"For me, being an engineer, I have a deep fascination with how things work and find great beauty in God’s intricate design of nature. She explained to me that NFP predicts the natural cycle of a woman and, based on medical data, indicates when you are and are not fertile. Call me a nerd, but that sounded cool to me."-Ben
NFP helps us see the bigger picture
Ben: Our story is a case of misinformation and a lack of tough love. People we trusted and looked to for guidance told us that contraceptives were a part of today’s society and the Church’s teachings simply weren’t up with the times. I think we also accepted what they had to say because it was what we wanted to hear, but in the back of our minds we knew we should have kept searching for the truth.
Karina: I have had medical issues with my cycles since they started at the age of 12. You name it; I experienced it. So when the time came for me to go to the doctor because I was literally miserable each month, the pill was my miracle. Instantly everything was resolved and at the age of 13 I wasn’t thinking about sex, so this was solely medical in nature.
I was on the pill for five years before I sat back down with my doctor and talked about the side effects of the pill. The discussion was incredible short. Basically she told me the side effects were minimal and reminded me that it would help with acne. Still, I was uneasy about it and I went off of it for about three months. This time the pain from the cramps had me sitting in front of a toilet vomiting my entire first week of college. I went racing back to my miracle pill.
Ben: During my first year of college I decided to convert to Catholicism. With Karina as my sponsor, I went through the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA). Near the end of the process, we went on a retreat and I remember sitting down with the other couples, many of them boyfriend-girlfriend like us, when the priest opened the floor to questions. He wanted us to ask anything about our faith. The girl next to us asked, “Is birth control a sin? Is it OK to use?” Karina and I were anxious to hear the priest’s answer. I knew Karina was miserable when she tried coming off the pill last time. The priest’s answer was exactly what we wanted to hear. He said, “It’s not dogma, so no worries.” Phew! Missed that bullet.
Karina stayed on the pill the next few years and during our junior year, I asked her to marry me.
Karina: I’d only been waiting three and a half years, so I of course said yes! We set the date for two weeks after graduation, and near the end of our engagement, we went to our pre-cana class. When the subject of birth control came up, I clammed up. I didn’t want to hear what they had to say. I had medical reasons for being on the pill. I wasn’t hurting anyone by being on the pill, and we were not yet ready for kids. But we did hear one important thing. There was another option, NFP. We had never heard that before this class, but it was enough of a seed for later down the road.
Ben: At the age of 24, Karina had been on the pill for a total of 10 years, one and a half of which were while we were married. During that year we moved from Illinois to Florida and found a group of young adult, Catholic friends. We started hanging out with them and the subject of birth control kept coming up. They were very adamant that birth control was wrong, and for the first time we started learning the reasons why the Catholic Church was against birth control.
Karina: Regardless of what they were saying I still wanted to throw up the I-have-medical-reasons-for-the-pill card, but for some reason didn’t. We realized God was reaching out to us, asking us to change. It took a few months, but I eventually went online and found CCL’s website because I remembered this thing called NFP in our pre-cana class. I watched their YouTube videos and started crying. I’ve never felt God so clearly ask me to change as I did in that moment. That night I went to Ben with my concerns.
Ben: We were still working ourselves out from under a lot of school debt, but when Karina asked me what I thought about NFP, I was strangely OK with it. I wasn’t completely sure why she wanted to try it. And I truly thought she just wanted to try it, not to fully commit to it right away. For about the three months prior to that night, she had been making changes to what we ate to be healthier. We shopped for organic foods and ate fewer artificial foods (although she still can’t bring herself to give up Cheez-Its). I thought that perhaps she wanted to stop using the pill as part of our being healthier. On the other hand, as Karina mentioned, we had been spending a lot of time with our Bible study friends, and they had brought up birth control on multiple occasions. Perhaps she was motivated by faith. For me, being an engineer, I have a deep fascination with how things work and find great beauty in God’s intricate design of nature. She explained to me that NFP predicts the natural cycle of a woman and, based on medical data, indicates when you are and are not fertile. Call me a nerd, but that sounded cool to me.
As I lie there in bed thinking through what she was asking us to do, I realized that I had just given myself three very good reasons to say yes. I decided at that moment to be more motivated.
Karina: During the first class, I became a complete convert to NFP. The last 10 years had been a rejection of the Church’s teachings on sexuality because all I thought I heard was “No.” But during the hour and a half class, all I heard was “Yes.” Yes to living a healthy life, yes to living a healthy marriage, yes to living how God designed. I can’t tell you how liberated I felt when I threw away that last pack of pills. It felt like shedding a weight. The pill had been my miracle drug, but in that class I found out that how God had created the body was the true miracle.
I also learned natural ways to help my cycles and my general health. We received a handy book called Fertility, Cycles & Nutrition that has been my lifesaver. Because of this book I started taking vitamins, eating more vegetables, drinking more water before my period starts, and exercising regularly. It was amazing that those simple things made such a huge difference. I have had little to no issues with my cycles since starting these easy habits.
Around this time I also found out I have underactive thyroid. When I started charting, that issue was crystal clear in my charts and even indicated that we might have some trouble getting pregnant. Suddenly our plan of “no kids ‘til we’re 30” came crashing down. It wasn’t just the thought of fertility issues that had us reconsidering out view on children, however. Learning NFP opened our eyes to the blessing that children are and God’s overall purpose for marriage.
Ben: Because of NFP, we talk together in more detail and discern as a couple if it’s the right time for us to have kids. While we are not actively trying to have children, we have accepted that should we get pregnant it would be God’s will and we would be thankful. The fact is, the more we talk about it the more I want children with Karina. She wants to wait a while longer, and that’s ok. It’s a decision we both must reach.
Our newfound openness to life makes intimate moments all the more special and all the more easy to wait for. Abstinence isn’t easy, though. I have to pay attention to Karina’s charts so I know when it’s the fertile or infertile time. If it’s time to abstain we do many of things we used to do when we were dating, like staying up late to watch a movie or going out to get drinks. It’s ironic, however, because the longer you practice NFP, the harder it is to want to abstain in order to avoid pregnancy. It has only drawn us closer to one another and to God, and I am forever grateful to my wife for taking a leap of faith and committing us to NFP.