NFP is NOT the Rhythm Method (Part 2)

After realizing that the Pill was making me bonkers we decided to try out NFP….

[Part II – the Fertility Awareness Method]
When I stopped taking the Pill I didn’t expect to notice an immediate difference. Surprisingly, the first week or two off the Pill were markedly different than the past four months had been. I still stressed myself out by trying to do everything I thought I should as a now-married [and therefore] adult. It took more than going off the Pill to straighten those issues out, lol, and even now I sometimes catch myself heading into an emotional tailspin over something that doesn’t actually matter. The biggest difference I noticed off the bat was that I could attribute all of my emotions to events in real life. On the Pill I’d experience ferocious anger and/or sadness out of the blue, and I was powerless to control my emotions. Matt would ask what was wrong, and I couldn’t say anything other than that I felt so sad or so angry. Not having a reason didn’t make it any less real or intense, and I couldn’t rationalize my way back to a stable place. While I was in pieces, it was also devastating for Matt because he couldn’t fix me or help me, so he was left feeling like a failure.

I need to explain how bad things were so that it makes sense for me to say that off the Pill it was amazing to be able to connect my emotions with reality – I was sad that our bread had gone mouldy, or I was annoyed to wait 20 minutes for a bus. Having emotions was no longer something terrifying that happened to me, it was how I responded to events. Matt also noticed that I was generally happier and more relaxed, meaning he could relax and let his guard down too!

At some point around this time, Matt and I went to a seminar on NFP at a Catholic church in the city. I was surprised how many other couples were there, not to mention how young and normal-seeming they were! I had always thought that NFP was for hippies and/or people who wanted to have giant families (going off the Pill made me less crazy, not less judgy!). To put it in a nutshell, however, this approach simply recognizes that women have a fertility window of 6-7 days per cycle that they can become pregnant. The trick is knowing when those days are, and it’s NOT always the same! NFP means observing signs of fertility in your body as your cycle occurs so that you can anticipate when that window of fertility is occurring in order to achieve or avoid pregnancy (by doing it or not doing it y’all, in case that wasn’t clear :P). At the end of the night, we were definitely not ready to sign up for one-on-one coaching to put NFP into practice, but a lot of my misconceptions had been challenged, and Matt and I both felt that it could be a lot more reliable and definitely more feasible than we’d thought before that night.

I’m not 100% sure how I heard of Toni Weschler and her book Taking Charge of Your Fertility, but I now recommend it to EVERYone I know! I borrowed it from a friend (borrowed it for 2 years lol, but she has it back now), but most libraries have it, and I have told countless people to get their hands on a copy and read it! The book outlines a style of NFP called the Fertility Awareness Method (FAM). The main difference between FAM and the traditional Catholic approach to NFP (NOT the rhythm method which is not really useful for anything except lame jokes) is that using artificial contraception during fertile times is not forbidden.

Reading this book and learning to chart my cycle was such a huge breakthrough in understanding and embracing how my body was designed to work with regard to fertility, and I loved watching each month go by as my charts filled up with information and I started to anticipate how my waking temperature or cervical position would change, when I could be sure that I had ovulated, and when to expect my period. That was a big deal because one of my favourite things about being on the Pill was my sense of control, especially never being surprised by my period. The difference was that being on the Pill actually hijacked my cycle, so while I knew when I would bleed, I actually had no idea what was going on with my body. The first few months off the Pill were difficult to chart because my cycles were really inconsistent as my body cleared out the old fake hormones and remembered how to do its thing, but it wasn’t too long before I got the hang of it and I loved it!

Then what? (Still to come)

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