Friday, March 23, 2012

When NFP works too well

I'm not pregnant yet.

I just figured I'd break my blog silence with that non-announcement, since it's what many people seem to wonder!

When we first started using NFP, I was all about having babies. ASAP.  I was hoping to have a bunch of kids close together in age. I was hoping to not even bother with NFP between the children, and just let breastfeeding (aka God) decide how fast and furious they would come.

It turns out that for me - the completely average woman - breastfeeding is in fact very effective at suppressing fertility. Even when I progressed from nursing on demand to nursing on routine, my body was still too focused on the present baby to even think about another. Once we got down to consistently going more than four hours between nursing, my fertility started to return, and at just over a year it had for the most part regulated itself. So naturally, a clear reason to postpone pregnancy had to crop up. Despite my longing for another child, we were back to phase 2 abstinence.

I admit, the idea of "accidentally" getting pregnant fluttered through my mind. We could just let everyone else assume it was unintentional and that NFP doesn't work. But NFP does indeed work, particularly if you're motivated. I am completely confident that we will not have any surprise pregnancies. Darn it.

Apparently I still have to wait a while before I get to be a joyful witness to the blessings of a large - and clearly Catholic - family. Our first two children will be more than two years apart, like so many other contracepting families. No Irish twins here!

But that's okay. Because trusting God when it comes to your family size does not have to mean being pregnant again bam!bam!bam! It means drawing together with your husband to discern your own family's call. And that in itself, regardless of pregnancy, is a success of NFP.

So no, I'm not pregnant yet. Because NFP works too well.

22 comments:

  1. Hooray, so glad you are back! And yes, I know all too well how well NFP works. Dang it.

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  2. So happy for this post! the fear and hope of becoming pregnant by surprise never really goes away. and yes, NFP works very well. Darn it. :)

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  3. Same here - except for me, breastfeeding works too well! My first two children (not counting the one in heaven) will likely be nearly if not more than four years apart, because it took 2 1/2 years for my cycle to return after my first, 4 months (trying) to get pregnant after that, followed by a miscarriage at 8 weeks, followed by waiting until after at least the first cycle to "try again" (we're still in the "waiting" phase, so who knows when I'll get pregnant again). So, sometimes just plain "God's timing" works too well - we'll have four year spacing without having used anything other than breastfeeding to get there. But I recognize that we're in the minority...

    Of course, I do know quite a few people who DID get pregnant "by surprise" using NFP. In my limited experience from observing friends, NFP "works" great at planning/spacing pregnancies if you have regular cycles, and are older vs. younger. Doesn't work as well (but still *works* in the real sense it's meant to, keeping couples open to God's will, and in every case, those "surprise" babies have been just what their parents needed, if not wanted at the moment) in couples with irregular cycles and high fertility. At the end of the day, it does indeed rest in God's will for each family - which sometimes just turns out to be different than our own plans, thank heaven!

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  4. I'm so glad you're back, too. Hope you're going to be back to blogging regularly! I've missed it!

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  5. I've been thinking about you guys! And, yes -- wondering about babies :) But you are right: there's nothing wrong with giving yourself some time!

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  6. You're back! I was just checking your blog last week thinking my reader must've been broken.

    NFP does work...that's for sure. Much like you, I had hoped to have my children much closer together. We did have serious reasons to avoid after my fertility returned after the birth of our son, so we did. But when those reasons were finally taken away, flipping the switch, so to say, wasn't so easy for us. Two years and three miscarriages later, we are finally expecting again in August.

    God is so good. I'd rather eait on his timing then make my demands any day.

    Welcome back!

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  7. What a joy to have faith in God's plan, and to accept not being pregnant as His will. I'm not prego, either. *matchy* :) Totally for a different reason (haha), but hey? It all falls into faith in His timing. Yay! You're back!

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  8. It's great to have you back. :)

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  9. just the post I needed to read. I am in your boat as well, though my baby is just turning one

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  10. Welcome back!
    Love the sentiment and the openess!

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  11. So glad to see a post! I'm a little envious at this point, now that I'm 3 months postpartum and having fertility signs. Boo. :) It may not be what you wanted, but it could be good in the long run, really--the first two close together weren't so bad, but the third one kicked my derriere. And the fourth...Whew!

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  12. Haha I love hearing this. My little guy was born within a few days of your daughter and I'm in the "Breastfeeding works too well..." boat.

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  13. So glad you're back! Yes, NFP works very well. Hubby and I have been using it to postpone for the past year, as it was just over a year ago that I stopped nursing Maggie and about three weeks later my fertility returned. It's been a long year, but once the last of the dental work is done (in two weeks!) we get to start trying again. So excited!

    I was not hoping for kids really close together, because I knew I wouldn't be able to handle it. BUT, I too hate that most people who meet me will assume we contracept because we'll have kids (at least) two years apart.
    Oh well, I could always get that "birth control is for sissies" t-shirt that Calah has!

    Great to have you back!

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  14. Oh how I wish breastfeeding suppressed my fertility! Even feeding on demand, my cycles returned after just a short 7 weeks. We have Irish twins out the wahzoo and I must say it can be a bit overwhelming. We just had baby #5 and our oldest is only 5 1/2. Yeah, I also wish we were better at using NFP...

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  15. wow, I could have written this blog post, thanks for saying what has been going through my head, but much more eloquently!...Our first two will be close to 4 years apart if we get pregnant in the next 6 months.
    -Kim

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  16. I'm so glad to see that you might be back to blogging again, sometime soon. I'm with you with the frustrations... my children will be at least 3 years apart if we get no surprises. I wish with all my heart we could start trying again in the next 6 months, but we're pretty certain God is telling us to wait and enjoy what we have!

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  17. Missed you guys at the conference this year. God bless your family and marriage!

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  18. So great to hear something from you! I love the two ways that NFP is working here. One in that you can choose to avoid if you need to, but more importantly that you're disappointed that you have to! That may be my absolute favorite thing about NFP. :)

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  19. Glad to see you're back!! Though my cycle "returned" when Doc was 7 months (even though he was bf every 2 hrs day and night! However he was breastfeeding enough that it was keeping me from getting pregnant. So yes, your words are true for me too! Doc was 20m before I finally got preganant. I am in the same boat as Abby sadly because we miscarried our baby. Doc was still nursing (only once or twice a day) but in the past 3 days...he hasn't! I guess he might be done which is sad for me but his choice. He is 24m so I suppose it is okay though lol. Right now we are using NFP to figure out if I have hormone imbalance issues. Praying God blesses us again soon. :)

    Welcome back, missed your blogging!

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  20. You're back! :) Loved this post! Glad to see you sharing this super important point of NFP! It's not just about having babies willy nilly! :)

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  21. I stumbled on your blog after it was linked from another. I love your enthusiasm for a large family. A larger-than-average family is appealing to me as well. And I'm sorry, maybe I shouldn't mention it, and maybe I'm only reading it wrong since I'm not as familiar with your writing, but the phrase 'Our first two children will be more than two years apart, like so many other contracepting families.' hit me the wrong way.

    It's kind of a reckless statement. First, a lot of hurt has been done in catholic circles assuming one is contracepting or not "catholic enough" if one's kids are 2+ years apart. Your whole post is about breastfeeding making that space possible; there are tons of non-contracepters who have that spacing just like you. Your post seems to imply having one's children at a rate of a contracepting culture is less virtuous somehow.

    Secondly, we need to realize the way we raise our babies does affect our own fertility. This doesn't speak exactly to your article, but our bodies were never intended to give birth every year, year after year. Traditional childrearing practicies of co sleeping, babywearing, feeding on demand, made that VERY infrequent. It was closer to 3-4 year apart. That style of parenting isn't always feasible or practical in our culture, but I think it's importatn to be aware of how our creator made us and the rhythms between the mother/infant dyad. It's not wrong to have children so close, but it bugs me when people assume it's the biological norm when using no NFP/Contraception. It's simply the biological norm IN THIS CULTURE when not using NFP/Contraception.

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