"When a soul recognises the will of God and shows a readiness to submit to it entirely, then God gives Himself to such a soul and renders it most powerful succour under all circumstances." - Rev. Jean-Pierre de Caussade

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

NFP and me (Part 1)

So, it's NFP awareness week (in case you don't follow a million Catholic blogs).

I'm sure I've mentioned NFP here and there on ye ol' blog, but I don't know if I've ever devoted an entire post to it. I think Logan and I have a unique experience, because we've experienced pregnancy right after marrying, pregnancy loss, and infertility. Although I do think I'm considered "sub-fertile" due to the nature of my irregular cycles and the slow return of them after pregnancy, we also have the factor of difficult pregnancies that makes us have regular conversations about how/if we will use NFP.

I wrote this post a few months ago about being open to life when you have rough pregnancies, and everything I said in it still rings true today. We want more babies, but we hate being pregnant.

So I figured I could share what role NFP plays in that for us right now. (I already told you about our sex life, so NFP talk is nothing! Wink wink.)
circa 2006 (or 2007?)....foreshadowing of how we would feel about NFP. JUST KIDDING.
I should say that I guess we've never actually used NFP to avoid until now. And when I say "use NFP" I mean that I'm charting and we only have sex on days when I appear infertile. We've had 2 situations where we just flat out abstained for an extended period (3 weeks and then 3 months) since I had NO IDEA what my body was doing, but those times we actually wanted to get pregnant and needed to wait for specific reasons (I'll explain both situations in this post).

But first...back to the beginning. Like when I was in high school.

Disclaimer: this post will include the words period, ovaries, mucus, etc. So stop reading if you don't want to hear alllll about my reproductive system. Mmkay?

I think it was my junior year in high school and I still hadn't gotten my period. So I went to see a Nurse Practitioner and she prescribed birth control. Surprise, surprise.

I guess I was on that a year or so, and although I was not having sex so it wasn't actually "birth control", I knew that it was not a solution to my lack of periods. Yes, it was making my period come regularly, but what was I going to do if I got married and wanted kids? Birth control was not an option. Plus, it made me hormonal and emotional and I gained weight. So my mom took me to see her GYN doctor, a very nice man who took my hand as I explained that I DID NOT WANT to be on birth control anymore.

So he prescribed progesterone. I don't remember the specifics, but after going a couple months without a period, I'd take progesterone that would make me start. That seemed to work just fine for awhile, until things went CRAZY (I think I was in nursing school at this point). There was one semester where I spotted off and on for several months.

Looking back, I think my involvement in sports was part of the reason I never started my period. And then I was super stressed my junior and senior year in high school (I was a big overachiever), and of course jumping into nursing school didn't help the stress situation.

But I also had symptoms of PCOS. I've never been officially diagnosed, but 2 doctors have told me they could make a case for it.

Fast forward to when Logan and I were almost married. Not long after we were engaged, we met with the priest who officiated our wedding, and he recommended NFP classes. It seemed like "the thing to do" once you were engaged, so we signed up for the classes - even though Logan and I both wanted kids right away. I knew we might have trouble getting pregnant due to my history, so I figured the classes wouldn't hurt.

These particular classes were for the sympto-thermal method, and while I know now that it is not the ideal method for me....I'm so glad we did take the plunge. Because after a few months we learned that I wasn't ovulating. And apparently that's a very important factor when you want to have kids. *Sigh*

But I also knew that if we were supposed to be parents - and I honestly felt called to that once we were engaged - that it would happen. I was under a lot of stress during our engagement, in my last semester of nursing school and then taking my first RN job working nights. It was probably the most stressful time of my life (which is saying something since later I lost our first baby), so I was hopeful that once I wasn't stressed anymore, I would start ovulating.
At our rehearsal dinner
So we got married and hoped for the best. I ended up quitting my job a month later, so we abstained for 3 weeks until our new health insurance kicked in. And lo and behold, we got pregnant the next month. 2 months after we married. Turns out I do ovulate sometimes. (Seriously, sometimes. Not every month.)

After losing Levi, my doctor told us not to get pregnant for 6 months. I got him to change it to 3 months. And since I had actually conceived Levi on day 41 and had no idea when I would ovulate again (this was before I was really in tune with my crazy fertility), we had to abstain for those 3 months. (And now you know why sex was so hard for us! We abstained for 4 months in our first year of marriage, and I was pregnant for 5 of the months that we actually did have sex.)

Thus began the desperate trying-to-conceive period of our marriage. It lasted 18 months, during which I would chart for a few months, get frustrated and say TO HELL WITH IT, then realize I needed to know what was going on with my body in order to get pregnant, start charting again, get frustrated AGAIN. Etc etc. I tried Clomid a couple times but it literally made me crazy and actually seemed to not work for me, since my progesterone levels were too low.

Eventually I learned that I do ovulate on my own (when I'm not ridiculously stressed), but it just happens every 2-3 months. So I learned the take notice of the signs (mainly mucus, sorry for TMI) that signaled my crazy ovaries were actually deciding to pop out an egg.

So while I wasn't actually "charting" when we conceived Landon, I knew that I was ovulating and we took advantage.

After a crazy pregnancy with bedrest and whatnot, I had quite a few people ask if we would "be more careful" in the future when it came to having more babies. And the short answer to that is...no.

Come back in the next day or two for Part 2! Because I hate crazy long blog posts.

Update: Read Part 2 here.

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