The Perils of NFP

I awoke this morning with a thermometer in my eye.  My two and a half year-old, having recently mastered the art of crib climbing (as in, out of), came stealthily to my bedside and announced her presence by handing me my thermometer, point-first, in the eye.

“Thank you, honey,” I murmured as I deftly plucked it out of her little hand and out of range of my eye.

Rousing myself to face any day is hard enough – exhaustion keeping me down, thoughts of the daily grind keeping me from getting up.  A poke in the eye by a metal-tipped prod adds injury to the insult.

Every morning for more than a decade, I’ve taken my temperature before rising, marking it down on a chart as part of the Creighton Model of Natural Family Planning.  I’ve also noted other symptoms of my cycle, such as the start and duration of my period, any pain, etc.  For the most part, it’s been no problem.  For all the reasons that matter, I’m glad my husband and I have chosen this method to order the reproductive part of our lives.

Then there is the drawer of my bedside table, spewing charts from months past, always a pen, the thermometer.  One more thing to add to my morning routine – the taking of the temperature; and one more thing to do before bed – recording the temperature (because I usually don’t have – or take – the time to do it in the morning).

And the restraint it takes to successfully practice Natural Family Planning.  There are certain days in my cycle that we must abstain from sex if we wish to postpone or prevent pregnancy.  Then, there are days when it ‘might’ be safe.  That’s when the third ring of our circus (see last post) found her way into the world.  My husband may never get lucky during that range of days again!  Unless I/we decide to throw caution to the wind.

But, then, that’s the point of Natural Family Planning – and perhaps what makes it hardest for even the most God-fearing humans to practice.  Relinquishing control.

I may not have been ready for a baby at that time, and yet, I cannot imagine my life without her love in it.  And the personal struggles that I dealt with during my pregnancy and postpartum with her, have wrought changes in me that never would have happened had I waited until a time I deemed the right one.  The self-control and mutual respect that my husband and I had at the start of our marriage have blossomed into a stronger partnership as we follow this method.

With the ebb and flow of my body’s natural cycles, God has a chance to interject His will into our usually tightly structured plans.  There certainly is no peril in that.

Me getting over my control-freak tendencies – and avoiding blinding by impalement – that’s another story.  At least I can find a new spot for my thermometer – because I’m thinking the crib climbing is just the beginning.

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