Natural Family Planning

Why NFP?

 When my husband asked me to use NFP in the early years of our marriage I was so nervous. We began to practice it but quickly fell short, assuming it was utterly impossible to learn and practice this without having 20-some children! Overwhelmed, discouraged and hearing the world's voice louder than God's, we gave up. About 11 years ago Dave felt a strong conviction that we needed to heed The (Catholic) Church's teaching and get back to practicing NFP. I was less than enthused but followed Dave’s lead as the spiritual leader of our family. I needed to submit to what he felt God was asking. But it was not without a lot of frustration and battling. I felt a whole gamut of negative feelings and thoughts, like, “Sure it’s easy for you-you don’t have to observe all day, document, and figure things out. You just ask when it’s a ‘safe day’.” There was a lot of bitterness and resentment. I had to really seek God and ask for His Grace to do this. It’s been an ongoing battle. I was a wreck when I found out I was expecting our 5th baby, who would arrive right after I turned 40. Oh, I was angry. I yelled and screamed at Dave, once again, about how simple this NFP thing was for him. I am the one who has to carry another child, deliver another child, lose sleep, and have 3 years of postpartum ick. (Yes, you read that correctly. I said 3 years! That’s how long it takes me to balance out after each child) It was a rough time. {I see a theme here- me, me, me!}

 Honestly, if I didn’t have the convictions I had, I may have been tempted to do what many others would do with a pregnancy that was inconvenient at 40. I shudder to think it and even say it, but I promised you honesty, so there you have it. I was in a bad place. I cried every day. Why would God allow me to be pregnant again when I didn’t even feel that I could handle the children I have? I felt even more laden with guilt over the fact that I know women who anguish over being unable to have another child, or find it so difficult to become pregnant. I was not seeing my precious little angel from Heaven as the beautiful soul she is- I saw this as just a pregnancy. I am completely amazed by the gift that she is in our life and cannot imagine life without her in it. She was born on the feast day of Pope Saint John Paul II, which I do not see as coincidence. What better birthday than the feast day of a man so true to the sanctity of human life!

 During the rough times of the pregnancy I battled with the idea of ever doing NFP again. I believe there may have been a declaration of never even thinking of it again. No way, No how! {Focus on me again!} Then one morning at Mass, I heard a sermon that was meant just for me. The Holy Spirit convicted my heart through the priest's words. I actually called that week to set up a time to speak with him further regarding my concerns, after which I felt much more hopeful and positive about the whole thing.

 This doesn’t mean it’s been easy. Having the conviction is just one part. We are committed to this but it still takes a lot of prayer, trust, faith and discipline to follow through. NFP, though natural, is still a learned and honed skill. It can be extremely frustrating at times, especially in these peri-menopausal years! It really does take, prayer, commitment and patience; with each other, myself and my body! There are days I want to throw in the towel and give up. It’s very tempting. It’s hard to follow The Church's teaching, but we trust The Church to lead us on the path to Heaven. I do this because I love my husband and more importantly I love God and feel that this is what He asks. The safest place to be is within the will of God, so if this is what He asks, this is what I will do-by HIS GRACE. ONLY by His Grace!! 
 There are many graces we see in this journey through NFP. God blesses the effort. Our marriage has grown tremendously throughout this. For that we are truly grateful. And guess what? I thank my husband for following his convictions!

I had a friend years ago tell me, “If you are not using birth control you are trying to become pregnant.” She couldn’t have been further from the truth. When practicing NFP correctly it is more effective than the pill. The beauty of NFP is allowing God to enter in and create a life if He chooses to do so.  It’s ultimately openness to Him and trust in allowing Him to decide. I have heard it described as a oneness between husband, wife and God that mirrors The Trinity. That is a beautiful thing.

"Human life is sacred, from its very inception it reveals the creating hand of God."
 Pope John XXIII 

If you’d like to learn more about why The Church teaches us to practice NFP click here for Theology of the Body

A little more (well a lot more!) Complex is Pope Paul VI’s Encyclical Humanae Vitae

Here are some links to different methods of NFP:

And for those who may need healing, click here for Rachel's Vineyard. 

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