You may be thinking, “How can anyone get annoyed by NFP Awareness Week? It’s like the most harmless topic ever, right?” (NFP= Natural Family Planning)
Well I am here to tell you why.
You might be tempted to think I am just a crazy infertile lady getting on a soap box…which may partially be true. And I am taking progesterone currently, which could be making me ranty.
BUT I honestly think that even if I was a little fertile-myrtle, I would still be annoyed by some attitudes surround NFP today. No, not ALL NFP Awareness posts are annoying. There are definitely good ones. Just some attitudes that come through a few posts out there are what grate my nerves.
Sit back, relax, and let’s take a stroll into my thoughts…in numerical order.
Sts. Joachim and Anne’s Feast Day
It’s been said that this particular week was chosen for NFP Awareness Week since it ends on the Feast Day of Sts. Joachim and Anne, parents of Mary. I guess they could be chosen as patrons for the week since there definitely wasn’t any other method of family planning besides natural methods, if any, back in their day.
An attitude I’ve noticed around NFP, even in faithful Catholc circles (gasp!), is that it allows women to get pregnant when they want to and to avoid a pregnancy when they want to…which is more or less opposite of Sts. Joachim and Anne’s story.
Sts. Joachim and Anne battled bareness. “Tradition holds that these saints struggled with infertility and were childless for decades. Like other barren couples in Scripture (eg. Abraham and Sarah, Elkanah and Hannah), sterility was a great burden to Joachim and Anne and even a hindrance to their participation in community life. A story told of St. Joachim relates that he wanted to offer sacrifice in the temple but was turned away because of his childlessness. He retreated into the mountains to air his grievance with God, and during this time both he and his wife received an angelic prophecy of Anne’s pregnancy.”
They are now patrons for couples longing to have the blessing of children in their marriage which means a great deal to me. Not only since we have infertility, but because I was born on their Feast Day – July 26th. They are my personal patron saints and have been all my lifelong since birth…so in many ways I feel like they have my back in this whole infertility thing and they are powerful intercessors for Jonathan and I.
I just can’t help but feel like they would sort of cringe at the general NFP attitudes of today…that using NFP to conceive always works out and that using NFP to avoid pregnancy always works out. They know to their core that it simply doesn’t always work out and would want more couples to simply surrender their fertility to the Lord no matter the outcome which is at the heart of NFP anyway.
They are happy to intercede for anything so I am sure they aren’t mad about being NFP Awareness Week patrons. I just want to steal them for Infertility Awareness instead. 🙂
“Because my body is a gift and that gift includes Motherhood” emphasis added
I don’t want to be too hard on the girl who said this, since MOST women’s vocation to marriage will include motherhood. But this phrase oozes with entitlement and the attitude that children are a right and not a gift. They are assumed to be had…and I guess most women can assume motherhood but even if those desires come to fruition this attitude is still dangerous since it lacks abandonment to God or an openness to a different plan.
“Because the ability to create life is a superpower that I’m proud to have.”
Spiderman represents all women who want to act like no one has any reproductive issues and that we are all just fertile superheros. I am The Hulk.
This phrase makes me, an infertile woman, feel like a nobody. I am a loser. I didn’t get the superpower. God forgot to give that one to me…or at least he allowed the brokeness in our world to shut my superpowers off and NFP doesn’t work for me like it does for you. Ouch.
The ability to create life lies in GOD’S hands alone, lady. We can be co-creators, yes, but its still 100% dependent on His will for our fertility. It’s not 50/50. If anyone is the superhero in reproduction, it’s God, the author of life.
Sure, it’s OK to be proud to have conceived. I think the better response would be humility…to be so humbled that God would bestow this gift within you that you simply overflow with gratitude like Our Lady.
Lastly, yes, the ability to co-create life is AMAZING and its part of our “feminine genius.” But not all women will bear children either by nature or vocation…so I think our REAL superpowers should be drawn from the fact that we are daughters of the Almighty King of Heaven and Earth. That Jesus Christ came and died for our sins and we are redeemed by His sacrifice…and we can GIVE LIFE to others by sharing that truth with them. That’s the only “superpower” that will last our whole lifelong and for eternity…and it’s not even our doing, it’s God’s!
“I use NFP because I’m proud to be a fertile healthy woman!”
This statement, although I get where she’s coming from, make those women who are NOT fertile and healthy feel like they don’t deserve to use NFP. It’s as if it was only created for these fertile healthy gals and not the broken ones, which just isn’t true.
Insert Hulk punch one more time.
Because we can’t PLAN our life and I dislike false claims that NFP (Natural Family Planning) provides this type of control.
I’m not the only one who’s thought about this.
This is what my life looks like when I try to control it.
There probably are women out there who end up planning every pregnancy and perfectly space their kiddos just right. I honestly don’t know many of them though. Verrrry little women have the luxury of planning all their kiddos precisely, fertile or infertile. I read this article recently and found it refreshing. Here’s a couple of her points:
“But here’s the thing. It’s actually pretty unlikely that you were ever going to have as many kids as I do. What I observe is that it’s MUCH more likely that you won’t have as many children as you’d like to have.”
“When I was a newlywed, it never would have occurred to me that I wouldn’t have just as many kids as I could possibly want. And I have. But I know enough now to not take it for granted. I’ve brought hundreds of prayer requests from readers along with us on our pilgrimages, and almost HALF of them have been prayers for a child, or another child.”“But just know, from me, that if you turn up pregnant despite your best efforts, it’s likely to be the best thing that ever happens to you. Every single time. And if you don’t turn up pregnant, despite your best efforts, it’s likely to be the biggest cross of your life. “They” won’t tell you that. But you should know. So you won’t be worried about the wrong things.”
I know a LOT of women who have children. A few here and there are those “lucky ones” who have picturesque fertility and get to plan out every child and experience healthy pregnancy. A majority of the others either have experienced infertility (primary or secondary), miscarriage, high risk pregnancies, pre-term labor, unplanned pregnancies, extended delay of fertility returning while breastfeeding, and even continual pregnancy one after another despite adhering to NFP rules. Every one of those is a challenge that nobody plans.
My Senior year of High School yearbook quote has come back to haunt me time and again. “We plan, God laughs.” I have NO CLUE why I chose it then. What plans had I really seen altered at age seventeen? That superficial relationship with some boy that didn’t pan out and was unhealthy anyway? The point of that quote though is that being “in control” is typically an illusion and we can’t plan our lives…or our fertility a vast majority of the time. We can make informed choices about our sexuality and the rest is up to the guy upstairs.
I’m gonna stop there even thought I could keep on going. Five points are enough and I have likely scandalized a majority of you anyhow…because how could I not *LOOOVE* NFP like a good Catholic wife?
Moral of The Story
NFP in and of itself does not make me angry. Neither does the fact that it has an Awareness Week.
Jonathan and I use the Creighton Model of NFP to try to achieve pregnancy (for nearly three years) and will continue to do so. It also happens to be a form of NFP that allows doctors to see what is wrong with my cycle so we can get closer to possibly achieving a pregnancy. Very cool indeed.
What I dislike are potential attitudes I’ve absolutely seen in some articles during NFP Awareness Week and even in conversations about NFP in gerenal. Attitudes of entitlement, power, control, and manipulation.
At the end of the day, NFP is healthier for women than artificial contraception. Duh. It’s a really cool way to understand a woman’s biological makeup and cycle. It’s a method that allows women to get a peak into their reproductive health and identify problems that may exist. It’s in line with Church teaching at it’s core since it doesn’t disrupt the sexual act or manipulate fertility in any way. It’s truly unique and hands down the safest, healthiest, and best method of making informed reproductive decisions out there.
Motives matter. Using NFP like contraception can be dangerous. What I would like to see during NFP Awareness Week is not secular reasons why women should replace contraception with NFP. Or articles that attempt to defy similar pro contraception posts. That misses the point entirely.
I want to see the heart of the matter explored – That God is ultimately in control…of our lives and that includes our fertility. That human life is not something to fear but to embrace. That the sexual act is sacred and is filled with potential to co-create with God when He chooses.
I want more articles about THAT. Less articles that try to sell the Church’s teachings as a replacement for contraception and more about WHY the Church elevates sexuality to such heights so as to protect it with something as simple and natural like NFP.