So Tell Me

"Ha ha ha, lookit those poor suckers trying to count to three!"

(photo source)

Yesterday was the summer solstice:  the longest day of the year.  If you attended St. Peter Homeschool, you’d know that this is because the earth and the sun are aligned in such a way that the shadow of the moon falls directly on both poles simultaneously, which cools the oceans to the degree that the earth becomes slightly heavier, slowing its rotation and  prolonging the nighttime, which, in turn, prolongs the day, too, because of 24  hours in a day.  Plus solar flares. Have I mentioned we’re sending the kids to private school next year?

Actually it’s not technically a private school.  The headmaster kept stressing that their curriculum was based  on the manufacture of license plates.  I guess for  geography?  You know what?  That’s a valuable skill, and plus they say that uniforms have a calming effect on the student body.

Speaking of long days, I think I’m ready to talk about NFP again.  I hold the dubious distinction of having written one of the only Inside Catholic articles which turned so nasty so fast, they had to shut the comments down.  But hey hey, long days, know what I’m talkin’ about?  Ennnnd of the day?  As in, it turns out that 10:00 a.m. is not actually the end of the day.  (It was a girl; 8 lbs., 3 oz.)

So tell me. . .

(that’s the name of a new feature I’m starting for days when I told the kids we would go to the beach and I don’t have  time to actually write something) .  .  .

I know that many of my readers have pet names for things related to NFP.   For instance, we use Creighton,  which tracks fertility by tracking (stop reading now, men) cervical mucus.  So when my husband needs to know the forecast for tonight, he doesn’t want to cast a pall on the festivities by getting all technical.  Instead, he’ll simply and romantically ask, “How’s your goop?”  (What can I say?  He’s cute.  It sounds cute when he says it.)

He also, in a stroke of foolhardy brilliance, once called my progesterone cream  “nutter butter.”

One of my sisters used to write a column about NFP, and cleverly called it “Signs and Wonders.”  This quickly morphed into something even more  clever and more appropriate:  “Slimes and Blunders.”

So tell me  . . . what’s the NFP joke at your house?  I hope you have one.  Because, if I ever  (God forbid) taught NFP, the first thing I would teach is how to joke about it.

You don’t have to keep it squeaky clean, folks, but let me make a request:  if you think the use of NFP is sinful, then write about that on your own blog, okey doke?  NFP is not inherently sinful, and people’s reasons for postponing conception are complicated, individual, and above all private.   If I come home all cranky and covered with sand, and find that the comment box is  filled with self-righteous lectures about the sinfulness of NFP, I will have a little deleting party, possibly following by a banning-for-life party.   Same goes for comments mocking Catholics for using  NFP when everyone knows that the only sane thing to do is insert a scarring metal spring into your fallopian tube, or whatever disgusting procedure your OB/GYN is being paid to push this week.

Okay?  Okay, go!


  1. We use the sympto-thermal method. The manual explains that it’s all about communication, and both spouses should be involved in the charting and interpreting. That what you don’t want is to reduce the whole thing to just a red light or a green light.

    My husband thought the idea was hilarious. He took a crucifix and rigged it up with switches, and a little red bulb and a little green bulb. He hung it over our bed and instructed me to switch on the appropriate bulb as the situation warranted. He called the thing…The Cross of NFP.

  2. Just joking about my name above…
    When I stop laughing about your post, Sim, I’ll think of what to comment. I didn’t realize that you held that distinguished position of having comments closed down at Inside Catholic! I believe it, though: I read them!

  3. HA! I like it. My husband and I are new to NFP (as in, first charting cycle for Billings), so our nickname for it is something like “WHEN can we start having sex again?” 🙂

  4. @anon- That is HILARIOUS. Don’t tell my husband about it or he’ll want one too.

    This is not so much a nickname as a stunning realization for us: once you get pregnant (as long as you’re not vomiting) you can have sex whenever you want! True story.

  5. My favorite NFP crack was the one DarwinCatholic posted in his ‘unfinished stories’ blog feature. I’ll see if I can find it….

  6. I love a good joke, but NFP is not an area I have any comical insights into.
    at the risk of being forever banished for being a crank I have to say the idea of stringing up lights on a crucifix has been disturbing me for an hour.
    I have a sense of humor, really! I’m the lady with the son who drew goatees on all the Virgin Marys in his Seton mathbook and had trouble being mad.

    But I keep imagining Christ suffering on the cross, and people snickering as they hang lights and saying, “It’s just our little sex joke. It’s funny!” Borderline. Definitely borderline.

    Now, if you tell me you use a picture of your mother-in-law as a dartboard, I’d be more sympathetic * * *

  7. I put some more thought into this, and I have now decided that stringing red and green lights on either side of a picture of one’s mother-in-law would be a much better option. Hell, just hanging a mother-in-law picture over a bed could really limit the number of children anyone has, without further intervention.

    This is actually going to be my afternoon project. Not that I’m currently using NFP or anything, but I think it could come in handy.

  8. Being a married Protestant who uses a lovely, non hormonal, non scarring thing called a diaphragm that my gyno tried to talk me out of… I’m just enjoying the conversation. It’s kind of like eavesdropping on the conversations of people living on a different planet that has a totally different kind of system for, say, making bread. Sorta feel the same way about cloth diapering conversations. Anyway…

  9. Laura,

    You’re undoubtedly right. The only thing I can say in my husband’s defense is that he meant it so good-heartedly that I think he must be forgiven.

    But wait a minute–come to think of it, I’m pretty sure that wasn’t a crucifix, but just a cross. I think–I hope–that if it had really been a crucifix, I would have also been disturbed by it.

    You could make a case that even with a cross, it’s irreverent, I suppose.

  10. Ah, well, if it were a cross only it could be overlooked. But do tell him about the mother-in-law thing. I’ve almost finished mine.

  11. When asked either a) “Are you planning on having MORE???” or b) “Do you practice NFP?” , my husband likes to say (probably a little too often, to a few too many people), “We love sex, and we love babies. So our plan is to have as many of both as we can.”

    For either questioner, that usually ends the conversation (and makes me blush and duck). But it’s true! 😀

    We don’t do NFP so much as vaguely keep track of when I’m probably ovulating and usually ignore it because I get a bit.. um… distracted when I’m ovulating. Our child spacing, therefore, tends to be determined by the nighttime nursing habits of the youngest child!

  12. I’ll have to think back to remember if we have any ‘jokes’ per say, but I think that the term ‘pregnancy related behaviour’ is priceless. It’s not taking a chance, it’s ‘pregnancy related behaviour’! see above re: end of day!

    We use Creighton as well, but we started off with CCL sympto-thermal, which my parents have used for more than 30 years. Early in my marriage I was talking to my mother about my temps being so low they were off the bottom of the charts. My father overheard our conversation and nonchalantly said ‘well dear, those are the days you’re dead.’. Gee, thanks Dad, real helpful.

  13. Because of conflicting body signals (mucus all month, or not at all, etc) we are using Marquette. (I’m married to a confused Protestant.)

    First of all my mother was always fond of telling us that if there were such a thing as safe sex she’d only have one of us not 4. Not really an NFP joke, but for me, validation that failure occurs in all methods (including those that scar to the dismay of two of my friends who found out the hard way).

    Second, we haven’t had an official jokes, BUT my husband loves the analogy he got from Everybody Loves Raymond of the rocketship and lift-off. He even one month did draw a rocketship on the calendar.

  14. I followed your link and read your article on NFP. My husband and I have been married for almost 6 years, and have been using NFP the whole time. We do not have children (obviously), but thank you for talking about the fact that it isn’t all rainbows and kittens. Sometimes it is HARD, and kind of sucks. But I also like your jokes about it. We are really not at the point where we can joke about it, but I’m going to show him this blog post. =)

  15. There is a seldom used Couple to Couple League (sympto-thermal method) rule known as Rule X: Husband is Leaving on a Business Trip Tomorrow. The rule is not for the weak, and it is also not for couples actually trying to postpone pregnancy for grave reasons. Baby #5 is due in early 2011.

  16. This is my favorite article EVER written on NFP. The wit and the writing are fantastic, and I have been waiting so long to hear someone say/see someone write that it ain’t nobody’s buisiness either how few or how many you have. It’s between you, your spouse and God, people. If you’re worrying about why your friends only have 4 kids instead of eight you have too much time on your hands or your avoiding your own problems by creating some for someone else!!! Thanks, Simcha, for giving me a great laugh.

    Also, I agree with anon on not reducing it all to colored lights. I figured out from having friends talk about using those things that the wife just really was sick of the husband being mad at her for “saying no”. So she wanted something else to blame the “no” on: the red light. Can’t argue with a light! But I think no lights is probably calling the man to something higher and the couple closer together.

  17. We just barely used NFP over the last 10 years, and used something more akin to SFP (Supernatural Family Planning–let God do the planning). But I am going to be 47 and we are now keeping track of things.

    I always wanted to print up and NFP T-shirt. On the front it would say “NFP”, and on the back, “So, how’s your mucous?”

  18. Threads like this always make me aware of how much our (Catholic) view of sex has been influenced/hijacked/railroaded/corrupted by other faiths & faithless people. Its not their fault, its ours because we have been freely given the most profound, joyous, fruitful, integrated, rational view of sex in the cosmos & we don’t often seem to be aware of it or at least how to articulate it very well.

    That said, it seems like the playful aspect of the day-to-day implementation of NFP between a couple is a bit of evidence of how encompassing and awesome this teaching of the Church Founded by Jesus Christ is. Evidence because God has given us joy in each other, in our co-creation with Him AND sharing in the Cross (I love the red light/green light idea!)

    For our part, we find it very helpful, esp in this economy, to remind those who are curious about our family size that we are doing them a favor by our abundant contribution to the pool of taxpayers who will be supporting them in 20 yrs. That usually ends the conversation pretty quickly 🙂

  19. As a mother of 8, who is now past that season of life, and who struggled with NFP for many years, I just have to echo Danielle Bean: “It’s amazing how fast ‘How many babies am I going to have?’ can change into ‘Can I have one more baby?'”

  20. After a day of eating too much garlic, and having a certain type of awful breath, The Hubs says, “You know, people underestimate the use of garlic in the effective practice of NFP”.

    Now you know the secret weapon, ladies.

  21. my husband asks… ‘are you open for business?” it sounds so derogatory written down… but it’s not!! really! 🙂

    I’m not sure if I could be considered practicing NFP… we are mostly ‘hoping that we are natural family planning and not ‘naturally having a family”…

    on that note.

    WHERE do you buy your Creighton materials? I have searched through the links that came up on my google thingy and can’t figure it out. The whole temp thing doesn’t work, because I’m still up off and on with my youngest (we have 4), and it’s usually them that wake me up. so we are winging it and praying, I guess…anyway, so where do we find the creighton stuff to buy?


    • I can see how that would sound just fine, coming from the right husband.

      As for Creighton materials, you can only get them through a certified teacher, who will give you instructions, complete with regular follow-up meetings to help you interpret your chart. If there isn’t a teacher (“Fertility Care Practitioner”) nearby, some of them are willing to do it over the phone.

  22. Based on the number of kiddos you have, I am thinking that you, like me, are around forty or so, in that land of pre-menopause, or near it. Pre-menopause is so famous for your mucus sign being terribly unreliable.

    Someone, and I don’t know who, explained NFP to me as riding a unicycle (mucus only) a bike (mucus and temp) or a trike (mucus, temp, and cervical check). Personally, I need a trike, making it almost impossible, God willing, for me to fall off.

    Just curious about the clinical aspects of your choice, with no wish to judge. Maybe other Creightoners out there can explain the tightrope they walk! It always seemed to me sad that a person would use only one symptom and then when a unexpected pregnancy would come along, they rag on NFP in general. Not you, of course. I know you love it so.


    • I’m actually only 35, and judging by family history, have many more years before even perimenopause (my youngest brother was conceived when my mother was 48).

      I started using Creighton just because there was someone nearby who taught it, and it turned out to be a good fit for us because you can use it easily while breastfeeding (I have heard that your temps are all over the place while nursing).

      I have tried tracking my temperature as a way to confirm my Creighton readings, but I wake up at all different hours of the morning, so I couldn’t get a good baseline. Someday when life is more predictable, I will probably give it another shot. I have never attempted a cervical check – just haven’t felt motivated.

      Without making it sound too tootsie frootsie, I think one’s method of choice has a lot to do with one’s personality. I, for one, am a terrible second-guesser, and I like the clarity of having one and only one sign to interpret. If I added more information in, I would be more confused, and more likely to try and rationalize away information that I didn’t like — but I know that for other people, the opposite is true.

  23. Yes, you are quite right… the methods seem to suit personalities. You are also right about the perimenopause – maternal history is so important in determining menopause, and thirty-five is so VERY very young to think about that. You are a mere child! Yes… I know that temps are a rollercoaster during breastfeeding, usually a symptom of deep infertility.

    I love a good story about pregnancy in the late forties. I am in the young forties and after having two babies in my 20’s, sickness waylayed me until my forties, in which I have had 2 miscarriages and two healthy babies. I cannot imagine my life without a baby in my arms and I have simply adored my 40’s babies. It ain’t over ’til its over.

    My interest multiple-symptom NFP probably began during the time when sickness made me highly motivated to delay pregnancy for six years. Now, when I am mildly motivated (just to let the latest babe have mom and nursing just to himself for awhile), it seems a light burden (for me, at least – I’ll not speak for the ever-patient man of the house)!

    I hesitate to say this, but I’ll come right out: desire is a major symptom of fertility in the experienced woman. So ironic. So cruel. So unfair. That’s probably the biggest joke of NFP, and its on me!

    Bless, you!

  24. I know I’m super late in the game. I was reading your most current NFP post on Why the Church Doesn’t Make Lists or something like that. Excellent post (esp. with my dear husband and I, along with an actual NFP instructor, giving a pre-cana talk on NFP this weekend). Anyway, I wanted to add my joke…

    When we got married, some of my wonderful and very Catholic girlfriends bought me a bunch of frilly and some extremely silly underwear. One of these pairs was a flourescent pink pair and the giver of the undies wrote in permanent marker on the front and back. The front read “NFP” and the back read, “Sorry, not tonight honey!” This same friend decided a few weddings later (of mutual friends) that it would be even more “beneficial” to give pregnancy tests since I had a honeymoon baby, as did another girlfriend :).

  25. Obviously very late in the game, but I’m surprised “Not For Protestants” didn’t come up… Not sure that I like the connotation, but still kinda funny…

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