Tag Archives: NFP Happenings

New Year’s News

News for the first day of 2014:

Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor granted a last-ditch plea from Catholic groups Tuesday night to block a birth control mandate in the new health care law for religious organizations, just hours before it was to have gone into effect.

The Diocese (and the Pope) are asking for our input

Pope Francis met with media

Pope Francis met with media (Photo credit: Catholic Church (England and Wales))

You might have heard a couple of weeks ago that Pope Francis asked Catholic lay people to share their experiences at the grassroots level on some of the most difficult issues we face as a Church in the modern world. Many dioceses are choosing to do this in a centralized fashion, coordinating with parish councils and pastors, but not with the laity.

Bishop Gaydos, however, has asked the faithful of the Jeff City diocese to weigh in directly. Please take time to do this! The diocesan staff has posted a 15-question questionnaire to their website. This is your chance to share what you wish the clergy (of all levels) knew about trying to live the faith in the real world, and the support needed by the faithful.


The deadline is Dec. 18th. Please take time to share your thoughts!

A Meditation in the Soil

It’s November, and so mild that I can still get out and work in the garden. This was my first year really gardening and I am pretty satisfied with the results overall, especially considering that I basically abandoned it midway through to the weeds and dry spells.

my garden at the height of summer

my garden before I abandoned it to the heat and weeds

I love working in the garden. Well, except when it’s hot. Then I wish I had a cave to hibernate through the summer and emerge in the Fall to play in the cold. I know. I probably shouldn’t ever have any high hopes for my garden at this rate!

Moments in the garden are revelatory: I understand God and His creation so much better there. I see so many microcosms of society and relationships, allegories and metaphors to life in the soil. Today’s task was turning the soil over in preparation for a winter rest and spring planting, which is definitely more than a day’s work.

It is often while in the garden, my thoughts drift to considering how simple life is really, and how NFP just makes sense on a natural level. It made me think that perhaps gardeners and farmers should understand natural family planning particularly well. They must always be considering the future of their soil and equipment while dealing with today’s planting or harvesting, and so that care guides their sustainability practices.

Natural family planning is a lot like gardening: with an eye to the future, we make decisions based on the current needs of our family. We are more cognizant of the way we treat our body, which for women often means seeing an improvement in our cycles (i.e. improved health improves cycle regularities). We refrain from practices that disrespect our body or that of our spouse. We refuse medications that harm our reproductive health and the overall health of our body, and we do this because we are looking at the long term.

Tracking and planning around the intricate rhythms of the reproductive cycle is like tending a garden. It’s not a perfect analogy, but hopefully you get the picture. Although today I realized NFP charting is much easier than tending the soil!

How much do we waste?

this trash wanted to go in a can, but the can ...

this trash wanted to go in a can, but the can was too full, so it’s waiting for the next one (Photo credit: purplepix)

When a new neighbor moved into my neighborhood a few years ago, his first reaction to my brood of four kids was: “Oh…my…when we were having kids, it was all about ‘zero population growth.'”

NFP and big families are linked in the minds of the public, and this is one of the major hurdles we face in promoting NFP. Whatever your opinions on environmental policy, you can’t argue that we are called to be good stewards of creation: not using more than we consume, protecting the earth for future generations to enjoy.

In fact, as NFP users, you could say we have an even greater responsibility to be careful of how we use the earth simply because we often do choose to have more children than the “norm,” and that lays us open to criticism about our use of resources.

Sometimes we defend our choices based on the principle that more immortal souls can never a bad thing. While that’s true, I don’t think it’s the most effective response.

This article caught my eye this morning: Humans on course to triple waste by 2100. I am constantly appalled by the amount of trash I see on the curb in my neighborhood every week. I don’t understand how people who are at home a quarter of the time we are can generate five times as much trash. I think our best defense is to show by the way we live our lives and the way we teach our children to live their lives that a family of six or eight can actually have a significantly lower carbon footprint than a family of three or four. Because once we live it, we demonstrate that “bigger” doesn’t necessarily equal “more.”

What about you? What do you do to reduce waste and consumption in your families?

NFP-Supportive Physicians

Sometimes it is tough practicing natural family planning in today’s society. Contraceptives are the accepted norm, so much so that the mere mention of NFP elicits a response equivalent to a sympathetic pat on the hand. Much of this is due to lack of education. In sex education classes, our school children are encouraged to practice “safe sex,” and in many places they can get free handouts from their school nurse. It is no wonder, then, that as adults many of our friends, family and colleagues simply do not understand how NFP works. Thus, when we meet other families who use NFP, it is like an oasis in the desert: “Aah, friends who understand!” It is the same way with doctors.

Since the development of the Pill, medical schools have set their full attention on contraceptives. Students very rarely hear about natural family planning, and when they do, it is often referenced to as the Rhythm Method, a calendar-based system that is highly ineffective, and so they also go uneducated. However, there are doctors who have discovered the benefits of NFP and who promote it exclusively, like these courageous doctors of Downers Grove, IL, who left their practices and established a new one where they will no longer prescribe birth control or perform sterilizations but instead support women using any form of NFP. Another one of our dear desert oases.

I have had the experience of visiting a NFP-supportive physician, and the difference in the visit was wonderful. He not only appreciated my bringing along my NFP chart and asked questions about my observed fertility signs, but he also asked follow-up questions which respected my knowledge of my own body. Instead of a pat on the hand, it was a pat on the back. And the best part, instead of being given the option of taking birth control to solve any “problems,” we discussed the taking of blood samples to determine any low or high hormone levels to determine the source of the problem, which would then help us find healthy, natural ways of solving them and getting me back to a better state of health. Wonderful!

NFP-supportive physicians can be hard to find, especially in rural areas, but there is a great tool you can use to locate one: onemoresoul.com/nfp-directory. Search results include NFP centers, pharmacies, medical professionals and teachers, all located by zip code.

Find a NFP-supportive physician at onemoresoul.com/nfp-directory

Find a NFP-supportive physician at onemoresoul.com/nfp-directory

Many NFP-supportive physicians have been trained through NaProTechnology, which is a new branch of health science dedicated exclusively to monitoring and maintaining a woman’s reproductive and gynecological health. They also assist with male infertility. To learn more about this exciting new field, go to www.naprotechnology.com/.

My hope is that you will be able to find the kind of supportive health care you need when you need it, knowing that it is out there to find.


Sharing the Journey: Natural Parenting

Note: The views expressed in this post are personal in nature and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Couple to Couple League, Inc.

This post marks the beginning of a new series, Sharing the Journey, in which I and fellow NFP families will occasionally share about our own life experiences. They may deal directly with the use of NFP in our spousal relationships and planning our families, but probably more often than not we’ll talk about the indirect ways our uses of NFP influence our lives.

I consider myself a spontaneous organizer. Yes, that is basically an oxymoron. I am a conflicted person. My living and working space HAS to be organized otherwise I grow increasingly anxious and eventually break down or blow up, as my dear husband can tell you. However, I also enjoy changing things up (hence my constant rearranging of furniture), or deciding to go somewhere or do something at the last minute. Sometimes one attribute overwhelms the other, like when I suddenly decide to go somewhere only to realize I forgot to look up the directions beforehand and thus have absolutely no idea how to get there. True story, multiple times over.

Knowing this about myself, particularly the driving-without-directions tendency, when we found out we were expecting I threw myself into organizing mode, like big time. The funny thing is that despite growing up around babies and children, babysitting, and STUDYING child and family development as a major in college, no less, I suddenly forgot every single thing I ever knew and felt sure I did not know enough to subsist outside of the hospital. I began grabbing every parenting book I could get my hands on and scheduled Jeremy and me up for the entire series of child preparation classes the hospital provided. Still, when the day came for our scheduled C-section (how can you get more organized than planning the actual birth day, I’d like to know, though that wasn’t the intention), I felt so inadequate. I kept praying and chose to trust that God would guide us. And He has.

Soon after bringing our daughter home, I finally got my hands on a copy of the Sears’ Attachment Parenting book. I am not exaggerating when I say it changed everything, our whole approach to parenting. There were two other books that were also pivotal (Breastfeeding and Catholic Motherhood and Breastfeeding and Natural Child Spacing, both by Sheila Kippley), but for some reason the Sears’ book really hit home. I learned that by following a few basic guidelines and allowing my mothering instinct to guide me in responding to our baby’s cues, everything would fall into place and the result would be a healthy, happy baby and family. The continually unfolding story of our lives is telling me that this is happening.

So, we threw all those modern ideas I had been reading about out the window and began simply listening and responding to our baby’s cues instead. It could not have been simpler! For example, before reading the section about sleep, we had tried getting up for night feedings and laying her in the bassinet by herself to sleep. When I read about co-sleeping, however, it seemed to directly meet the communicated need to be closer to us, through the long, dark night, and it solved our sleep deprivation problem. Thus, I morphed from Zombie-Mom to Happily-Adjusting-Mother-of-a-Newborn, which is a more pleasant state of existence for all involved. Then also, reading the section about babywearing and all the benefits of keeping baby close was so insightful and made so much sense!  She seemed so much happier close to our hearts, and to the sound she had heard for nine months, and then as she grew it was apparent she was benefiting from all of the constant interacting with us. And of course there was breastfeeding. I had already decided to exclusively breastfeed, but it was so reassuring to be reaffirmed in the practice of pacifying her at the breast, breastfeeding when she indicated a desire and not according to a schedule, and that in fact it meets not only nutritional needs but also a very essential emotional one as well. These are just a few out of the many experiences we have had.

All of these things made sense to use because of our practice of NFP. By charting my body’s naturally-occurring physiological changes, I have come to believe and trust in my body. I understand how it works and appreciate its natural design, its intricate workings so delicately balanced and set in motion. I know that it is the way it is for a reason. All I have to do is pay attention and then respond to my natural cues, which is precisely what natural parenting is: paying attention to my child’s natural cues and responding appropriately and lovingly.

The more I learn about NFP, natural parenting, or just nature in general, I am reaffirmed in the belief that God created me and all creation with a plan and purpose. He not only made it so that the deepest, most intimate act of love, the marital embrace, is life-creating, resulting in a totally new and unique human being (love with a name), but He also gives us everything we need to care for our families. One “proof” for me of all this is our daughter. She not only is a pure gift to Jeremy and me, a fruit of our married love, but the efforts of natural parenting has been a happy, healthy, well-adjusted little girl.

Yes, she is this happy all the time!

Yes, she is this happy all the time!

When the time comes, I hope you find the key to the world of natural parenting and discover that you have all the tools and skills you need to build strong bonds with your spouse and children, and a strong, harmonious family life. May God bless you on your journey!

Humor & NFP: A Personal Experience

Disclaimer: Some descriptors of cervical mucus are used within this post. Perhaps this story is only really funny for those who use NFP and are familiar with checking cervical mucus on a daily basis. For the squeamish and weak-stomached, you have been warned: proceed to read at your own risk! 🙂

Those who use NFP may have had this experience: that of finding we know more than our doctors do about our reproductive cycle. No kidding. What students learn in CCL’s Main Course Series is more than just about any student will learn from medical school. Thus, we usually become educators, informing doctors of the use and efficacy of natural family planning and surprising them with our knowledge and insight into our own cycles. Sometimes, too, the educating is done with a bit of humor. Read below for one NFP-user’s recent humorous experience with her OB/GYN.

The Story
Let me begin by saying that I am unusually close with my doctor. My husband is a serviceman. While I was pregnant, after finding that we were both a little more stressed than usual about the coming baby and our life situation he said, “You have to pray and trust in God. I’ll pray for you too.” Later, after our daughter was born and my husband was deployed overseas, I found a second suspicious lump in my breast. My doctor called to give me his cell phone number and told me that my daughter and I would be coming to dinner at his house at least once a week if the lump turned out to be cancerous.

My OB/GYN is a University teaching doctor and so he almost always has medical students accompanying him. Though he is not NFP-only, at every visit he tells the student, “NFP is different than the Rhythm method. I have never had a patient who has actually taken the NFP classes come in here and tell me they accidentally got pregnant.” This past week, he said the same thing to his student, but she also learned a little bit more about fertility and the sympto-thermal method.

This week was my annual well-woman check-up. My doctor asked if the student could do the pap smear as she had never done one before, and I agreed as I trust his judgement. However, pretty quickly she made it clear that she wasn’t comfortable with this exam, and my doctor took over. At that point he said, “This is a LOT of mucus! Where are you in your cycle?”

I really thought this was hysterical and replied, “Oh, I’m probably ovulating in the next day or two. I knew you were supposed to avoid coming to these appointments while on your period, but nobody ever said anything about ovulation!”

“I bet you have mucus that could stretch across the room!” he said, and he showed what he meant to the student, who was clearly very seriously fascinated. It became clear that this student had never seen fertile mucus, probably because 95% of their patients are on birth control or pregnant, and I suppose the likelihood that any woman out of that last 5% happen to show up while they’re ovulating is fairly slim. The student even said as she left, “Thank you for coming today! It was so nice to meet you!”

The situation may sound a little awkward, but at the time it really was hilarious.  Though he is not NFP-only and supports the use of birth control, I think the relationship I have with my doctor is unique enough to keep us there. I also feel the “learning experience” his students receive might entice them to learn more about the benefits and possibilities of NFP and is itself a good reason for visiting this clinic!

To the Inexperienced, Some Explanations
When the doctor described her mucus as able to stretch across the room, he was exaggerating of course. When ovulation is approaching, there can be so much cervical mucus that it feels like a menstrual bleed and soak the underwear. This type of mucus can also be described as “stretchy.” Cervical mucus changes in response to the change in the estrogen hormone, which is always present throughout a woman’s cycle but fluctuates at certain times and so gives a clue as to where in a cycle a woman is at. Thus, our storyteller knew that, based on the type and quantity of mucus (through charting), she knew she would be ovulating within a day or two.

Conversely, when a woman is using a form of birth control and suppressing her reproductive cycle, the synthetic hormones or device used interferes with the woman’s natural hormones and so cervical mucus is not what it would be at its natural state. Thus, many women do not have this experience of abundant “fertile” cervical mucus, which is why both the doctor and medical student were surprised by this experience as well.

Do You Have a Story to Share?

If you have a story, of any sort, that you would like to share regarding your experiences with NFP in some way, shape or form, let me know (preferably by email)! If appropriate for the blog, I can submit anonymously, like the one above. Sharing experiences can be so helpful, especially in bringing together the NFP community and supporting each other along the journey.

New Online Resource for Nursing Moms

LactMed: Drug and Lactation Database

There is a great new resource to help nursing moms: an online database of medications which lists drug behavior in human breast milk!

From the website: “A peer-reviewed and fully referenced database of drugs to which breastfeeding mothers may be exposed. Among the data included are maternal and infant levels of drugs, possible effects on breastfed infants and on lactation, and alternate drugs to consider.”

You can search anything from Tylenol to blood pressure medication, and more! Check it out at http://toxnet.nlm.nih.gov/cgi-bin/sis/htmlgen?LACT


Upcoming Kansas City Teacher Training Seminar

We have exciting news: the Archdiocese and Diocese of Kansas City is sponsoring a NFP CCL Teacher Training Seminar in our area! This is a unique opportunity to complete over 50% of the teacher training course which otherwise takes about nine months to complete online.

The seminar will be held October 18-20, 2013, at St. Therese Parish in Parkville, MO. The schedule is Friday, 6:30 pm – 9:30 pm; Saturday 8:00 am – 6:00 pm; and Sunday, 9:00 am – 2:30 pm. Contact Christine Downey to register (913) 837-3182. Childcare will be provided by current CCL instructors and promoters.  Cost $45 includes meals. Scholarships are available.

This seminar will alsBookso be offered in Spanish at the same time and location. If you or someone you know is interested in teaching NFP in Spanish, please contact Jana Coffman at jana_thomas_84@yahoo.com or 417-343-5008.

Please consider answering the call and becoming part of this rewarding ministry!