I was sitting on a cozy couch in a cozy cabin near Lake Placid with a group of girlfriends last fall, and the topic of birth control came up. It wasn't the first time I found myself surrounded by friends, chatting about babies and planning for a family and what that all meant when it came down to pregnancy and adoption and timing it all out. And as usual, I shared our decision to go natural from the beginning, which always brings a lot of questions. Questions I'm always happy to answer, as it's a topic I kind of love talking about. And that's when the ladies told me I needed to blog about it. I hesitated, it being such a hot button issue, knowing there would be people out there that thought we were crazy. But they were right, and it's been mulling around in my mind for months - how to tell our story, and my reasons for sharing it. Obviously it's kind of weird to put it all out there, but it's a good story, one that works for us, and one that I think could work for just about anyone.
So, here goes. Me, my husband, and our decision not to use artificial birth control.
You could write us off as that family that will soon have five kids ages 6 and under. Like you're really gonna take what we say to heart in our crazy chaotic, very full life. But let me start by saying, all of our kids were "planned". Our biological kids are all nearly three years apart... going through my third pregnancy in eight years of marriage isn't that crazy, right? We love our full, happy, messy life - not one accident in the bunch.
Nay sayers might also point out that we're Catholic, so we can't use birth control. But when I made this decision, I was a young, newly engaged girl and I wasn't Catholic. I wouldn't have done something because an institution told me I had to. I was more of a crunchy granola vegetarian hippie wannabe that would not have put an artificial hormone in my body if you paid me. The faith part of it entered in later in our journey, and while that's much more of a factor now, it wasn't the basis of my choice. I researched every single option out there - I wanted the decision to be made long before the wedding night - and came to the conclusion that this was the best thing for me. Nick was totally on board from the get go, and I am truly blessed that he was.
Back then, and still today, I think it's so ironic that we live in a culture where it is a tragedy to even consider drinking nonorganic milk or to eat chicken that isn't (gasp) free range. There are thousands of articles written about the horrors of genetically modified food, and yet we pump our bodies full of artificial hormones on the daily because God forbid we learn enough about our bodies to understand that we can easily prevent pregnancy by learning a couple of signs that tell us, very clearly, what's going on. The crazy thing is, I don't think most of us even realize that's a possibility. We're taught from adolescence that you have to figure out which kind of birth control you're going to use asap if you don't want to end up unexpectedly pregnant. The body isn't that mysterious. It's pretty awesome the way it's set up, actually, so that after awhile, you know what's going on without thinking about it.
Choosing to go natural wasn't hard for us in the beginning, but we questioned our decision after the first baby came, once the signs weren't so clear. It took awhile to figure things out again, but we did, and we are so so happy we stuck with it. Honestly, looking back, it's been a beautiful thing for our marriage. It opens up communication, we both know what's going on and when - it isn't all up to me to figure out what we're using and if it's working. It's made us realize that sex is a gift and not a right. It makes it more than just an act - it's more holistic, if that makes any sense.
There are so many reasons I am passionate about natural family planning. Some of it is because of my faith, and some of it is about making the healthiest choice for me and my future babies. I'm going to write more - a post for the faith side, and a post about health benefits and crazy facts I've learned along the way. But I'd also love to hear your questions, if you have any. I'm not an expert, but I've been doing this for eight years and I feel pretty comfortable with it. So email me, leave questions in the comments, and if there's interest, I'll do a q&a post. In the meantime, if you're interested in learning the ins and outs, this book is the best I've found - filled with everything you need to know!