If you’re worried about using NFP because you fear that the method won’t work, that you might conceive a baby at the wrong time, that you won’t get to enjoy the marital embrace when you want to, or that it’s just hard to use, I get it. I’ve been there.
Our NFP journey isn’t the pretty, picture-perfect kind that typically inspires people to use NFP.
We looked like a mess. Moreover, when the world offers a quick alternative, how can one convince others to try something that requires work and sacrifice?
It’s only by the grace of God. The beauty of being open to life is that it constantly requires our surrender, the acceptance of His will and reliance on His help to achieve something greater than our own plans.
Despite having taken NFP classes before we were married, we welcomed three children to our family in quick succession. We had a 28 month old, a 14 month old, and a newborn within the first two and half years of our marriage. This wasn’t my plan. It didn’t seem like NFP worked. I was beyond exhausted physically and emotionally, and I was deeply afraid of conceiving again.
When so many women were suffering from infertility and having witnessed the depth of that pain in my sisters in Christ, reaching out for support with my own fears and sufferings seemed callous and superficial.
I felt so alone.
To top things off, people loved to wink at me and say, “You know how that happens, right?” Talk about humiliating.
We only kept using NFP because, by the grace of God, my husband and I trusted that the Church was right about her teachings on contraception. We had to trust in God’s plan for our family. So, we took another NFP class and the postpartum class (turns out, we hadn’t been following the rules!).
We had to abstain until we figured out how to apply the rules successfully. We did, but it wasn’t easy. However, the embraces were all the sweeter because of those stretches of abstinence, and God gifted our consciences with peace and our hearts with joy because we knew what we were doing was holy.
God willed our first three children to be close in age and close in friendship. I couldn’t be more grateful for His plan. With prayer, surrender and anticipation, our family welcomed two more children a few years later.
Looking back, NFP wasn’t only a success for us when we were able to postpone pregnancies.
We consider those first few years successful, even though we didn’t do the method correctly. There was real success even while suffering, because we were living God’s plan. Our children are the joy of our life, and our youngest baby will be eight this summer. We still use NFP, and we still rely on His grace to follow His plan.
“Married couples should regard it as their proper mission to transmit human life and to educate their children; they should realize that they are thereby cooperating with the love of God the Creator and are, in a certain sense, its interpreters. They will fulfill this duty with a sense of human and Christian responsibility.” Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2367