Wow, how about a really long blog break, with a great re-entry about a topic sure to invigorate the masses? 🙂 You’re welcome in advance!
I’ve been struggling with writing this post all week. If you haven’t heard, it’s NFP awareness week, which means every day this week I’ve been inundated with wonderful posts about the beauty, challenges, struggles, blessings, and reality that NFP is in my oh-so-lovely Catholic blogger world. (That’s sincere, not thinly veiled sarcasm, I really do love all of them. And yes, I read lots of Catholic mom blogs, are you surprised?)
All week I’ve said to myself, Hannah, you should write a post about NFP. It’s just been tugging on my heart. But then I’ll sit down to the computer, stare blankly at my computer screen, and think: what more can I offer to the conversation that hasn’t been said before, and said better?
There’s Rosie’s great post about her struggles and acceptance of NFP, Mandi’s heartfelt honesty about NFP and infertility, Kendra’s reasons for ditching NFP altogether, and (my favorite, if I’m been blatantly honest) Carolyn’s monster of a NFP post that really can’t be blithely summed up for a link.
All of them are honest. And true. And come from their very hearts. And I think to myself, well, I’ve been doing NFP for just about 2.5 years now, but I don’t have a ton of revelatory information to share with you all.
There are a few things I wanted to clear up with you all, though.
1. NFP isn’t easy.
I’m very grateful for my NFP education, but I’ll admit that before we started actually practicing NFP, I had this vision in my head (somewhat instilled by my NFP instructor) that it was going to be basically a cake walk. And then came wonky cycles, postpartum hormones, and all that jazz. For some, sure – it’s easy, and fits into their life like it was meant to be. For others of us that may be outside the “norm,” it’s not so easy.
I’ve been blessed to be surrounded by women in my life (and yes, also on the internet) that practice NFP, so I’ve got a big “village” supporting me, answering my questions, listening in sympathy, and giving practical advice every way I turn. Not everyone who practices NFP has that, I know! I know. The generous support of my community makes it easier, but it’s still not easy. It requires sacrifice, and time, and a whole lot of prayer.
2. NFP is worth it.
The more and more I read about the horrors of birth control (and that’s just the tip of the very large iceberg), I can’t imagine putting it into my body every single day. And heck, I’m not even one of those people who buys only organic or who worries about hormones in my milk or anything like that. NFP (or even FAM, Fertility Awareness Method, the non-religious name for fertility charting) is natural, doesn’t require buying or getting anything other than a piece of paper and a pen (or a free app – Kindara is my favorite!) and a woman’s body. Totally worth it – for non-religious reasons alone!
3. NFP means being open to life.
And I don’t just mean being open to life as in: accept as many children as your body can physically produce. I mean being open to life – realizing that sex does lead to babies, but that being open to life means that you might have lots of kids, or you might have trouble conceiving, or you might not be able to easily read your signs of fertility and have a hard time charting, or you might have heartbreaking miscarriages, or any sort of thing like that. It’s not an easy concept to come to terms with, but it’s oh-so-true. Being open to life means realizing that our reproductive lives weren’t exempt from the effects of the Fall, and that no person is completely “in control” of their fertility, no matter how they handle it.
I hope this post doesn’t come off as preachy or all-knowing, because like I said, I’ve only been doing NFP for 2.5 years (and I was pregnant/nursing for 1.5 of those!). And NFP is a hard topic to talk about on the internet, because there are always those who struggle and the information doesn’t come out right when you’re reading a blog post. I beg you, if you’re interested in NFP or have more questions, or just want someone to vent to – please email us! Or talk to your parish priest, or message a friend on Facebook who you know is doing NFP. Having a community that supports you is one of the most helpful things you can do if you’re practicing NFP.
And if you’ve got a moment this week, say a prayer for everyone practicing NFP and those trying to spread its message.