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NFP: Out of the Clear Blue

I don’t really know what to say about fertility, other than it’s just not that simple.

I know this topic is hotly debated among Catholics, as interpretation spans from never paying attention to signs of fertility, leaving it all up to God, to always being aware of the signs so one can make a conscious decision of desire for procreation with each marital act.

Our conviction of being pro-life has always been that whether we are trying to or trying not to conceive, we are open to a life given to us and know that God is ultimately in charge of this.

In these past 21+ years of marriage, we’ve run the gamut of emotions: I’m never going to get pregnant. I’m never going to stay pregnant. I’m always getting pregnant. How do I not get pregnant? How is it I’m not pregnant again?

One unwavering constant: I was not in charge. I’ve heard of people being in charge, successfully monitoring and understanding their own fertility through model signs and symptoms. Not. My. Narrative. Fertility didn’t feel natural or plannable. Just very family. And very out of my control.

I have PCOS, so my signs aren’t always the same, nor do I always have recognizable signs at all.

Mostly, they seem ambiguous and maybe even mythical. And I swear that when we conceived sweetness #5 I ovulated twice, about a week apart. My other kids had been avidly praying for twin siblings, as I argued with God that I wasn’t even adequately handling what He’d so graciously given me already, so the thought that I had possibly ovulated twice, and the kids were praying for it, really had me wide-eyed and sleepless until that first ultrasound revealed a one heartbeat.

Following the revelation of the reality of #5, I started looking into other tools to add to our NFP box.

We love our blessings, and we are so thankful for each of them. I well remember my prayers after my first miscarriage, quickly followed by my second pregnancy being difficult and its end ever-threatening, begging God not to take another baby from me, that I would take all the babies He would give us. But. Ahem. I wanted to control it a little, too. Don’t we all, just a little?

“Lord, bless me, but on my terms, if You don’t mind.”

Enter the Clear Blue Easy Ovulation monitor. It’s meant to be an aid for conception by showing the windows of fertility based on hormones present in the urine. It’s an imperfect tool, but it’s been invaluable in helping me learn about my body.

We still often have long periods of abstinence (or not) when we aren’t sure about what my body’s doing. The monitor becomes more intuitive the longer it’s utilized, so patience and abstinence are persisting key factors, from the beginning, but essentially all along.

We know, and embrace, that the gift of fertility is entirely God’s to give. I pray we honor this gift, even in the waxing and waning of it.

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Erin Bayard

Erin lives in Lafayette, Louisiana. She homeschools 4 of her 5 children and has one in college. She relaxes primarily with good music, Netflix, or a good biography, and may be overly enthusiastic about puns.

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