Sunday, December 29, 2013

An Open Letter to People Who Are Good at NFP

Dear people who are good at NFP, 



Have you ever found yourself saying things like, "Oh, I don't really even have to chart, I just KNOW," or "I'm sorry, what did you say? I was just noticing myself ovulate," or "You just need to try Creighton, it's made of SCIENCE."? If the answer is "yes," then we need to talk.




If you have had an easy time with NFP, I am sincerely happy for you. If you are good at NFP and knowledgeable about it, I absolutely understand that you want to share your expertise with others. Especially when it's about something as important as NFP.

But, oftentimes, in private conversations or in com boxes you folks who are good at NFP can come across as unsympathetic and single-minded towards those of us who have struggled with NFP.

For those of us who have perhaps had more kids than we had intended to have by this point in our lives . . . it's not that we don't understand whatever method we are using, it's just that we have reproductive systems that are more difficult to quantify than yours is.

So please, for the love of all that is holy STOP TELLING US TO TRY CREIGHTON. 

If you have easy to understand cycles, if you only have to abstain four days per month, if your mucus waxes and wanes like the moon each month . . . awesome, seriously, good for you.  We're around if you'd like to swing by to babysit.

Because here's the thing: My cycle is different than yours. You can easily understand your fertile signs and I can't because your fertile signs are easy to understand and mine are not. Because God made us different.

Please understand that the rest of us are making just as much effort as you are, and probably more, but we fail again and again because it is harder for us.

Infertility is a cross. I pray every day for my friends who are struggling under its burden. I think most people in faithful Catholic circles understand that. Maybe I'm wrong, but I would certainly hope that couples dealing with infertility aren't constantly told that if they just tried harder or used a particular method all their struggles would melt away.

Hyper fertility is a cross as well. When someone tells you that NFP is a struggle for her, please know that unless you are her instructor or physician, she is probably not looking for advice. She is certainly not looking for a new method. She is just looking for a little sympathy. Or some prayers.

I know I was. I don't think I'd consider myself hyper fertile. My kids are all a year and a half to two years apart, which has been manageable for us. But NFP was a big bust for us for many years and many kids. I went to class after class, I read book after book, I tried ALL the methods. And despite the many assurances I received from people who loved whichever method I was attempting that year, NONE was easy for me.

What I desperately needed was someone to say, "You are NOT crazy, you are not an idiot, it's just especially hard for you." But no one ever said that to me. People only ever said, "Have you tried Creighton?" The answer is yes, by the way. Yes. I have. Gus and Anita are my Creighton babies.

I am at peace now with NFP. Really, I am. I believe that practicing NFP, even though I failed and failed again, was the right decision for me and my faith and my marriage and my family. I am deeply grateful for each of my children, even when they came despite my best efforts. I'm glad we did finally figure out NFP and were able to successfully practice it for a year. Not because I enjoyed doing it, I didn't. But because it was the right decision for our family at the time, and this way I know that it actually CAN work, because for a while there I was beginning to wonder if the whole thing wasn't some sort of huge international inside joke. I'm grateful that we don't currently have a serious reason to practice NFP, and I am hopeful that we never will again.

So, people who are good at NFP, I believe you have the very best of intentions. Really, I do. But I have a favor to ask you. It's not for me. Like I said, I've made my peace with NFP. It's for all the young women out there with two under two and three under three and four under five. Those women don't need your advice, they need your sympathy. They don't need a new method, they need a hug and/or a nap. They don't need you to tell them how easy it is if you just do x, y, or z. They need you to understand that for them, it's really hard. 

Thanks for listening.

Cheers,
Kendra

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P.S. Did you enter my Blogoversary giveaway? You could win a copy of my book and a custom-made baby quilt. Click here for all the details.

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It's Sunday!

Here's what I wore:


Dress: Talbots (Christmas present from my Mom!)
Sweater: Loft
Belt: Coach (Christmas present circa 2002)
Boots: Anthropologie
Zombie Survival Plan Bracelet: etsy!

Lulu is a month old!
Her ensemble is Carter's



Thanks to the Ladies at Fine Linen and Purple for hosting.

Happy Sunday!




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56 comments:

  1. "if your mucus waxes and wanes like the moon each month . . . awesome, seriously, good for you. We're around if you'd like to swing by to babysit."

    I am dying laughing here!

    I have to confess I am one who is good at NFP. I get ovulation pains (annoying pre-marriage, super convenient now!) even, lol! And I hope I've never given advice like this to others, maybe I have? Luckily I never have the opportunity to discuss NFP in real life since only 2 people I know are using it and everyone else just thinks my husband and I haven't figured out the whole condom thing yet. But now I can totally see how if I did try to be helpful it could have totally come across the wrong way! Definitely filing this under 'remember for the future' :)

    Btw, I love your dress, and my daughter Tahlia has the same dress as Lulu! Carters is awesome, best baby clothes around at the moment!

    So, question from one hyper-fertile woman to another (NFP while clear for me also means lots of abstaining so we tend to not last long doing it), how do you guys plan for the logistics of a larger than normal family? Like the big car (anything bigger than a Toyota Sienna makes me quake in fear)? And the house? Do you have a big house or a simpler lifestyle and a small house or a certain type of house that you find works best for having more than 2 kids? Good gravy, we already feel we're busting at the seams some days! My 5 year old has informed me our current house will only fit "like 6 kids" and I'm inclined to agree with him. Of course this was after he told me he wanted 10 more sisters and just 2 more brothers. Oy!

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    1. Well, we just had number seven, so we had to take the plunge and get a 12-seater van, and it's not nearly as bad as I had thought it would be.

      We do have a pretty big house. It's four bedrooms, but my parents visit often, so we keep a guest room. Frankie and a rotating big kid sleep in one room, the baby is with us, and all the rest of the kids are in the other room. One sleeps on a crib mattress on the floor! But it works for us.

      When we moved in we had 3 kids, but I told the free interior decorator gal from the furniture store that I wanted each room to be able to fit three kids. She was . . . surprised. But now we've blown past that!

      The kids don't know any different. We stagger bedtimes and put kids down in different rooms to fall asleep then move them to avoid chatting until the wee hours.

      My kids are the same way as yours, they're always talking about how many more we should have!

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    2. I would love to see a post about your family's sleeping arrangements!

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    3. I have friends who have 12 kids in a normal sized, 3 bedroom house. The baby sleeps in the parent's room, the 4 girls sleep in one room and the 7 older boys sleep in one room. They have 2 three layer bunk beds and a mattress on the floor. They use bins and large baskets made into a tall, slide out stack for storing clothes and things. It makes it difficult to use normal sized furniture, but you can make it work if you improvise and build stuff yourself.

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  2. Gosh, so sorry you have been so pressured from the NFP community. As a Creighton practitioner, I know that Creighton nor NFP is for everyone. If we weren't infertile or if I didn't have major hormone issues, I would love to use NOTHING. Ah, but this is a life of sacrifice and this is just one of mine. Sorry again!

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  3. This is a great reminder. We used NFP for about a year and a half before conceiving and currently we're...well, we're undefinable I suppose. Techinically not using because I'm breastfeeding and just so very bad at remembering to pay attention to anything besides the baby and the housework. But I'm getting my certification to teach NFP and I feel like I might be printing this post out for my binder of resources to remind myself what NOT to say!

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  4. Oh my gosh, yes, a million times. And unfortunately, the "have you tried Creighton" crowd is just as bad as pushing NaPro on women suffering from infertility. Not. Helpful. In general, I wish people would learn to offer less advice, and more sympathy and compassion. People don't usually want advice. They want empathy.

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  5. Thank you! We have not struggled with this (yet) and considering that I am breastfeeding two month old twins I probably shouldn't be worrying to hard about the spacing of future children just yet ... but ... with our current three-under-two situation, all evidence points to my husband and I being the "hyper-fertile" types. (We were using NFP when we conceived our first, though not when we conceived the twins.) And the thought of getting pregnant again in another nine or ten months scares the bejeezers out of me. Especially since I will (hopefully!) still be breastfeeding when my fertility returns, and post-partum charting is a daunting prospect.

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  6. Thank you, thank you, thank you! I love this and must admit have been told more than once if I have tried Creighton. By the way I have...the last three were conceived while using that method. I am happy with my small growing army and I wish people would just keep comments like that to themselves unless I actually ask them for advice. I know they are all well meaning, but still there is a limit one person can take.

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  7. After my fifth, my ob asked what type of NFP we used, and I went on to explain how I took a different class after each child, plus the one we took while engaged.
    She laughed and asked what I thought was the underlying problem. My answer: I like my husband, and God likes babies. Number seven is coming in July.

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  8. Nice post. Its hard, I have horrible cycles, I am constantly a "yellow sticker" user on Creighton, but my husband and I have figured it out and made it work to space our kids. I think when we "Creighton users" try to share our success, its not in a negative way, like you are doing something wrong, its just to show that there is a possibility of making it work, even if you are super fertile, or never stop making mucus, like me. We are all in this together and trying to help each other out.
    I know that I wish for the first three years of my marriage someone would have told me to "try Creighton" because the person that finally did tell me to, well I will thank her for the rest of my life.

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    1. Meg, I totally get where you're coming from and I'm really, really glad that you found the solution for you.
      I have written posts where I haven given reasons why Creighton just doesn't work for me and I *still* had people tell me in the combox I should try Creighton. I don't know about Kendra, but those are the people who both frustrate me and hurt my feelings (it feels like they care more about their precious Creighton than my pain and struggles).

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    2. Bonnie, love this explanation from you. Its so interesting to hear everyones stories and it just shows how different each one of us are. I guess I was being a little defensive because I felt like Creighton is being put as the bad guy here, which I am so glad to have in my life. My husband and I have to abstain for about 17 days per cycle, so I totally understand frustrations about NFP in general. I am so sorry though that people have hurt your feelings regarding NFP, it should never be that way. We are all trying to honor ourselves and honor God and His plan in whatever way works for us, even if none of them work, its all up to Him!

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  9. My instructor took my chart to Drs Billings and even they didnt know what to make of my cycles. :-/

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  10. This is awesome! We've done alright...except for the Postpartum part. That's a killer.

    We've had good luck with Ovacue though. Its meant to use to get pregnant. But it tests your saliva each morning and turns a little calendar blue when it senses a change in your electrolytes. It's been dead on accurate every single time for us. I chart in addition to it just to make sure.

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    1. also, I didn't mean to just contradict and not give sympathy after this post ;-) I just found something that helped those crazy unreadable charts and thought I would share.

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  11. I'm afraid that I'm guilty of being one of the "try Creighton" crowd too--and I'm sorry to say we've only ever used it to achieve pregnancy, not prevent, so that probably makes me doubly obnoxious. I think posts like this are so helpful to give those of us with clearer signs a different point of view so we don't just stare unhelpfully at our struggling friends and tell them (also unhelpfully) how easy it all is.

    I will say though that this go round I've found that my postpartum breastfeeding cycles are impossible for me to decipher and at cycle day eighty and four negative pregnancy tests later I just ate my "try Creighton" words and bought a thermometer :)

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    1. Oh my LOL!! I have one I could have sent you. ;)

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  12. Nice post!! Fertility is such a personal post and different for everyone. Although, I have to admit that I am one of those people who NFP is "easy for" (I have very regular cycles), plus my husband and I combined have a lower level of fertility (I've only ever gotten pregnant ether the day before or the day of ovulation, so we actually have to "try" to get pregnant. .

    But, I can totally see how people writing "just try Creighton" can be super annoying...especially to someone who has tried it all...and I can definitely see how NFP can be hard for some people...especially those with irregular cycles (I could basically use the calendar method and be fine).

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  13. Ha, reading this with my 2 week old 'Creighton baby' on my lap…already planning my sometime in the near future mass-purchase of dollar store pregnancy tests to use in the coming months. I hate/love/mostly hate NFP.

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    1. I was just telling my husband he should have filled my stocking with dollar pregnancy tests from the commissary for Christmas...nothing's better than rolling up to the checkout line with two in the cart and one in the ergo and sliding your stack of pregnancy tests over to the cashier :)

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    2. Buy them in bulk on Amazon!!! Seriously, best decision I've ever made :)

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    3. Yes! They're so cheap on Amazon. Forget the dollar ones. 25c/ea!

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    4. Going on 6 months of postpartum abstinence; this is what NFP is for us now. It took us five kids in five years to learn that lesson but we're damn sure we're not buying any epts - no matter how much they cost.

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  14. Dear Mrs Catholic all year.
    I just discovered your blog today via Jen at Conversion Diary. I would LUV to be your next door neighbour and have your kids come over to my back yard to play but I live in Canada Eh ;) I also read your post today about the "person" who was not nice to you earlier this year while you were at the adoration chapel with baby Frankie. I was at adoration this morning before mass and thought of you. Mr so and so was playing with his new Christmas ipod which must have been playing his new rosary CD as Mr so and so had his ear plugs in and was whispering very loudly. I will assume he was praying for vocations and will forgive him as he must have been substituting for Mrs Old Widow who is about 100 years old and likes to whisper in Chinese as she reads her prayer book. I then went into the church for mass. I almost started laughing during Fathers sermon as he advised that when we encounter a family with more than 1.4 children to keep quiet and abstain from nasty comments. It just happens that I was sitting behind the nicest family who is expecting baby #4. Baby #3 (who is a little younger than Frankie) and I played a game of peek a boo during most of fathers sermon.
    Looking forward to reading your past and future posts
    sincerely
    Mrs Eh

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  15. Well, I can empathize a lot with this...no method of nfp has ever been great at preventing for us and I get the creighton creighton creighton comments too and also the--well, you must not be doing it right for if you were it would actually work--no. It doesn't work for all people. I am glad it does for some people but just because it doesn't for me mean that I am stupid or not doing it right.

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  16. Great post! I'm in the middle of "regular" and "crazy" cycles - regular from the standpoint of longevity, but crazy because I have mucus all the time - I know, TMI. But as long as we're chatting about this....! The only way I was actually "good" at NFP is because I'm a totally rule follower and my husband and I were on the same page about the times we were charting and following the program and the times where we didn't care if I was fertile or not. That being said, we did Creighton in the beginning and it was a lot of effort. I ended up switching to Marquette, which is similar but uses the Clear Blue Easy ovulation predictor, which was so much better. I also have a "Creighton" baby...! :) And now I'm getting to be "of a certain age" and I just had a conversation with the OBG about how maybe I didn't need to worry about charting anymore. Sigh. Until everything quits happening, though, I worry that I would be that tabloid article about the octogenarian with a baby! :)

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  17. This is definitely a challenge for me. I don't want to pry and give advice when it's not welcome (I'm talking about using Creighton for getting pregnant and infertility issues here) but at the same time, there's that voice inside my head saying, "What if they've never heard of it?? What if they actually think IVF is their only option???" and I just can't ever seem to stay silent. I guess those comments are best left between good friends, but as Meg said above mentioning Creighton just might really change someone's life. I'm not arguing any of your points, just pointing out that I personally struggle with this and I'm not sure what to do about it.

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  18. Amen, sister. :) I have tried them all, in fact here's my story: http://www.catholicsistas.com/2012/10/23/getting-a-grip-on-my-fertility/

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  19. This is great. Hate to tell ya, but when you're infertile, you DO get the, "have you tried....method?" I'm laughing because my husband and I are starting to learn Creighton in January to begin NaPro :)

    Such a great reminder that we all just need support, and maybe fewer personal questions :)

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  20. As someone who's already had two c-sections at the age of twenty-four,
    NFP is really terrifying. We've actually had success avoiding so far, but I always feel like we're just flying by the seat of our pants.

    Because of the c-sections, I probably won't be blessed with a truly large family myself, but I am also very curious about how things like sleeping arrangements and clothes storage work in big families! I once met a family with 11 kids that were also third-order Fransicans and they all slept on the floor! Like, literally no beds in the entire house. Which I suppose solves a lot of logistical issues...

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  21. excellent post! My cycles seem extremely regular, but I am Fertile Myrtle so we have like 3-4 days a month which is very difficult when your husband is so godly and good-looking.... :) As I see it, the beauty of NFP is that it allows me to trust God with our family; even when I think I am planning, God can still trump me and I'm fine with that. Great post giving people perspective.

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  22. I hate to say that those of us with infertility do get equally useless/sometimes hurtful "advice." The hard part is setting aside our pride and taking it all in stride.

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  23. But have you tried the Marquette Model?

    ;)

    With Baby #6 on the way, I do think we have hyper-fertility, but honestly my husband and I just really love and LIKE each other, and that's not about to change, so we do our best! The Marquette Model at least took away the temperature and bodily fluid tests and interpretations. It just tells you when you are Low, High, or Peak and you can plan accordingly. This current baby was a "well, I never peak until day 20 (looooong cycles) so we should be safe until day 12, at least" and then I ovulated on Day 14. God really wanted this baby!

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  24. Yes, yes and yes again.

    I use Creighton. I've tried them all. It's not that I don't understand my body, or that I don't understand the methods. My body is just screwy. Peak type mucus constantly? Check. Return of fertility at 6 weeks postpartum even though I practice ecological breastfeeding? Check. Completely unpredictable variance in where in the cycle I ovulate? Check. 4 day post peak phases unless I'm on meds? Got that too. And the list goes on. It's hard. It's really, really hard. I'm not so down on the folks that tell me to try a new method as I actually don't get that one very often. The breastfeeding one is the one that makes me rage. "Oh, you must use pacifiers." No. No I don't. At least, not until my period makes its appearance at 6 weeks postpartum. Then I break out the pacifiers. "Have you read Sheila Kippley's book? That helped me SO much." Yeah. I read it. I did it all. It didn't work.
    My kids are almost 5, 3, almost 2, and twin 12 week olds. I've figured out Creighton well enough to make it work for upwards of 12 months, but that doesn't make me any less fertile, or my body any more normal. I hate it when people assume that because my family is the way it is, either I'm bad at NFP or I don't breastfeed. Neither is true.
    Anyway, thanks. I very much appreciate real and honest talk about NFP.

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  25. FUNNY! But can I just correct one statement-- abstinence in marriage will always prevent children! Fundamentally, even if you cannot make heads or tails of your signs, and you feel that you cannot at the moment welcome another child, you will have to take on projects at home to distract yourself from your burning unitive desires….In an average case, it means abstaining between days four and 20. Cold hard fact!

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    1. Not always between days 4 and 20... for me, I've ovulated as late as day 53! I would have been freaking out if I wasn't charting! =)

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  26. An honest question here. Is it frustrating because you just heard this advice so so much, or is it frustrating because you think it's bad advice? I imagine it to be kind of like the "you've got your hands full" comment that you speak of. It's true. So true in fact, that we've heard it a dozen times today and we're really sick of hearing it. But if it's true, should it really bother us so much?

    I know NFP isn't easy, it's so difficult for us that we hardly ever bother with it. We don't really even try. I agree with you thst no one should ever make it out to be easy. But speaking for myself, if there is a better method out there I would like to hear about it. I like information. I don't think its helpful to tell others that they shouldn't share about it. But yes, recognizing that everyone has different experiences is crucial.

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    1. You make a good point, really. I'm sure that's part of it.

      I think the thing that was most frustrating to me was that I read the books and followed the rules and still had trouble. And people, friends, instructors -- no one was ever willing to say, "it's just going to be harder for you than it is for some other people." I know they were probably worried about scaring me off. But it wouldn't have scared me off, it would have made me feel like less of an incompetent fool.

      I love what Amelia (onecatholicmama) said in her comment, that she could probably use the calandar. THAT is what makes me feel better. Just the acknowledgement that it's harder for some people and easier for others.

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    2. Chiming in here: My personal experience is that many (most?) Creighton users believe their method is THE BEST! They imply or flat out say that if it doesn't work for me than it's because *I* have failed, not because the method just isn't a good fit for me or because NFP is hard for me.

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    3. Kendra. I'm sorry this made you feel like an incompetent fool. I've only once gotten pregnant while actively trying to avoid and then, after our initial "okay, how do we make this work" conversation we both just said "wow, so we're exceptionally fertile, go us!" Not as exceptional as we thought though, or so I gather from these conversations.

      And honestly, Bonnie, I've never encountered any real life enthusiastic Creightonites so I'm just not annoyed at them personally. But I know I would be pretty livid if I had that experience. Must be I live in a weird Catholic bubble where everyone is either old and using Symptal-thermal or young and using Marquette.

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    4. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    5. Creighton is very heavily promoted, but it's far from perfect. No method is. A small number of women simply can't use Creighton, and FertilityCare doesn't do a very good job of helping those women or referring them to another meth

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  27. But, wait. Have you tried Creighton?

    jk ;)

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  28. NFP has been hard for us as well.

    I'll break the trend: Don't try Creighton! We started with Creighton. We found Creighton is optimized primarily for treating infertility and is practically useless for hyperfertility. The Drs. Billings' criticism of Creighton was particularly helpful.

    Yes, we tried NaPro. NaPro->Wrong Diagnosis->Wrong Treatment.

    We took the CCL class right before the update. Let's just say the update was desperately needed.

    Billings works well, but even this isn't sufficient. No CM-only method would be. We still need to supplement with LH strips and temps. We have read a LOT of books and research.

    In our struggles, our frustration was that we needed method help and all we got was sympathy and prayers—if we were lucky.

    Our current teacher, NFPAware, is fantastic, and has not only helped her with the charting, but has also helped get to the underlying issue, which is related to insulin levels and blood sugar control.

    I think it's shameful that the NFP community doesn't do more to help with the underlying issues and kind of tries to sweep women who have trouble with the method under the rug.

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    1. I don't mean to be unsympathetic here. I only want to say that NFP can be very hard for some couples, support is much more limited than it should be, and what finally worked for us, so that maybe it will work for someone else.

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  29. This is so many types of wonderful. Thanks for posting and thanks for linking up with us :)

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  30. Um. I am not saying you should retry Creighton, but the reason most folks suggest is precisely because it's often a helpful method for those with difficult to navigate cycles. I know because I teach it and 85% of my clients - myself included - do not have it easy on the NFP front (and the challenges are quite varied. Many would love to have the "problem" of having "too much" fertility). Also, Creighton is certainly not magic or anything but it's the extra one-on-one time/case management aspect that helps some. Note: I am not saying it's the best method for everyone or for you or that you should feel any need to chart at all. Just sayin'. Maybe cut some folks some slack and give them the benefit of the doubt. All of us are just struggling to live out this whole openness to life thing. It had a lot more challenges than most marriage prep courses delve into.

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  31. Great post. My parents were super-duper fertile and so it was a surprise she my husband and I ended up being infertile. Creighton was of limited help in both cases. And in some ways I'm grateful. I have a large number of brothers and sisters who I adore… and now I have beautiful adopted children who I love and wouldn't want to live without… and I have NFP-failure to thank! Hooray!!

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  32. NFP is so frustrating... especially when it just doesn't working.
    My wife got a rare cancer at age 32 after our sixth was born. We weren't using any NFP method before (had learned Creighton but not needed to use it) but then, with chemotherapy, we had a Serious Reason to abstain. Total abstinence gets really hard when our marriage is otherwise so strong and good... and it lasted a year before we had any confidence in knowing any "safe" days at all. We were working with an instructor for six months before we had any "safe" days. It is now about eight months post-chemo, and hormones and cycles are still not cyclical, just totally unpredictable.
    I don't like it when the instructor or even priests will say that NFP is still working because at least we have to talk about sexuality or something - it isn't working if we have no confidence in identifying our fertility. Chastity/self-control and communication are not the problem I need NFP to solve, I just want it to help us identify safe days with some consistency.
    Before this, I didn't know that sometimes NFP doesn't work and even healthy and holy sexuality in marriage can become just a cross/suffering.

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  33. "Maybe I'm wrong, but I would certainly hope that couples dealing with infertility aren't constantly told that if they just tried harder or used a particular method all their struggles would melt away."- Unfortunately you're right! We are. :( But I understand that both extremes of the spectrum are a cross. I have an aunt-in-law who is expecting number 9 at age 47, and she is noticeably suffering, emotionally. She was so scared to tell me that she was expecting, because she knows my struggle, but I am just as moved by her cross as well.

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  34. Thank you for that post. I have been frustrated during the nfp process as is my husband.

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  35. As a single college student who is learning NFP to address some health issues, the semi-bashing of Creighton in the comments is slightly frightening. Is it really that bad/unreliable? NaPro is my best option as far as doctors (I have yet to meet a non-NaPro doctor who was interested in anything other than prescribing birth control with no attempt at a diagnosis) and using NaPro means I have to learn Creighton.

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    1. I used Creighton and NaPro to address health concerns with wonderful, wonderful results. I think Creighton is amazing for identifying issues with a woman's cycle and you should proceed confidently with your NaPro doctor's approach. But the actual using of Creighton for postponing babies (especially during trick time such as postpartum, etc) can be very challenging for some women. For others, not as much.But it's definitely is worth learning, despite it's shortcomings.

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  36. I know this post is a few years old by now, but as someone who started learning Billings four months ago and has been struggling and wondering if there's something wrong with me... THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU. It's so hard when everyone makes it sound like the signs should be obvious, or when my patterns don't at all follow what my instructor tells me I should be seeing, or when people brush off my fertility concerns with, "Well, what's the big deal if it fails and you get pregnant?" Most people have no concept of how helpless a woman can feel when she has no clear understanding of her own body, or when the fear of having babies every year places frustration on the marriage. I've been married several months but so far my husband and I have had to practice total abstinence since my charting doesn't seem to be working and we have good reasons for not getting pregnant right now (his work makes him travel multiple months out of the year, so at least we're not together long enough for temptation to be a huge issue). But it's a strain. Obviously as Catholics it's our only option, but I still feel bitter when I hear people giddily advocate NFP as foolproof and easy and magical.

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