordance with nature, for a psychically and emotionally healthy married couple to not have babies." Or?? (I mean it works as you said it but later you talk about "physical" health so I wondered...) I just thought you may want to fix that since it's kind of the money line and people are going to share this post... as they should!! If I am wrong and you meant what you said then just ignore this comment. Thanks! :-)

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  14. Great job, Dwija! Babies are a gift to a marriage! You really said it here. Wonderful!

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  15. Not only is this good that you wrote this, Dwija, but it NEEDED to be said. It needs to be viewed like this. People need to stop looking at "lots of kids" as "failure of my ability to practice NFP". It's called "success at my willingness to let God lead me.". Period.
    Thank you, my sweet friend.

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    1. Do you really think that's true - the part about "success at my willingness to let God lead me"? I don't know about the rest of you, but over here sometimes it's not about God leading me or being open to life or His plan or anything other than we like having sex with each other.

      Honest question here: can't happily married Christians still have unchaste sex? I would say yes. And I would also say that sometimes the result of that sex is a baby. Is the baby still a blessing and a gift? Yes. But was the child necessarily part of God's plan? Maybe not.

      I like what Dwija said but I just don't know if it's 100% true and so I suppose I'm looking for a discussion on this to help me flush out my thoughts.

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    2. And I am also wondering if what I mean when I say NFP and what you all are talking about are two different things. In my understanding, using NFP is charting to either achieve or avoid pregnancy. If I'm just going to let my happy marriage bring about whatever (whoever) it brings about then I wouldn't be charting.

      When I got pregnant with Teresa we felt like God was calling us to just be open to whatever happened next and so I didn't pay attention to the charting, to which I would say that I wasn't really practicing NFP at all. To me, NFP = charting + prayer, not just taking whatever happens.

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    4. Yes, happily married Christians CAN have unchaste sex.

      Chastity is about self-control and self-mastery, not following a set of rules. If a couple is having sex when they have serious reasons not to, that is unchaste.

      That being said, marital chastity is HARD. Happily married couples should like to have sex with each other. There is nothing wrong with a couple's desire for each other. This desire is always good, even when it's not prudent to have sex. Desire isn't something you can switch on and switch off. Chastity isn't about turning off desire, but about channeling this desire in order to better love each other.

      Unfortunately, some NFP promoters are so into openness to life and the technical aspects of sexual ethics (Thou shalt always insert Tab A into Slot B) that marital chastity as a virtue gets ignored. I've seen material that encourages couples to throw all self-control and prudence out the window if such behavior could make a baby. (Because hey, babies are good!)

      Of course, if your reasons aren't that serious, then go for it! Desire has a way of testing just how serious our reasons really are.

      As for charting, some NFP groups (and even some Popes) seem to think that the only reason to chart is if a couple is 100% committed to avoiding pregnancy or 100% committed to achieving. But the reality is that charting is just information about fertility, which the couple can use as they see fit. Mostly-avoiding-but-not-following-all-the-rules is pretty common.

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    5. Strictly speaking, chastity is conforming your sexual behavior to your condition in life. For an unmarried person, that means not having sexual activity. For a married person, it definitely means having sexual activity with your spouse, as long as it is open to the transmission of life. For everybody it means no contraception, no pornography, and no cheating. So it's possible, but wrong, for a married couple to have unchaste sex - that is, for instance, contracepted sex - but sex is not unchaste because having a baby would be less than ideal.

      We found that NFP was very reliable when we had good reasons to avoid pregnancy. Frankly, after two or three children I hardly ever felt like I'd rather have sex than sleep or read a book. It's fine, but after a bit it just isn't the Sweet-Mystery-Of-Life-At-Last-I've-Found-You that we always seem to think it's going to be when we're young.

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    6. Part of God's plan was that sex results in babies right? God is outside of time. No created thing exists unless he wills it. The sinful actions that bring a child about were not in God's plan, nothing sinful ever is. But using those to bring life and healing and good into the world via a child. Totally God's plan.

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    7. Waywardson, your comments are awesome!

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    9. I totally agree with @threebecameone ! I personally don't think there's a maybe. He is life, life is good, babies are His good through us. Love, love this post and the commentary. Way to be candid peeps! I for one am being soooo lazy and not charting, just watching my mucus. And, we just decided that another baby would be amazing, God willing. :) Will start charting again soon to be on the side of "hey, let's try to have a baby when we want to again, that was Cool!, and know exactly when I need to get on the baby bringing, vomit inducing progesterone pills for my low pro levels. Thank you Creighton for our beautiful daughter. (sorry for the extemporaneousness here).

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  16. Amazing post. Thank you!!!! We have five kids and 'use' NFP but have actually never charted. :)
    Quite possible the best NFP related quote ever: "I'm tired of feeling obligated to feel embarrassed that our family contains children."
    Well done.

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  17. Yes! Thank you!

    I am pregnant with #5, and the questions/comments from family and coworkers have been try worthy of eye-rolling. My boss said he was going to buy me a box of condoms. (To which I replied, "We wouldn't use them if you did.") And some of my co-workers reacted with positive horror and said that my husband needed to get "fixed." (My reply: "He's not broken.") Ugh.

    And of course, we keep getting the ubiquitous "Was it planned?" Well, yeah, I plan I have sex with my husband, thanks. If babies result, it means the sex worked! Yay! Sigh.

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    1. JoAnna, you are an excellent witness to the beauty of life. Congratulations on the new little one! I am so very happy for you.

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    2. JoAnna I had a close friend, when I got pregnant with #4 remarked, in front of my children, that she was going to "take a butter knife to" my husband - implying that he needed to get fixed. I was horrified. Needless to say we're not really friends anymore.

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    3. Same here, with the same unoriginal comments and questions, and quite honestly, the people saying that junk just cement my opinion of them as soon as they open their mouths.

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    4. @Joanna - can I keep you on speed dial for these moments???. People are amazingly estupido. You are genius, thanks for the smiles. The sex worked, Yay! (lil' dr. janet smith plug for ya)

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  18. Perfect! And I just want to let you know that I wrote a post in this vein last night and it's sitting in my drafts folder, so whenever I get around to publishing it it's not because I'm copying you, ok? And now I can link to your post in mine, too :P

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  19. You have such a beautiful heart, Dwija! I love that you wrote this today, thank you ;)

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  20. I love this, especially because LittleMissNOMOREBEBES (me) is kind of ready to make NFP "fail" again.

    So ridiculous that people don't see it from both angles- we are either choosing to get preg or not, ergo: "planning".

    Brava!

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  21. I will be printing this, laminating it and putting it on my fridge.

    Sharon

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  22. I assure you that there are men who read your blog. Maybe not many, and not all the articles, but thanks for sharing this one.

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    1. Ditto! I am a man who is a fan... of House Unseen!

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    2. I am a guy (and father of 6) and I read this. :)

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  23. but unless you're using medical intervention, you aren't quite CHOOSING to get pregnant, either. . .

    I understand why charting is NFP/planning, but not why choosing to not worry about potential family size is considered "planning". Choosing to accept how ever many children Gd gives, yes, but not quite planning (because that might imply it's totally in our own hands.

    (and who says 4 or 5 is so many anyway?)

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    1. I think you can plan to avoid and then plan to not avoid and if during the not avoiding times you get blessed with a child, you say "Look! We got pregnant!". I just don't think anyone ever chooses to get pregnant. You can choose to have sex when you're fertile, but whether that results in a pregnancy isn't up to us. Ask any couple bearing the cross of infertility- you can go through the motions, but in the end it really is God's choice, ya know?

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    2. YES! Coming from someone who is "bearing the cross of infertility" YES and YES again! I LOVE this blog post (and your follow-up comments), Dwija. You are so right on!

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  24. We were taught NFP by a deacon and his wife who had EIGHT children. There were many couples there who rolled their eyes, like, uh yeah, you have 8 children because NFP doesn't work. One of the first things they said is "We use NFP. We have 8 children. Each one of them was successfully planned and conceived using NFP." It was the first time I saw NFP as a means to get pregnant. Obviously, most of us learn it because we think there may be reasons to one day NEED to avoid pregnancy, and we'll understand how to do that. I think the sense of feeling like we stink at NFP is just because we get the opposite effect of what we're aiming for. But we never truly FAIL because we are being open to life and loving our spouse without reservation, and (duh!) that's how babies are made! Love this Dwija :)

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    1. Bingo! That's us, too- really large family does not equal NFP doesn't work! At this point I've gotten shameless enough to tell people, "We have X kids. ON PURPOSE."

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  25. I've never liked the name "Natural Family Planning". It's not "Natural", in the common usage of the word, nor is it "family planning", which is a euphemism for contraception.

    The secular term for it is "Fertility Awareness", which is much better description for what charting is all about: Gaining awareness of your fertility, so couples can do as they see best.

    I also think some organizations treat NFP as "Family Planning", that couples are either following EVERY rule trying to avoid pregnancy or they are actively seeking pregnancy. See http://nowealthbutlife.com/nfp-snark/ But this isn't how most couples use the information from NFP. Many couples chart, but neither actively seek or avoid pregnancy. Some couples want to avoid pregnancy, but wouldn't really mind another, so they "cheat" frequently and eventually get pregnant.

    Plus single women who don't need family planning can benefit from fertility awareness.

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    1. Also, thinking of it as "fertility awareness" gives a better understanding of "surprises".

      If a couple is truly surprised by a pregnancy, this means that they were not aware of their actual fertility. Therefore, the solution is to learn more about it. If one particular method doesn't give a good understanding of fertility, a different one usually will.

      On the other hand, if the couple knew that pregnancy was a possibility and took a chance, then this in no way can be considered a "failure" of anything. Deciding to making love and getting a baby from it is never a failure.

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    2. James, I really like these comments. Thank you.

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  26. After our third child was close behind our second my mother in law handed Martin a manual on NFP. We said, "yeah, we know NFP". She just responded with, "yeah, but maybe this method would be better for you." As if, I am assuming, we were clearly not understanding how it all works. None of our children were "planned" or mistakes, or even surprises. They just were. And we just did. And now they are. Wonderful, isn't it?!

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    1. Also, I think NFP couples tend to just have more children period. If you are truly acting in a way where you only "employ" NFP for serious reasons then I think most NFP couples can honestly see that there are many times when there are no serious reasons and they go for it. They have to ask themselves that question every time they have sex...I think that is amazing, since every sexual act is supposed to be ordered to unity and procreation. NFP couples are forced to recognize these aspects of the sexual act EACH TIME. So completely the opposite of our culture.

      Sorry, too much. Just thinkin'.

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  27. "Stop apologizing for loving your spouse".
    Thank you, thank you, thank you. Last year I actually skipped a family wedding because my husband got laid off from his job and about 5 seconds later, we were pregnant. I knew I could count on my brother and sister in law to be supportive, but I also knew I'd likely face an onslaught of jackassery for which I was in no mood. "No mood" meaning I was super sick and hormonal and would probably get so upset I'd either get really rude or start crying or possibly both;)
    My husband got a new job five months later, and now we have a brand new gorgeous 4 month old baby, Miss Miabella if-you-please. She is the center of attention here, and has done amazing things for our family. I can't believe I felt like I almost had to hang my head in shame for being pregnant last year. I should have been proud (not in a prideful way, but you know what I mean). The devil always tries to turn everything inside out. But you know, God worked everything out for us. And our baby has brought us such joy!

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    1. My husband just quit his job (Target=super unhealthy), and though we've been abstaining for about six months already, I know that if we were to get pregnant, then I would feel the same way.

      Thanks for the comment: it's a good reminder for me that God will always work things out so much more beautifully than we can think of!

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  28. Awesome, sister. I don't get nosy questions too often (I must look scary) but I'm never sure how to respond to people who talk about their babies as "accidents" or "surprises." Like HOW DID THAT HAPPEN? Such a weird mentality we've built up in our culture where sex doesn't equal babies. (I know... this doesn't apply in situations where there is a long time infertility or those miracle babies in Scripture born to old folk, of course.) Were they "planned?" Well, we had sex, if that's what you want to know!

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    1. Love this whole comment! Especially the "scary" part. No one in public ever interrogates me either. Solidarity, girl ;)

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    2. I just encountered this with a lady I know at a store I frequent. She said they weren't trying to get pregnant and were surprised when she got pregnant...I leaned over and said, that's funny...don't you know how babies are made?

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    3. Hi Mary! We just announced a "surprise" baby and I just have to say that I find that there is an element of surprise every time we find out that I am pregnant (I would never use the word accident though! Horrors!) I think for me, while there is obviously a scientific explanation for "how this happens," it always feels miraculous in a way when I realize that we are going to have a new baby and that is where the element of surprise comes in. (and on a technical side--sometimes my cycles do surprising unexpected things resulting in babies!) I also think that this is part of the beauty of natural family planning, you never know when God is going to give you a baby. Sometimes His timing is different than what we *think* is best. So, for me, a surprise is the equivalent of a wonderful gift, and a reminder that God is in control.

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    4. Ginny, I am with ya! I have had a few surprise babies too, not because I didn't know that having sex could lead to babies, but because I didn't know my fertility/cycles/body well enough to even think I could get pregnant at the moment.

      And surprises are usually the BEST things in life, right?

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  29. I knew I liked you and after reading this it just confirms it! With a 4 year old, 3 year old, 2 year old, 1 year old and another due any day now...it always seemed like I was giving NFP a bad name. Never again will I think that or let other make me feel that way. NFP'ers (is that a word?) with lots of kids, UNITE!!

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  30. Perfectly stated. I wish so much that our (non-Catholic) family understood (and that the suggestions would stop- for sterilization/a change in churches--b/c obviously all these babies are a problem and the reason we have this problem is that we're Catholic.) It would make announcing pregnancies a joyful thing, rather than something we have almost come to dread. Because we don't often see our families, my husband and I have actually been tempted to just not tell, and arrive for the yearly visit with a new baby some years--no explanation. Anyway, this is timely for us as we just announced that our seventh child is on the way. And I have to confess, even though my instinct was to be happy about this baby, as it always is, this time around the fear of sharing our news really threatened that happiness. I want to be stronger in this area!

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    1. We're Lutheran and practice "Fertility Awareness". All 5 of our babies were on purpose.:) My family rolled eyes and were horrified at every pregnancy announcement. We conceived 37 days after our wedding with our first baby so that of course was too soon for them and then when she was 6 months old we got pregnant again with our son. They asked if it was planned and I was like, "Uh, we had unprotected sex so.. yeah." Then they asked, "You do know how that happens right?" And my HUSBAND said, "Yes and it's really really fun!" He said this to my Mom and Dad! I about died. lol Anyway, all this made me DREAD having to tell my side of the family we were knocked up again. So.... with this last one, we didn't tell them. I showed up at Easter with a huge 6 month pregnant belly. Luckily hubby's side of the family is always excited.

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    2. Oh and I also didn't tell them that this baby was going to be born at HOME! GASP! They found that out after the fact. :)

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    3. A friend of mine who has 10 children never announces her pregnancies. She assumes people will figure it out when she shows up with a new baby in her arms. :) And honestly, it's harder to argue against having babies when you're holding a cute, squishy, gurgly one right there. (At least, it *should* be harder.)
      I just had my fifth, and that was the first time I felt embarrassed going out in public when I was pregnant, so I sort of know where you're coming from. Why can't people (especially family!) just be joyful with us??
      Peace to you.

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    4. I agree, it's such a happy time to announce a pregnancy and when you know the reaction you're going to get you just want to keep it to yourselves, what a world we have come to be. We just found out we are expecting number 8!

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  31. Too right! I never understood NFP and the RCC teaching on sex until thinking very carefully about it after we found out we may never be able to have children. Although the timing would've been difficult, I regret so much that we didn't get on with the job and place children within our marriage as a higher priority. Keep telling people and demystifying it - it's an awesome, wonderful thing.

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  32. Woo hoo! SANG it, sister! Love it, love it, love it. Thank you for being you!

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  33. This was awesome! Loved it all.

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  34. Thanks for this comment. I remember I was taking a first aid course a few years ago and, for some reason, the instructor made an offhand comment about NFP during the reproductive health section. I was young at the time and not in a relationship, but there was a man there who practiced NFP with his wife and stood up to defend it. The instructor asked him "Well how many children do you have?" When the man responded, "Three", everyone burst into laughter as though it wasn't possible to use NFP to *have* children. NFP encourages a couple to understand fertility and embrace the most profound significance of sex - something our culture buries. No one should feel ridiculed for that!

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    1. The world is so full of jerks. Sometimes I feel like answering people like your first-aid instructor, "Wow, do your children know you think children are a burden? Let's go tell them!"

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  35. " it is not natural, in accordance with nature, for a physically and emotionally healthy married couple to not have babies."

    Best thing anyone has ever said. Ever.

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  36. Thanks for this! It is so true we have fallen into a hole! We need to change our language so we "represent" accordingly. Children are gifts!! Sometimes we can't accept the gift and we discren to postpone but it is not about what we want so much as what God is asking of our family. It is so sad to see Catholic NFP using women cluck behind the backs of their fellow way-farers "oh look at her, she's having number x, y months after her last baby. She obviously screwed up with NFP." Sad but true! What about lifting each other up? Much better, every pregnancy is hard but it is an opportunity to celebrate life. Bring her a dinner and zip your lip. THANKS!

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  37. It took a while for us to get NFP 'right'. And you know what happened when we did? We discovered we WANTED to have children. It was the strangest thing. :p

    Great article. Thanks for posting!

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  38. Go dwija go dwija! Awesomesauce!!!!

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  39. I come at this from a totally different perspective. We are awesome at NFP. What we suck at is getting pregnant. And be we I mean, myself. My ovaries are basically smelly losers who need, actually require, massive amounts of hormones and space-age technology in order to produce an egg capable of becoming a baby.

    But NFP, it IS used to achieve pregnancy, and even though all the fertile-myrtles out there aren't thinking of it in those terms (because they are taking the awesome gift of functioning fertility for granted), NFP is the reason there's a two year old napping in her bed, and a baby newly snuggled in my womb. Without the treatment we gained from using NFP, I don't think either of those babies would be here.

    So yes, absolutely, no one should feel ashamed that having sex leads to babies, especially if they have no good reason for avoiding babies. Your post is spot on! Just wanted to point out that there are a lot of families living God's will for thier family size, and using NFP to have a family is part of that discernment.

    Also, and forgive me if I'm wrong, but is "using NFP" a phrase which means "not using contraception" in this post? Because it sort of seems like it's being used to mean the same as "a couple that isn't contracepting but is not charting cycles etc". Because those aren't the same thing, and I think, as Bonnie stated above, it CAN be frustrating if you are using NFP to actually avoid a pregnancy because you have a good reason to and it doesn't "work". I don't think that's the same thing as saying, "We're not contracepting and whatever happens is ok with us." Because if a couple is "using NFP" as in, actually employing a method of NFP, they can only be using it to either try to avoid or try to achieve a pregnancy in any given cycle. I guess I'm just thinking out loud, wondering if what you mean in this instance by "using NFP" is more like, "we are open to having whatever children God wants to send and are NOT attempting a specific outcome by avoiding or not avoiding fertile days".
    Sorry to seem nitpicky, I actually really like the post a lot, just trying to work out the phrasing in my head.

    Thanks!

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    1. My husband's grandmother asked me once how I was. I replied, "Okay, thanks. A little tired," which seemed like a fairly normal, non-complaining response. She answered, "Well, you're the one who wanted to have all those (three at that point) children!" I had to walk away to stop myself answering, "Oh, we wouldn't have come if we'd known you didn't want to be bothered with great-grandchildren. I'm tired because we got up at five and drove four hours to bring them to see you, and soon we're going to get back in the car and drive four hours home, because you live in this creepy assisted-living place that won't allow you to have children under eighteen stay here overnight. So sorry to trouble you!"

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    2. Hi Sarah! To answer your question about the phrasing, when I say we're "using NFP," basically I mean that we are charting. :) I like what waywardson said in his comment further up the page, that Fertility Awareness is a better phrase in many ways than NFP. It is good information to have even if you're not using it to achieve or avoid pregnancy.

      Neither of my two pregnancies were "planned" per se--my husband and I never sat down together and decided to try to have a baby--but I was nonetheless able to point to the day each of my babies were conceived, which was great. And even though we have yet to "use" the information I get through charting, if we ever do have any serious reason to avoid pregnancy, or we have future fertility problems, I will be very familiar with my cycles, which is very helpful. :) I just really like knowing about the way God designed my body to work and being able to tell what's going on with it. :)

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    3. I am that fertile myrtle who does not take it for granted, and would GLADLY share any extra fertility vibes, energy, what ever it is, with those who struggle. It just seems wholly unfair that I can look at my husband sideways and get pregnant and there are folks whose hearts burn and ache to be parents and have to WORK too freaking hard to get there.

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    4. I agree. I love the post, but I hate the use of the term "NFP" to describe those of us who delight in our spouses and openly accept the fruits of our unions without concern for their number. To me that's precisely not-planning, unless you mean that your plan is to let God do it. Even the deacon NFP instructor, mentioned in a previous post, thinks he needs to say that each of his 8 kids was planned and obtained with the use of NFP as if there's some great merit in that. It seems to me that the spirit of the teaching is not evident here. So-called NFP should not be the norm, as has been promoted for so many years now, spurring more and more posts like this excellent one from Dwija. Treating it as something all couples must learn as use contributes to the very mentality the author is "tired" of. That you must control this or you are a failure. Thank God the teaching is there for those in serious need, whether to achieve or avoid pregnancy, but for the rest, let's celebrate (and enjoy)our fertile unions for the glory of God and make no apologies.

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  40. Oh my gosh! I wish I'd had that answer ready when my grandma blasted me when I announced my 6th pregnancy!! All I did was stand there open-mouthed and take the abuse. Not that it stopped us in the future. We had 2 more after that :)

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  41. Great post! We have used NFP both to avoid and to achieve pregnancy. We've faced all the snarky questions and comments: on a good day my reply was, "yes, we do know what causes that and are obviously quite good at it!" We, too, got to the point where we just wouldn't announce a new pregnancy to non-Catholic family who wouldn't share our joy. Five children here and one praying for us from Heaven.

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  42. Oh, this post is my favorite. And perfectly perfect timing, too, because family planning is a HUGE topic of conversation between my husband and I right now.

    We just had our first baby and because we're young and B is a student and "normal" people don't want large families, we get a lot of: "you didn't plan this, did you?"s and "wait awhile to have your next one"s.

    I want to tell the whole world how awesome and beautiful it is to be in accord with God's plans for us! Or just direct them to your blog :)

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  43. Great post! We have used NFP both to avoid and to achieve pregnancy. We've faced all the snarky questions and comments: on a good day my reply was, "yes, we do know what causes that and are obviously quite good at it!" We, too, got to the point where we just wouldn't announce a new pregnancy to non-Catholic family who wouldn't share our joy. Five children here and one praying for us from Heaven.

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  44. Great post, sweetie!! You totally nailed it. And I've had ALL these things. We have 5 - some completely planned and "tried" for, using our charting, some happy surprises, all wanted and loved because our basic stance is that we are ALWAYS open to life. There have been seasons where we really focused on getting pregnant, seasons where we just charted and let whatever happens, happen, and seasons where we prayerfully discerned that we needed to abstain. I was reading some of the comments above and saw the one about miscarriage and thought of my sister. She and her husband were in the midst of their NFP class after they got married and she became pregnant. I remember her being so embarrassed at having to tell their instructor and feeling like they had "failed" the class. Because they were supposed to be abstaining while learning to chart. She ended up also miscarrying that baby and I just remember feeling so bad - that she would feel like the pregnancy was cause for embarrassment. I had to deflect similar comments with my last pregnancy because it wasn't "planned" and my NFP instructor was worried that people would look at me as an NFP failure. That needs to change and you have spurred me to recommit to that effort!

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  45. So well put! Thanks for writing this!
    Also, got a chuckle out of this earlier today:
    http://whatshouldwecallnfp.tumblr.com/

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  46. Great article, Dweej! First time reading your blog. Saw a link to this article posted by a friend on Facebook. Laughed a little when I got to the part about guys reading this [yeah right]! =P

    But yes! I really appreciated your point that it is natural for physically and emotionally healthy spouses to have children. It is such an unfortunate thing that our society has such a selfish perspective of sex, that it has been so far separated from the generation of babies! In my conversations with friends about NFP, many of them discredit NFP because they are incorrectly viewing it just as you describe above, just another form of "child prevention".

    Anyway, peace be with you and your family. =)

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  47. Have I told you lately that I love you!?! (Can you hear me singin that to you??)

    I've never thought of it like this ;) I always do say I suck at NFP. But you're totally right! I ROCK :)

    Being newly pregnant w/ #6 (after having a grave reason to postpone for a couple more months). I've been feeling super down about NFP, thinking it failed me... I know God is in control and this pregnancy is a God thing ;) But I couldn't help but feeling a little guilty for not doing NFP right... But in reality, I nailed it! LOL

    Thanks a bunch! This made my day!

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  48. I love this quote:

    " it is not natural, in accordance with nature, for a physically and emotionally healthy married couple to not have babies."


    Our last baby was conceived and born at a time when most of the world would say we were very foolish for having a baby. Yet, she has brought so much joy to our family...and that joy is so much needed during such a very stressful time in our lives. All our children have been a blessing and joy, but I feel like our youngest and our oldest (who was also conceived at a "bad time" when most of the world would say we were foolish for having a baby" have brought us an extra boost of joy/blessing during particularly stressful times.
    -Amelia

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  49. Thanks, Dwija! This is awesome.

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  50. This is why I feel like you are my best friend who doesn't know who I am! I have 5 kids, as well, very close in age to your bunch. (And even with a big gap between kids 2 and 3 when we felt we had serious reasons for postponing pregnancy.) We have 11, 10, 5, 2, and one month. I love every word of this. It's funny, I don't even feel like I have a big family (except when I buy milk... so. many. gallons!), but, wowzers, the world thinks hubby and I are cray-zee. Keep doin' what you are doin', girl! The world needs to hear it.

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  51. Thank you. I love your thoughts on this. Why should a family be ashamed of having kids in it?? Sheesh.
    We recently had #5 last fall -- and we had been "using NFP" to try to postpone since I had some health issues I wanted to address before another pregnancy. We thought we were following all the rules, but were still "surprised." At first I was bitter at God, for making me pregnant before I was "ready," but I have to say that this little bundle of scrumptiousness, who is currently trying to eat my hair, has been such a light and a joy in our lives. He is such a happy, easy baby! Oh, and the health issues, which I had to address in a hurry, were all ironed out and I went on the experience the best. pregnancy. ever.
    God is so good.
    Lesson learned. :)

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  52. Wonderful post Dwija, you said it all perfectly! I feel so blessed to be able to call you my friend. :)

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  53. I have to put in my 2 cents because that is what I do. In this day and age people might say "Im too busy to worry about THAT". BUT I will say as someone who is TRYING to conceive (6 months an counting) I downloaded an app for my Phone called "My Day's" that alerts me when I am at my most fertile and when I am going to start my period. Its free and unfortunatly for me...hasn't really worked in my favor Yet but its simple. You track your period for 3 months and BAM! The computer does the rest for you. And after like 3 months I can tell you when I am ovulating (I have taken the pee test stick's to prove it) and its so simple even my husband can figure it out! (OKAY that is not a slam at men...but he just picked up my phone one day and was like "So the 4 thru the 7 is when we REALlY need to try...and he just noticed the different color blocks). But seriously ladies it is a free app and it is helpful!

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  54. As a former NFP instructor, this post really hit home for me. While teaching, I felt like I had split personalities, touting "99% effectiveness" on one side, and the blessing of babies on the other. I didn't like the idea of trying to rope people in by comparing NFP to birth control - it always felt a little disingenuous. I know you can't necessarily tell people on the fence that they should be ready to have as many kids as God gives them (in so many words), but I guess that's what I've come to believe myself. Not that it's easy! I'm sitting here on the couch waiting (semi) patiently for labor to start with baby #4 who was definitely NOT planned for right now. By us. But planned by God. I guess that's the other thing I'd love people to know - it's okay if you aren't over the moon from day one. Sometimes it takes a little while to adjust, but God will work on us in his time.

    Thank you for posting this, Dwija. You are the best!

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    1. Wonderful and honest comment, Tori. I sympathize with your comment about telling unready people that they need to accept all the babies God gives them. However, conversion doesn't come by offering an alternative method of avoiding the blessings of life, which is what the "NFP" movement has always seemed to me to be doing. If anything, it just seems to have caused a lot of confusion in the faithful, spurring this feeling of 'failure' that the author mentions. My favorite quote is:

      "it is not natural, in accordance with nature, for a physically and emotionally healthy married couple to not have babies."
      So let's stop selling NFP as something all married couples should practice and start emphasizing the beauty and fulfillment that comes from being co-creators of life.

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    2. I would say that it is not the NFP movement that has caused confusion but the dichotomy that occurs between the Truth and the culture. The Church's stress on the practice of NFP is a direct response to the culture we live in. Many years ago, babies were seen as gifts; natural outcomes of marriage. Close to 100 years ago that idea started to change. First one then another Christian religion decided that chemical birth control was the way to limit the giftedness of children on a marriage. The Church in its wisdom has continually spoken of the gift of children and the supremacy of procreation as part of the marriage covenant. As a response to the poisonous view the culture spews about children, the Church has promoted the concept of fertility awareness through Natural Family Planning. For those people who understand the nature of marriage and the sexual union, the practice of NFP is not often necessary. However for many of our young couples, who chose marriage in the Church, the true nature of marriage and the sexual union is lost to them. In these situations, the teaching of NFP at the very least exposes them to the truth of the Churches teaching on marriage, at the most sets them on a journey to grow in their faith and understanding of God's plan for love and life. In addition to that, even people that understand the wisdom and the nature of marriage may not be able to bring themselves to the openness that some couples have to this Truth. Pope John Paul II says that some women are called to be mothers of large families. I have found this to be very true. However, if some are called to have large families, that means that some are not called. For those people who are not called to embrace that life, the practice of NFP can be a blessing. And even then, God continues to call us to live out his plan for marriage. NFP is a tool, and not a rule, to be used to live out God's plan for our families, and should be seen as such. (A mother of 6, 5 here and 1 in heaven, who doesn't consider herself the mother of a large family.)

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  55. People already saying that.... And I'm only pregnant with my third baby.
    I don't mind,
    You said it.
    Amen, amen, amen.

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  56. This post also helped me feel better about dealing with the questions, 'How many (more) kids are you going to have?' and 'Are you done?' I'm pregnant with #4 right now, but I'm also only 31 yrs old. If my husband and I are truly open to God's plan (and we are) how can we answer those questions? I usually go with a vague "We'll see. I could go either way," and my husband responds something like, "4 down, 13 to go." Most people just laugh uncomfortably at the idea of 17 children and don't ask any more questions. Is there really a right way to answer those questions?

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  57. I agree with so much that is being said here. What a great post and discussion.

    I'd like to mention another wonderful aspect of NFP. It can truly change your heart and make you receptive to God's gift of life. We started using NFP over 15 years ago with the, "We're not ready yet." mentality. Infact, we only took the class because we HAD to to get married in the Church. Long story short, we now have 7 children and are open to having more. Currently, we are using the method to postpone another pregnancy for a while. But, I know that when we feel God calling us to try for another, our charts will assist us in that journey.

    Thanks for the fabulous post!

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  58. As usual, you rock. I like that Creighton Model NFP is very careful in its language to say that a couple either uses the method to achieve a pregnancy or to avoid one--it always works; it can't fail because both are successful outcomes of using the method. And kday--geez, will people stop asking those very personal questions laced with judgment on one's family size? I just had number four 21 months after having number three, and people not only ask me if we are done, but they also seem shocked when I tell them that we have four. Really??!! We ONLY have four. Maybe it's years of hanging out with Catholic folks with large families, but that seems small to me. And five or more is certainly possible . . . I'm under 35 . . . Honestly, why do people care how large my family is? And will people please stop questioning how we can afford more than one or two? It really makes me wonder how they are spending their double income, but that thought is really out of my purview, isn't it.

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  59. I have 4 (and freshly planted here with the fifth at age 37), and a month before that happened, I posted a picture of a friend's son who I babysit (we trade off, her mom kept my older kids too). My charge nodded off in his lunch, and my child-free-by-choice (and I'm thankful she is!) sister posted something unkind.
    I flat out told her "I stay out of your uterus, you stay out of mine" Our opinions on fertility are vastly different. And I'm avoiding sharing that news with her till she either finds this post on the web, or she comes over and sees a bump. I don't have the energy to deal with her crap, so I'm not. I might even follow a friend's lead, and never post a peep on crackbook about it, just post a check in at the birthing center of the hospital, with a picture of the hatchling.

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    1. Your comment about your sister struck me. We only have two babies. One in heaven and one currently enjoying some grandma time with my MIL. At Christmas, when I was 35 weeks pregnant with our newest, my little brother told my husband and I that he'd really hoped we'd "learned our lesson" with our miscarriage and would quit trying to breed. With a small family, like ours, people still seem to feel like they have some innate right to say whatever they wish and make whatever judgement regarding the choice to be open to life. We tell people, when they ask, that we use the "Nixon Woo Fly" Method. We have fun letting the woo fly and God does what He wills with it.

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  60. Love this! My husband and I practice NFP, and we have one child. Our child wasn't exactly planned (by US!), but not a "surprise" either, because we were practicing NFP and knew exactly how it worked and what was going to happen if A and B, you get the picture. When people ask about it, I always say, "Yes, we practice NFP, and it worked exactly the way it is supposed to." With my straight-forward bluntness, most people leave it at that, whether they believe me or not. The few people who actually want to know more will get a more in depth explanation, and so far none of them have been disatisfied with the answer they got.

    There will always be some people who don't believe or don't agree, but we should always be bold enough to discuss the truth with those who are open enough to listening.

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  61. This is amazing...so beautiful! Thank you for having the courage to write it and for helping the rest of us know how to say it :)

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  62. YESSSS! It's so funny how I've talked to people using contraception, saying "It's just as effective..." blah, blah, blah...

    That's not the point. The point is that we trust God to give a new life when He sees fit. Even when we can't fathom how we will pull through from a practical, "I need to sleep and eat sometime" sort of way. Coming from a Catholic standpoint here, we see suffering in a different light than most of the world. Suffering is not bad - it doesn't mean "you're doing it wrong". If it did, Jesus did it all wrong! I pray that we (me included!) can begin to embrace the crosses He entrusts to us - be it struggles that come with babies or no babies. May we proclaim boldly to the world that LIFE, no matter what, IS ALWAYS WORTH IT!

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  63. What an awesome great article! Thanks! /Sara

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  64. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  65. I agree, but would like to add something.

    I think part of the whole NFP/ABC debate has to do with the fact that people forget there is a middle ground. People are afraid that they either have to pop out a baby every year or have no children (and/or no sex) at all.

    While some people are afraid of having ANY children, I think MOST people are more afraid of having "too many" children or having them too close together to where they can't take care of their children.

    I think it's important to remember that ecological breastfeeding is the normal way to care for our children, and it produces a side effect of natural infertility. Women who use ecological breastfeeding AVERAGE 14-15 months of infertility after giving birth. Some more, some less. God built in a NATURAL way to space babies, without even having to worry all the NFP stuff.

    I didn't use it with my first child, my cycles came back 8 months post partum. I used it with my second son and my cycles still have not returned and the "baby" is 19 months old.

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    1. I agree! I think we have to remember that there lots of women that aren't able to breastfeed at all or for very long and some women just get their cycles back pronto ... despite breastfeeding on demand!

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    2. I get my cycle back at 4 to 5 months with ecological breastfeeding. My mom got hers back at 3 months while nursing her 6 children. Not sure if it's genetics, but that doesn't work for me. I have to really be vigilant about my body signs and we also use the Marquette Model of NFP. I wish ecological breastfeeding did work for me, but oh well, we make do anyway :)

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    3. This: "People [me] are afraid that they either have to pop out a baby every year or have no children (and/or no sex) at all...I think MOST people [also me] are more afraid of having "too many" children or having them too close together to where they can't take care of their children."

      I'm afraid of having too many children that I can't take care of [and be a good mother to]. Not because I have ever seen mothers of many who aren't good, but because I myself am too impatient, distracted, tempermental, and selfish.

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    4. "I think part of the whole NFP/ABC debate has to do with the fact that people forget there is a middle ground. People are afraid that they either have to pop out a baby every year or have no children (and/or no sex) at all."

      That's what I'm thinking at the moment.

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  66. Amen amen amen. You always say it just right. Dwija Borobia!!! (and I'm just going to print this post address out onto card stock and hand it out when people ask if Theo was "on purpose")

    thank you!!!!!

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  67. Best post you've ever written, hands down.

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  68. Yes, Dweej, you have male readers. :D
    Shared on G+. Thanks.

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  69. Not just a great post. But such awesome comments. You ladies are on a roll...

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  70. I love the part about how using NFP makes serious reasons seem not so serious. After our second child, it became apparent that my fertility was returning about 8 months prior to our scheduled move across the country. Since the move was out of our hands (military), we decided to postpone pregnancy for a few months to give our family more time to find a home and adjust before a baby. But when the time came to abstain, we discussed it a bit more and decided that we could make it work if we had to. So our son was born 2 weeks after our arrival while we were living in the basement of a kind friend and waiting for a house to move into. Not ideal, but we could really see God's provision throughout the whole thing.

    During that pregnancy I had a really difficult time nursing my daughter, who was still very small (8 months). So this time, for the sake of breastfeeding my babies, we relied on NFP for a few months and this reason just made so much more sense to us and we were able to postpone pregnancy through our baby's first year.

    I so often run into other moms at Story time or what not who ask I how know that it is time for another baby. It's as though they need a reason to have a baby, instead of a reason not to. People who don't use contraception but use either nothing at all, or NFP if they need to, are starting from such a very different viewpoint. Whether it 'works' or not just means something completely different.

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  71. On the other side of the coin, those who don't have kids yet and follow NFP are also open to God's plan. My husband and I practice NFP, have been married four-and-a-half years and do not have any children. However, we are open to kids and would welcome them, which is the point of NFP. And I have been pregnant once, but had a miscarriage, which was awful. I feel that some may look at us as "freaks" because we DON'T have kids yet. As my younger self, I always thought that I would have kids by the time I was the age I am. But looking back, I feel that us not having kids yet IS part of God's plan. My husband has been laid off three times since we have been married, so it's possible that God is looking out for us in that way. I know we will have kids in God's time, not ours.

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  72. Thank you for this! One of my pet peeves is people asking if my pregnancies were "planned". What the heck does that even mean? I know that in most people's heads it means "did you come off birth control and purposely try to conceive this child?" In which case the answer for all three of my pregnancies would be "no". But were the children WANTED, absolutely!

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  73. Really great stuff. I'm sure there was some anxiety in publishing a post like this and I want to thank you for putting it out there for discussion. So many of the misunderstandings, in my opinion, regarding Catholic doctrine come from third hand information. Getting people to just talk about these things, like is happening here in your comments and probably with your reader's friends and family, is the first step to clearing out fact from myth.

    I've done a little NFP over the years but between seriously irregular cycles due to PCOS, 2 babies, and nursing keeping AF away, it's been almost impossible for me to even figure out when I'm fertile or not fertile. The lady who was helping us with NFP always referred to our being open to life as GFP - that is, God's Family Planning. I always liked that :)

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  74. There are so many though provoking ideas and statements in this post, as evidenced by the comments section! It is wonderful to read everyone's comments and ideas about the subject. One thing that I often find myself being sensitive to is being careful not to complain or admit having rough days around people don't know or use NFP. I feel like it is just one more piece of ammunition they will use to say, "See it doesn't work. Why are you still having kids if you are having rough days?" Practicing NFP or Fertility Awareness or whatever you want to call it is so radical in the view of our culture, that it's no wonder so many people question it, or think we are crazy. For me, explaining why I use NFP makes no sense without explaining my relationship with Christ, and that alone can put people off. Ultimately, I think the majority of people commenting here would love to see more people embrace the Catholic Church as well as it's teaching of being open to life, so we want to represent NFP well.
    So many things to discuss in relation to this topic....thank you for your openness and willingness to write about the subject. I appreciate it!

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    1. Isn't it interesting how people can choose to do challenging but fulfilling things like get in shape, renovate a house, train for a marathon, go to medical school, etc and they receive encouragement when they have the inevitable rough days and difficulties? Co-creating human beings that might, nay DO!, change the world seems to me at least as worthy as other difficult tasks, but we don't get that "Atta girl! You can do it!" from the community that we would if we did any of those other things. I'd love to see a change in the way the world approaches the whole idea of family where we encourage one another in the obvious difficulties because they are WORTH it!

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    2. So true, Dwija! Whenever someone says something to me like, "Why would you want that many kids??" or similar, my response is usually something like, "Anything worth doing is usually a challenge, but ultimately very rewarding."

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    3. Dwija, wow!!! I want to quote that reply, but my phone won't copy it. What you are citing is evidence of how our culture denegrates the value of human beings. Even some who consider themselves prolife have in ways they don't realize contributed to this lack of respect for life by viewing children as "inconveniences" vs. GIFTS. Thank you for this post and your replies!

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    4. Kids ARE worth sacrificing for!

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  76. WOWOWOW - firestorm of comments I do not have time to read - BUT AMEN. Amen, Amen, Amen! Why o why do people not get that babies DO result from sex? I honestly think it is a core problem in our society. People REALLY want to removed babies from sex - I just don't really get it. BABIES are AWESOME! I have TEN OF THEM, and if my husband weren't 50, we might have a few more. We might anyways. I like them. I think I like them more than most. My babies have absolutely been the best time of my life...for the last 22 years.
    Great post - I hope EVERYONE reads it! They need to!

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  77. just found your blog yesterday, and so glad. so glaaaad. honestly i just read this and my eyes started getting tingly and i had to scrunch my nose up so i wouldn't cry. we spent our first 6 months married going by NFP, and then we had a BABY and i wouldn't have it any other way. but then we put an IUD in after i started my period again. and i feel like it was sucking the joy right out of me. i've been feeling deep in my soul that our "prevention" of babies is just not right. i believe so deeply that i am a mother... and that is my best job. i am the best one at being my son's mama. did that sentence even make sense? and i DO feel embarrassed, that i pulled out my IUD and now what!? if we are blessed with more children it will be because God made us this way.

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  78. You've gone viral, my lady! So proud to know you and all of your awesome words :) Bravo!

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  80. Um, hi. You don't know me and I don't really know you either but I have to tell you anyway that I reallllllyyyy like this post. A friend of mine shared it with me and I'm glad I read it. I agree wholeheartedly with what you said and all the comments - a bonus extension of the post!
    We have four and I hate to admit it but I was slightly embarrassed to announce the 4th pregnancy to some of our family - knowing the comments they would hurl at us. But then, after a good conversation in the 'box', I realized that it doesn't really matter what anyone else thinks. It matters what we (my husband and I) think and how we choose to accept God's gifts. I mean everyone else can be all horrified and balk at us - but we are the ones who get to be joyful.
    To those who laugh when we tell them how many kids we have even with practicing NFP - turn the other cheek and ask how many they have?
    'Practicing' NFP does work...even when it 'doesn't.
    Um, hi. You don't know me and I don't really know you either but I have to tell you anyway that I reallllllyyyy like this post. A friend of mine shared it with me and I'm glad I read it. I agree wholeheartedly with what you said and all the comments - a bonus extension of the post!
    We have four and I hate to admit it but I was slightly embarrassed to announce the 4th pregnancy to some of our family - knowing the comments they would hurl at us. But then, after a good conversation in the 'box', I realized that it doesn't really matter what anyone else thinks. It matters what we (my husband and I) think and how we choose to accept God's gifts. I mean everyone else can be all horrified and balk at us - but we are the ones who get to be joyful.
    To those who laugh when we tell them how many kids we have even with practicing NFP - turn the other cheek and ask them how many they have?
    'Practicing' NFP does work...even when it 'doesn't.
    http://catholicmom.com/2011/07/26/nfp-works-even-when-it-doesnt/

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  81. I forgot to add this: We have 4 kids. To some that sounds like a lot. It is crazy-wonderful. We love them all and wouldn't have 'planned' it any better...even if we could have.

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  82. Man here...Dad of 7 <-----Love this.

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  83. Go, Dwija! Great post! I love your line about a healthy, happy married couple couple who wants to have sex but not have children as being unnatural. Go you for coming out & saying it.

    We only have 3 kids & people look at us like we're all sorts of crazy. And though it's bananas having 3 littles with so many needs, I'd still love another. Babies are awesome.

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  84. 'Nother guy here -- great post -- will be using this to help get engaged couples in our parish over the "Catholic Birth Control" hump. Well done!

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  85. Dweejy, I heart you!!!!!!

    This makes my young momma heart ache with conviction and gives me a deep joy to know there are lots of God-loving, baby loving makin' couples lovin' baby makin'.

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  86. Can't believe no one has said this yet, but I'll just go ahead and be Ms. McTMI and agree with you when you say fertile sex is "the bestest sex you'll ever have." Aaaamen.

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    1. Hahaha...loved this comment...post & all comments are awesome! Before I was married I remember an older cousin mentioning that the relations she had with her hubby that resulted in her two kids were the best thing ever! They were normally a contracepting couple beyond that.

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  87. I'm a man - a celibate man, even! - and I found this extremely entertaining :D God bless and fight on!

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  88. I didn't comment when I read this yesterday because -- well, I was on my phone, which eats comments when I try to comment on blogs with it.

    But LOVE this and you rock. That is all.

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  89. I needed to hear this. Thank you.

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  90. NFP "works" because it is still challenging me to grow in love, respect, and honor for my wife after almost 10 years. I am grateful for the 4 children we've been blessed with. Fertility isn't something to be "protected" from, but as those who practice NFP know, the science isn't perfect and we continue to be confused with certain things that happen. It is difficult to know where to turn in those times.

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    1. What a beautiful comment!!! Thank you for sharing the husband's perspective! My husband and I just had a non-fertility related issue arise and if you don't mind I am going to borrow the first part of that comment to explain how what happened WAS positive as it brings us closer.

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  91. I haven't read all (155!!) comments, but seriously. Thank you.

    My husband and I sorta-kinda wishy-washy do NFP. I know exactly when I ovulate and I know I can either not have sex or have sex and KNOW FOR CERTAIN FACT I will be pregnant that night. True story, the man looks at me and I'm pregnant.

    This is what happened w/#s 5&6. And pretty much 4, but we had just started looking into NFP, so I don't really count Billy Boy.

    My (long drawn out) point is this. Non-Catholic friends, okay even some Catholic ones, just laugh and talk about getting tubes tied or parts snipped and don't understand that it's cool, it's cool b/c God is our family's designer. Babies happen because my husband & I love each other. Did I have a minor meltdown when I confirmed (what I already knew) bambino #6's existence?? Yes, yes I did. But once I wrapped my mind around the idea of adding another life into my family full of life. Yes we are fine and happy and now are expecting wonderful things next month.

    Thank you for saying what I've often thought, but rarely been able to voice. :)

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  92. A friend of mine linked to this on Facebook. I love this post. I've been on several sides of this issue. We're not Catholic, but after we got married we immediately wanted to start a family and I began using NFP to chart cycles to try and get pregnant. 6 months later we were pregnant with our beautiful son (now almost 12). Fast forward to his birth, I had pre-eclampsia which necessitated his early arrival via C-section and I had some severe birth complications...so then we had a really good reason to avoid pregnancy. Then our marriage was "on the rocks" for a time and we had another really good reason to avoid. Finally we decided we wanted another baby....and nothing happened. For years we "tried" and didn't get pregnant. So we gave up "trying" and lo and behold...a "surprise" pregnancy. I do consider my beautiful daughter (who will be two in a couple of weeks) a surprise, because we didn't expect that we could get pregnant. But here she is and I wouldn't trade her for the world. Now with 2 C-sections under my belt (literally!) I have to think carefully about whether another baby is a good idea. I'm still thinking! Right now the husband says he doesn't want more. "Baby in the bed" is our current "birth control" method of choice. ;)

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  93. Thank you for posting this! It's exactly the encouragement I need right now.

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  94. Brilliant post and I love seeing the comments how many people also go through this. We are in pregnancy 5 in 4 and a bit years. We are great at NFP. Great to come across your blog

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  95. Totally agree, and there are dudes reading this u am one lol. Most of us can stand to have more babies, my wife and I are hoping for 5 to 7 or so right now. But whatever the Lord allows is what we will have.

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  96. There are indeed men reading this post, and men lifting their glasses and stroking their beards in agreement! Hear, hear! May there be many more children, and aided by the knowledge that comes through Natural Family Planning!

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  97. This post is awesome. I think that you hit the nail on the head and expressed what so many of us think but have a hard time putting into words. I am the mother of nine. I have heard my fair share of mean and nasty comments and questions about our family size and it gets to the point where you just stop listening. I know that we are beyond blessed! When people say "Wow, God bless you!" My go-to response is, "He already has... a lot!" I cannot imagine a day without all 9 of my crazy little buggers around! They are a source of so much joy not just to me, but to many. It isn't always easy, but the best things usually aren't the easiest.

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  98. Whenever I talk to people about the efficacy of NFP, I always make sure to talk about the high rates "pregnancy ambivalence" among couples using it to prevent pregnancy. That helps explain the 80/20 statistic from the UNFPA. Because one week, you might say, "we're hoping to postpone conception for a few more months", and the evening of the same day, you might say, "well, we love each other and children, and we're willing to take the chance with this intimate encounter, knowing that it may create a baby. We're happy with that, because babies are good, too." People using contraception have a REALLY hard time appreciating that mentality; and people using NFP to postpone sometimes forget that that's what it's all about (myself included!).

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  99. I linked to you here: http://www.everything-to-someone.com/2013/06/potential-dangers-of-nfp-mentality.html

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  100. Fantastic! Thank you.

    I'm super fertile...as in I've ovulated as early as 21 days postpartum, despite ecological breastfeeding/cosleeping/babywearing, etc. I also have a lot of hormone issues that make my pregnancies very precarious. We chart to avoid because we really feel we have to, but I am always uncomfortable with it. I guess that's a good thing, really, but it's hard.

    My MIL asked my husband recently if we were going to "stop" after #s 4 and 5 (we'll have 5 under 5 for a short time!). I wasn't there at the time. If I had been, I probably would have said, "Oh, you don't want any more grandchildren? Fine, then we won't make you meet them." People's views on children and fertility are so screwed up nowdays. Thanks for being a light in the darkness, Dwija!

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  101. Thank you for that. If only people knew how much it hurts women and men who struggle with infertility and are using NFP to achieve a pregnany, hearing that someone being blessed with a pregnancy considers it a failure in some way is heartbreaking. My husband and I have tried for over 5 years to concieve and NFP gives us hope and made us fully take responsibility for our fertility and our marital commitments to each other. Thank you for sharing NFP in an honest way. :)

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  102. I just found out #4 is on the way, and I had to come read this post again for some inspiration! Im dreading telling my side of the family, because they already think Im crazy with three kids by age 28. Building my courage to stand strong to my convictions and not let them beat me down by saying "oh this must have been an accident right?".

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  103. When Santa brought me a baby doll at age 5, I told my mom that it must be for some other little girl! I loved Barbies and pink and my play kitchen and dress up outfits. But baby dolls- no thanks!

    Fast forward to adulthood- I was honest with all of my serious relationships that kids were not an interest. I liked teens alot and did (and still do) quite a bit of mentoring and church work related to them. But my own kids just didn't feel like a need or even a want. I kept thinking I would change.

    Forward again to age 38. No kids in sight and I had a major stroke. Drs advised having my tubes tied as a pregnancy would kill me. I wondered- would I feel differently about them knowing they would no longer be an option?

    Fast forward to age 45- I am still in the same relationship, spending time with teens whom I love and I have a happy, productive, very happy life. And still no kids. My priest hasn't said a word....

    So yay for those who want them, but NFP made me a nervous wreck. I would go into a depression each month worrying and often avoiding intimacy simply out of fear and more worry. It compromised my relationship in some ways. After tubal ligation it was like a 2nd honeymoon!

    Just abother Catholic's take on NFP.

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  104. I had an ectopic pregnancy and i have had four miscarriage with no luck on having my baby,my sister inlaw told me of ASHRA and the ability to help women in my situation , i contacted ashra and some items was sent to me and some sort of cleanse was performed for and as ashra said i got pregnant 7weeks later and my baby stayed and the delivery was safe am glad , i thank you ashra you made me a mother ,i will drop ashra details for solution contact ashra on email ashraspelltemple@gmail.com or by phone number +2348058176311 , ashra did it for me , ashra can also do yours

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