Just found out about third surprise pregnancy with NFP – husband wants to divorce if I don’t agree to use birth control

I just found out I’m expecting my third child. This is my third surprise pregnancy in seven years of marriage.

I have done everything I can to make NFP work for me. My husband and I took an NFP class through the Couple to Couple League several months before we were married. At the time, my cycles were 40-80 days long. I had been to several doctors over the years about it and no one had a clue what was wrong. I was having a lot of difficulty with learning NFP, so I met with the teacher outside of class and called her several times. She recommended the book “Fertility, Cycles and Nutrition,” so I bought it, and per Marilyn Shannon’s suggestion, I started taking flax seed oil and eating carrot sticks every day (carrots are supposed to make your mucus stretchier and therefore more obvious. It’s mostly advice for trying to conceive, but it also gave be a longer mucus patch so I had more warning when ovulation was coming.)

Despite these efforts, we had a surprise pregnancy three months into our marriage. After our daughter was born, I went to an NFP-only doctor in our area. I finally got a diagnosis for my long, irregular cycles – PCOS – and started taking metformin. They also said I had an erosion on my cervix, which was making my mucus confusing, so they painted it with silver nitrate. The metformin made my cycles more like 40-50 days instead of 40-80 days, but it didn’t make them regular. I ended up having a second surprise pregnancy when our daughter was 3 ½.

After the second daughter was born, the NFP-only doctor upped my dose of metformin to the highest possible dose. I also had a procedure called cryosurgery on my cervix to freeze the erosion, which was supposed to work better than the silver nitrate.

Now, our second daughter will be two in a few more weeks, and I just found out I’m expecting #3 – also a surprise.

My husband did not react well to the news at all. We have been arguing about NFP for a long time – he wants to use birth control because NFP hasn’t been reliable for us. He even suggested getting divorced if we can’t agree on this.

I don’t know what to do at this point. Usually when people say on this board that NFP didn’t work, everyone tells them to take a class, try a different method, see an NFP-only doctor, etc. But what if you’ve already done all those things, and it still doesn’t work?? I even bought a fertility monitor once, only to find out that fertility monitors don’t work for women with PCOS. I know some women have luck with cervical checks, but I have been doing internal observations every day for seven years and I’ve never been able to determine my fertile time based on my cervical position. Sometimes it seems higher or lower, but there’s no correlation with fertility. I know some people find the Creighton method easier for long cycles, but I know the basics of Creighton and I don’t think it will work for me. The only way I’ve ever been able to tell when I’m fertile is through internal observations and temperature, and Creighton uses neither of these. I can’t tell just by wiping. Also, I looked into a Creighton class in my area and it’s $200. We already spent $75 on the NFP class, $80 on a fertility monitor that doesn’t work, $100 for the cryosurgery, and probably a couple hundred in copays going to the NFP-only doctor. How much money am I going to have to spend to make NFP work for me??

I just don’t know what to do. I know NFP works very well for most people but I seem to be an exceptional case. It just doesn’t work for me, no matter how hard I try. My husband is fed up with it and I’m afraid it will destroy our marriage.

I don’t know how much longer I can do this. I kept using NFP after the first surprise pregnancy, which resulted in me getting fired for being pregnant and a subsequent lawsuit against my company (I know this because a former boss called me and said I had been fired for being pregnant). I kept using it after the second surprise pregnancy, which resulted in me developing severe preeclampsia, which in turn led to me developing pretty severe health anxiety and panic attacks. Most people would have given up on this a long time ago. Now I’ve had a third surprise pregnancy, which may mean the end of my marriage.

I can’t do this anymore. I can’t. I hate NFP. I hate knowing the truth about birth control. It’s an unbelievable burden. For the first time in my life, I’m tempted to leave the Catholic Church. This is just intolerable.

If I may ask, what prompted you and your husband to use NFP in the first place?

If I may ask, what prompted you and your husband to use NFP in the first place?

Because we’re Catholic and don’t want to go to hell. :confused: And we needed a morally licit way to space births. We always intended to have children and always had serious reasons when we were avoiding.

You have a terribly hard health situation. Since hubby is threatening divorce, could it be that he is not as committed to nfp and this can be an added reason for causing unsuccess. Perhaps simply wanting rid of the hassle and commitment,:shrug:
Seems to me being able to space family four years apart would be an o.k situation to deal with for most. Combined with the a greater discipline of abstaining may not be such a dreadful thing either.
I really do understand your struggle and I am sorry, Peace, Carlan

I am sorry you are having a tough time with your husband. It is terrible of him to be threatening divorce. This is the problem. NFP is an alternative to total abstinence. He married you in the Catholic Church and he knew going into it that these were the rules. Years ago before there was any such thing as NFP, the only options were to abstain completely or to accept children as they came.

I have a similar problem w/ irregular cycles such that NFP is not an option. I know how hard it is and it seems so incredibly unfair that most “everyone else” has so many options and I don’t, but this is the life God has given me. In His wisdom He sees that this is the absolute best life for getting me to reach heaven.

My only advice for you is to pray, especially the Rosary. Pray to St. Joseph for your husband.

Well, what you described in your post was the problem. Internal observations and temp cannot be your source for observing fertility…they are secondary. Since you said you were relying on these for signs of your fertility, you were not using NFP correctly.

You have to master the mucous observations. I had a cervical eversion and have PCOS. I’ve learned through astute observing how to make accurate descriptions.

Well, what you described in your post was the problem. Internal observations and temp cannot be your source for observing fertility…they are secondary. Since you said you were relying on these for signs of your fertility, you were not using NFP correctly.

You have to master the mucous observations. I had a cervical eversion and have PCOS. I’ve learned through astute observing how to make accurate descriptions.

I’m not quite sure what you mean here. Do you mean I should only observe mucus by wiping instead of by internal observations? I thought internal observations were actually more accurate, since you can detect the mucus earlier. And I’ve never been able to tell when I’m fertile by just wiping. Sometimes I’ll wipe and it seems like there’s nothing there, and then I’ll do an internal observation and there’s tons of fertile mucus that I would have missed.

Mucous is the primary sign of fertility. all other observations are secondary, only should be used to confirm what mucous tells you.

My nfp-only doc wants me to use creighton, that is the method connected to napro technology. It’s scientific observation. You learn the difference between the eversion mucous and fertile type. It really makes you learn to observe very closely.

I’m sorry that I can offer no advice regarding NFP.

I’m just wondering how leaving the Church will change the truth about birth control. You already know it in your heart. It will haunt you if you go against what your conscience is telling you.

You sound like you have done everything possible but God has other plans. Sometimes, we have to accept what God wants in our lives, even if it hurts or goes against what we had been planning for ourselves.

I think that you need to sit down with your husband and have a long talk about children, and the future. I know this is a difficult time to do this when everything is so emotional.

I know something of this myself. After the birth of my second, my Catholic MIL told me that if I got pregnant again, my dh would leave me. I was hurt and terrified. If ‘I’ got pregnant again, like it would be all my doing. The thought that my dh might even consider leaving me had never even crossed my mind before this. At least your husband talks to you about his worries, instead of taking them to his mother.

You said that you were using NFP to space your children. How has it failed, then, even with your difficulties in determining fertility? Your children are fairly evenly spaced.

How many were you planning to have? Is it that your husband doesn’t want any more? How would divorcing you relieve him of any financial responsibility for his family? What does he want you to do instead of NFP? Will he take any responsibility for birth control? Why is it always the woman’s ‘fault’ if she becomes pregnant unexpectedly? It takes 2 after all.

Forgive me, I am new to the site,and read your post. I would like to know what is PCOS ?
Never heard of it before
God Bless You!

Since you’re both Catholic you have responsibilities that lead to joy in heaven. Please don’t jeopardize that.
As you know, you CANNOT consider artificial birth control.
You are married FOR LIFE.
You both have a responsibility to each other: you each have to try your utmost to make a saint out of your spouse, no matter how difficult it is.

God is all-knowing. He is also all-loving.
Absolutely EVERYTHING that happens in your lives either comes from God or God allows it to happen for the good of your immortal souls.

We all must learn obedience. (I’m speaking for myself especially. :() Obey the Church and obey God. As hard as it is, accept whatever He sends. Love whatever He sends.

I know that these may not come across as not words of comfort, but I really felt that it needed to be said.

Here’s a book, now available online, that I recommend to all who have struggles in this life: Trustful Surrender to Divine Providence

Dominus vobiscum, Reg.

I am so sorry that this precieved burden has been placed upon your soul.

I would give anything and my eye teeth to boot to have a child.

Im sorry your husband sees it as a bad thing to be despised. I don’t know what to tell you to say to him when he looks at your with anger and hatred.

SO many of us would give their eye teeth to have a child and never consider it a “bad and evil” delevopement.

You have the utmost pity of my soul.

First Congrats on the new baby!!!

Second your husband sounds like a jerk (sorry if that is harsh), but really he wants you to use birth control (I don’t know what type but I would assume the pill or something like that) and put your soul and maybe your body at risk or he will divorce you. :mad: That is very manipulative.

Third, this is a complete assumption on my part so I am sorry if it is incorrect, but it doesn’t sound like you were using the most conservative method of avoiding which would be only post ovulatory sex (ovulation plus 4 days to confirm). With 2 other “failures” of the method, that would be the only way I would be comfortable if it was imperative that I did not conceive. You need to find out why you conceived on the days you did (maybe you have already done this) so you can see the problems with either your chart interpretation or your cycle so you know what/when to avoid. (Having 2 children in less than 3 years, I never actually used NFP to avoid, :stuck_out_tongue: but I know when I got pregnant was during the cross over from phase 1 to phase 2 and thus if I truly needed to avoid I would only use phase 3).

Forth, you and your husband need to reevaluate your reasons for avoiding, together, often. You may indeed have serious reasons to avoid, but the more serious your reasons the more a couple will/should abstain. It sounds like your husband is completely closed to having children what so ever, which is not how we are to practice NFP.

Fifth: what happens if you go on ABC and that failed and you got pregnant? Would he divorce you then too?

I will pray you have a happy 9 months with a beautiful baby to hold and love, and that your husband will get his head out of the sand and support you and your family like he is supposed to. :blush:

Don’t leave the Church. Just remember that the Church, in the end, is a man-made institution, and the rules are man made. Christ never said anyting in the gospels about birth control, so really, the whole anti-bc is the Church’s gloss on real life.

Personally, i think aritficial birth control is damaging, healthwise, for the woman.

And really, if you use NFP to ‘avoid’ pregnancy, you might as well be using a condon or bc pills.

I am not married. I have no children. I have zero advice to give here.
But, I just wanted to let you know that I am praying for you and your husband and your family.

Dear sdeco,

Firstly, congratulations on your pregnancy. I know it is a shock, but hopefully a great blessing too (I certainly don’t intend to come across as condescending, but I think I can relate somewhat). I have been married 7 years and have 3 unplanned children. The third was a shock to us, conceived when our 2nd was only 6 months old. I was stunned, as was my wife; charting during breastfeeding is certainly difficult, and I think PCOS poses similar issues. I think I know something of the shock your husband feels, and his fears that using NFP will only lead to more and more unplanned pregnancies. I hope that his talk of divorce was only a regretful manifestation of his shock and fears, and that with time he will come around.

One suggestion that I have – which you will need to discuss with your priest or perhaps ask an apologist here – will be controversial to some on this board, but I think should be discussed. If your husband is insistent that you as a couple use birth control (to the point that divorce is the alternative), I believe that you would not be sinning by allowing, although not condoning, his use of ABC. Whilst it is preferable for a couple to decide these issues together, my understanding is that it would be licit for you to have sex with your husband even if he is using ABC (condom or even, hopefully not, vasectomy), provided his use of ABC is against your wishes and without your participation. This is something to consider discussing with your husband, rather than imposing your own beliefs (even if they are correct) onto him. The duration of the pregnancy may allow a good opportunity for further discussion – you could explore NFP options together, spend some time helping him better understand the church’s position on ABC, etc. My wife and I had similar discussions…we are using NFP, but we reached this decision after much debate and looking into NFP, ABC in more detail.

Consult a birth control expert or agency that you can trust, then use birth control after this birth…

The idea that you could actually go to hell if you do use birth control is ridiculous. Christ certainly preached compassion and forgiveness - although I see nothing to forgive when a couple rationally decide that they shouldn't have a child at this or that time for this or that good reason.  

This is a man-made rule, not mentioned anywhere in scripture, and millions of otherwise devout Catholics use birth control. The Church has no business telling married couples how to manage their love life. Abortion is one thing. Birth control is quite another. Marital sex is for children, but also is for loving, for bonding, for pure joy together, for releasing tension and for other positive reasons.

 The Church-approved method has the same objective as artificial birth control - to avoid pregnancy - so why is one so okay and the other so sinful? 

  Modern science has given us many new and wonderful ways of attending to our health and those of our loved ones. One could argue that most of these new ways are 'artificial'. If we did not have modern medicine, special care units for newborns in hospitals, etc., many mothers and babies would die who now live. If we can 'interfere' with nature (God's will?) in so many other ways, the notion that artificial birth control is somehow evil is silly.

 Besides, such rules were concocted by celibate males some of whom have little if any understanding in this realm of reproduction - or the importance of happy love-making in happy marriages.

  Your marriage is more important than following rules that are not scriptural. I know of one case where the woman was already mother of four young children. They were following the Catholic system, but careful as they were she again became pregnant. The doctors had warned her that another birth could imperil here life. The husband wanted her to have an abortion. No, she refused - absolutely. One can admire that. The tragedy is that she died and the baby died. God's will? I can't believe that. The husband now hates the Catholic Church and has difficulty believing in God, getting over his remorse and anger, and taking care of four young motherless children.

 The one anxiety I might have is that certain forms of artificial birth control seem to run a risk, so check that out thoroughly.

  Meanwhile, enjoy your new baby. God bless you and your husband and the little ones.

First, congratulations on your pregnancy and best wishes for a happy and healthy 9 months.

The quoted section above was my question, too, OP. Have you discussed your charts with your NFP teacher or doctor to determine what happened during the months when you did have surprise pregnancies? What did they say? The more serious your reasons are to avoid pregnancy, the more abstinence is likely required, and abstaining until after ovulation may be necessary. Is it fun, no. It requires a lot of the virtue of self-control.

I guess my second question is – how many children does your husband want, and why is he this upset about 3 pregnancies in 7 years of marriage? It seems like your children are fairly well spaced, so if spacing of births was your intention, NFP seems to have “worked.” I think you and your husband need to have a serious talk. Not about NFP, but about your plans for your family. It seems to me like there might be a lot more going on besides just his dislike of NFP – it seems that the two of you may be on very different pages as far as what you envision for your family.

Also, as a previous poster said, he can’t avoid responsibility for his children by divorcing. What would happen if you were on ABC, and it failed and you had a surprise pregnancy? Would he divorce you then too? I think it’s very sad that he’d even mention the word divorce to you.

hugs You’ll be in my thoughts and prayers.

First, congratulations on the new baby. I know it was unexpected, but a baby is always a blessing. (I’ve had two surprises myself, so I understand how difficult it can be to get a surprise, especially when avoiding for a serious reason.) Remember that God will not give you a challenge that you can’t overcome–trust in God. And pray, pray, pray. My prayers will be with you as well.

I’m very sorry to hear about your husband and the burden he’s placed on you. Make sure you’re talking openly with your husband about your feelings on the issue. Personally, I think it’s unfair of him to “suggest” divorce if you won’t use ABC. NFP is not an alternative to ABC, it is an alternative to complete abstinence. Please don’t leave the church, it will not change the immorality of using ABC.

I would also suggest talking with your priest about this situation. (It’s my understanding as well that you can make it clear that you don’t approve of *his *use of contraception, but that you may continue to have sex with him even if he does.) But please discuss it with your priest.

Oh my gosh, this is terrible!

The Church advertises NFP as being extremely reliable in avoiding pregnancy, but when it comes to real life cases, I’ve heard/seen quite the opposite.

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