Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Living Counter-Culturally

From iusenfp.com
I am well aware that my husband and I live counter-culturally. I am not surprised by this when I do pop my head out of the Catholic bubble that I can often get caught up in and view the world around me. We do not live according to the norms accepted by our society today.

And it saddens me that what is considered "normal" is to pump a woman's body up with artificial hormones so that the normal, God-given way her body is supposed to work is suppressed.

And it is this reason that I write this post. The thing is, I am probably writing to people who are also in that same Catholic bubble that I am in. It can be easy to forget that not everyone understands the true freedom that is available when a woman learns how her body works, understands her cycles, and can stop the artificial hormones. So I feel like I'm preaching to the choir. However, on the off-chance that someone does read this who is on the fence or for whom this is new information, I do want to share a little about NFP.

I had serious doubts about Natural Family Planning (NFP) when I first started hearing about it. I was at a point in my life where I was trying to learn more about the Catholic Church to gain a better understanding of many of the teachings with which I did not agree. NFP was one of the hardest to find information about. But the amount of information out there today is amazing! Anyone who is looking for greater understanding today and just going to the internet as I was many years ago will have greater success than I did.

For that I am extremely grateful!

The best thing about NFP, from my perspective, is that I always know where in my cycle I am. And I have some messed up, wacky cycles at times. Believe me, if I can learn NFP and understand my cycles, anyone can! We have used NFP to conceive each and every time we have conceived. And we have used it to avoid during those times, particularly those months immediately following a miscarriage, when I was not physically or emotionally ready to conceive again. I can tell you with certainty that I have conceived on four different occasions and possibly a fifth.

Yes, a fifth. I don't know for certain whether we did or not and I may never know. It could potentially have been an unusually long luteal phase or it could have been a very early miscarriage. If you are unfamiliar with NFP terminology let me explain:

A luteal phase is the period of time between when a woman ovulates and when her next period begins. Regardless of the length of your cycle (which we all know can vary for a variety of purposes, like stress or weight gain/loss, etc.) your luteal phase is consistent within a day or two. Every. Single. Time. If a woman is also taking her basal body temperature (first temp of the morning) this is also the time when the temp rises due to an increase in progesterone and a decrease in estrogen. I have cycles that are occasionally 150 days long, more likely 45-60 or so days long, and sometimes 35-40 days long. No matter how long my cycle is from time of ovulation to my next period is 13-14 days, sometimes 15.

The cycle prior to the cycle in which I conceived our daughter Brigit. I had an 18 day luteal phase. I took a pregnancy test on day 17 that came back negative. [I have never been one for taking tests early.] I was sure I was pregnant, but then I got my period. Was I? Possibly. Possibly not. But because of the knowledge NFP has given me it does make me wonder sometimes.

This is just one example of the knowledge NFP can give someone about their body. There is so much more out there. If the idea of taking artificial hormones into your body bothers you, I urge you to consider something else, particularly NFP. And if you are still determined to remain on the other side of the fence, consider this:
From iusenfp.com
As I mentioned earlier, there are many great places to find information on NFP. I've noticed an increase in the number of these sites just recently. So I want to share them here:

iusenfp.com is a newer site with information on various NFP Methods, a blog, personal stories, lots of cool graphics, and more. They also have a Facebook page and a Twitter feed. I love their graphics!!

www.1flesh.org is also a newer site and one I have only heard about but not looked into until I started writing this post. They also have a blog, informative articles, cool graphics, and more. Looks like they plan on selling gear some day too!

www.livingthesacrament.com is a Catholic NFP Community. I have been following them on Facebook but had not visited their website until today. Looks like they have lots of good information as well as forums, a blog, and lots of great resources. Even if you're not Catholic there could be lots of good info here if you're researching NFP. NFP is not just for Catholics, I hope you know.

There are many different ways to practice NFP and each is based on learning different patterns of your body's natural processes. I use a method called sympto-thermal, as taught be the Couple to Couple League. Other popular methods I am aware of include the Creighton Model and the Marquette Model. There are other methods as well. The groups I linked above all include links to these three methods as well as many others.

And let me just simply add: this is not your grandmother's rhythm method. Don't try to tell me it is.

Finally, this is NFP Awareness Week. The USCCB website has a page set up with all sorts of resources for this week. It is another great place to go for information.

If you're not yet at a place where you are willing to step out and start living counter-culturally that is okay. I encourage you to continue reading, researching, and asking questions. Check out the methods I listed, visit the websites, and maybe even take a class. You're not committing to it just by taking the class, but maybe, just maybe, you might hear something that will make sense and give you the courage to take that next step.

Isn't the health of your body (or your wife's body) worth it? Don't you think God gave us, as women, our bodies to work a certain way? Why should we mess with what He created? Did He not know what He was doing? Do we not trust God in what He gave us as women?

Good questions to ponder. I hope you will.
From iusenfp.org


  1. I had a little survey on my blog last week and I was surprised at the diversity of readers- even though yes, most were in my same 'bubble'- it is always good for us to realize that others have different world views

    1. I had a reply all written and then my internet connection went out. Darn. Trying again.

      I remember that survey, I filled it out. :) Are you planning on sharing the results? It is nice to see other perspectives. I was just thinking about this earlier today actually when I was walking across campus. College campuses are so full of diversity. Especially in the summer it seems. I really do love discussing other perspectives when it is done respectfully from all sides. I don't like the general view in society that there is only way way everyone should believe and others are all just wrong or hateful people, etc. That frustrates me and makes me want to crawl back into my Catholic bubble.

    2. Yes campuses are very diverse especially during the summer full of high school camps and more. A group of high school students spending their summer at a 3 week engineering camp eating meals with students in for a week long basketball camp.

      At a social dinner tonight, though brief, a discussion of how we as Americans are more hung up on things than those from other countries. Point one of the ladies spends part of winter in Florida and is part of a group. They say the 'Pledge of Allegiance' followed by the 'Our Father' to start their meetings. She was sitting with a group of people from Canada, who all respectively stood and put their hand across their chest during the pledge. She asked them afterwards about it. They said that they were in America and felt a part of the country so they had now issues with the recitation of the 'Pledge of Allegiance'.

    3. What an interesting story. Indeed we should be respectful when on someone else's turf, so to speak. Love that!

      And the diversity I was speaking of on campus was the normal college students on campus. I don't think I saw any high school students except maybe one or two around the Main Building waiting on or just having come back from a tour. No, the wide variety of Muslim, black, white, Asian students I saw was rather striking. I think I notice it more in the summer than during the regular school year. I love seeing that diversity, especially all mixed together, as I walk around and even sometimes hear unfamiliar languages as I pass this group or that.

  2. Thanks, I have past your blog address on to a non-catholic friend who has expressed interest in the past.

    1. Wonderful! I hope your friend finds this post helpful. Thanks for sharing it!

  3. Related to this topic, I would like to share a really good book that discusses marriage, sex, and more. The book, "Life Giving Love: Embracing God's Beautiful Design for Marriage" by Kimberly Hahn is a wonderful book. I read the book several years ago and read it as a single young lady. It was very encouraging and made sense about how the cherish act of romance and sex means so more. I would encourage anyone to take a moment to read it. I loaned a copy to a co-worker several years ago and just recently purchased the book again. I feel like it is a definite book to have and share with others. May God bless you in reading it.

    1. Excellent recommendation! I read that book several years ago on your suggestion as well. It was one of the things I read that helped fully convert my thinking on the life issue. :)