If you've been following me long enough in this little corner of the web, you know a few personal things about me in the "ladies-only" department.
I have PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome).
I've had major surgery for it.
I've had a miscarriage.
I've had some fertility struggles.
I had a medically rough pregnancy for my daughter.
But what you may not know, and what I'd really like to share, is how deeply grateful I am for the part NFP has played in my story. It's NFP Awareness Week, so it's a perfect time to open my heart and these chapters of my life to you.
Ten years ago I was on a hormonal birth control pill to treat a few symptoms I was having in my early twenties. I was somewhat ignorant and accepted the prescription my nurse practitioner gave me, even though she did no testing of my hormones, etc, but simply made a guess and gave me one of the most popular "women's health" prescriptions out there-- hormonal birth control. Why we heap mega doses of synthetic estrogen into women's systems without even testing their estrogen levels and call it healthcare, I'll never know. But I was swept into the current and took my pills faithfully for six months.
Until someone mentioned the Creighton model of NFP and Naprotechnology-- a medical branch of Natural Family Planning based on science but also very faith-friendly. This person suggested that maybe the birth control pills were simply covering up my symptoms without getting to the root of my problem.
I made an appointment with a Naprotechnology doctor, learned the method of charting, and was thoroughly evaluated with labwork, testing, and in-depth evaluation of my chart. As a nurse, I was SO impressed. As a female patient, I felt empowered and dignified with learning more about my unique body's cycle-- and it's abnormalities.
Long story short, I was diagnosed with PCOS, had major surgery for it by a Naprotechnology surgeon, and continued to use Creighton and Napro through the years for my health. Though the surgery greatly improved my health and fertility, nothing quite cures PCOS so we knew there might be some residual effects.
When I got married, we conceived quickly but miscarried our precious child just as quickly. Off to the Napro doctor we went, and he was SO compassionate and competent with my care. The 'regular' OB world doesn't test you for anything until you've had 2-3 miscarriages consecutively. If you've ever had a miscarriage, you know that this would be pure torture to simply 'allow' 1 or 2 more to happen before getting tested. Our Napro doctor acknowledged that we had lost a child and that he would test us right away because who wants to lose more children if you can prevent it??
I was then found to have low progesterone and a funky genetic issue called MTHFR-- both put you highly at risk for miscarriage but are actually easily treatable once you know. With our sweet G, I was on medications for both even before we conceived her to give her the best chance of sticking around this side of heaven. :) I was also on progesterone throughout my pregnancy and monitored frequently. While it was challenging, it was all SO worth it to carry and deliver our healthy baby girl.
Honestly, I don't think I would have her if it would not for God's grace guiding us to Naprotechnology and the Creighton model of NFP.
We continue to use NFP each month, discerning whether God is calling us to postpone or avoid a pregnancy or to be open to it. It's beautiful. And it's hard. Yes, it would be easier to take birth control have a greater sense of control over my body. But did you know hormonal birth control can actually cause an early abortion? Sure, it might be simpler to use a condom rather than "risk" a pregnancy when we don't feel ready for it, or to have to avoid sex that day if we truly aren't in a good place for a pregnancy.
But we took vows on our wedding day to give ourselves to each other freely, totally, faithfully, and fruitfully. And that includes in sex. Freely without reserve. Totally without stamping out our body's natural signs and abilities to be fertile. Faithfully and according to the Catholic Church's teaching. And fruitfully, knowing that to bear fruit of our love is a beautiful thing even when it's hard.
I'm always very open about our journey-- both with fertility struggles and with the reality of using NFP as a married couple. If you have questions or thoughts, feel free to email me!
Happy NFP week!