Thursday, December 3, 2015

In Which We Discover if I Really Meant it About Not Doing NFP

Mailbag time!

The Question:


Hi Kendra,

I find myself at a point where I am needing to sort of “vent” out some frustrations with NFP, and storing children’s clothing in a too “small” of a house. I went searching your blog for “storing clothes” and somehow found your post about NFP and that for some people it is a struggle. I read your post, and I totally get what you are saying there! I was always taught that it’s so “bonding” for a couple, and that “you only have to abstain for a few days a month, maybe a week” and “well, now that you’re breastfeeding, the Sympto-thermal method isn’t going to work so you should try Creighton” which led to like 8 months of abstaining and “yellow stamps” because my mucus was hard to get charted to find something to go on.

Fast forward (we had the 4 under four you referenced, starting with honeymoon baby), living in 5 homes in 8 years, multiple job changes, etc. We basically have 4 or 5 days each month now in the infertile “phase 3” stage to take advantage of. And that’s really regardless of how I’m actually feeling about the whole thing by that time of the month. And I learned later on that it seems the only people who are so enthused about NFP in general are those who had problems with infertility. And the whole “if you nurse your baby, you will space you babies…” was a bust for us. 2 months after having our first, I got my period, and she only nursed. 4 months after the birth of our first, we were pregnant with our second.

Anyway, I wondered about asking you about how you store things for all your kids, how you decide what to keep and what to toss, and how did you become so open to so many children… we are at 4, and our youngest will be 4 next month… Our oldest will be 8 next month. We abstain far too much and I’m at a spot in life where I’m getting really depressed about it. It’s so … nice… that we can most of the time sleep through the night. But when I see little babies at Mass, all cute and snuggly, and I see the world the way it is, I want to bring more babies in so we can raise them to help make things better… but I’m still conflicted in the night.

God bless your day,

Jennifer

The Answer:


Hey Jennifer,

I feel you on all of this. And there are no easy answers. We spent years trying and failing at NFP, and it was really disheartening . . .  although we did get quite a lot of lovely children out of it. But then we felt we had a real need to postpone, so we spent a year being serious about NFP and were able to be successful. As you saw in that post, I really did not like practicing NFP. Our reason for wanting to not be pregnant was that my husband didn't have a job. But, even so, we weren't in dire straights financially, and we had family we could call upon in an emergency, so eventually we decided that we would quit NFP even though my husband was still looking for a job. I got pregnant right away, but he was employed before baby Frankie was born. So, for us, it worked out quite well.

If our reasons for avoiding pregnancy had been my physical or mental health, or serious financial concerns, it would have been a different story, of course. But, for us, after that, we decided not to go back to NFP and just take babies as they came.

That philosophy was put to the test a bit lately though. I've always been able to count on ten months or so of breastfeeding infertility after each baby, which means my closest age gap is nineteen months. That's made our "come what may" strategy manageable. But then, I had baby number eight in July and got a period when she was SIX WEEKS old, despite cosleeping and nursing on demand.

I kept thinking c'mon baby, you had ONE job.

So there we were, trying to decide if our commitment to not doing NFP extended to the possibility of ending up with Irish twins. And I wasn't sure it did. We abstained for a while longer to see if it had been a fluke thing, and to figure out whether we were really ready to be open to another baby.

The answer to both questions ended up being a rather hesitating, "yes?"

I didn't get another period on schedule, and haven't gotten another since then, so my hope is that we will get some infertile time here after all. But I also think we and I could handle another baby if that happened. I just turned thirty-nine, so I figure the baby train IS going to stop sometime in the next few years. I wouldn't mind having another one or two before this part of my life is done.

When people ask how many kids we are going to have, I like to say, "All of them." I don't want to miss one. :)

But that only answers the emotional part of your question. Logistically, I save a LOT less stuff than I used to. I used to carefully sort and organize everything and save it for years and years only to not use it because seasons were off and/or the new or newER clothes people gave us were cuter and cleaner and more stylish. Also, my babies now don't need as many items as my first babies did because we do laundry every day, instead of once a week.

Now, when kids outgrow a size, if things are in really good shape and I have someone who will wear it within the next year or two, I'll hang onto it. Also a few sentimental items get saved. But, really, I get rid of almost everything. I donate it all, and figure we will be able to buy or find donations of clothes as we need them.

It helps that we just all keep MUCH less clothing than we used to. My kids each have around thirty items of clothing total. It means less clutter, and it's a lot less expensive than having a huge wardrobe.

Only you and your husband can know, of course, if you need to continue to avoid pregnancy. Being pregnant is hard on me and hard on my family, and I know some women have it much harder than I do on that front. Babies and kids are time consuming and expensive. But they're also really, really great. Not doing NFP is great. Having sex with your husband is great, and good for your marriage.

So, I'm still not doing NFP. I'll admit, I did think about it. I even found our old charts and stickers. But, if I'm going to err, I'd rather it be on the side of having too many kids than too few.

Good luck on all of this. Pray about it, and remember you can ask God to give you peace about it. That always helps me.

Cheers,
Kendra
You might also enjoy . . .

Why I Don't Do NFP

Dear Newlywed, You're Probably Worried About the Wrong Thing 

Maybe We CAN'T Talk About NFP Without Giving Offense


Disclaimer: I am not a theologian, nor am I an official spokesperson for the Catholic Church. (You're thinking of this guy.) If you read anything on this blog that is contrary to Church teaching, please consider it my error (and let me know!). I'm not a doctor or an expert on anything in particular. I'm just one person with a lot of experience parenting little kids and a desire to share my joy in marriage, mothering, and my faith.

If you've got a question, please send it along to catholicallyear @ gmail . com . Please let me know if you prefer that I change your name if I use your question on the blog.
p.s. I am WAY behind on my mailbag. Like, a month behind. Maybe two. Between keeping up the blog, writing for Blessed is She (my turn today), the printables and custom work at the Etsy shop, the mugs and t-shirts and pint glasses at the Cafepress shop, planning the fixing up of the house we bought, keeping the house we are trying to sell in a condition to be shown, the general care, feeding, and education of my children, and four birthdays in five weeks . . . I am fresh out of time to respond to emails. But if you wrote to me to ask a question, please know that I got it. I read it. I composed an answer to you in my head. But I haven't typed it up yet. It is my sincere intention to do so sometime in the near future.

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57 comments:

  1. Thank you so much for sharing this perspective. My husband and I are open to life, and yet we have struggled to get pregnant. Not seriously seriously struggled, but let's just say we don't fall in to bed and become pregnant. With our first, it took 5 months of trying (again, that's not a long time at all, but when you're young and hopeful and, you imagine, at a peak fertile time in life, it's surprising). With our second (whom I am currently gestating!) it took us an entire year of planned, specific, charting, temping, stressing, trying. Both instances have been stressful and the duration of trying unexpected, especially our second, as we always imagined (and hoped!) we'd be the ones with Irish twins, or, at most, kiddos who are about 15-18 months apart (instead, these two will be 2.5 years apart). Call me crazy, but we just love babies! And we love that babies grow in to big people, who are awesome as well! It has been really hard for us to WANT to have kids, and desire to have them close in age, only to find that it doesn't always work out the way you plan it, but it does always work out the way God plans it. Anyway, I appreciate hearing the other side of the story, because for us, NFP is easy, since, thus far, it hasn't been all that easy to conceive, so our fear level is non-existent and our hopeful anticipation level is through the roof.

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    1. Don't worry! When you see "everyone" with kids close together, it's easy to forget that there are advantages to all sorts of different kinds of spacing. My kids are 2.75 years apart, and it's really fun! They love to play together, too.

      Congratulations on the baby :)

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    2. Ditto on all the TRYING. Ugh. It's rough having kids 2.5 yrs apart and people congratulating you on your "responsible spacing" and it seems like everyone you know just gets pregnant when their youngest is still a baby and you're over here just waiting for your turn. :/ so lame

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  2. Also, just because things *stay* quick and fast doesn't mean they stay that way until menopause...things do slow down. I had my last baby at 37. I in no way intended for her to be our last. But she is 3 1/2 now, and so far there is no baby coming. :( I found out that the probability of conceiving drops sharply at 35, and drops each year after. At 41, my chances are slim. Possible, but slim. I think I have good chance still of conceiving again before menopause, but my assumption that I would neatly have a baby every couple of years until I was "done" was wrong. I dearly hope to have another one (or two!)...because I really didn't think my last would be my last!

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  3. Great Question- Great Post! I am in the 4 kids 5 and under club as well . After a honeymoon baby that we lost in the second trimester I didn't conceive again for 2 years! Well after that we said we would take the babies as they came....until recently. My husband said he was at his limit and 4 was a good number. I'm 38 and I would love one more, if that was possible....but I think we would have to be on the same page and I totally understand his view. Not being Catholic I guess we practice FAM, my husband seems comfortable with this and its worked so far, however my grandmother had a baby at 48, so you never know what God has in store for you!

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  4. Thanks for your honesty! (The "6 week bleed" is a thing, according to my NFP facebook reading, so maybe it was that?) We have meant to use NFP, but then, by the time my period comes back, well.... ;) I would take em as they come, but my husband's not on board. And given that three children have come to tattle while I wrote this, maybe I can live with that. (jk) But I'm only 30, and that leaves a lot of potential babies - which is both wonderful and kinda terrifying.

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  5. Hi Kendra,

    I can't read the whole post right now because I have littles everywhere going nuts, but before it got buried I wanted to say: bleeding at six weeks is a normal part of birth, called Withdrawal Bleeding, and isn't a period. I've had it with every baby and it freaked me out the first three times, and then I finally had enough babies that I remembered this. My midwife said it's normal, and it's not a period. So, I hope that is helpful for someone! :-) Gotta run!

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    1. Yes, a period that early is usually just lochia coming back due to stress or overworking or just because. Happened to me too.

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    2. Yes, a period that early is usually just lochia coming back due to stress or overworking or just because. Happened to me too.

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  6. We tried using NFP via the sympto-thermal model and had an "oops" baby (who is an absolute blessing). Because I was living 1200 miles away from my husband at the time for training purposes and wouldn't be living with him for another 3 years, we decided we had to try something else. I did a lot of research and found the Marquette method. It is not the cheapest method because you have to buy a fertility monitor and test strips, but it has worked well for us. We still use it, first to not have any more kids while I was living so far away, and then to conceive twice. I would definitely recommend this method to anyone who has had a hard time with other NFP methods. I have a crazy schedule and an unusual cycle and it has been by far the easiest for us to use.
    For the part about keeping clothing, my sister and I share kids clothes; we just happened to have babies within 6 months of each other twice. Our rule is to only keep what is in really good shape. Which means, when my son was growing out of his 2T pants and he came home two days in a row with holes in the knees, they pants got tossed. We have a pretty tight budget but we've found we can get by with fewer clothes than I originally thought (although my kids do have more than 30 pieces because we do laundry 1-2 times each week) and I can normally find good quality clothes at garage sales and on sale.

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  7. I typically only have about 2-3 months before my cycle returns after giving birth, and that is with nursing on demand, cosleeping, night nursing and the whole bit. It's just always been that way. I'm abnormally regular. So my question would be, how do we go about determining if we're being responsible in being open to more children? I think the physical and mental health aspects of the decision are pretty cut and dry, but when it comes to finances I think there is a lot of gray area. Also, most of our children are still very small and at the age where hand me downs and cute gifts are plenty, but kids do seem to get more expensive the older they get. For example, my 11 year old is about to get braces that are going to cost us $7,000. I can't imagine the three kids three years and under we're about to have all needing $7,000 worth of braces at the same time in another 11 years.

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  8. I have to say this post was lovely and made me laugh, as well (C'mon baby... baw haw haw I have so been there!) Thank you for sharing because I love your perspective.

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  9. My husband and I are pregnant with our first and due in April (and we just married last May!!!). We decided to not use NFP even just for charting and learning the way my cycles work because my mind would be overly conscious of fertile days versus non fertile days. I imagined that instead of enjoying my husband, I would be thinking about that dang chart even if it didn't matter - unfortunately that's just how my mind likes to work. We had a stellar priest who agreed with our decisions to not use NFP, and he actually doesn't recommend it for most newly married couples. I LOVE reading your posts about NFP because it reassures me of how beautiful life can be without all the charting.

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  10. I love your posts, thank you for sharing your journey! I teach FertilityCare, and you brightened my morning with the white baby stamp on your baby's head - LOL!

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  11. Yes to the baby having one job! I laughed and laughed over that one.

    My first two babies were my closest together, but since then I can't seem to carry a baby while breastfeeding. I get pregnant, and then I misscarry. My period comes back early, and I ovulate, but don't have the hormones (progesterone?) To carry to term. So although by a year in (and most recently two years in) I'm ready to have another baby, my body isn't. Since we've just recently figured this out, we are now obstaining to avoid multiple misscariages. And it is no fun, and it is stressful on our relationship. But it is important to get things sorted out with my body first. I think I will wean my two year old before we "try".

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    1. Have you thought about touching base with a naprotechnology doc to check your prog levels and treat with supplemental progesterone? Maybe you already have! Just thought I'd put it out there bc I've been on progesterone with my pregnancies in order to avoid miscarriage.

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    2. Dear Lizzie, I was in the exact same situation, two close in age babies then miscarriages. We did use NaPro to determine that I have a whole bunch of issues including low progesterone and endometriosis, but other more complicated stuff too long to put here. I've had two surgeries to clean things up, and praise God, I'm 17 weeks pregnant, due in May, and my younger of the two boys will be almost five years old. I'll be praying for you and offering up the struggles of my pregnancy for you and your family. We began saying novenas as a couple and made a pilgrimage, so maybe you can ask God to help you determine if there are any special spiritual exercises that would strengthen you. It is a serious cross, but try to remember that God's plan is *the*plan and carrying our crosses prepares us for eternity. I realized over these past years how much I needed to put more love and joy into mothering our kids who were here, despite feeling low and mourning the loss of our babies. Anyway, sorry if this is rambling, but I can just do closely relate and my heart is really heavy to know someone else is where I've been. God bless you.

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  12. Or... You can practice NFP to avoid and God will still give you a baby. It'll look impossible on your chart, but then there's the positive test and morning sickness to prove it. We discovered that happened to us this week. ;) Extra blessed, despite ourselves.

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    1. Ah, Kelsy, God love you. I've done that three times. Those surprises are the best, though. My 7 month old surprise is such a joy. I can't imagine our family without her!

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  13. I want to give props to the reader who mailed you the question. I'm writing right now about respect in a marriage that uses NFP and I was blown away by the respect that she and her husband show each other in the face of such very long abstinence. It's not easy and I'm sure it hasn't been a video montage of lovely scenes set to beautiful music, but people who disrespect and don't love each other don't go to such lengths to abstain from sex even when they really want (and possibly need!) that connection.

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  14. I read this blog often but have never posted before. I can relate to everything Jennifer said in her letter! NFP is very very hard sometimes, for all the reasons you say. But really I wanted to post a boring practical suggestion about clothing storage: Whenever I buy something like a bedspread or curtain panel, I keep the clear vinyl zippered packaging that it comes in, and I fill those with baby and kid clothes that are ready for storage, sorted by size. The baby clothes bundles go under the crib, tot clothes under the tot's bed, kids under the kid's bed. The bedspread size is best because you can usually fit a whole wardrobe in one. But if small is all you've got, you can break things down further by gender, season, or type of item. And you'd be surprised how many tiny baby clothes you can cram in a pillow sham package. Sure, they come out a little wrinkled, but so does the baby, and he's still cute. ;-)

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  15. On the NFP part, I think it's best to realize that it will always be frustrating, but that suffering is redemptive. It is so good for our marriages to have times of poverty and plenty ;)--but let's not lie: poverty is hard!
    On the practical note: I learned from a mom of 8 to keep about 5-6 outfits/week for every kid, since we do laundry twice a week. More for littles, of course, and then a few nice things for Mass. Almost everything we have is donated or from the thrift store--you can find nearly new things there. When one kid is done with it, it is usually at the end of its life from all the laundering and wear. It's very freeing. It also makes it so each kid gets his own wardrobe, with just a few things handed on. I only save clothing that can still be used.

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  16. We're unfortunately having to be on the nfp side of the fence for now :( 1.5 years of unemployment while my dh looks for a job so he can enter the catholic church and not be a protestant pastor means we are pretty tapped out. We already had one baby during this time, our sweet Meg, who we were totally open to back when things were not nearly so dire and we were making it work. But now? Ugh, I'm afraid our families would disown us if we got pregnant again. But I have long stretches of fertile signs postpartum. Normally we figure 0-6 mos is in the "unlikely, and if it happens we'll call it a God thing and go with it" and then do nfp 6 mos to 12-24 mos depending on the situation. Wait, that's a lie, I never made it past 18 months postpartum before abandoning nfp, lol! Anyway, but here we are going on 4 months of abstinence with no end in sight. ::sigh:: On the plus side I sure do get a lot of work done in the evenings this way ;) I keep telling myself if the priests and nuns can manage for decades surely we'll survive a few months until my husband gets a steady job that doesn't involve delivering pizzas.

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    1. God bless you and your husband Amanda! I read your comment and I just wanted to say, don't worry about your family! Obviously I don't know you or your family, but I have had the same fear (thinking that my family would be so mad if we got pregnant again) but ultimately, the decision, or the surprise of another baby, or whatever ends up happening is not something you have to apologize for or explain to anyone else. Good luck with all the big changes happening in your lives!

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  17. Re storage: I used to try to save every item of clothing - but man, the storage gets crazy after a few kids. A few years ago I went with the philosophy that the thrift store is my storage. Once my kids outgrow something (and given that the latter half of my family alternated boy and girl, so I'd be stuck saving something for at least 3 years before someone else would use it) it goes to some other family (if it's in good condition) or usagain (take clothing that are not usable and makes rags form what I understand). The only things I even think about keeping are winter coats, snow pants, and boots. And my kids still have too many clothes (thanks to hand me downs and kind relatives) so no one's running around naked yet. It's hard to give up the idea of storing clothes (be thrifty! save money! you might just need that exact thing!) but trust me, it really is easier if room is limited. Good luck!

    Re: NFP - I've got nothing. I've never used it seriously - and have a bunch of kids to show for it. ; ) And fertility is a fickle thing. NFP seems to work for some, but others seem to have miracle babies anyhow. I hope you find some peace regarding this!

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    1. yes to the thrift store storage, haha. My husband calls it "renting from Saver's," which is not too...far off.

      As for NFP, we're 3.5 months postpartum with #4 (in 5 years) and we're now learning our third method. So fun. Symptothermal worked not at all once an actual baby was introduced on the scene, and Creighton is really tough for my postpartum signs, so ... onward to Marquette. None of the other methods have "failed" us, per se, and we're thrilled with our 4 and hope for more eventually, but the monthly russian roulette of postpartum NFP has been a major source of anxiety for me. Of course we're open to whatever God wants, but it'll sure be nice to use a method that isn't so subjective and completely dependent upon my memory.

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    2. I feel like Marquette is nfp cheating lol but it's so easy. At least, the charting is.

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    3. We took ALL the classes. I had just signed up for a new method and the teacher had come to our house for a consultation and we explained how Jim had had cancer and we were really serious about postponing, and I turned up pregnant with Anita, so I just didn't call her back when she called to schedule our next session. Then I, obviously pregnant, bumped into her at a fundraiser. Which was . . . a little awkward.

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    4. That's so funny.

      My thing is just - what would you do without Anita??? Whenever I'm afraid I'm pregnant and not prepared for it, I remember how much better my life is with my most surprising baby (now 4). God knew better than me. And I know the Church teaches responsible parenting and I know my husband gets a say, but - I want what He's got for me. He knows better than me. I can't be trusted to make the best decisions for my own life! And if I won't get pregnant, that is a person who never gets to be born. No second chances. I know God has a big plan for all that too, but I really want to err on "had all the babies" and not "was convinced she couldn't handle it."

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  18. My NFP doctor told me that he hoped I could understand my charts, because he was just lost. Sadly, I couldn't. After my third surprise baby- #6 who is 18 months younger than my twins, we abstained for a while. Now, after trying and agonizing over so many stickers, strips and charts, what is actually working for us is basically the rhythm method. The first 7 days of the cycle, then nothing till the next one starts. I don't have a post-ovulatory phase (3 days, maybe?) so we have to use the beginning of the cycle, but to our amazement, we are both feeling okay with how this is going, for the first time ever. There is less bitterness, anger and grief over it than we've ever had before. The is not a recommendation...more just sharing that I am grateful that we have found a place of peace and I hope every other couple who struggles with NFP might enjoy some peace while practicing it, too. I am not sure the peace will last but it is a gift while it does. :)

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    1. We actually do this too, though at the opposite end of the cycle. It's our "dirty little secret;" modern proponents of NFP are always quick to proclaim, "it's not the rhythm method!" like the rhythm method is some horrible thing. Yes, we're somewhat limited, but I don't have to wake up at the same time every day to take my temperature, I don't have to deal with mucous, and I don't have a chart. After trying two different methods of NFP and ending up with 2 babies in the first 2.5 years of marriage, we have done this during the subsequent 7 years and had only one more completely planned baby during that time. It's not for everyone, but if you have cycles that run like clockwork, this totally works, and all it entails is counting the days.

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    2. This is really interesting. I'm so glad you've both found something that works.

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  19. This is really timely. I just found out I am pregnant with #7, and I'm 41. I was hoping the baby train was just about done, but I love and welcome them all. I think in the end it really challenges us. Challenges us to look at our motives for avoiding pregnancy, reminds us the the gift of the marital act is tied to children. Challenges us because men are always ready to fertilize, and women are only ready for a short time each month. And wouldn't you know it, that's the time that women feel ready and willing to accept the marital embrace...hence the kids. It's like God knew what he was doing (wink).

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    1. Me, too. All the "Over 40 means your fertility is zero" hype is a total fiction. Ours was a longshot, but here I am, 15 weeks along. The one thing about actually paying attention to your fertility is that you get to see that in this huge area of your marriage and family, you don't call the shots. It is humbling and awesome (and a little dismaying--not gonna lie!).

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    2. Congratulations Jennifer! I hope you have a happy and healthy pregnancy!

      As someone who has had 4 kids in my 40's, I think the term challenging sums it up well (mostly in a good way!). Though I have to wonder about God's sense of humor at times.

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  20. I am Mormon, but I have loved learning more about your Catholic perspective on family planning. It just makes so much sense. I love what you said about wanting to err on the side of too many babies not too few. It speaks to my heart. I believe that being a mother is what God gave me time to do, so why have I spent so much time and effort forcing my agenda and timeline? I have felt so inspired by your posts on this topic. Thank you for sharing!

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  21. Our second baby was born in June and I had similar period-like bleeding after lochia had stopped and she was 2.5 months old. Br breastfeeding and cosleeping had kept my cycle away for a year with our first so this freaked me out! Turns out that it was just "breakthrough bleeding" and not a period after all. Haven't had bleeding since :) yay!

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  22. Question related to always/never doing NFP: Do you take a pre-natal vitamin all the time? My doctor told me that if we're doing NFP, I should take one every day just in case.... I've just been so lazy about it! What do you do?

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    1. I'm not Kendra, of course, but I do take prenatals all the time. I figure even if I don't end up pregnant after this baby, all of these children have probably depleted my body of something(s), so I may as well keep taking them. Plus, you're advised to take prenatals during breastfeeding and I'm usually nursing or about to be pregnant or pregnant, lol

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    2. Hey Paige, I think it probably IS a good idea for all women of childbearing age to take a prenatal every day. My OB recommends that I take them when nursing or pregnant, which has been always for the past fourteen years.

      I'm not actually all that good at remembering to take them. But we seem okay.

      That said, the recommendation to take a prenatal *because* you're doing NFP sounds like a not-so-subtle jab at NFP. It's not as if women who use contraception don't have unintended pregnancies. But the doctor is giving the impression that artificial contraception is safe and responsible, while NFP is equivalent to nothing at all . . . which is kind of lame.

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    3. I once was told I should take a pregnancy test each month by an ob gyn who didn't think nfp could work. It was a jab, but I saw it as helpful ultimately because it helped me find a more supportive doctor. : )
      I do take a prenatal vitamin every night before bed along with allergy medication. My thought is if you can put taking a multivitamin or prenatal vitamin into your routine, you're more likely to take it.

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  23. Where are you women in my life!!! Seriously, there are few young families in our church but all of them, while seeing our large family, have at some point told me how their husbands got fixed or how they were never going to have more than their two or what-have-you. I only have one sweet friend in "real life" that I can share the struggles of NFP with (though she lives far away). Thank goodness for mommy blogs!

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    1. Check out LIke Mother, Like Daughter and their St. Gregory's pockets to find groups of women who share your values! They have groups that meet up at playgrounds, etc all over the place--even internationally.

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    2. Part of it is that I'm in a rural western NC --- there are very few Catholics here. But I will look more into it - thanks!

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    3. If you ever want to drive up to Chesterfield County, VA, south of Richmond, there is a nice group of Catholic ladies and families sandwiched in been about 1,000 Baptist and Evangelical churches (where some of our friends and neighbors go, but it is tough bc they don't generally "get" certain things like nfp, advent, the rosary, etc). With that said, I sometimes have felt pretty lonely here and then I started doing more stuff up at our parish, about 30 minutes away, and I've made friends with awesome gals, not all the same age or stage, but that's really great too. Made me think of Kendra's daughter helping the older ladies at their church with donuts... that's me at our parish haha

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    4. I have found the little old ladies at daily Mass to be some of the most inspiring -- and they seem to be happy to share their experiences/advice. That is my "retirement goal"...to be a little old lady at daily Mass. I know what you mean about the loneliness; sometimes I feel like a bit of missionary here, teaching that, yes, Catholics are Christians. On the other hand, I like that Christ/faith is more part of everyday life here. Where I'm from, it would be strange and politically incorrect to mention anything religious, much less to pray before a gathering or what-have-you.

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    5. Karyn, I don't know if you'll see this since it's been a few days but I live in Charlotte, NC and might be able to connect you with some ladies. I've been thrilled to find like-minded Catholics here after always being the "large family" with just 4 kids, lol! Now we're one of several large families at our parish and not the largest at all with 5.

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    6. Amanda, that is so sweet of you to reach out, thank you! I still live about three hours west of Charlotte (in Transylvania county). I'm so glad you have found "your people" :)

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  24. @Paige - Every woman is different, of course, but I've found that for me, a vitamin cocktail of prenatals and iron is an essential part of feeling like myself, whether pregnant, nursing, or none. If I get forgetful and skip a few days, I'll hit a wall after about 3 - 4 days and I just won't be able to pick myself up out of bed. If I were you, I would figure out what makes you feel good and energized and go from there.

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  25. I had a point on our marriage where I really struggled, where my husband wanted to use NFP to avoid pregnancy and I wanted to be open to having a baby. My husband felt like he was going insane. We had 5 at the time, and the 5th never left his side except when he was at work and was a hard baby. It was hard for me, but what could I do? I asked if we could pray every month that God would let us know His will if He wanted us to stop using NFP and be open again. My husband agreed. He's an awesome man. 3 months later he was ready again and past the insane point and we had another and later another. I'm nursing #7 now...gave birth to him at 43!
    For clothes storage, I save the best, donate the rest for the girls, and for the boys I send all my oldests clothes to his cousins and later get their clothes (and some of my sons clothes that survived) back for my young boys. It is so nice not to store it all!

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  26. Kendra,

    The academic literature on human fertility return after birth has information on what is known as the "six week bleed" (usually between 6-8 weeks post-partum) as distinct from lochia, for women who are breastfeeding their infant. It is not an actual period, although many OB's/midwives/NP's who observe this bleeding at the 6 week check-up will mistakenly tell their patient that they "have their period." It is associated with an overall statistically earlier return to fertility than average for women who don't have it, but fertility return is usually months off still.
    I specialize in NFP instruction for the post-partum/breastfeeding transition to fertility and regular cycles. It's times like these, especially for those intending to avoid pregnancy, than an NFP instructor comes in handy. At the time you published this post, you were most probably still in lactation induced infertility. I hope that helps solve the mystery.

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    1. Yes, I think you're right. My OB told me it was a period, but I wonder if they just have to be overcautious, so they don't get sued. :P

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  27. Wow, what a great, refreshing post! I have to say that my favorite part is your response when people ask how many children you want to have. "All of them." Perfect. This would really come in handy for me. My husband and I have been married 3.5 years and have 2 children. I come from a small family, but my husband is one of twelve kids, and whenever anyone learns that bit of trivia and notices our two close in age, they ask - aghast - if WE are also going to have TWELVE children. I never know what to say, because honestly it's just the stupidest question.

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