To war!

Thursday morning, I will have a post up at the Register about a new NFP charting app for iPhone/iPad.  (UPDATE:  the post is here.)  It’s a fairly straightforward and innocuous piece — just a review with a few lines of comment from the developer.  Doesn’t get into theology at all, or discuss sex or anything.

BUT, it’s about NFP.  I’ve been around that mulberry bush a couple of times, and I know that no good can come of this.  Or, rather, some good can come of it, only to be derailed by a handful of lunatics who see the letters N, F, and P, and instantly ride forth into war

with one of the following cries:

(a) NFP is from the debbil!  It’s nothing but Catholic birth control, a demonic liberal tool to chase married couples straight into the mouth of Hell!

(b) Welll, maybe it’s not of the devil per se, but I know for a fact that 90% of my friends who use NFP are abusing it, and have a contraceptive mentality.

(c) If the devil weren’t an artificial construct of the patriarchy, NFP would be from the devil!  It’s nothing but church-sanctioned slavery, an abusive conservative tool to turn women into baby factories!

(d) Ew, you said “cervix.”

(e) What a shame it is that these young whippersnappers take the mystery out of everything.  The whole world is becoming nothing more than a collection of bits and bytes on a screen.  There’s nothing Catholic about technology, and it needs to stay that way.

(f)  Shut up, Jew.

(g)  We tried NFP for two weeks and had a baby anyway, so I’m suing Dr. Billings and my husband is getting castrated.  Catholics are so lame!

Am I missing anything?  Which class of comment do you think is going to get the most traction?  Am I a big jerk, or what?  Maybe no one will care, and I’ll get three comments, and then I’ll have to pretend I’m glad.

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90 comments

  1. How ’bout: the person who agrees that NFP is good for everyone else who wants to space births, but she herself can’t use it because her doctor says… her mother says… her husband says…

    • I’ve used it for about 3 months, and gave it a good review. It’s for Billings, but I use it for Creighton (shh, don’t tell my teacher). There are other apps out there for sympto-thermal method, too.

      • Good to know it’s useful. I’m all postpartum and not charting normally so I’m using the marquette method with the monitor. It has been working so far!

        Also, thank you for this:

        “A tiny fraction of Catholics go against the grain and actually practice NFP. It always astonishes and, frankly, disgusts me that fellow Catholics spend their time parsing the private souls of this tiny fraction, instead of supporting them and praying for them.”

        Yay!!!

        • laceymw, I’m postpartum as well, (7 months) and I’ve been wondering if the monitor would work for me. Will it work for someone who hasn’t had a period yet and whose temps and signs are all over the place?

          • Kate, the information on their website has a lot of information about how to use it postpartum… I’m 42 and not postpartum but I’m LOVING the Marquette method. It appeals to my scientific side. 😛 I like that I can see verifiable test results like I did today– that my LH surge and estrogen are telling me that ovulation should occur in the next 48 hours. I temp also (not because of the method but because I found a cool app for THAT a year or so ago, and doubling up also appeals to my scientific bent) and when I seem my temp go up after the LH surge, I feel like I’m “in the clear.” Although I am open to life, 2 out of my 4 boys have a syndrome which will result in severe disability, so I am enjoying the Marquette method’s clarity. It fits my personality. And I like that I could read it all online, enacting it as soon as I got my monitor in the mail. I only use about 8 or 9 sticks a month now that the algorithm in the monitor knows when I need to start using them.

          • Kate! Didn’t see your comment til just now!

            I’m like you: signs everywhere and no period yet. I tried to be super good and do Creighton and meet with a consultant and I was just fertile every day by my signs.

            So far, the monitor is working great! My favorite thing about the marquette site is that if you ask a question on the boards, the doctors running the study will get back to you within a day or so. It’s awesome.

            I will say that I have been having a lot of highs, and the way the monitor works is that if you have a high, it just looks for the peak, and doesn’t recognize when it goes back down to low (so if you get a high on day 2 of your cycle, you get all highs til it’s time to resent the monitor, which can mean a lot of abstaining) which is what we have going on at the moment.

            I would still recommend it, though. It has been very reassuring and reliable for us so far.

            Hope that’s helpful!!

  2. personally? (d) Eww, cervix. What’s wrong with “lady parts?” If you say mucous I’m going to throw up.

    everybody else? a whole lot of (c) with a little (g) thrown in for emphasis and autobiographical anecdotal all about me-ness.

  3. I think you should add h)NFP is soooooo wonderful!! I love it!!!!!
    I want to throw up every time I hear this because NFP is hell (second to homeschooling). It’s like fasting and mortification – or martyrdom. You don’t do it because it’s pleasant; you do it because it’s the right thing to do.
    Then there would be i) the TMI NFP women, giving you way more information than you ever wanted to know about their charts, their body and their sex lives.

  4. There is a small subset of NFP infighters too, though I hope they are dwindling away to nought. They might say “Mucus-only systems have lower effectiveness and require unnecessary abstinence. Thermometers for all!” or perhaps “Telling engaged women to make internal observations is WRONG. Maybe married women too. Touching your cervix?? That’s your gynecologist’s job!”

  5. Don’t forget the ones that think using the ClearBlue Ovulation Monitor is wrong. We used one because my temps were never, ever accurate–I have a very low normal body temp and it never seemed to rise when it was “supposed” to. The monitor worked like a charm. We applied to be part of the Couple to Couple League, and when they asked what method we used, we told them, the Marquette method (observing bodily signs and using a monitor) and they said we couldn’t represent them. Well….FINE.

  6. I was accosted at a cocktail party by a woman pulling the “we used NFP and had 3 kids in a row so I HAD to get my tubes tied…” card and when I finished spitting up my drink and asked her what method was so problematic she gave me a blank look…

    I tried again “What class did you take?”

    “oh, we didn’t take a class”

    Me again:”what book did you read?”

    “well, no book either”

    Me last comment was “then you weren’t doing NFP so stop going around giving it a bad rap…have a GREAT night!”

  7. i. if this app is for whichever method (Billing or Sympto-thermal) that I do not like, it is BAD, because the method I do not like is (choose all that apply): too difficult, not accurate enough, too clinical, too not-involving-the-husband-enough, not easy enough for third world women to learn.

  8. I’m the only one of my colleagues who sees NFP and doesn’t automatically think “non-farm payroll.”

    I’m gonna go with (e) — but then, I would go with (e) in just about any context.

  9. Simcha,
    I apologize in advance for all the jerks (not to be confused with The Jerk, who is one of my favorite people) on the web. Today, I noticed Jen on NCR was told she “was never a real atheist” by an atheist, of course. No matter what you say, much ado will be made about nothing.
    But hey, it gives us lonely people purpose and a way of getting attention.
    Keep us smiling and tilting at windmills. We love you.

    • Yes, I think Jen’s comments today are going to top Simcha’s. She’s got a cat-fight going over Zeus v. Chronos before 8 in the morning!

  10. What right do YOU have to write an article on NFP?? Don’t you have, like, EIGHT (said like it’s a dirty word) kids or something?? Clearly, this wonderful method you are praising DOESN’T WORK!

    Or, at least that’s what I think they’ll say 🙂 I’ll be watching . . .thanks for the laughs!!

  11. I’m voting for “This is just one more way to encourage using NFP with a contraceptive mentality! If you were really a good Catholic then you would be telling them to be Open To Life!”

  12. My personal loathings are those excited about it. I remember in marriage prep being told that you weren’t really married if you didn’t use NFP. You didn’t learn how to respect each other if you simply gave in to the whims when they happened and conceived children! Gasp! Let’s stifle that primal urge and kneel beside the bed for days like Tobit. I remember being told point-blank after Mass one weekend with my 3 kids under 3 that I don’t know what marriage is all about because I don’t use NFP.

    I seriously think that the only ones who get excited about it are those who used to contracept and then switched. True, NFP is exciting compared to living in the state of mortal sin. But for those of us in the never contracepted group, it’s hell.

    • Patrick, I 100% agree with your sentiments on NFP being hellish as someone who’s never contracepted. Sometimes I truly love NFP, but a lot of the time I am offering God my obedience to Church teaching while praying, “Lord I believe, help my unbelief.”

  13. For this gal who can no longer reproduce I am now going to down load all available apps for NFP and tell everyone I know who will tell who knows, who will tell someone who needs it!! and while I am at it I will educate myself about it because I am older , cranky and past menopause and can get away with saying cervix and mucus 😉

  14. My favorites are the enthusiasts who tell you – “we use NFP so that we can name our children after their conception dates!” TMI. LOL.

    I always like watching a good fight on the internet… and it is the day for the fighting Irish… good choice of topic!

  15. We apparently missed:

    (j) Wow. Tell me again why this is OK and condoms aren’t? Catholics are totally mindless followers of a hypocritical old white guy.

    (first half courtesy of Raymond A – the second half was just the spirit behind it.)

  16. “I seriously think that the only ones who get excited about it are those who used to contracept and then switched. True, NFP is exciting compared to living in the state of mortal sin. But for those of us in the never contracepted group, it’s hell.”

    Truer words were never spoken.

  17. Re: Emily & Patrick above

    “I seriously think that the only ones who get excited about it are those who used to contracept and then switched. True, NFP is exciting compared to living in the state of mortal sin. But for those of us in the never contracepted group, it’s hell.”

    Well… not so much. Every time I read one of these NFP fights (thanks for writing about the app Simcha!) I’m grateful all over again for NFP and for the docs willing to use it.

    Being able to observe my fertility accurately has let me know that I have low progesterone (and I believe borderline low thyroid function) without treatment for which I would likely be a repeat miscarry-er.

    Thank God for those who worked so hard to develop the various methods of NFP! Thank God for those who use and provide data to scientists! Thank God I have some alternative to the largely nasty and immoral methods that much of the medical establishment pushes.

    And NFP apps make me squee! My iPhone lust has increased ten-fold

    • I’m glad that NFP helped you find out more about your own medical issues, and wasn’t at all trying to denigrate NFP.

      I was just saying that using it to postpone (yet another) pregnancy is no fun. 🙂

  18. (b) all the way!!! Can’t count how many times I’ve heard variations on this! Sheesh– something like, what? 5% of Catholics, at best, are NOT using artificial birth control, yet we can telepathically determine that 90% of them are doing so with a contraceptive mindset. Oooookkkayy….

    Now seriously– can we launch an initiative to come up with the Mega-NFP method? Make every potential tool in the toolkit available to women, along with the various formulas for determining fertile and infertile days? Because at various times in a woman’s life she will find some symptoms more helpful than others, but that can and does change over time.,,

  19. I agree with other Anon. I have very ambiguous feelings about using NFP really, but I am grateful for the knowledge about how my body works. I used a kind of form of NFP (a book called Taking Charge of Your Own Fertility) when I was trying to concieve no.1 before I was even remotely Catholic.

    Just learning, as a 22 yr. old what my body was actually doing every month was a revelation. I remember thinking why isn’t every woman taught this? I am so squeamish thinking about talking over these things with my daughters, but it really is freeing information and I am convicted that I must relay this knowledge to them (with the help of lots of wine I’m sure)

    FTR-I do not think NFP is ‘hell’, but I’m not a fanatical recruiter either. It sucks sometimes and is inconvienent but ‘hell’ does seem to be overstating it a bit. Now homeschooling, well, ………..

  20. For the record, this is the first place where I’ve read that people aren’t swooning over NFP improving their marriages. I heard so much of that before I was married that I started to think that we should be using NFP, instead of being open to kids, like we planned, in order to cement the relationship.
    Then, when we used it and it wasn’t easy and I hated it, I thought there was something seriously wrong with me.

    Thank you, all of you, for restoring my feelings of normalcy. I finally found a site where real people hang out.

    • I’m with you on that one. I was talking to a woman about it (who also uses NFP) and she thought it was weird that abstaining was hard on us. She said they just substitute with lots of french kissing and that it’s been fabulous for their marriage. I could only secretly go “huh?!?” because that is not what we could EVER do. French kissing would be the last thing prior to conceiving another child, for us! 🙂 My dh isn’t all over taking classes or reading a lot about it, so I just let him know when I’m on “fertility alert.” He’s fine with that. But when I tell NFPers about that, they all are aghast that he isn’t filling out charts, taking my temp or checking my mucous. LOL.

      I think the thing to remember is that every couple does it in their own way. I do have one friend that really uses it as mortification to pray for those who are truly needing prayer, and I think that best sums up how I feel about it! I know that doesn’t fit some people’s description, but it’s honest.

  21. Ok, I just have to say that the people over on the Register quoting your post here is hilarious!

    So. Much. FUN!

    Simcha, yet again, you brighten my train-wreck of a day!

  22. For those who say NFP is “hell” I say what an ungrateful bunch! NFP is a gift. If you don’t want to use it then don’t. Nobody is forcing you to.

    • You know, I have no idea what your personal circumstances are, but I have very little patience with this kind of comment. We all have different crosses, because we all have different personalities, different marriages, different temperaments, different circumstances, different temptations. What’s hard for you might be easy for me, and vice versa. What’a gift for you might be purely a cross for someone else.

      I’m sincerely glad it is a gift for you, but telling someone else to be grateful for YOUR gift is just silly.

      • Simcha, I am sorry to have tried your patience. I find it offensive that people are so ungrateful that they would compare NFP, a gift to the whole Church (not MY gift) to eternal separation from God. For most of the Church’s history couples who didn’t want to have a child would either have to abstain completely or risk a pregnancy. Now we have a moral method to be able to enjoy intercourse while reliably avoiding a pregnancy. I did not invite anyone to mortal sin; the first two options are always available for couples who don’t want to used NFP.

        • I said “your gift” because you apparently perceive and experience it as a gift. I’m not doubting that; but if other people don’t perceive it that way, it’s not necessarily because they’re ungrateful. Clearly people were not using “hell” in a literal sense; they were saying that NFP can cause intense suffering, and that’s a fact.

          You know, people used to die from losing limbs in battle. Now, with modern technology, sometimes they only have to endure months of excruciating physical therapy in order to survive. I guess you could go into the gym and tell the survivors that they’re being ungrateful as they sweat and groan. But it would say more about you than it does about them.

          • I think there’s a misunderstanding here. When people say that NFP causes suffering, they’re speaking loosely. What they mean is that abstinence causes suffering. I don’t think anyone’s disputing that. People who say “NFP is hell” are using “NFP” as short-hand for “following the Church’s teaching that contraception is wrong.”

            I understand about language short-cuts, but let’s not let this one obscure how things really are. NFP doesn’t tell you when you have to abstain. It tells you when you _don’t_ have to. Without NFP, people with serious reasons to avoid conception would have to abstain all the time. So when people say “No, NFP is a gift!” I don’t think they mean “having to abstain is a gift.” I think they mean “getting a break from abstinence is a gift.”

            This may sound like a niggling distinction, but keeping it clear in your mind really does help put things in perspective. NFP is a gift because it reduces suffering, not because it increases it.

            • That may be true in some cases, Abby, but a few people here came across people who promote the use of NFP *even if you are perfectly willing to conceive any time.* It has gotten to the point where NFP is promoted as a pure marriage-building experience, an indispensible part of marriage. So while many people certainly may mean that they are glad it decreases abstinence, many others truly are (I’ve come across this) speaking of the fabulous things it does for their relationship with their husband. It’s hard not to react negatively to that when you’ve experienced the opposite, and are made to feel that something is wrong with you for not feeling the giftiness of it all.

              Also, when people say “NFP is hell,” I don’t think they’re really saying that abstaining is hell – they’re saying that what it does to your relationship while your figuring out whether, when, and how to abstain — that’s what’s so hard, especially for women. In a way, if you were simply abstaining all the time (and we lived in a world where that was a normal thing to do, when you don’t want to conceive) maybe it would feel less hellish.

              • I’m so with you on this, Simcha. Marriage is a gift, my husband is a gift, but this NFP stuff has been hard because it involves fear on our part regarding the disabilities that 2 of our 4 children have. And, my dh and I have agreed that we truly, really, after 21 years of marriage do like each other, and abstaining and figuring out all of this as newish Catholics has been hard. NFP is a tool, but marriage is the gift. As a result, we find ourselves being open to life in spite of the fears. AND, despite being chided for not “following the rules” from time to time re: NFP and the method we are using, we chalk it up to the gift of marriage and the oneness that it brings about. It’s normal and completely part of God’s plan that we are attracted to our spouses, and so at times, yes, NFP is hard.

    • Generally, when people say “____ is hell,” they’re using hyperbole to describe something that is a trial or a cross; they don’t mean it literally.

  23. And it’s not just a question of whether we being rude or unsympathetic when we downplay each other’s crosses. I think it’s downright dangerous to say to someone who’s suffering, “What’s the big deal?” See the comment above, where Mouse says that this is the first time she’s heard anyone admit that NFP isn’t all cuddling and pink daisies.

    If people are suffering and struggling, and are met with nothing but denial and scoffing, what do you suppose the result will be? They will, as you suggest, Erica, give up. I don’t know if you’re a Catholic, but you just invited someone to fall into mortal sin.

  24. Well hell, I’m late to the com box party today.

    But I want to know when did we start calling them “jews” again? I thought we’d all agreed that “jooooooooos” was the appropriate term in cases like this.

    That’s what we really need an app for.

  25. haha. NFP is hell!

    Not really for me, but it’s not exactly daisies and cuddling either. I admit though that I am somewhere between being frustrated with all the abstaining but also trying to put on the best face possible for the sake of all my protestant friends who think it’s just unthinkable to abstain for a week or two at time, that it will certainly ruin your marriage and what happened to honoring your husband anyway?

    My position about NFP would be: easy? no. Better than mortal sin? yes This is a hard sell though to people whose church history teaches them that contraception is not a sin at all. Not to mention that my kids spacing doesn’t say much for it’s effectiveness. 3 pregnancies in 3 years doesn’t really tell the whole story, but it’s what people see, and I don’t really want to tell the whole story to everyone (don’t really care for the TMI people myself either). It’s a tricky thing.

  26. I did train to use the Creighton model. And learning it did actually improve our marriage which was in a very bad place at the time. I’m afraid to say anything now because I don’t want to sound grateful or happy about that. It looks bad, even though I’m willing to admit it is difficult sometimes. Does that make it Ok, or not, to mention that we had an epiphany that saved our relationship?

    And once, on a blog I thought was only for ‘Catholic mothers’, in answer to a post about the horrors of using nfp instead of just letting God decide, I mentioned the disgusting term ‘cervical mucous’ because I had used that information that lead to a very lifesaving diagnosis that meant I had low progesterone and not actual clinical depression after a horrible mid-term miscarriage – and some man made rude comments about the term, while another condescendingly said women are proud of their mucous. I didn’t have anyone, male or female, from the blog who tried to comfort me in that awful sorrow i had over my recently dead child. Just the horrors of gagging upon reading “cervical mucous’.

    I am now permanently ambivilent about the whole topic and want to talk about something else.

    • Shana, first let me say that I’m sorry to hear about your loss. As I get older, that is one of my fears: that I’m likely to suffer a miscarriage sooner or later, although God has spared me so far.

      I don’t have any problem whatsoever with people expressing their joy, disgust, or anything in between, when speaking of their own experience with NFP. As someone who has gone, in the course of ten years or so, from “NFP is hell” to “yes, I’m grateful for this,” I can sympathize with a lot of different points of view. What I CAN’T sympathize with is people who say, “I experienced X; therefore everyone who says they experienced Y is a big baby” or not holy enough, or TOO holy, or whatever. Too many variables; lots of acceptable responses. Catholic with a small c, etc.

      I think your unwillingness to talk about it more is probably the most sensible route to take! How we are supposed to be honest about it with each other (so as not to cause horror when the realities of the system set in) while presenting it in a positive light for non-believers, I have no idea. Just brush your hair when you go out, I suppose.

      • Simcha,

        I do really appreciate your kindness in regard to my miscarriage. At the time, since it was so new, I was so very hurt I never returned to the blog, although I had enjoyed reading it so much previously. It was like being slapped by a friend, and I had already hurt so much so deeply.

        On the not of my reluctance to talk about NFP and all that, I had some other thoughts. There used to be something called privacy, and people generally respected it. It seems like much of our population now feels entitled to not only ask for information that should be only between a couple, the Lord and probably a good confessor, but just as many feel as if they must share such information. And now, we pass harsh judgement on others who don’t think the way we might on a given subject, never even thinking we may not possess all the information in order to judge rightly. It is very sad because it ends up wounding people rather than drawing them deeper into the Faith. We get off feeling flush with self-righteousness, and we don’t see how we’ve possibly driven someone away.

        The early Christians would not speak freely of such things in a culture just as bad, maybe even worse, as ours is now. Maybe we ought to take our cues from them?

  27. I was sloppy with my quoting in my comment above. I really should have excised the “hell” part, because that really wasn’t what I was addressing. But I was in a big hurry so I just grabbed the bit another commenter had already pulled out.

    I wasn’t (and don’t want to) trying to minimize the difficulty/cross/burden that NFP is to many people. (And I believe it truly is.)

    All I wanted to point out was, that the reverse of the rose-colored glasses approach isn’t it either: it *is* possible, and in fact I am, very excited by/grateful for NFP and NOT because just because it’s an alternative mortal sin/contraception.

    On the other hand, in comparison to miscarriage, being punched in the eye sounds pretty exciting, so perhaps my standards are too low…

  28. I really wish my husband and I could have tried NFP.

    We didn’t become Catholic until the tragedy of losing our second child in an ectopic pregnancy. The burst tube nearly killed me too but it brought me to the Church. We found out later that it was my only working tube to begin with.

    I’ll tell ya folks, it’s tough being a Catholic woman of child-bearing age who’s only got ONE child. I’m getting a little tired of answering the question of why we only have one.

    • “I’ll tell ya folks, it’s tough being a Catholic woman of child-bearing age who’s only got ONE child. I’m getting a little tired of answering the question of why we only have one.”

      AMEN! Two in heaven, one here, we get lots of questions, too.

      • I really hate to hear things like this – and equally hate to hear “they must be using birth control because they only have one”. There is nothing meaner-spirited or judgmental than these words. I am so sorry – you have my deepest sympathy for your sorrow.

    • I have resorted to telling people I’m “1 for 4” –that usually shuts them up. And how grateful we are for the one.

  29. Simcha,

    I. Love. You. Not necessarily because I agree with you on everything, but because you make me proud to be a Catholic woman instead of making me ashamed that I’m not a good Catholic woman because I don’t do/feel X. Thanks for keeping it real.

  30. Just playing devil’s advocate here for the people who are trying to say that NFP has been a gift. I believe they were responding to the blanket statement made by some and backed up by others that
    “I seriously think that the only ones who get excited about it are those who used to contracept and then switched. True, NFP is exciting compared to living in the state of mortal sin. But for those of us in the never contracepted group, it’s hell.”

    That’s also a blanket statement. Not made by you Simcha. I’m all for keeping it real with NFP, talking about the good, the bad and the ugly. But it looks like blanket statements happened on both sides.

    Love your blog, Simcha!

    • You are completely right. My mistake.

      In my mind, NFP is a similar experience to confession. Obviously, confession is completely mandatory, while NFP is a choice…but assuming you decide to try to avoid pregnancy:

      1. Both are wonderful gifts, life would be much harder without them.
      2. You feel tons better after doing both.
      3. The alternative of not doing either is much, much worse. (for NFP, the alternative in mind is contracepting)
      4. Neither one is a particularly joyful act for me.

  31. Probably shouldn’t weigh in, but I will. We’ve been using NFP for over twelve years now. Wish I could have another baby. Wish I didn’t have pre-eclampsia with the first two, rising blood pressure after the third was born, and a pregnancy category “D” medication to handle that now.

    With all of that, yes, NFP is a gift. And I’ve never found it to be the terrible cross and struggle that others seem to–but maybe that’s because I’m so grateful for the Church’s gift of NFP in circumstances like mine. Or maybe it’s because the cross part has been the long, slow acceptance of the reality that my desire for a large family was not what God had planned for me.

    The part I hate is that I’ve been on websites where people are trashing NFP and confidently asserting that no one really “needs” to use it, not with 20th century medicine. There’s a strong group out there that seems to think that using NFP in circumstances like mine is just dodging the St. Gianna-esque martyrdom God might have had planned for me–and I’ll certainly be punished for *that* in the next life.

    The truth is, the people who are enthusiastic about NFP may be carrying crosses like mine, and NFP may seem like Simon of Cyrene’s hand on the cross instead of an added burden. Maybe we could all try to respect each other’s experiences on this kind of thing.

  32. Lauren and Erin, you’re quite right. It’s just as wrong to make snarky assumptions about NFP-lovers as it is to make self-righteous assumptions about NFP-haters. It’s very, very hard to step out of our own experience, isn’t it? I’m sorry for not doing a better job of that, and for encouraging snark against NFP-lovers.

    One thing that people forget is that not everyone wants to discuss their reasons for postponing a pregnancy, because it’s an incredibly private thing! It is never, ever appropriate, helpful, or moral to make that call that someone else’s reason is not serious enough. Thanks for the reminder that it cuts both ways.

  33. Erin, I hear you on the

    “There’s a strong group out there that seems to think that using NFP in circumstances like mine is just dodging the St. Gianna-esque martyrdom God might have had planned for me–and I’ll certainly be punished for *that* in the next life.”

    I have 4 children and my last child was born very premature following a complication that was potentially life-threatening for both baby and myself. We are both blessed to be here.

    I have been advised to avoid another pregnancy, as this complication has a 1-in-3 chance of recurrence. So we are doing NFP very very conservatively right now.

    But I have had comments that I am not trusting God enough to bring me through another pregnancy safely. But at the same time, we shouldn’t go stand out on the middle of the freeway and say “Oh God, if you don’t want me to die, you won’t let me be hit by a speeding cement mixer.”

    I think that in the case of NFP, the old adage we learned in school, “Eyes on your own paper,” er, chart, would be good to remember.

    • Not to mention that -correct me if I’m wrong – but St. Gianna Molla got pregnant first, then diagnosed after. Also, according to her family, she didn’t dramatically choose martyrdom, but hoped and prayed that God would heal her. To hear people tell it, she was already dying, then deliberately became pregnant, and then decided to go ahead and die so she could be a saint.

      But yes, keep your eyes on your own work — excellent advice. My heart goes out to women facing health problems. It’s bad enough to be sick, bad enough to have to have a smaller family than you would have liked — but having fellow Catholics saying you’re sinning is just disgusting.

      • I was surprised to learn recently that what St. Gianna actually died of had nothing to do with the precarious pregnancy!! She actually died of an infection following a c-section. I guess that this doesn’t really matter except that I thought she died from the pregnancy issue – but it was a different matter entirely.

        She was still brave for surviving through a difficult pregnancy.

  34. “(f) Shut up, Jew.”

    Did anyone actually ever use this on you?

    If so, can you send me their names and addresses?

  35. I, too am glad to hear that others have found NFP to be…challenging. I always feel a bit jealous (in the nicest, most Christian of ways) of those who find it improves their marriage!

    The one couple who were perhaps more than any responsible for our unquestioning adoption of NFP when we got married are now among the mythical 2% whose marriage did not survive.

    And don’t you love being in the doc’s office telling him “No, no! It was not a method failure! We just weren’t paying attention!” or even worse “We planned this one!”

    • Man, I get so tired of that question, “Was this a planned pregnancy?” Last time, I finally got the nerve to say, “Is this a medical question? Will it affect the way you care for me?” The doctor just said, “Nope” and went on to the next question.

      • Well done! It really is no one’s business.

        I have been asked if our kids were ‘planned’. And we only have five!

        I telll them “Yes…but not by us!”

        Something else I’ve encountered indirectly…NFP proponents telling people who are on public assistance that they are irresponsible if they don’t rely on NFP.

        Like God creates any inappropriate pregnancies?

  36. A note to those who are frustrated trying to chart temps.

    I am pretty sure I’ve been infertile for 4 years now. I’m going by symptoms.

    Recently I started charting temps to try to diagnose a health problem. In doing research for this particular problem, I have learned that non-mercury thermometers, even digital ones, can be very inaccurate!

    So if your charts just don’t make sense, you may need another thermometer. Many actually buy veterinary thermometers, which can still be had in the mercury variety.

  37. I have a friend who is a somewhat practicing Catholic; she has 2 children but has been told not to conceive again because of a blood clotting issue. [I assume she contracepts because she did before marriage and was told by a priest that it’s ok].

    I was inspired yesterday by ‘Conversion Diary’s’ post about NFP and difficult medical situations to try to talk to my friend about NFP.

    But after reading all this…I don’t think I could sufficiently respond to all the objections.

    Advice?

  38. I just wanted to chime in with my own limited experience with NFP. My husband and I went into our marriage, having learned NFP, but thinking, “we’ll just sort of see what happens”. Then I conceived and miscarried in the first three months of our marriage. Then, it took us over a year of using NFP to achieve a pregnancy for us to actually conceive our now three month old beautiful daughter.

    I have wildly irregular ovulations due to PCOS, and for us, NFP has been a blessing because it took us a year of trying with charts to actually conceive. It probably would have taken twice as long if we were just going into it blindly.

    Of course, this cycle is the first one in the 2.5 years of our marriage that we are actually abstaining, so we’ll see how much of a blessing it feels like during my 25 day long phase II (Thanks PCOS!).

  39. Loved it, Simcha. I think you have a real Dostoyevskian touch of humor. Life as unfinalizable dialogue and all that. Please keep writing!

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