"It has brought us closer together, not only in terms of the struggles with some of the pregnancies, but just on a day to day basis. Initiating respect for our bodies has translated into respect for our individual personalities, which helps especially during times of abstinence. " —Andy
NFP helps us see the bigger picture
Andy: We took our CCL NFP course 12 years ago as part of marriage preparation. At the time we thought of it as just another one of those motions we needed to get through to get married in the Church, but nevertheless found it to be a very interesting course. Little did we know at the time, but we were really going to need the information down the road.
Mary: We were planning on starting a family immediately, so while the fertility information was good to know, and I practiced some charts for experience, we figured we would use it “one day.” Well, we got married and things didn’t go quite as planned.
I got pregnant three months later, but lost the baby early on, and then it happened again a few months after that. By now charting and prayer were becoming a way of life as we were trying to figure out the cause of our losses. Before we knew it, a year went by and then another.
Andy: We were told by a specialist that we would never have children without the help of in vitro fertilization or adoption. Leaning on our faith, we prayed and eventually decided on fostering-to-adopt. We were quickly placed with a pre-adoptive baby boy right from the hospital. But that didn’t go as planned, either. We found out that he had a loving father ready to incorporate this precious boy into his life. We still were happy to have this chance to be part of our foster son’s life, if only for a year. He went home and we continued pressing on, following whichever path God put in front of us. We had given up on charting, accepting that God had another plan.
Mary: Just a month after our foster son went back to his father, we learned (to our great surprise!) that we were pregnant, and this time we were blessed to carry to term and had a healthy baby girl of our own. Then six months later we discovered we were expecting again, and were elated. After our son was born, we found out a few months later that I was pregnant again with number three!
We just couldn’t believe it. I didn’t think we could do it, and was so full of self-doubt about my ability as a mother. Three kids so close in age?! Impossible! I felt like we could barely handle the two we already had! Why hadn’t we been stricter with NFP?!?!
But my doubt and fear of another baby quickly turned into doubt and fear for this precious little one’s life, given my earlier losses, and I felt so guilty that I had acted anything but grateful at the news initially. This was a difficult and scary pregnancy that was filled with issues all the way around, beginning to end, including a serious heart defect that would require surgery. Our daughter’s delivery complications led us to use our fertility awareness once again as it was important to space our children out a bit more.
So our third baby (who now has two younger siblings) taught us so much about life and God’s plan for us. We learned that while the road may not be what we expected and isn’t always easy, that we can truly see God’s hand at work. That has been an amazing thing to see, and reminds us to cherish our time with each other and our kids.
Andy: NFP has become a way of life that fits easily into our environmental mindset as well, as we try to be good stewards of our lives, our children’s lives, and our natural environment. Since this method relies on fertility information from both of us, it is important that we work together. I like to make sure Mary has her thermometer handy at around the same time in the morning, and we review the charts, discuss our plans, and make decisions together based on that combined information. It is really amazing to work so in tune with our bodies, as God’s natural law intends. It has brought us closer together, not only in terms of the struggles with some of the pregnancies, but just on a day to day basis. Initiating respect for our bodies has translated into respect for our individual personalities, which helps especially during times of abstinence.
Mary: We each have certain ways of handling those times, both physically and verbally. A hug, a touch, a movie after the kids have gone to bed, even projects around the house together become times to strengthen our bond. Since we have learned to communicate more clearly about our fertility verbally, it has been a lot easier to discuss other parts of our relationship as well. Times of abstinence don’t have to be viewed negatively for us. My favorite suggestion came from my OB who said times of abstinence can be used to pray for our children’s future and the struggles with sexuality that they will experience growing up.
To be so connected and in tune as our fertility ebbs and flows through the months has been a pretty cool experience for us, almost like we’re a part of a bigger picture. When we really stop to think about it….we are. We all are.