Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Parents.

So the other day, I was browsing the comments below an article I had read about NFP. I can't even remember what the article was about but of course the comments went on and on as people both criticized and defended Natural Family Planning. In the midst of it all, one person who had been harshly criticizing NFP in previous comments, posted a joke which I'm sure was meant to be offensive to NFPers but which I took as the highest compliment.
"What do you call people who use NFP?"
"Parents."



I love it!! If that's an insult, then I want that guy to write a lot more jokes that I'm supposed to be the butt of! I love being a parent. No, it's not easy, but I'll tell you what - it's easier than I thought it'd be. And I'm so grateful to be where I am, to be who I am today. I can't tell you how many mothers I have heard say "I would never have chosen to get pregnant when I did, but I wouldn't change it for the world." 

When I got pregnant, the circumstances were anything but ideal. Initially, we were terrified. But we were also already so in love with our child. Our love for our baby was so much stronger than our many fears and doubts. During my pregnancy, I finished a year of teaching, my husband got a great job, we moved to a new city, made new friends... the list goes on. By the time I gave birth, just a week shy of our one year anniversary, our lives had completely changed in ways we could have never imagined. In ways we would have never chosen for ourselves. In ways which have brought me more joy than I could have planned for. 

I'll be perfectly honest. I would not have chosen to get pregnant when I did. If my husband and I were in charge, we would have waited until we thought we were emotionally and financially "stable enough." I would say that waiting for this ambiguous concept of "stability" is the number one reason why couples postpone pregnancy. Rocky and I could have made a list a mile long about our doubts, faults, concerns, sad bank account statements... countless reasons to not have a baby. But we trusted. We trusted God with our lives, with the most intimate part of our lives - our sexuality and fertility. And he gave us a baby. A beautiful, smart, loving, fantastic little baby. He also gave us a new community to live in. New friends to grow with. New opportunities to explore. As long as the list was of reasons not to have a baby was, the list of blessings we received from God through having a baby is so much longer. 
A common criticism NFP users often get is that we are procreating with reckless abandon, not caring if we've filed for bankruptcy and are living off of the government, and are already neglecting the children we currently have, etc. Now, I can't speak for every couple who practices NFP. I can only speak for myself and my husband. We were not in an ideal situation when we got pregnant, but not irresponsibly so. We were both healthy, happy, we were managing our bills, so on and so forth. And once I became pregnant, we had this whole new motivation to improve our lives, find better jobs, etc. I can honestly say, we are living a way higher quality of life now because we had a baby.



I would never support "reckless, irresponsible procreation" as the NFP critics like to say, nor would any person who truly understands what NFP is all about. It is always important to assess your current situation and whether or not pregnancy is an option at that time. This is why NFP is a month-to-month (or more accurately a cycle-to-cycle) process. Each month presents an opportunity for a couple to conceive a child. If the couple, with their powers of reason, the marital grace given them, and with the guidance of the Holy Spirit conclude that is would not be in the best interest of their family to conceive that month, then they abstain from sex during the wife's fertile days. If they conclude conception is desired, then they can use the wife's fertile period to conceive a child. The absence of contraception is the couple's way of saying to each other "I love you fully, completely, and with holding nothing back for myself." And it's the couple's way of saying to God, "Lord, we are yours, we trust you, and we hold nothing back for ourselves."

There is no such thing as NFP "not working." Critics often use this argument as well. When they say NFP "doesn't work" what they mean is "NFP isn't contraceptive enough for us." They view NFP as the Church's only "legal" form of contraception, but they then see couples having babies, so they think, "well, it obviously doesn't work; it doesn't stop conception from happening." And this is where they are missing a huge piece of the puzzle. NFP is not contraception. It is a system meant to allow the couple to join God's plan for their family. To put God's plans and needs before their own. So even when a couple conceive a child during a month in which they had not planned it, no one loses. No matter how difficult the circumstances, no matter how dire the situation, the couple sees this new life as beautiful, and trusts the Lord's sovereignty in their lives. 

I read a great book while I was pregnant called Expecting a Miracle, by Jaymie Stuart Wolfe. In it, she addresses this concept, after discovering she was pregnant with her fourth child:

     All I could do was panic. My husband had lost his job three months before. The house we were living in was already too small. We already had three children in one bedroom, and our bedroom was being used as a temporary office for my husband's fledgling business. We didn't have the time, the space, or the money for yet another child. We didn't have medical insurance either. I couldn't escape the anxiety of wondering what in the world would happen to us. 
    What did actually happen was astonishing: nothing. Nothing much happened! ...We struggled, but we managed... While all my worst fears never materialized, something quite wonderful did. God added, and continued to add, more beautiful children to our family.
It wasn't until they had a total of six children before her husband returned to the security of a normal job and they were able to start paying off the hospital bills. She goes on to detail the many joys and beauties of each and every one of her children. Children whom she could not imagine life without, but whom she perhaps would not have chosen had she left her fertility up to herself.

Now, everyone's situations are different. And each couple, each family has its own set of difficulties. When you hear some of these stories, you think, of course! Of course you don't want to get pregnant right now, considering your circumstances. You hear these stories and you think, yes! Yes, it would be nearly impossible for me to practice NFP if I were in your situation. But God calls us to radical faith; to trust that nothing is impossible with Him. I've come to realize that if Rocky and I were to decide to use contraception to postpone pregnancy just because we have a list a mile long of reasons to wait, then we would not only be showing doubt in our own abilities, but also in God's abilities, and most importantly, His ability to work miracles in our lives.



NFP truly is not an easy road, but it's a beautiful road. I am grateful beyond measure for all the joy that Gemma has brought to my life, and I get so excited at the prospect of future children, if that is God's plan for my family. I will joyfully accept any and all children that the Lord blesses me and Rocky with. In my moments of fear, I remind myself that St. Catherine of Siena was the youngest of 25 children! 25!!!! It's nearly impossible for us to fathom that, but it's also difficult to imagine a world without her beautiful, holy influence. I thank God her parents didn't call it quits after number 24. And in my moments of extreme fear, I remind myself that before God gives me a child to parent, that child was first His, and He would not give me a child that I could not care for.

I don't know about you, but I love my baby girl
and I can't wait to meet any future babies God blesses me with!


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9 comments:

  1. Perfectly stated in every way. Great post!! Loved it!

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  2. I came by your blog after you stopped by my Wordless Wednesday post of my daughter in roller skates. I happened to find this precious post of yours and I LOVE it! Great job on explaining NFP and what a blessing it truly is (despite what the world and everyone else tells us). My hubby and I are certified teachers of NFP through The Couple to Couple League, although we haven't taught in a little while. Thank you for embracing and promoting the Church's teaching on Marriage and Family! God bless! Tracy at "A Slice of Smith Life"
    http://www.asliceofsmithlife.blogspot.com

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  3. <3 <3 <3 Your blog is such a blessing!!

    ReplyDelete
  4. wow amazingly put! This was a great post!

    ReplyDelete

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