NFP is NOT the Rhythm Method (Part 3)

[Part III – Making a Baby]
Don’t worry – there aren’t too many details in this one! 😉

If you’ve been following along, you’ve read about my terrible experience on the Pill when I first got married and about the delight of discovering FAM. Let me emphasize how very great FAM was for us as a couple – we were not longer terrified of my horrific and senseless emotional crises, and we were communicating tons about whatever magic estrogen and progesterone were working in my body.

Side note: Matt knows so much stuff about lady cycles now! He had coffee with a youth whose girlfriend was trying to rope him into chancing sex with her because she was “very in tune with her body,” and it was hilarious. Matt had a lot of questions to ask with a lot of words this kid didn’t know, and thus he convinced him that knowing how many days had passed since your period started wasn’t actually that “in tune” with anything. While I’m on this little diversion about women being sensitive about their fertility, I have to say that unless you’re using this sense to try for a baby, don’t use that sense to make baby-making decisions. Also, don’t use a fertility app or online chart-your-bidness feature. READ THIS BOOK. ON PAPER. I mention this in honour of my dear friend who got married, knew that Matt and I do NFP, read some stuff on the internet, followed her gut and now has a 10 month old son. He’s the handsomest baby I’ve ever seen in my life, and he’s the happiest surprise I think she and her husband ever had. It is WONDERFUL, but it makes me feel the need to emphasize that this is something to learn and practice, not to jump into one day because you don’t “feel” fertile.)

It took a few months of charting before Matt and I were brave enough to take the leap and trust the chart and the rules and… you know. Over time though, it got less scary, and as I continued to learn about charting and we kept not getting pregnant, it became really second nature to chart and communicate and make FAM work for us. We also realized (because we hadn’t had anything to compare it to before) that the Pill had been causing sexual as well as emotional side effects, and not having THOSE in the mix was… great! It was also really nice never to wonder if I was a couple days “late”. Menstrual cycles can be divided into two phases with ovulation in the middle, and an irregular cycle length is almost always due to variation in the length of the first phase. Charting allowed me to identify when I ovulated and therefore to predict when my cycle would end, regardless if it was 26 days long or 55 (seriously, both of those numbers happened). Although my cycle length varied, my period never started later than 14 days after I ovulated.

Until this Summer. And this is the other reason I love NFP. According to my average cycle length (which had been pretty consistent over the past two years; wild exceptions were usually attributable to stress like travel or illness or an anovulatory cycle the previous month), I needn’t have expected my period for 3-5 more days, BUT I knew that I had ovulated earlier than usual (meaning the first phase of my cycle was short), and I did NOT want Aunt Flo to surprise me at work, so I packed my purse and prepared for the worst. Thursday passed, and I made it home from work, went to my Zumba class, and hung out with a friend. I started feeling really sick and crampy and figured things would get started soon, but then Friday I woke up to my highest temperature in the history of me charting. Normally my waking temperature drops due to the hormonal changes that trigger a period, so I knew something was up.

I don’t think the possibility that I was pregnant really sunk in until later that morning at work, and I spent the whole day wrestling with thinking about it but also paying attention to what I was doing and not making mistakes! When I got home I texted my friend Jo that I MIGHT be a little bit pregnant but didn’t want to waste money on a test if I wasn’t. The more I thought about it though, and the more I looked back on all my charts from the past year, the more I realized that something was definitely not normal. So I went on a walk in the rain to buy a test for peace of mind, said a little prayer to share my heart with God, and then… found out I was pregnant for reals.

Other than asking if we’re planning to find out the gender (the answer is not before the baby’s born), the most common question people asked when we told them about our pregnancy was if we’d been trying. Remember how I said I ovulated really early? The thing is, we weren’t trying to get pregnant, but we knew we were breaking the rules of FAM, that if I had a short cycle there could theoretically be a baby at the end of it. Was I surprised to see the second blue line? Totally. But not surprised like, “Hey your birthday’s not for 8 more months, but here’s concert tickets for a present!” surprised like “Hey it’s your birthday, want to come hang out for a quiet get together SURPRISE it’s a party!!” Especially if in hindsight you realize there were 30 pairs of shoes in the entryway and cars parked all down the street.

It took me way too long to come up with those examples.

The moral of the story is that FAM has been totally worth the learning curve and slight sense of danger. It has been reliable as a method of preventing pregnancy, and it has been empowering for me as a woman with a menstrual cycle. I’m enjoying the break while I’m pregnant but will definitely be picking it back up after the Truck arrives (yeah we call our baby the Truck so we can say fun things like “let’s get the Truck out of here”). If you are at all interested in FAM/NFP, check out that book and send me an email! alyssa at movingwithGod dot com. It’s good for more than just achieving/preventing pregnancy because it never hurts to understand your body.

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