Tag Archives: sympto-thermal method

Pope Francis & Responsible Parenthood

Who can be surprised to hear that the news and social media are portraying Pope Francis incorrectly? I love our Pope! I am so grateful that he fearlessly proclaims the truth in every situation and sees questions as opportunities of evangelization. He recently seized the moment to comment about responsible parenthood, a term coined in past Church documents.

Responsible parenthood refers to each couple’s virtuous decision to plan or postpone mom-20666_1280conception based on the needs of the family, existing and future. In our sympto-thermal NFP classes, through the Couple Couple League, we teach briefly about how responsible parenthood is a guide for couples’ use in planning their family. In class, couples learn a NFP method of fertility awareness. Responsible parenthood is the next step: taking that information home and prayerfully discerning together what God may be calling them to in light of their circumstances.

Of course, the media tried to spin his words, but it has created another opportunity for the rest of us to dialogue on this seldom referenced topic.

Rather than listen to me ramble on, I recommend reading Dr. Greg Popcak’s review of the Pope’s comments, Pope Francis and Catholic Rabbits-5 Points to Consider. After reading them, I am reminded of how powerful this teaching from the Church truly is, and how empowering! The truth sets us free.

 

Postpartum Class July 2nd

One of our teaching couples, Mark & Chelle Smith-Vandergriff, is offering a Postpartum transition class on Wednesday, July 2nd, at 5:30pm in Jefferson City. Please contact them if you are interested in attending!

Generally, our transition courses (Postpartum, Premenopause) are scheduled as needed. If you are interested in one of these courses, please do not hesitate to contact us.

The transition classes generally take about 2 hours each, give or take a little depending on questions, size of class, etc., and you must have taken the Main Series course since the update in 2008, otherwise an Upgrade Class is recommended. The cost depends upon the status of current CCL membership, so we recommend contact a teaching couple for more specifics. Scholarship aid may be available, and we encourage anyone who has a need to ask. Our hope is that money will not be a barrier to learning.

If you have any questions about anything, especially whether you need an Upgrade Class, just contact any of us and we will be happy to help!

Sharing the Journey: Miscarriage

Mourning from Pixaby.com

Miscarriage: what a loaded word! Technically, it means the spontaneous abortion of a fetus, but miscarriage is not a technical experience. It hits at the core of the person, and it happens more often than we realize. It is estimated that between 10-20% of pregnancies end in miscarriage, which means 1-2 out of every 10, though that number may be as high as 50% as many occur before a pregnancy is suspected. Regardless, miscarriage affects many, many families.

In this post we would like to share our story of miscarriage in hopes that it helps others in either dealing with their own loss or that of someone they know, and to pass along some of the things we learned along the way.

Our Story
It started one Friday afternoon when I began lightly spotting. We were about eight weeks along and already very excited about this new life. The bleeding wasn’t sufficient to warrant an emergency room visit, so it was not until Monday that I saw my doctor. We did an ultrasound and the doctor said the baby looked fine, though her development was off by two weeks and the heartbeat was slow. She kindly did not brush aside my worries, but she could not dispel them either, saying the spotting could be normal and the slow heart rate due to early gestational stage if we were off a couple of weeks calculating ovulation. Going home I felt a false sense of security, particularly because I knew I had calculated my ovulation correctly. I could have been off a day or two in my NFP charting, as any method can only pinpoint ovulation within a 24-48 hour period, but that did not account for two weeks lost in fetal development. If a miscarriage was occurring, nothing could be done. Maddeningly, all we could do was wait.

By the next Friday, only one week later, my pregnancy symptoms had almost entirely disappeared and the bleeding and cramping had increased. I was sure that the baby had died. I had been praying and preparing myself for that outcome, but that night it hit me and I wrestled with God for this baby. Though intense, it was short-lived, and by the grace of God I was able to pray for guidance and ultimately that God’s will be done. I knew what the following Monday’s ultrasound would find, but hearing the doctor confirm it that day made it all so final, and seeing the baby’s yet unformed body still in my womb brought my heart to my throat. Three pairs of hands were passing tissues, including our little two-year old daughter who was also stroking my face. Some moments are hard to relive, but somehow you need to remember them too.

That was a difficult week in many ways. While we felt a spiritual peace, it was also physically and emotionally painful, but that pain was necessary too. Pain can be redemptive, and this pain united us with our sweet deceased baby and allowed me to pray for her in a special way. We allowed some more time for me to pass the remaining tissue, but finally resorted to a D&C procedure the following Friday, just two short yet interminable weeks from the onset of bleeding. Surprisingly, by the afternoon of the D&C I had recovered so well that I felt physically better than I had before the pregnancy, which was almost harder than the being sick. It was another proof of separation from the baby we had already loved so much.

Though deeply personal, we do not mind sharing our story. Our tiny baby was just as much a person as one that had been born to live to an old age. A part of me wants to shout out to the entire world that she existed, that she was of inestimable value and dignity though her earthly existence was so short. Some would simply describe her as a fetus or tissue, but fetus describes her only as fully as corpus describes me. Though only two months along in the pregnancy, we loved her deeply, though we did not realize just how much until she was gone. When we knew she had died, we commended her to and named her after a patron saint, and are finding ways to remember her in our daily lives, for she will always be a part of our lives, and we hope to meet her in heaven one day.

Source: Pixaby.com.

Heavenly Ambiance from Pixaby.com.

Eternal Life & Baptism
Our baby’s heartbeat stopped a week before her body was expelled, and so she could not receive the sacrament of baptism. We found solace, however, in talking with a couple of priests about this, who assured us of God’s merciful love, as it says in the Catechism, “as regards children who have died without Baptism, the Church can only entrust them to the mercy of God, as she does in her funeral rites for them. Indeed, the great mercy of God who desires that all men should be saved, and Jesus’ tenderness toward children which caused him to say: “Let the children come to me, do not hinder them,” allow us to hope that there is a way of salvation for children who have died without Baptism. All the more urgent is the Church’s call not to prevent little children coming to Christ through the gift of holy Baptism” (Catechism of the Catholic Church 1261). And so we know that we can trust God to be merciful and sweep up the souls of these little ones, Him who loves greater than we can ever know. (The Archdiocese of Boston’s webpage has a good question and answer section concerning baptism.)

Handling of the Remains & Burial
We do believe in the eternal life of the soul, but our human natures cry for some physical remembrance. The hardest part of all of this has been that we do not have a body to bless and bury. She is simply gone. While dealing with the bleeding and the trauma of miscarriage, one impossible question was how to handle our baby’s body when she passed. Typically I am not one to balk at tackling the difficult, but while in the thick of it I simply could not think about it. Both my husband and I were immobilized by shock and disbelief. By the time we found the voice to ask it was too late.

Since, we have learned that there are a few ways to give the remains their proper due. According to the Catholic Church’s Charter for Catholic Health Care Workers, “a dead aborted fetus [which, again, technical term for a miscarriage is spontaneous abortion] must be given the same respect as a human corpse. This means that it cannot be disposed of as just another item of rubbish. If at all possible it should be appropriately interred.” By the time we asked someone knowledgeable on the subject, it was too late to collect the remains, though I feel we should have had the common sense to do so. Our hearts, however, were in the right place, which ultimately is what matters most. We have been comforted by the priests we confessed to, whose kind, compassionate words mirror those of Father Peter West, quoted in a pamphlet on burial available through the Elizabeth Ministry website. He says that we should not blame ourselves for our ignorance: “Those who have disposed of their baby in a way other than burial should not feel guilty. They just didn’t know. But, in the future, we should try to show greater respect for the sanctity of life by our care for the child who has been miscarried and by making sure that they have a decent and proper burial.”

And so, we now know that a baby’s remains should be collected in some way in order to give him or her a proper burial on sacred ground. Burial kits are available through Elizabeth Ministry International and can be rush shipped. With or without remains, it is possible and recommended to have a funeral, burial or prayer service, which could be either public or private. Also, asking for Masses to be said can be done at any time. The Archdiocese of Boston’s webpage has made available possible prayer or funeral services.

Resources
When we first began sharing our story, we were surprised to learn just how many of those among our acquaintance have experienced it. There are undoubtedly more who are simply unable or unwilling to talk about it. It is one of the most common complications of pregnancy, but it is not talked about, and so there is a great lack of understanding among the general public, especially in regards to addressing this deep grief. It is often not recognized as a loss, which makes it all so much harder.

If you are looking for a way to help someone who has experienced the death of a child, or would like to know for future reference, it is always helpful to read up on the subject and know what resources are available. You never know when this kind of information will be wanted. The Elizabeth Ministry website has a lot of great information on a variety of topics, notwithstanding miscarriage, stillbirth and infant death. Below are other resources and websites, including one very well-written article that really spoke to me about our loss, The Hidden Face of Love: An Open Letter to Women (and Men) Who Have Lost Children, and Those Who Know Them, by Maria Grizzetti. I highly recommend anyone and everyone to read it. Most of all, understanding that the loss of a child at any age or stage is a deep grief, and acknowledging that pain and loss is always a helpful thing to do.

Links

Note: This post is the second in a series entitled Sharing the Journey, in which NFP families share life experiences about one of the many direct or indirect ways the use of NFP influences our lives. The views expressed in these posts are personal in nature and do not necessarily reflect those of the Couple to Couple League, Inc.

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.

Peace.

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!