I have a love/hate relationship with NFP.
For those of you that might not be ‘in the know’ NFP stands for Natural Family Planning. It is a process of being aware enough of your body’s signs of fertility to know when and if you can conceive a baby. Couples who practice NFP do not use any form of Artificial Birth Control. It is 99.9% effective if used correctly- like most things. It requires periods of abstinence once a month and communication with your partner all the time. It also sometimes requires telling yourself ‘no’ or, better ‘not yet’. That’s the hard part. Harder than I anticipated it would be
This week is NFP awareness week (I know right? It’s a thing trust me)- so I thought I’d tell you why I am so grateful for the openness to life NFP calls for.
First lemme take you back.
I had Lil’ Aaron and Joey back to back. They are fourteen months a part. When we conceived Joey, we were actively trying to have another. I was ready- I was excited. When Little Aaron was 6 months old, we told the world we were expecting kid number 2. I had a rough pregnancy with Joey and ended up having a second C-section. Our doctor’s orders were pretty clear, we should at least wait a year before thinking about kid #3. So that was our plan.
But one night, we decided to take a risk. We knew there was a chance I would conceive, though very very low (which, in my family always means very very high). We had a conversation about it. And we knew there was a small ‘risk’- and decided it was worth taking. Because there was such a small chance, I didn’t think twice about it. Four weeks later, I found out I was expecting our third child. Our third child in three years. Our third child fourteen months younger than his older brother, who is fourteen months younger than our eldest.
And I cried. A lot. And I was scared. I told myself (and Aaron) how stupid we were to take such a risk one month earlier. And I swore him to secrecy, telling him I could not handle people’s reactions. And I moped for two days. I started throwing up every day after. I barely had the energy to stand, but I had to find it, because there was a 6 month old and a 20 month old who needed my attention and love. But, everyday my husband would remind me that our child was a gift, a miracle, something to celebrate. And my heart turned. 8 months later- we welcomed this guy into the world.
And he is the reason I am glad we use NFP. He is the reason I want to sing natural family planning’s praises this week. John Paul Francis has changed all of our lives for the better- and because we were using Natural Family Planning, we chose the night he was conceived that the ‘risk’ of having a child was ‘worth it’ and now…we get him.
John Paul made lil’ Aaron a better brother. He is so gentle with this brother. He plays with him so well.
John Paul reminded me that Joey needs individual attention, that I need to be intentional about separate time with each child so they would thrive.
John Paul brought out a side to my husband I had not yet witnessed. You see, as I explained HERE, I had a hard time with three little ones for a good six months. Because of that, Aaron had to stand up like never before. I am not sure if I am more proud or ashamed to admit this, but from 2 months to 4 months, Big Aaron was the one who got up with John Paul most nights to feed him. I think the time they spent together in the quiet of the night has forged a bond between them I didn’t see with the other two (and as a daddy, Aaron is well bonded with each of his kids). Being a seasoned parent, Aaron takes care of John Paul with an ease that is awe inspiring. When I watch my husband gaze at our third child, I am speechless. John Paul is the child who made me fully understand what a good daddy my husband is. And really, is there anything cooler than that?
You see, Natural Family Planning starts with the idea that children are a gift. The foundation is a counter-cultural idea. The idea that no child is unwanted and each child has the potential to radically change the world for the better. Fertility awareness helps us, as a couple, to communicate with one another each month, each week even, about the state of our family and whether or not we might be called to have another child.
I joke with people that we have finally gotten ‘good’ at NFP. Which basically means, we have started listening to the signs of fertility. But thing is, when we ‘sucked’ at NFP, we got the coolest gift because of it. It’s almost been a year since John Paul was born and I can tell you, he has made me a better person. His eyes are intense and full of warmth. His smile lights up our whole house. His laughter is so hysterical sometimes you can’t tell if he is laughing or crying. I imagine great things for my third, I am certain God’s plan for his life will be fascinating to watch. And to think of my life without him moves me to almost instant tears.
John Paul is why I am so very thankful my husband and I live the reality of Natural Family Planning.
My John Paul is why I know there could never be any other way for my family.
If you are interested in learning more about Natural Family Planning a free/healthy way to be aware of fertility to avoid or conceive…shoot me a message and I can hook you up with some information.
***As per usual, the fancy pictures of my kids are from RWasylyshyn photography***