The One Where I Was Minding My Own Business — Answering Pre-Operation Questions…

Last Thursday morning, I had to be at the hospital at the ungodly hour of 6:00 a.m. to prepare for surgery. Before having surgery, there’s a whole mess of stuff you have to do — a pre-operation visit two weeks ahead of time where they tell you every little thing that *might* go wrong so that they cover their butts if any of that stuff actually happens; Post-operation visits scheduled; papers to sign. You know all that stuff.

The point of the 2-week pre-operation visit is so that the morning of surgery, basically all the papers are signed, you’re well aware of what is about to take place, you have asked all your questions and so the morning of surgery — it’s like a cake walk. No problem. Easy-peasy.

On Thursday morning, quite quickly, I was taken back to a room where a nurse would continue prepping me for surgery. I had gotten up at 3:30 a.m. to take a shower with antibacterial soap and put on comfy clothes. I had my medical insurance card and my driver’s license ready to go. I went back and the nurse started with all the questions.

What caught me up was this exchange:

RN (asking what seems to be a “standard” question): Are you still getting periods or able to get pregnant?

Me: Yes

RN: Do you want us to complete a tubal ligation while we are in there today?

Me: No.

RN: We will need to do a quick urine pregnancy test to make sure you are not pregnant.

Me: Okay. I am ovulating right now.

RN, looking a bit startled and with a funny look on her face: Hmm, isn’t that interesting how some people are able to figure that out about themselves…?

First of all — I’d like to tackle the question she asked me about doing a “tubal ligation while we are in there…” Wow. Where to start. So, I am in there for a procedure completely unrelated to sterilzation, but they ask me if I would like to be sterilized, “while they are in there”? What is this, McDonald’s? Oh, having a medical issue addressed, would you like a tubal with that?

Okay, in my head, I kind of get it — it saves time and money if he’s already “in there” meaning completed an incision in that area of my body — to just get it out of the way and cut/tie my tubes, right? But part of me thinks… WHOA, Nellie! I don’t want to break my body — I’m trying to fix it!!

Now, as I mentioned before, we had to spend some time in prayer and discernment before the decision was made to go forward and have this procedure done, because it is not a prudent use of time and resources if we were to have more children (biologically) after we have the procedure done. But we’re blessed to know NFP…we had some really awesome instructors that gave us all the information we needed to be really good at NFP. We’ve never been surprised completely by a pregnancy, and we understand the need to practice conservatively going forward to avoid pregnancy. When we’ve actively sought to avoid pregnancy, we’ve been successful every time, so we feel very confident that we can do this the remainder of our fertile years. But all of this was decided before we went into the hospital on Thursday.

What saddens me is to think that there is the possibility that a Catholic woman, perhaps not as well versed in NFP or in Catholic theology might be faced with that question. And ultimately, if they are having the procedure done, fully knowing they should not have any more children, but are simply taking a pill or something to avoid pregnancy — they might be quick to say, “oh heck yeah, just do that while you’re in there.” There are psychological ramifications with sterilization (whether they will admit it or not) and a woman might not take those into account, and later have problems with the fact she was asked if she “wanted a tubal with that” some years back and went ahead with it. Of course maybe not, too, right?

It also occurred to me that women are asked this question (“Would you like a tubal ligation…”) at the most inopportune times to be answering the question with a clear head. I was asked if I wanted a tubal ligation when I arrived at the hospital to deliver my dear sweet Gregory, who had already gone on to Jesus in heaven. Yeah…not quite the best emotional state of mind. And many women are headed in for a c-section when they are asked this question. And sometimes, it’s baby number 3 or 4 or 5 and women are asked this question while they are laboring or shortly after giving birth. I guess in our society, the question itself is something that begs to be asked given our society’s stance on family size and all — the biggest problem I have is the timing.

The best part of this conversation, however, is the last part though. I LOVE that I was able to tell her I was ovulating — and I knew that I was! I had received a HIGH reading on my monitor on Wednesday morning, felt my physical signs of ovulation during the day Wednesday, taken a digital OPK test Wednesday night that indicated ovulation was on its way and then my monitor registered the PEAK reading Thursday morning before I headed to the hospital. Now, how freaking cool is that? I love being able to know what my body is doing and when. It also completely validated my scheduling of all my appointments (my only instruction was that I could NOT have the procedure during menstruation).

The RN seemed a bit confounded that anyone could know that about themselves. And I think that’s sad. I mean, we have millions of health care professionals who have birth control pills and sterilization shoved down their throats as the only means to help people “plan” their families and so they are completely caught unaware when someone really does know what is going on with their body. 

So, ultimately, I say, “YAY NFP!!” I’m so grateful for the teaching couple who taught Craig and me so long ago that we could identify our fertile and infertile times by simply observing what my body does naturally. I’m grateful for the development of many different methods that work with different temperaments and body types so that women have choices in how to observe their natural rhythms and get the information they need. And…I’m grateful that I could confidently tell that RN that “No. I am not pregnant” and “I am ovulating right now.” 

Made for a fun story while waiting for surgery anyway.



7 Quick Takes – 60 (Personal Discernment Edition)

Thanks to Jennifer Fulwiler for hosting!

Wow, it’s been a few weeks since I participated in the 7QT linkup! I guess I haven’t been feeling it on Fridays. 

Photo Credit
— 1 —
I’ve had a lot on my mind that I haven’t been able to get into words lately. Suffice to say that if you remember this 7QT post where I asked for your prayers for discernment, I want to thank you for them. It’s been an interesting couple of months as my emotions have run the gamut of joy and satisfaction at the completeness of our family all the way to sadness and loss at the idea of never being pregnant again. NFP is such a blessing to our marriage that gives us the ability to discern and feel a little bit in control of what happens in that regard. I have decided to have the procedure that would mean we should avoid pregnancy until I hit menopause. I will still be ABLE to get pregnant, it’s just not prudent as I would have to have the procedure reversed sometime before late pregnancy and of course, it would have to be redone at some point after the baby was born. That’s not a prudent use of resources, and the issue I need addressed — well, it needs to be taken care of. And we thank God for NFP as an alternative to complete abstinence as we head into this period of life!

— 2 —
I don’t really want to be cryptic or anything about the procedure I mentioned. It’s just a little TMI for a Friday blog link-up! But exploring the idea that perhaps God is leading us to a new stage of life has been … hm … grueling? I mean, the prayer, the thoughts, the emotions…Discernment is definitely not for the weak!!

— 3 —

I have really learned over the past couple months — when I’ve let myself really pray and think on it — how much my older children need me. We often think about how much the little ones need their moms and dads — for their very survival! But the older children need us so that we can help them learn to be grown ups. 

For example, I’ve been helping Sarah learn to navigate the rocky waters of pre-teen/teen girl relationships but also how to approach adults in a mature way so she’s taken seriously. But that has required a good bit of my time and attention — and if I had a newborn right now, she would probably be missing a lot of what she needs from me, because let’s face it: I can only do so much at a time. 

So, Sarah’s needs were something we considered a bit more through our discernment process this time than when we have discerned adding to our family in the past. I don’t want her emotional and spiritual needs to go unmet because we decided to have another baby.

— 4 —
Then, I consider Dani and Helen. Dani just turned 10, but she loves being a little kid with a big imagination! However, I can see her body may end up forcing her into the realm of pubescent preteen much sooner than she would like. And she’s so excited to learn all the things she’s learning at school, and read all the books (she’s currently finishing a Percy Jackson series and asking for another one). 

Helen has always needed a lot of my attention — heck, she gets the bulk of it. And so I’ve needed to spend time in the evenings reading with her or sometimes just holding her in a hug on the couch for a little bit. Or brushing her hair. 

Dani’s and Helen’s needs are growing, and when we add that to the more complicated and time-consuming needs Sarah presents — the older kids need more of us than I ever realized before we reached this point.

— 5 —
This week, on Tuesday, was the Feast of St. Gregory the Great. I loved Rebecca’s comment on this post, btw. At school, during the morning announcements, they have the “Saint of the Day” and so St. Gregory was the Saint of the Day on Tuesday. I found out from Dominic’s Pre-K teacher that Dominic’s little eyes got big when he heard over the speaker that the Saint of the Day was Saint Gregory. And she said he listened intently through the whole bit about Pope St. Gregory the Great and a smile spread across his face while he listened. When it was over, he just went about his business, but it was very clear to her (watching him) that he really got something out of that.

Dominic is such a tender, sweet, sensitive, intuitive and strong boy. I am amazed regularly at him. Yes, he’s smart, too. But he just loves. He loves everyone. And he loves with the most pure, unadulterated joy. It was hardest to get past him as we went through this discernment because he has this huge capacity to love and right now that manifests in his ability to be such a great brother. But I realize that we can foster the growth of this quality in him so that he can spread it far beyond our family. He will often come to me and say, “I miss my brother, Gregory” and give me a hug. I find myself grateful that he was old enough to remember Gregory in my tummy and everything we went through saying goodbye to Gregory because Dominic has a beautiful way of loving us all through our pain.

— 6 —
Then there’s Vincent. He’s such a sweet and rambunctious boy! He requires so much of our attention and it has only been through this discernment that I have realized how he may have struggled had Gregory joined us here on Earth. He’s grown up A LOT in the last couple of months, with going to bed on his own, talking up a storm and showing us all he is capable of physically. But…he still requires our constant vigilance as he’s prone to getting into things — especially things that might be dangerous — and so he tests our parenting wills on a regular basis.

As it is, he’s growing more and more every day. Soon (I sure hope!) he will figure out it’s better to go in the potty than in diapers and he will cooperate with potty training. And then, it will feel strange to be in a house that no longer requires diapers, but it will be freeing as well.

— 7 —
Of course, discernment took into account our marriage, both Craig and me and our physical, emotional and spiritual needs. One of the things that I kept coming back to was the fact that I’m not getting any younger. Pregnancy, Labor and Delivery take their toll on a young woman’s body and they took even more toll on my older, maturing body. Add to that the health issue I needed to address and we realized it was time. We have been so blessed. We praise God and thank him for the five beautiful, healthy children here with us and the one glorious Saint He chose to bring into His presence ahead of us. We pray we will join Gregory someday in the presence of God. But for now, we continue to focus to help our earthly family continue to learn…to know, serve and love the Lord, and to move into a new phase in life that includes loving, honoring and serving each other.

Be sure to go check out Conversion Diary for more 7 Quick Takes Posts!


Faith, Morals, Sex-Ed, oh my! A post about sharing information with my Preteen

A couple of weeks ago, I posted my thoughts on Sharing Fertility Awareness with my Preteen.  I stuck to just the physical aspects of Fertility Awareness and what it means. Of course, I realize that the changes that happen to my daughter now as she is growing into an adult physically are accompanied by emotional and intellectual development that will continue over the next 10-13 years.

Over the past couple of years, my daughter and I have had discussions about sex – what it is logistically and theologically, and how it fits into God’s plan for our lives. She’s discovered that she can hear a lot of information outside of our home that is not in line with our Catholic faith. She’s a smart kid so she knows that everyone does not believe or think about these things the way we do. I want my children to be able to express themselves. They should feel comfortable enough to ask questions and get clarification on this stuff, whether it’s with me or with someone else they trust. I hope my daughter wants to get this information from me, but I’m realistic enough to know she might seek counsel elsewhere at some point.

After I posted a couple weeks ago, I thought it might be helpful to some people to write about how I share our Catholic Faith and the Church’s teaching on Marriage and Sexuality with my Preteen, too. I doubt this is groundbreaking or complete. I’m sure our conversations will mature as she continues to grow up. But I am of the opinion that if she’s ready to ask the questions, then she’s ready to hear the answers and I pray I have the right words.

Following are some things I have tried to remember as we began sharing information on sexuality in the context of our faith and morals with our Preteen:

·         Use proper names for body parts. This is something we started when my now-Preteen was 2 or 3 years old. With our children, we have always used the words “vagina” and “penis” and “ovaries” and “scrotum” and any other words to describe anything related to body parts much like we use “hand” and “arm” and “foot.”
Early on my rationale for this was that if my child were to ever be abused, there would be no question about what body part had been touched inappropriately if my child were to confidently state exactly, using anatomically correct language, where s/he was touched. Now that I have a Preteen, with whom I have had discussions about sex, I find the added bonus that there’s no confusion and there’s less embarrassment. She’s always known the names of girl and boy “parts” and so the discussion had a very “matter-of-fact” flavor to it.
·         Explain exactly how intercourse happens. I remember being so confused growing up about the actual sexual act itself. I was almost relieved when my daughter had the exact same questions I did and that she felt comfortable asking me. I used frames of reference for her. We were blessed that we’d had a son by the time this conversation took place so she had seen diaper changes for both boys and girls and it made the discussion run a little smoother.
·         Understand that the child will be uncomfortable about the idea of you and your spouse engaging in sexual intercourse. I remember when the light went off for my daughter that what we were discussing was something that had actually occurred between her parents. My daughter was very cute as she said, “Wow, you mean you did that FOUR times?!?” (We had four children at the time.) And then, when we told the kids Vincent was on the way, she pulled me aside and said, “Mom, you guys did THAT…AGAIN?!?!” I will cherish that memory because it was so darn cute!

Take that opportunity to explain to your child that getting pregnant is not a given just because a couple has sex. The world will provide plenty of misinformation for your child, so we, as parents, have to counter it early and often. Initially, it was uncomfortable helping my daughter understand that her mom and dad have sex and that it does not always result in a baby. But that led to the Fertility Awareness / NFP discussions.  

·         Explain that sex is a gift from God to married men and women. The pleasure that comes from sex is a gift. The babies that come from sex are gifts. Explain that engaging in sex outside of marriage goes against God’s plan for marriage and sex. It’s okay to use the word “sin.” I tried not to go overboard, since I don’t think a lot comes from the pre-emptive use of hellfire and brimstone to make a point. Kids want to do good naturally. They want to please their parents and, it’s been my experience, they want to please God. I try to reiterate that sin is a turning away from God, meaning we are not following God’s Plan.

When discussing the act of intercourse, my daughter mentioned “gross” and “disgusting.” This led naturally into a discussion about how it could seem that way when intercourse is taken out of the context of a marriage. Of course, I let her know that some time in the not-so-distant future, her opinions of intercourse will probably change. I hope she will remember our discussions, though, and they will remind her to consider what God’s plan for her life is so she will act accordingly.

·         Remember that your Preteen probably already knows more than you think they do. The whole reason we have discussed this at all is because my daughter asked questions. The fact that she had the questions to ask helps me understand just how far she had gotten on her own.
·         Be honest. I remember when we heard a news blurb on the radio one day that mentioned sexually active eleven year olds. My daughter’s eyes about popped out of her head and she looked at me and said, “But, I’m eleven…” This led to me asking questions of her about how she felt about learning that children her age would be having sex or whether she knew how those opportunities arose. Without getting too personal, suffice it to say, it was eye opening for her to know there were circumstances in the world that led to children her age becoming parents. But I didn’t shy away from it.

Throughout these discussions, I have had an opportunity to reiterate to my Preteen daughter:

·         That God loves her and us and that our Church has taught on these subjects in such a way to protect us and draw us closer to Him in all things
·         That her parents love each other very much and that we love her and her siblings
·         That we try our best to be honest with her and will do the same with her siblings
·         That boundaries are something set out of love for her guidance and protection

I hope my Preteen will continue to ask questions and communicate with us as she grows older. I know the questions have only just begun. There will be many more opportunities for growth in the coming years.

I am linking to Jennifer Fulwiler at Conversion Diary and posting every day this week! Click HERE to see who else took the challenge!

Happy NFP Awareness Week!

I don’t have a lot planned for this week. 

Last week, I got a post up most days of the week about NFP. See here:

My NFP Posts page has a few more posts with reflections how NFP has impacted my life.

This week…I got nuthin’. 

But our priest delivered the most amazing homily yesterday at Mass and gave permission to share on social media so, I will share it here for today’s entry (Please share — tweet –etc). We need more priests to step up and preach on this issue in our times. 

In support of the Church on the 45th Anniversary of Pope Paul VI’s encyclical Humanae Vitae 

Homily by Father Vince Rogers 
St. Andrew the Apostle Catholic Church 
Gladstone, Mo. 64118 
July 21, 2013 

The Church has a lot to say about the human person and the choices we make. And the Church has been teaching about these matters since the Lord first breathed life into Her on Pentecost. 

Frankly, we should listen to the Church more. She’s wiser than any of us individually, because She comprises the collective wisdom of the ages. 

She’s fought battles that most of us have never even heard of. I only know about them because I had to study them. Montanism, Sabellianism, Arianism, Pelagianism, Nestorianism, Iconoclasm, Jansenism…just to name a very few. These are footnotes in history which I don’t expect you to know. What I do want you to know, however, is that your Church was fighting against false teachings way before you were around. 

These teachings were widespread. Some of them taught that there was no sin–others, that everything was a sin! Some claimed that Jesus was not divine. Others, that the human body was evil and you could do no good, or, the opposite, that you could do anything you want with your body. Still others claimed that the Eucharist is just bread. Some said that making statues and images was sinful. I could literally wear you out with all the heresies your Church has had to correct over the last 20 centuries! 

So, why do I tell you this? Well, because, here we find ourselves in these modern times thinking that our issues are so unique and completely different from anything the Church has had to deal with. But they’re not! Homosexuality, polygamy, infanticide, abortion, euthanasia, contraception… were around through all of human history before Christ. The Church has been teaching about these things in every age since. 

This week marks the 45th anniversary of a letter from the pope that is hardly ever spoken about, but which affects almost everyone in society. In this letter, entitled Humanae Vitae, the Holy Father reiterated what the Church had always taught about the sacredness of marriage, about responsible parenthood, and about contraception and sterilization. 

Many people misrepresent and oversimplify this teaching by saying that the Church is anti-science. Does that make sense to you in light of the fact that our own Church runs some of the finest medical schools in the world and in our country? Boston, Creighton, Fordham, Notre Dame, Georgetown…We heard the same argument when we were in the middle of the embryonic stem cell debate. Our Church is pro-science. Science is part of the reason why we have concluded that human embryos are human beings, and they shouldn’t be destroyed in order to harvest their cells–anymore than someone shouldn’t kill you for your kidneys. 

So contraception is wrong because it violates the meaning of marriage, which is for love and procreation. Furthermore, contraception and sterilization involves an anti-life mentality. God cares about what is in our minds and in our hearts. He wants to be Lord of our life, not just in church, or work, or in the kitchen, but also in the bedroom. Some say, “Keep the Church out of our bedroom!” I suppose you could do that, but you shouldn’t keep God out, and the Church is the voice of God in the world today. 

Interestingly, when the pope wrote this letter in 1968, he outlined a number of things that would happen if contraception became widespread (many laughed at him then). He said that it would lead to marital infidelity, divorce, and a general lowering of morality. He also said that men would lose respect for women, considering them as mere instruments of sexual pleasure, and not as respected and beloved companions. Moreover, he warned that widespread contraception would lead to manipulating our fertility, treating it, not as a blessing from God, but as a disease or an infection to be attacked. It’s a very short leap to having the same view about unborn life. 

They laughed at the pope in the late 60’s during the sexual revolution. Who’s laughing now? Other than Satan, I can’t think of anyone. 

This is not an easy subject for me to discuss, but I do it because a feel compelled to speak about the truth of the fullness and beauty of our faith. Having said that, I feel less sorry for me and more sorry for the women who have to live in this society which glorifies ultra-skinny over normal, living together over marriage, careerism over family, and contraception over motherhood. 

The priest with whom I’m closest in my life shared something with me. He said that, “I learned something about my mother that maybe was a little too late because she has already died.” “My mother,” he continued, “was always right. The reason she was always right was because she was continuously looking out for me. She was never seeking her own good, but was always seeking what was good for me.” The same could be said for the Church. The Church, in Her motherhood and in her wisdom, is looking out for the needs of her children. And while it may be difficult for us as children to listen to the advice of our Mother, we should remember that She is our Mother and She is right. 

We come to church, among other things, to pray for the grace and the strength to do what is right. May God give us the strength to do what is right, even when it is difficult. 

Father Vince Rogers

I am linking to Jennifer Fulwiler at Conversion Diary and posting every day this week! Click HERE to see who else took the challenge!


7 Quick Takes — 55

Thanks to Jennifer Fulwiler for hosting!
— 1 —
It’s been a crazy week for us in the Hughes household. I’m surprised by the fact it is Friday as it seems the week went by in the blink of an eye. I guess that’s what happens when there is a lot of activity in the evenings. This week I had a school board meeting Monday night, Tuesday I made it to Crossfit and then Sarah had a late volleyball game (thank God for friends willing to take her — Vincent would have been a TERROR at a 9:05 p.m. volleyball game!) Wednesday night didn’t really have much going on, but then I got out of work late, so couldn’t go to Crossfit until 6:30 instead of 5:30. Thursday I tried (in vain!) to get a little shopping done, but ended up really just taking Dani and Helen out for dinner.

— 2 —
As for the aforementioned shopping…I need to get Helen her new color leotard for Ballet, so before we left I had Craig check the hours of the Dance Shoppe and it said they were open until 7:30, so we headed there first. Only to find out they run summer hours and they closed at 6:00 and we arrived at 6:05. Boo! So now Craig has to take her today sometime so she has the appropriate color for class tomorrow. 

Speaking of Ballet for a minute, I really need to just sit down in front of a YouTube video and practice a ballerina bun over and over again until I can do it easily. I think I should put her hair in the bun for class each week and not simply wait until pictures and/or production and beg Sarah to do it for me. Sarah does a fantastic job, don’t get me wrong, but I know there’s a way to make them flawless…so I really just need to figure it out, I guess. 

— 3 —

The other shopping we were going to do involved getting some last minute things for Dani to take on her trip. She was planning to head out to SC to visit a cousin and they were going to go to a summer camp together. I say that in the Past Perfect tense because…we found out last night they have to cancel the summer camp! There was a septic/sewer type problem and the Park Rangers said they were not going to be allowed to have the camp on the campgrounds. Oh, Dani was so disappointed!! After her initial episode she reiterated to me that not going to camp wasn’t the most disappointing part. The most disappointing part was that she was going to see her cousin and get to hang out with her and now…we didn’t know if we were going to do that anymore. The good news is that my sister and I are still swapping kids (the cousin that is Helen’s age is coming here for a week while Dani goes there for a week). So, I think we are going to be able to salvage some of the fun. 🙂

— 4 —
Sarah got to spend the night at her Grandma’s last night so they could go shopping for her birthday. I can’t believe my girl is going to be 12 on Tuesday. 12. Twelve. She is such a good kiddo. She’s been so helpful for us this summer helping the kids stay on task at home about cleaning their rooms and the bathrooms and all that jazz. She ensured all the kids got done with summer reading and projects that are due the 1st day of school before the end of June. She helped take care of Vincent the week the daycare was on vacation. She comes and talks to me every night before she goes to bed. Sometimes we talk and sometimes we just play Candy Crush and sometimes she just gives me a big hug before she goes down to her room to go to bed. She is growing up too fast and I feel myself getting attached to her in ways I didn’t think would be possible for me with a daughter. I am blessed far beyond anything I have ever deserved with regard to my kids.

— 5 —
Oh, I DID do some online shopping last night to get Sarah’s birthday present. Shh, we got her a Kindle Fire! Well, you don’t have to “shh” too much because she knows she is getting it. We’ll have to talk about online usage again…although, she’s had a good run with online usage with the iPad — Facetimes a couple of friends, texting has been reasonable and no Instagram, which I am happy about. Every time I check her account on Instagram I think how happy I am she is not active. And I start thinking I check up on her too much because I think I wouldn’t allow some of the stuff I see posted by kids in her age group that show up in her feed. As a matter of fact, she would lose all online connectivity privileges if she posted some of the stuff I see. *sigh* I’m such a prude-parent, I guess.

— 6 —
I wrote my little blogpost on Sharing Fertility Awareness with my Preteen earlier this week. It got a lot of hits! I will go ahead and let you know, it spawned ANOTHER post that I am working on. Because…sharing Fertility Awareness is different than sharing the tenets of our Catholic Faith. And Catholic Church teaching on marriage, sexuality, etc., is a LOT more involved when discussing with my preteen. I’ve had THOSE conversations, too. And will continue to have them. Teaching my kids about monitoring Fertility and teaching my kids about our Faith do go hand in hand…but it is a lot more complicated to talk about marriage, sex, babies and all that goes with it than to tell my kid how to figure out when she will get her first period. So…I’m not finished yet. 🙂
— 7 —
I’ve been spending a large amount of my quiet and prayer time contemplating whether our family is complete at this time. I had a doctor visit for something I plan to have addressed in the next few months and the question was asked whether I was finished having children. You see, my treatment options would be different if I would ever be interested in pursuing pregnancy again. I’m thinking about so many things related to this, and I admit that it’s kind of bad timing that this is something Craig and I need to pray about and think about right now with Gregory’s due date just 2 weeks away. I would imagine I’ll be writing a bit more on this as we round out our discernment and discover what God is calling us to for our future.

Have a terrific weekend and be sure to go check out Conversion Diary for more 7 Quick Takes Posts!


Sharing Fertility Awareness with my Preteen

It’s happened. I’ve entered that part of life where I have one of my kids morphing into an adult. My oldest turns 12 later this month. She grew 4 inches in 9 months. She gained just shy of 13 pounds in that amount of time. She started shaving her legs. And then, a few months later, under her arms.

Yup, full-spin puberty going on around here.

As a Natural Family Planning (NFP) touting momma, sometimes I feel like my responsibility to my children with regard to teaching them about their bodies and their reproductive systems is even greater than it would be if I ascribed to the contraception/sterilization mentality. That seems weird to say, though. Our society would have us believe that the responsibility to teach our children about taking contraceptive pills, using condoms and ultimately, having one or two kids and one partner getting sterilized is the most important as a parent.

Mostly, I try to answer her questions or give my opinion when she asks for it. Recently, I switched her over to seeing my doctor because I know I will have the support I need with regard to how Craig and I want to teach our children about sex and fertility awareness.

So far, here are the things my oldest and I have discussed with regard fertility awareness as she has begun to mature:

1. Puberty and physical development  There is no one right time or way to develop. We are all unique, some girls start to develop when they are 10 or 11, some girls when they are 13, some girls when they are 16 or 17. Nothing is wrong with if they develop earlier than their peers and nothing is wrong if they develop later than their peers. It happens when it happens. 

We’ve talked about what the physical changes are or have been — mostly from her perspective. She can see the changes in her body now, but before they were evident, she told me she was having trouble sleeping sometimes and I informed her that her hormones were probably kind of crazy and were most likely interrupting her sleep patterns. These explanations can help ease some of the annoyance she feels.

2. Periods and mucous and cramps If she knows what to watch for by way of mucous, there’s a good chance she’ll know when her first period is coming (and every period after that). Cervical fluid, little abdominal pangs/twinges to pay attention to, headaches, cravings.

3. Acne Birth control pills are NOT the way to treat it. She will most likely experience some level of acne irritation, but there are other ways to treat it without affecting her fertility.

4. Cycle lengths will vary Even after almost 30 years of menstruating, my cycles vary. Talk about hormones — estrogen, progesterone and how they work within the cycle. We talk about my cycles and we talk about how sometimes daughters can take some cues from mothers with regard to fertility — not always, but it’s good to know if there’s a history of anything (for me, that would be the progesterone problem).

5. Different Methods I tell her that I’ve used three different FAM over the years. I’ve shared with her what I’m using now, but that starting out, just regular old cervical fluid checks and noting the start of her cycle is probably the best place to start.

That’s about it so far. She’s only about to turn 12, so I’m sure there will be more to come. The past year has been a whirlwind in the way of development for her physically and emotionally. I’ve been pleased to be able to address her concerns and these changes in a natural no-nonsense way. These changes are natural, and by letting her know that I experience them, too, still at the age of almost 40, she can see there are natural ways to handle the changes and there’s nothing to fear.

NFP Guest Post At Carrots For Michaelmas!

I am really excited to tell you that today, I am featured with a guest post at Carrots for Michaelmas. I was so excited when Haley e-mailed to ask me to write a guest post about my experience using the Marquette Method of Natural Family Planning (NFP). Although, she may not realize just how excited I was since it took me about a month to get it to her! But she graciously accepted it when I sent it and today it is featured on her blog. Please go visit Haley at Carrots for Michaelmas and read about using Marquette Method of NFP!

My husband and I have used NFP to space and grow our family for almost 12 years. We have five children here with us, and one in heaven, but as I’ve written before, we don’t have a large family because NFP has ever failed us. The first NFP method my husband and I learned was the Sympto-Thermal Method (STM) as taught by Couple to Couple League at the time. Over the years, I have come to appreciate the way we were taught because they had some Theological “oomf” behind them. This appealed to our intellectual desire to understand the Catholic Church’s teachings on sexuality and not simply do NFP because we were told to do so. Understanding God’s plan for marriage and sexuality has kept us motivated and rooted in faith with regard to NFP over the years. Without the theological understanding, we might have given in to the frustrations and opted for something non-natural (like sterilization or contraception).

It’s easy to get sucked into “method wars” among NFP’ers. I try not to do that anymore. But early on, when I heard about the Marquette Method, it was often accompanied by a comment about how it’s not necessary to spend all that money on an ovulation monitor when you can just monitor your physical signs and get the same result. I found out 8 years after we started using NFP that the Marquette Method was actually a better fit for me, considering my body, my lifestyle and our family set-up. Read more here.