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.