Our Birth Control History

We are pregnant with our third child.  One of the most frequent questions I’ve gotten so far is:

Was this planned or a surprise?

It’s a fair question.  The last two were complete surprises.  But this time around things were a bit different.

I think birth control is an important topic.  So, I’m going to give you our quick birth control history.

Our Experience on and off the Pill

I was on the pill for many years between college and a few years into marriage.  We stopped the pill because of the side-effects it was having on me.  (Which is a nice way to say that I was quite an unfriendly beast.)

We immediately got pregnant after ditching the pill.  My fertility returned again about 13 months after we had Madeline, right around the time I stopped nursing.  One month later, we conceived Anson.

Finding a Birth Control Method

Though we knew that children were a blessing from the Lord, our blessings were coming a little too fast and furiously for us.  (Both babies were quite furious as tiny ones. We actually referred to Anson as “furious George, the furious little monkey.”)

Our family was growing a little too quickly for us with no method of birth control in place.   But since we didn’t like barrier methods, we had to figure out what other options we had.

We thought briefly about the pill again, but given the way it negatively affected me in the past, combined with the new knowledge of the physical dangers it poses to those who take it, and the possibility of an early abortion if an egg was released and fertilized, we opted to stay far away from it.

We thought seriously about an IUD.  Aside from the cost and the two unattractive choices of either chemical hormones or a copper wire in my uterus, it seemed to be a decent option.  We counseled with a couple of different midwives at the birthing center where I went for all of my care, and were pretty sure it was the only good option we had.  But then we learned that it was possible for an egg to be fertilized and then to be aborted with this method too.  Knowing that our baby-making potential was high, we couldn’t risk aborting a baby.  So, we abandoned that idea.

The Decision: Natural Family Planning

We went back to the drawing board and came back to the one idea we kept pushing away: Natural Family Planning.

I counseled with several women from church who used it and brought the information to Erich.  After praying for months about how we were going to control our family size, Erich and I decided that Natural Family Planning was really the only viable option for us.

So, I bought a book and read up while I was still nursing Anson.  We knew we had at least a few months left to figure this method out until my fertility returned.

It would be unfair to say that we just glided right in with no worries.  We were definitely concerned that we’d mess something up and end up pregnant again before we were ready.  But as I saw the system really work, my confidence in it grew.

We started being able to read my body’s signals well enough to know whether we were in a fertile zone or not. And it got really exciting to be able to accurately predict when I would ovulate, when my period would start, etc. (And that says a lot for a girl whose cycles are all over the map in length!)

It was also the first time in my life when I actually understood why many of the weird things that happen during the course of a cycle happen.  Things started making sense and I felt a great sense of peace using this method.

How Baby #3 Came to Be

We had been using this method for the last year or so since my fertility returned after I finished nursing Anson.  We had perfect success with it until I mistakenly thought I was in an un-fertile zone when I actually wasn’t.

In my head I was thinking I had just finished up my period a few days earlier and that we were still safe.  If either one of us had taken one second to consult my chart, we would have been set straight that my period had ended SEVERAL days earlier, placing me right smack in the fertile zone.   So, we ended up making a baby that day.  🙂

The good news is that we had been talking about another baby with more frequency in the months before.  So, we quickly embraced the idea of another baby.

Things I enjoy about Natural Family Planning

I mentioned earlier some of the things I really enjoy about Natural Family Planning, but here are a few more:

  • I have enjoyed learning about the working’s of my body in greater detail.  Like the study of any life science, it allows us to see more of God’s unending wisdom.
  • Erich and I can work WITH my body that God has so magnificently designed to plan for our family.
  • There are NO side effects.  No man-made, disease-causing, mood-altering chemicals coursing through my blood.
  • There is NO risk of aborting a baby.
  • It’s FREE!  Aside from the small investment of some kind of book to walk you through how to chart your temperature and mucus patterns and a digital thermometer, there is NO COST!

We used a book titled The Art of Natural Family Planning. It was written by The Couple to Couple League, an organization of the Catholic Church.  While I don’t agree with every theological point in this book, it has been a great tool to teach me how to interpret the signs of fertility God has given us.

I’ll have more information on the pill in the coming days.

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4 responses to this post.

  1. I had such a hard time on the pill too! Shortly before we moved away from you guys, I started having 2 cyles a month and that lasted until we conceived Henry 4 years later (even with switching brands several times). No fun! I was gaining weight like crazy. I was also an unfriendly beast. We decided once we took the goalie off the ice, that particular goalie would not be going back for the physical as well as abortive reasons.

    After Henry, we faced that same dilemma as you! I started researching NFP. I had a really hard time getting started with it since I was still nursing (and due to the thyroid and PPD issues had supply problems and therefore supplemented a lot so the natural protection wasn’t there like it would be had we exclusively breastfed). I knew conception was possible when my cycles returned, but I KNEW deep down when I was fertile again – I started losing that thick pregnancy hair! Wouldn’t you know it, that’s the month Maxwell was conceived!

    Hopefully this time around we will have a little more success with NFP. I don’t know if we’re up for 3 under 3! I do know that however our babies come, God will sustain us! I am counting on that promise for 2 under 2!

    Reply

    • Posted by Erika on January 14, 2010 at 3:43 pm

      Yeah, I wish I had known about the dangers of the pill and the benefits of NFP sooner! I definitely plan to teach Madeline how to read her cycles once she’s about 17 or 18, LONG before she’s married. That way, she’s a pro by the time she and her husband are ready to make baby decisions.

      For those who are curious about NFP, the quick downlow is this: you watch mucus and temperature patterns to discern periods of infertility and fertility. The presence of mucus = fertility. That’s how sperm swim and stay alive. But once your temp jumps by 0.4 degrees and stays up for 3 days, you’re back in the un-fertile zone.

      Reply

  2. Posted by theduttons on January 14, 2010 at 6:29 pm

    Very helpful post, Erika! I knew you’d mentioned a book before, and I’ve been meaning to ask what it was. I think it’s neat that you’ve been able to learn more about the body that God gave you. What little bit I have researched amazes me.

    Thanks, again! And looking forward to to more posts about pregnancy. So excited for you guys!

    Reply

  3. Posted by Jackie on March 19, 2010 at 5:17 pm

    My husband and I have been using NFP since we got married and love it. Here is a link to a website where you can read about it in detail (156 pages) for free: http://nfpandmore.org/nfphowto.shtml

    Reply

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