Sunday, January 6, 2013

The Trouble with NFP

I've been going back and forth about writing this. Then I realized the posts I enjoy most from other bloggers are the personal ones. About 3 months ago I had my first "pregnancy scare." All of our other kids took months of trying and were planned. I nursed Evie for 12 months, so I didn't have to worry about cycles or fertility. When I weaned her, we went back to using NFP.

I didn't really brush up on the rules and I should have. Then a friend interested in NFP emailed me asking for info about the method. I opened up my reference book to jot a few things down for her and realized I misunderstood one of the "rules." A day that was supposed to be "safe" wasn't.

I panicked and with it came all the "what ifs." The thoughts of how to pay for prenatal care, to what other people would think, to our "plan" being ruined consumed my thoughts and distracted me during work, etc. I felt like that commercial where the lady is trying to go about her life and a stork keeps chasing her down. I was scared and mad at myself, but I could do nothing other than wait it out.

It all turned out to be for nothing. As close as we cut it, I wasn't pregnant. Then the feelings of guilt set in. This isn't what I had been taught, every life is a blessing. Some couples struggle to conceive and here I am so ungrateful. But NFP has A LOT more sacrifices then I ever realized before marriage.

You know how they say you're fertile for only a few days out of the month? Well, you abstain for much more than a few days!! For us, it's more like 2 weeks. Doesn't sound like long? Give it a try ;) Then when it comes to interpreting if its safe or not, it's not a science. You second guess yourself, over analyze, and even then worry did we calculate everything right? I guess that's the part where trusting in God's plan comes in. Sounds cliche when you're sitting in a NFP class before marriage, but actually practicing and living it out is much harder. It's difficult too because not many people practice this form of family planning, so it's hard to find support or advice or even respect for choosing this path.

Anyone else out there ever have an unplanned pregnancy scare? Allowing anonymous commenting for this post, so you can share worry free ;) Just a note that we use NFP to both plan and avoid pregnancy. Our faith doesn't permit contraception. 

25 comments:

  1. I used an app on my iPhone called Period Tracker to keep track of my period and when I could possibly be ovulating. I didn't really think that much about it, but it was pretty accurate for me and I ended up getting pregnant within 2 months of being off birth control. I'm not a fan of remembering to take it every day so I stopped taking it and wasn't really expecting to get pregnant right away since they say it can take up to a year to get pregnant after stopping. I am more interested in looking into NFP instead of going back on birth control because I didn't like the way I felt being on it. Any books or website help would be great too!

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    1. There's a great free app called Kindara where you can chart and everything from your phone.

      This website has info and free charts: http://www.nfpandmore.org/

      This site sells the materials (books, classes, etc) and has tons of info: http://www.ccli.org/nfp/

      I like that NFP is free and chemical free.

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  2. We don't use contraceptives either, so I have definitely had some pregnancy scares! It's not for religious reasons, I just don't like any options for me and we both agree we don't like condoms. It's been six years since we've been together and the only time I got pregnant was when we tried, so I'd have to say it's a pretty effective method.

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    1. Yeah, I think the only accidents come from couples getting lazy with it or cutting too many corners. I like that it's free and hormone/chemical free too.

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  3. To be 100% honest, I've used it and also not used it. Since my husband's job had him away a lot, I sacrificed my beliefs for our relationship, our intimacy. It's hard to go months without being intimate and then saying "sorry honey, we can't right now, it's that time of my cycle. Oh and by the way, you will be gone by the time I'll be in the clear." It's hard for both of us. Once the traveling was over, we went back to NFP and yes, there are scares. I am normally like clockwork, so the second I am off by a day, I am a worried mess. I think my worrying messes my cycle more than anything.
    I feel like I learn more about NFP all the time. Luckily, I have my mom to ask for advice and to go to when I am frustrated. It's not easy, but it's safe for you. God really does know best. If you were meant to have another baby, you would.
    Thank you for writing such a personal post. I enjoy the personal ones the most too. I just don't have the strength to write them most of the time.
    -Sarah (just didn't want my blog attached to this comments)

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    1. Yes, that's what happened! I think all my worrying caused me to be late which caused more worrying...

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  4. we are open to NFP but have never utilized it since we have discerned that there have not been any grave reasons to avoid pregnancy.

    we've come to this decision after seeking our own will, corrective suffering, and His grace. we have a large gap in our first and second. we must offer up our loss of the children that we were not open to (for no grave reason). also, i find it important to help others acknowledge that we must not be presumptuous in thinking that there will be another season for having babies. i have lost five babies. (i'm 34 years old.) He knows what is best for each of us.

    having said that, we have questioned our readiness and ability to bring another life into the world. we eventually come to a place of complete humility - we can do nothing without HIM. there have been plenty of trials and sacrifices but His grace has always been sufficient for us and there is never a reason for us to worry.

    melody recently shared a post with raw emotion of an expecting mama with 6 living children. she always has a way with words and leading one closer to Christ. - http://mamaslittleditty.blogspot.com/2013/01/our-favorite-christmas-gift.html

    prayers for your journey.

    ad Jesum per Mariam,
    lena

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    1. really good words! checking out that post :)

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  5. OK going anonymous because I'm about to share some intimate info! We also had a scare a few months ago...my baby was only three months old! Thankfully it wasn't true...and we are so relieved! It sounds bad but we were just NOT ready for another babay! Ok so heres the intimate info...we use the pull out method, instead of abstaining...it works amazingly well for us! We did NFP for almost a year and we got pregnant the exact day we wanted to! It was so cool how we could totally plan it! But yes, the pullout method for two weeks is better than abstainig for two weeks!

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    1. I am not making a judgment on your personal practices, but I just want to let other Catholics who may be reading this post that the "pull out" method is not accepted by the Catholic Church and is not felt to be in line with teaching on married sexual practices. This practice is comparable to condom usage in terms of being open to life.

      Thank you for this honest post, Marjorie!

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  6. I hope no one thinks that, just because you are nursing, you are in the clear. Not true. Plenty of women have conceived while nursing. http://www.webmd.com/sex-relationships/guide/birth-control-contraceptive-myths

    According to your faith, you don't use contraceptives. Contraceptives help one avoid a pregnancy. Instead you do NFP...which also helps avoid a pregnancy. So what's the difference really? Isn't it kind of similar? Is it just the fact that there is no physical or chemical barrier?

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    1. Correct! We used a modified approach of NFP while breastfeeding because you can still get pregnant. What I meant was that I did not get a cycle back till after I stopped nursing, so it was off my mind somewhat.

      Similar, but not the same. I didn't want to get into too much in my post to be concise. NFP is first "natural" vs "artificial." There is no chemicals, hormones, barriers or objects to avoid pregnancy. It's free. You're following God's/nature's way.

      Second, as Catholics we believe that sex should always be open to life. If you have sex, but you're using a condom that act is closed to life. NFP avoids the entire act during the fertile period. You're are right though, when used selfishly it can be contraceptive. You should be communicating and praying each month about whether to abstain because you have serious reasons or open. Right now, we do not have health coverage that would pay for care.

      Last, NFP can be used to plan children. Other methods of contraception can not. We used NFP to plan each of our kids.

      Hope that clarifies and feel free to ask any other questions!

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  7. I think with the gift of fertility, it's all about trust. Whether its trusting because you're super fertile, or weathering the storms of infertility and all it entails.

    This might sound super crazy coming from someone who struggled for 2 years to conceive, but I am scared of getting pregnant too soon after this one is born. I have been SO ill, throwing up the entire time that I do not think I could psychologically handle doing it again anytime soon. Plus I want to be able to enjoy this little one and spend the quality time s/he deserves.

    It's going to be weird to transition our focus from trying to avoiding. In fact we have to meet with our Creighton instructor sometime after baby comes so we can refresh on the rules. Ultimately I believe God knows what's best, yet He did give us brains to consider our circumstances and be responsible too.

    I admire yours and Chris' faithfulness and openness. Thanks for sharing this post.

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  8. Well as you know we are currently expecting our 3rd which was a very big surprise! We've been doing NFP since we've been married. With our first, we got pregnant the first month trying but our second son took 6 months. We had just sat down to talk about when we wanted to start trying for our third and decided to start trying in Jan/Feb 2013 because we assumed it would be at least a few months of trying again. Little did we know that we were already pregnant when we had that discussion!
    I've been tracking my cycles and daily temps since 2008 on fertilityfriend.com so I know when to avoid and when I should be expecting my period. So I noticed I was late but I didn't test until I was more than a week late because I just couldn't believe it was possible. We were avoiding "that time of the month" but this baby was just meant to be because it was a 5 day cut-off!

    And now you know the real story, because I certainly won't be putting that many details on my blog!! :P

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    1. Wow, a 5 day cut off! We do 4 day and this last time we cut it 2-3 days which was why I was so scared. I do use ovulation tests to find when it happens, then take them afterward to insure that they are negative.

      Anyway, congrats again!! I have a feeling it's a girl :)

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  9. Ok ladies....drumroll...I just got pregnant while on NFP! My last cycle had been hard to track. My "signs" had been hard to observe, so on a day that usually would have been a "no," there hadn't been any sign (mucus), so we went for it. A few weeks later....... :) I am ecstatic to be pregnant (with my 1st). A part of me wishes I had been an NFP poster child, and now people I tell about it (I won't tell them these details) won't trust it as much.
    Marjorie, you'll know who I am soon enough! :)

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    1. Email me sometime or I'll never link it up who you are: marjorie.m.jones@comcast.net

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  10. Ok, I think I know who you are :) Congrats!!!! I'm so excited for you!

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  11. So I'm late on finding this but I'm so glad you wrote about it! We use NFP (the Creighton Model) and I like it. I do get nervous especially after having a baby and nursing your cycles are all off for a while that I was constantly second guessing myself. I totally understand the whole "more than a few days thing" and it can be totally frustrating! I wish I knew more people who did this because I think sometimes talking about it makes it easier to follow. When everyone else is looking for the quick fix it's nice to know others are using NFP!

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    1. I agree, there needs to be more support for those who use it! :)

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  12. I don't know what NFP is but do chart and track my ovulation on fertility friend. Unfortunately I seem to be hopelessly infertile; we've been trying for 5 years... :-( Do you know, is using NFP to try to get pregnant similar to charting on fertility friend?

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    1. I think it's similar. If you are looking for natural assistance in line with Catholic teaching to conceive, check out NaPro Technology! They do amazing work with helping couples using natural methods.

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    2. I second what Marjorie said about NaproTechnology! We struggled with infertility for 2 years and I just had a baby girl. Napro helped drs figure out what was wrong with me and helped our little one come to us.

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  13. Wow- just found your blog and really appreciate all your honesty here.

    My hubby and I have used NFP for 6 years and have had 6 pregnancies (2 miscarriages). I visited my NFP teacher frequently and each time I think I totally know what I'm doing (um, obviously not!) All our pregnancies were unplanned, but one. I can honestly tell you that I've charted my heart out (and I'm nervous each month)! I even had a procedure done by an NFP practitioner to help reduce the mucus I was having (called an ectropian and sometimes produces more mucus after childbirth). Anyway, we even abstain and the one time we're together that month I get pregnant. I feel sad that it doesn't work for us--more so because my husband truly believed it would work during all those NFP classes before we were married. He's frustrated and doesn't want to end up with 10 children. However, it's hard not to see God's hand in all of this. I love our life and growing family more than i can write about here. It would be a really nice change to not have to worry if I'm pregant every month. It would be nice to not worry if I'm going to be 47 and preg! ;)

    Regarding a monitor- which one do you use? I used Clearblue for a while and got pregnant (ha- big shocker!). The monitor told me I was not fertile after my period (day 8), so we used that day and then it showed I was fertile on day 10. Do you just avoid until after you ovulate?

    Again, thanks for this post!!

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  14. Hey! Glad you found my blog. I do not use the Clearblue monitor. I buy cheap ovulation tests from Amazon by Wondfo. You can not use ovulation tests/monitors to prevent pregnancy. We use NFP (both temperature and mucus tracking) and the ovulation tests just as an additional means. We start abstaining on day 6 every month as the most conversative form of NFP recommends. That's frustrating because I always ovulate very late in my cycle, but I know you have more of a chance of a surprise pregnancy shortening the time you abstain in the beginning of your cycle. I I would recommend starting abstaining on day 6 no matter what the signs say. It's just too risky.

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