I found out I was pregnant in a hot, second-floor apartment when I had been married for 22 days. I had a couple outfits in a suitcase in the bedroom attached to the bathroom I was sitting in, where I was looking at two pink lines on a piece of white plastic. It was July 23, 2017.
Two years later and one of my favorite weeks of the year, it’s no coincidence to me that two pink lines determined my future during Natural Family Planning (NFP) Awareness Week.
I heard about NFP for the very first time in late 2013, ironically (or not) around the same time I met my now-husband. Life makes perfect sense when we look in the rearview mirror. During this period in my life, I was experiencing intense symptoms of PMS, had a historical diagnosis of polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), and a “I think you have” diagnosis of premenstrual dysphoric disorder.
If you don’t want to know any more about my reproductive health, this is your warning: stop reading here. I had been prescribed several variations of the birth control pill, progestin-only birth control, and my most favorite in 2013, the Nuva Ring (Google “Nuva Ring lawsuit” if you’re bored tonight). Doctors continued to lower the dose and stand in perplexity as I reported symptoms of irregular bleeding, confusing cycles, crying episodes and mood changes, panic-like symptoms, changes in blood sugar levels, sweating episodes, nausea, headaches, and dizziness. The final straw and the worst day (now thank you Lord, the best day), came when I was told by a reproductive endocrinologist that I was pre-diabetic. “Whatever you do though, don’t stop that Nuva Ring.”
It was Thanksgiving 2013 when I removed the Nuva Ring, put it in it’s foil pouch so it didn’t emit radioactive chemicals into – God forbid – the soil (never mind my BODY), and never looked back. I checked my blood sugar levels on a monitor consistently – all normal – and noticed a decrease in symptoms month after month after month after month.
In 2014 a family friend recommended a gynecology practice to me, and my life forever changed. I like to think of my life in two segments: before NFP and after NFP. My new doctor got me hooked up with a Creighton Fertility Care Practitioner (someone in the community who taught me the basics of NFP and how the heck to do it), who ultimately recommended the OB/GYN practice who invested in my health over the last four years, managed my pregnancy, and delivered my daughter.
NFP means that I chart every single day of every single cycle and can interpret my fertility based on the cycle day and other observations. NFP means that I don’t experience any adverse side effects of any artificial hormones. NFP means that my daughter’s life may have been saved in utero because my doctor could interpret my chart and blood work enough to know that I needed progesterone support my entire pregnancy. NFP means that I have complete control over my reproductive health, and now experience a 30-day textbook cycle. Watch out for this part, people usually think I’m a pretty normal millennial up until now: NFP means that my husband and I have never on any occasion used any form of contraception – because we know it’s what’s best for my health, what’s best for our marriage, and it’s what we believe. NFP means that I found out I was pregnant 22 days into our marriage because we were not avoiding, we were open to life, and we consider Philomena neither planned nor unplanned. We do, however, consider her the best unexpected blessing to have ever been gifted to us. NFP means that we talk openly – almost on the daily – about planning our family and what we want our lives to look like in the next several years, and no, it does not mean we plan to have nine children.
I’m not posting this to convince anyone, to tell you that I’m right, or to tell you that you’re wrong. I’m posting this just as others post about new diets or workout programs or meal prep plans – those things are, supposedly (I don’t know I haven’t tried) things that change people’s lives. I’m putting myself out there and making this post because NFP changed my life, and if I could spend my life helping others experience this freedom, I’d risk sounding like a freak every day. NFP may have saved my life, and it created a whole new one in the process.
Whenever I post about my experience with NFP, my inbox fills up with some messages. I’m not an expert, but I can share my story and I’d love to support you in yours.