Looking for advice on NFP


#1

My husband and I are finally taking the plunge and are going to start NFP. We conceived our first child(now 3) very easily, but the pregnancy and delivery were awful. I have an autoimmune disease and a family history of difficult deliveries that did end in the death of the children and near death of the moms(my grandmother & mother), not to mention them not being able to conceive easily, if they could again at all.
I ended up having an emergency C-section and by the grace of God we both survived(literally-all the doctors and nurses thought we were goners). Unfortunately, because I have Crohn's, the C-section was a double whammy on my body. People with autoimmune diseases do not heal well, and the fact that I was operated on in the area of my body that is the sickest made the recovery endless and very painful. I will admit, I fell into a depression because it was so hard to be a mom and wife due to the length of healing and my Crohns symptoms. Any future children will have to be planned c-sections, which clearly raises a concern, and my doctor did strongly advise against further pregnancies due to my condition and the situation(take it for what it is- I'm just passing on what was said).

So for the past 3 years we've toyed with the thought NFP, but deciding against it out of fear and feeling overwhelmed. After much prayer, we're ready to take the plunge. We really do want more children, but as we're still nervous, we really do need to pray more about it. In the meantime we don't want to live in sin any longer(we use condoms).

NFP seems very overwhelming and I do worry that I'll just become too stressed which in turn will make my Crohn's worse. I'm trying to have an open mind and be positive, so any advice or tips from those who practice NFP is helpful.

Also- we are studying at home as we don't have time to go to a class(there aren't any close enough to us), and it will be the Sympto-Thermal Method (STM).

Thanks so much for any advice. We really want this to work out.


#2

First, I’m sorry about all your suffering as a result of your pregnancy and birth. My wife had a very difficult birth too, that ended up in c-section. She got a horrible infection from her c-section, and ended up leaving that hospital, only to go to another one for five days, so that she could recover from the infection. The doctors, by the way, wanted to remove her ovaries and fallopian tubes because they thought they were infected. We decided to pursue the Creighton method of NFP and it worked out very well for us for two years until we decided that my wife was sufficiently healed from our firstborn’s birth. We had an instructor from our diocece that we were able to meet with on an irregular basis. I would contact your diocese to see what materials and instructors would be available to you.

In the meantime, trash the condoms. It may be hard at first to get aquainted with learning when your fertile and infertile times are, but you will get the hang of it. Initially, it requires abstinence until you know when those non-fertile times are (as a husband, I don’t care much for the periods of abstinence, but it made the times that we could enjoy sex so much better!). Thank you for making the prayful decision to follow our Church’s teachings!


#3

I really don't have any advice NFP wise, but I wanted you to know you are in my prayers, we are rooting for ya! It is awesome you are taking this "leap of Faith". About being nervous/stressed, which has happened to me too for other reasons, I try to put myself in God's hands, He does take care of us, His children, He wants the best for us, so knowing that it is a lot easier to face Earthly tribulations. Knowing that in the end what matters is our trying our best to do His will, aiming for sainthood, helps too. You know He does not want you using condoms so He will definitely be helping you out in your journey. I'm very happy for you and your husband, moving in the right direction :), thank you for being a great example!


#4

how about a transitional period where you use the condoms and NFP? That way you can get practice learning the method without a sudden increase in stress and worry about pregnancy. Maybe if you phase out the condoms instead of quitting cold turkey, you will be better able to handle the uncertainty factor when you feel ready to ditch the condoms.


#5

I’m sorry you’ve been through so much. :hug1: How wonderful that you have decided to follow the Church teaching!

We learned NFP last year a few months after our youngest was born, so it was challenging since my cycles hadn’t returned (I was breastfeeding). We just recently ended five months of complete abstinence because we have serious reasons to avoid pregnancy right now and with weaning from breastfeeding and it taking time for my cycle to return to normal, the signs were often unclear and I was just finally learning with real signs to observe. It was incredibly challenging, but it is possible if you are committed to it. (And this is with my husband who is not Catholic.)

I really believe the Holy Spirit will strengthen you for the challenging times since He is leading you to this. I’ll say a prayer for you.

I highly recommend learning from instructors if at all possible, even if you have to travel to do it. We have emailed and called our instructors numerous times for their help and it has been invaluable. (Plus, I know they have been praying for us, which no doubt has helped!)

Good post!

(And as a wife, I don’t care much for the periods of abstinence either! :wink: )


#6

[quote="samiam1611, post:4, topic:247180"]
how about a transitional period where you use the condoms and NFP? That way you can get practice learning the method without a sudden increase in stress and worry about pregnancy. Maybe if you phase out the condoms instead of quitting cold turkey, you will be better able to handle the uncertainty factor when you feel ready to ditch the condoms.

[/quote]

When it's grave sin to use contraception, you can't "phase out" of it; you have to stop cold turkey. It's a sacrifice, but temporary abstinence doesn't kill. Condoms belong in the trash bin.


#7

[quote="mwncheesehead, post:6, topic:247180"]
When it's grave sin to use contraception, you can't "phase out" of it; you have to stop cold turkey. It's a sacrifice, but temporary abstinence doesn't kill. Condoms belong in the trash bin.

[/quote]

:thumbsup:


#8

Whatever you do, I would urge you to change nothing without consulting your doctor and possibly get second and even third opinions if you have to, from pro-life/NFP doctors since you want to use NFP. Even if you have to abstain b/c you no longer want to use artificial birth control, it sounds like you've faced a serious situation and your doctors should be part of all of the discussion although you make the decision. If your doctor doesn't support your religious beliefs, you need them to respect you anyway. I would think both your primary care doctor and ob-gyn, if they are 2 different people, will want to discuss this as well as whoever treats your Crohn's disease. My doctors while open to changes in my health habits and information I find from the Internet are adamant that I am not supposed to make big changes without consulting them - I have bipolar disorder.

take care.


#9

Thank you so much everyone for the prayers and very helpful responses. We have trashed the condoms and plan on abstinence until we're comfortable with the program. I'm going to be seeing my OBGYN to open the discussion- not sure how she's going to take it.

I did think of a question that perhaps some of you have an answer to. I have heard that allergy medicine and other medicines can effect your cycle, and thus effect NFP. Is this true and how does it effect it? I have terrible allergies and take allergy medicine year round.

Also- I will look into what classes are available- but do different people teach different methods? Are any of the methods better than the others, especially for our situation? (As I said before, we're using the STM) We're willing to put in a little more effort if that means better results and less stress. But it really would be difficult to get to a class- like most people life is very busy(especially now that my husband is studying for a BIG test in the fall, and we can't always get someone to babysit our daughter).

Thanks so much again. Reading through these responses brought tears to my eyes. Your prayers and support truly are a blessing!


#10

They tend to dry up cervical mucous thereby making it harder to know when you’re fertile. A way around that is to use something like Mucinex (and drink lots of water) to help with your mucous.

I wish you the best of luck! My prayers are with you.


#11

You can find a CCL teacher (for STM) at www.ccli.org, and you can bring your daughter to the class! Most instructors are fine with that, it's family friendly. :) There are other NFP methods too, including Creighton, Marquette, and I can't think of the other one right now, sorry! (I'm sure someone will chime in.) It seems to me that especially with your condition, having a teaching couple would be extremely important. Reading the book yourselves vs. having people explaining and answering questions are not the same. I'm not saying you can't do it, it's just so helpful to have people who care helping you learn. There are some CAF members who are instructors, so maybe you could arrange some sort of online class with them if nothing else. (Also, join us in the Pregnant or Not? thread in the Parenting section -- I'm not trying to get pregnant (avoiding actually) but there's lots of NFP talk in there b/c I'm always asking questions! :p )

I'm considering switching to Marquette, which adds using a fertility monitor daily so you know when you're going to ovulate. I just don't know when I'll be able to afford the monitor. :o

Perhaps you can find a Catholic, NFP supportive doctor near you. No such luck for me, though my OB/GYN is Christian and great, better than others I've had in the past. You can look at www.omsoul.com and search by zip code.

When the abstinence gets tough -- and it will -- remember why you are doing this. Remember that God has wonderful plans for your life and your family, and you're following His guidelines for those wonderful plans. :) It won't always be easy, but it is possible, and you'll be happier for it in the long run.


#12

I hope it goes well for you. Just remember if you are really trying to avoid sometimes this means months of abstinence at a time. None of the NFP teachers or websites will tell you this, but it is common. Not every woman is blessed with regular discernable cycles. Just make sure you are ready for this. I sure wish someone had told me the truth about NFP before I started.


#13

I don’t know if anyone mentioned this to you, there is an excellent book out called “Fertility, Cycles and Nutrition” by Marilyn Shannon. It is LOADED with excellent information.


#14

You also want to see if they do dry up the mucous. Zertec doesn’t for me. I take it pretty much year round. :shrug:


#15

Congrats on taking the leap. NFP, when used properly, really is a blessing.

Living the Sacrament is a website dedicated to the use of NFP. It is a women-only community, and you will find many great friends there, and perhaps even some who have some of the same issues as you.

I initially learned NFP through a book called Taking Charge of Your Fertility, which teaches STM, but is not religiously-affiliated (and therefore talks about things like using barrier methods during your fertile period if desired). However, it is very scientifcally in-depth and does a great deal of explaining every minute detail about your cycle and the signs you see.

I am now learning the Creighton Model through the CEIBA study, which allows women to learn the method for free, either locally or through distance-training, depending on whether or not there is a teacher near you. I do not know if they are still accepting applicants, but if you are interested in learning more than one method, this may help you.

I chose to learn the Creighton Model because my husband expressed doubt as to NFP’s effectiveness, and so I thought that learning another method might ease his mind. Using the two methods together has, to an extent, though he still asks me if I’m pregnant every cycle. We have now been using it effectively to postpone pregnancy for a total of about 20 months, counting the months we were married before conceiving my son and the months after my fertility returned once he was born.

As far as the months of abstinence mentioned by some posters, that tends to happen when you have a fertility issue. In that case, NFP and affiliated practices can help you pinpoint and resolve the issue(s). Also, the Creighton Model has goals for how long your periods of abstinence are, and ways to work around long periods and help you discern tiny differences in your fertile/infertile signs.


#16

Hi Cecilia!

Congrats on your decision, prayers for it to go well and help you know your body better!

I can empathize with having multiple health problems and dealing with pregnancy and the various exacerbations it can cause. You have it much worse, I am sure :(

I found that my second pregnancy is going much smoother than my first one. I have been receiving acupuncture and eating a very restricted diet to control my symptoms, and some of my problems have even been eliminated. I encourage you to seek non-traditional or holistic treatment for your Crohns, if something like that is available in your area. My grandfather died from a complication of Chrohns a few years ago, he had suffered with it for over 50 years... very rare for a man to have it as severe as he did. I have a colonoscopy and soft bowel follow through exam every 2 years to make sure I am not falling into the same pit trap.
I have been formally diagnosed with severe IBS, which has almost been eliminated with paying attention to my eating habits, acupuncture, and special attention to my stress levels. It is a LOT of work, but it keeps me away from taking 7 medications a day.

I am about to learn about postpartum NFP, so if you find out any useful information or a great resource, please share!

Best luck and God Bless.


#17

[quote="themeginthemoon, post:16, topic:247180"]
Hi Cecilia!

Congrats on your decision, prayers for it to go well and help you know your body better!

I can empathize with having multiple health problems and dealing with pregnancy and the various exacerbations it can cause. You have it much worse, I am sure :(

I found that my second pregnancy is going much smoother than my first one. I have been receiving acupuncture and eating a very restricted diet to control my symptoms, and some of my problems have even been eliminated. I encourage you to seek non-traditional or holistic treatment for your Crohns, if something like that is available in your area. My grandfather died from a complication of Chrohns a few years ago, he had suffered with it for over 50 years... very rare for a man to have it as severe as he did. I have a colonoscopy and soft bowel follow through exam every 2 years to make sure I am not falling into the same pit trap.
I have been formally diagnosed with severe IBS, which has almost been eliminated with paying attention to my eating habits, acupuncture, and special attention to my stress levels. It is a LOT of work, but it keeps me away from taking 7 medications a day.

I am about to learn about postpartum NFP, so if you find out any useful information or a great resource, please share!

Best luck and God Bless.

[/quote]

Thanks so much for your comment- and I actually do go to acupuncture for my Crohns. While it's not a cure, it's been amazing. I'm allergic to all of the meds that treat Crohns and other autoimmune diseases, so I'm left with not much to rely on in Western Medicine, which I think makes doctors even more nervous about me. That also might explain to you all even further my fears of another awful pregnancy/labor/c-section. A lot of people misunderstand autoimmune diseases like Crohn's. While the bowel complications are serious, the other symptoms(severe arthritis/excruciating joint pain, vision problems, fatigue, rashes) can be equally debilitating at times. For years I've felt guilt about being fearful of having another child, yet wishing so badly I just could without such terrible consequences that I know will happen even if the pregnancy goes well due to the c-section I'd have to have. It kills me inside.

However- all of you have been phenomenal on here, and I wish I could thank you all personally. You have all been a tremendous help and I can't wait to go over everything I've learned here with my husband this weekend.

I must say, just going through the NFP literature the other night with him was nice. We both got to spend time together taking turns reading out loud. It was some of the best "us" time we've had in awhile. We even found a bit of humor in it which helped create a more relaxed environment( every time it said "NFP manual" he said "National Fire Protection manual" which helped lighten the mood and lift my own nervousness as well as his.) It really was a great bonding experience.

I know things will be difficult moving forward, but you've all really lifted a lot of my fears. I'm still nervous, but I think it's more of a healthy nervousness instead of a fear based nervousness. And for the first time I'm beginning to feel Hope. And that is a true blessing. Thanks so much to all of you. I look forward to talking with you all more! God Bless you all!


#18

I use CCL's Sympto-Thermo Method, and we learned on our own through the Home Study Kit thing they sell on CCL's website. In the back the Study Guide there is a list of drugs, what they are used for, and what affect they can have.

CCL should have given you a teacher if you bought the kit through them. They are only a phone call or an e-mail away. You could also try to find a teaching couple in your area to meet with and go over your charts and answer any questions you have. I have found that CCL teachers are usually more than happy to help even if they aren't "your" teacher.

I love STM because of the three checks. If you are having difficult with you temp, you still have your mucus and your cervix (although I personally have not had any luck with my cervix) I don't think any one method is better than another. It just depends upon what you are comfortable with.

I pray that your journey is as stress free as possible. You may have to abstain more in the beginning until you learn how your body works, but in the long run it can be very rewarding. I have heard many stories of couples who have avoided pregnancy successfully for significant periods of time for health/medical reasons using NFP.


#19

Be prepared for months if not years of not being together. The instructors sugar coat this, saying you only abstain a week or so, bull. Many people have to endure abstinence indefinitely (especially hard as a newly wed) be prepared to talk to multiple instructors when things aren't clear. Our instructor gave up on us. We even contacted the institute that developed a form of NFP and they told us to stop whining and be celibate. Be educated, know it better than a doctor, that's what it seems to take. Be aware of all the things that can effect the signs, cough syrup, irrlegular sleep, diet, stress, room lighting, etc.

Good luck, i hope it works better for you than it has for us.


#20

Jason Evert Can help you to learn NFP
youtube.com/user/jasonevert

Also this channel of CoupletoCouple league has great testimony on NFP
youtube.com/user/CoupleToCoupleLeague

Youtube has interesting videos on NFP
youtube.com/results?search_query=natural+family+planning&aq=f

Here are NFP resources from theologyofthebody.com
thetheologyofthebody.com/book-resources/study-information/1820/natural-family-planning

chastity.com/

You can also practice chastity, like st birgitta, after having 8 children, lived chastely with her husband (refraining from any sexual intercourse), on a mutual agreement. For love of Jesus.

umilta.net/thgascbirgitta.html

May the merciful Jesus bless you :)


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