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Fertility Monitor Winners, days 1 – 4!

We have winners for the first four fertility monitors! I’ve sent emails notifying these four winners, who were chosen at random. They are:

Marie Heimann
Olivia (Tuesday July 26 at 11 a.m.)
Jenna Gabel
and
Katy ‘Fusz’ Connors

Congratulations! Please check your inboxes for an email from me.
Thanks once more to the sponsors of these wonderful prizes:

Dr. Michael Czerkes
A Simple House
Lori and Eric Doerneman
and Anon in S.D.

I’ll announce the winners of the final two monitors on Saturday. You still have time to enter both contests, one for US residents, and one for UK residents. Good luck!

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Final Fertility Monitor Giveaway: from St. Clement ePress

This is it! The sixth and final Clearblue Fertility Monitor giveaway for NFP Awareness Week 2016.

Today’s sponsor is St. Clement ePress!

St. Clement ePress is a non-profit, 501(c)(3) corporation founded to create great Catholic Apps and eBooks from the wealth of resources available from over 2000 years of Catholic teaching and art.

Thank you, St. Clement ePress! Check them out if only to see one of the prettiest, most elegant websites I’ve ever had the pleasure to visit.

This contest is open only to residents of the US. For the giveaway for UK residents, also running today, click here.  To enter today’s contest, use the Rafflecopter form below. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Fertility Monitor giveaway #5: For British eyes only!

Today, I want a prize for saying “British eyes.”

NFP week is drawing to a close. Two more monitors to give away! Below is the Rafflecopter form for today’s contest, which is donated anonymously from a sponsor in the UK, for a winner in the UK. If you do not have a UK address, please do not enter this drawing! There will be a second drawing later today for residents of the US. 

This contest will run a little longer since Rafflecopter won’t let me switch time zones without changing all my time zones. I don’t want to talk about it.

Here are the generous sponsors for the previous winners.

Monday: Dr. Michael Czerkes, pro-life and NFP-only OB/GYN at Women’s Health Associates, St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center in Lewiston, ME.
Tuesday: Dave Singleton in honor of A Simple House.
Wednesday: Lori and Eric Doerneman, a mother-son duo, who are founding a new online resource to educate parents on how to be positive and effective communicators with their children about porn.  Thursday: an anonymous, loving Catholic family of eight from South Dakota, who would love to have more babies in the world.

Thanks once again, so much, to today’s anonymous sponsors, and to all the sponsors!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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If NFP works, why does she have ten kids?

Hello, elephant in the room! I see you, and I’m ready to talk about you.

The NFP community is full of large families like mine. What the heck? How can we say that NFP is effective, and then show up with ten kids in tow? If a told you I had a really great system for losing weight, but I weighed 400 pounds, wouldn’t you snicker and look elsewhere for advice?

It’s a fair question! Here’s my answer:

1. Lots of people who use NFP actually want, and enjoy having, big families. Many couples use NFP mainly to space their much-desired, numerous pregnancies; and many couples use NFP to help them conceive, when pregnancy doesn’t come easily.

Many couples would have even more children than they already do, if it weren’t for NFP. Hello! Despite round-the-clock breastfeeding, I return to fertility within a few months of giving birth. When my babies are spaced two or three years apart, that’s due to diligent charting, not NFP failure. Ten children is a lot, but it’s not as many as the eighteen I’d probably have without NFP. My large family may look like evidence that NFP doesn’t work, but it’s actually evidence that NFP can be useful to people who like kids but aren’t out to break any records.

And something that should be acknowledged more when we talk about NFP: many couples wouldn’t have children at all if it weren’t for NFP. Many fertility problems can be diagnosed and treated with the help of a doctor who can interpret your charts.

Contraception has one purpose: to prevent conception. If you’re using contraception and get pregnant, that’s a clear failure. But NFP is different: NFP can be used to avoid conception, to delay conception, or to conceive. So a good many couples use NFP while still hoping for lots of kids. A big family is not necessarily evidence that NFP has “failed,” because you can use NFP for different reasons at different times.

And don’t forget, these decisions are private. A couple might say they’re done having kids, and then change their minds and decide to try for more babies without first notifying every aunt, cousin, and mom on the playground.

So, in short: it’s complicated.

2. NFP is easier to mess up than artificial birth control. There, I said it. If couples with normal fertility want to use NFP to avoid getting pregnant, they have to stay on their toes and be committed, and there’s no such thing as “set it and forget it.” If you make a mistake in charting, or if you know you’re probably fertile and decide to have sex anyway, you can get pregnant when you really didn’t want to. And there are occasional head-scratchers, where you follow all the rules to avoid, and you get pregnant anyway. It does happen.

Of course, these things happen to couples using contraception, too. Raise your hand if you know someone who conceived despite using condoms, or the Pill, or an IUD, or even some combination, or someone who trusts the Pill but skipped a day because life is hectic. Heck, I know couples who conceived even after a tubal or a vasectomy. Life is so life-y.

So, while some couples find NFP simple and easy and effective, other couples find it difficult and unpredictable, especially at first; and yes, they may have unplanned pregnancies because NFP is harder than they expected. NFP is an entire approach to life, not just a pill to pop. There are physical, emotional, spiritual, and psychological benefits to deliberately embracing the NFP lifestyle, but the stakes are high. NFP-promoters would do well to be more upfront about the level of commitment NFP takes. The stakes are always high in acts of love, but it’s much easier to forget this fact when you’re taking shelter behind contraception.

In short, it’s complicated.

3. But people who use NFP are far less likely to abort a baby who was conceived by mistake. There, I said that, too.

This is what John Paul II was talking about when he coined that much-abused phrase “the contraceptive mentality.” He meant that when we insert contraception between two lovers, we’re not truly embracing love, with its glories and its crosses — and when we chase love out, death comes rushing in. When whole societies embrace contraception, abortion (and euthanasia, and child abuse, and pornography, and sex trafficking, and every other way to kill love and use people as objects) worms its way into that embrace.

According to Planned Parenthood, over half of the women in the US who have abortions were using contraception in the month they got pregnant. If you are using contraception because it would be intolerable to have a baby, then you may not tolerate giving birth to a baby that appears anyway. You may even be pressured to abort for the good of the baby himself if you conceived while on a contraceptive that increases your risk of ectopic pregnancy, pelvic infections, or other delights that empower women. And of course, your contraception may cause miscarriage. NFP oopsies may mean big families, but contraception oopsies may mean babies with very short lives.

I don’t mean that contracepting couples are all abortion-minded, utilitarian brutes (I know they’re not) and I don’t mean that NFP-using couples are all life-embracing, God-trusting martyrs (I know we’re not). I mean that if you’re already in deep enough to commit to NFP, you’re probably in too deep to seek abortion, even if the thought of pregnancy makes you want to run away screaming.

It’s complicated.

4. Did I mention it’s complicated? NFP isn’t a lifelong club with a set of firm bylaws that you swear fealty to the minute you say “I do,” and it isn’t a system you necessarily keep using the whole time you’re fertile. It’s something you can stop and start at any time; and lots of couples do stop and start NFP throughout the course of their marriage. Many couples use it more or less conservatively at different times in their marriage. Many many couples aren’t sure if they want more kids or not, so they chart carelessly, or cut corners, and if they get pregnant, they deal (or are amazed at how happy they are). There’s even an acronym for this mindset: TTW, meaning “trying to whatever” (as opposed to Trying To Conceive or Trying To Avoid).

I know a couple who conceived out of wedlock, then had a bunch more kids, then left the church and got sterilized, then came back and got the sterilization reversed, then had to put off having more children, and then decided to have a bunch more, and then had some miscarriages, and then decided they had enough. They have a big family. Is it evidence that NFP doesn’t work? Not really. It’s complicated.

Lots of people only start using NFP after they already have a bunch of kids. Hello, me again: I had three babies in three years before I said, “We need to slow this train down” and signed up for instruction.  My family is a combination of babies conceived while making no effort to avoid conception, babies conceived while kinda sorta trying not to conceive, babies conceived because God thought it was a good time even though we did not, and babies conceived joyfully on purpose because we like babies. And a baby who was conceived joyfully on purpose and then quietly died while we were still happily calculating the due date.

From the outside, it looks like I’m a crazy woman who has babies nonstop and yet somehow wants to persuade people that I know something about family planning. From my point of view, the story is stranger and harder and funnier and sadder and sweeter and, most of all, much more complicated than that.

So, why do couples who use NFP have so many kids? It’s complicated. It’s complicated. Like life is complicated, love is complicated, our relationship with God is complicated. That’s why.

***

For more about the emotional, psychological, spiritual, and sociological issues surrounding the NFP lifestyle, read my book, The Sinner’s Guide to Natural Family Planning (OSV, 2013)available in paperback, ebook, or audio form.

Elephant photo by Robin Arm via Unsplash

 

 

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Fertility monitor raffle #4: Pokésorrynotsorry

Today, I would like credit for not making a single Pokémon Go/NFP joke about catching the elusive peak-achu until well after Pokémon has exited the news cycle. Please! I am not from Havana!

Although I would be interested in knowing how much overlap there is between the “Pokémon monsters are patterned after real live demons, like cat demons and fire demons! How blind can you be!” crowd and the “The smoke of satan has infiltrated Catholic bedroom, and those smoke signals spell out “N . . .F . .  P! How blind can you be!” crowd. Hey, if I’m gonna go blind, it’s not from using NFP, if you know what I mean. Which I don’t.

Onward and upward.

Oh, but maybe you’d like to know that my two sons are currently squabbling over whose turn it is to tape his phone to the hamster wheel so he can hatch eggs without getting off the couch. All this means is that they are their father’s sons, and will soon graduate from searching for a Snorlax to searching for a loophole.

Today’s Fertility Monitor is sponsored by an anonymous donor who is also not from Havana, and who is in no way responsible for the stupidity above, and who says:

This is from an anonymous, loving Catholic family of eight from South Dakota, who would love to have more babies in the world.

Thank you, anon! And a great reminder for Catholics that a good many people use natural family planning to help them conceive. I know an awful lot of long-desired babies who wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for NFP. (More about that in a post later today.)

Here are the other generous sponsors of the other monitors:

Monday: Dr. Michael Czerkes, pro-life and NFP-only OB/GYN at Women’s Health Associates, St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center in Lewiston, ME.
Tuesday: Dave Singleton in honor of A Simple House.
Wednesday: Lori and Eric Doerneman, a mother-son duo, who are founding a new online resource to educate parents on how to be positive and effective communicators with their children about porn
Friday (US): An anonymous donor
Friday (UK): An anonymous donor

And now les details d’raffle:

How do I enter? Use the Rafflecopter form below. It gives you several ways to enter. If the form doesn’t show up, click on the link that says “a Rafflecopter giveaway” at the bottom of the post. Only one prize per household.

How often can I enter? You may enter once per day, using as many options as you like from the Rafflecopter form. It will show up as “x/6” — so, for instance, if you complete two types of entries today, it will say “2/6” at the top of the form. If it says “0/6,” then your entry did not go through.
Each day is a separate raffle, so you must enter each day to have a chance of winning each day’s prize. Each raffle runs from midnight to midnight, eastern time.

Can I win if I live outside the US? Not Monday through Thursday. HOWEVER, if you have a mailing address in the UK, you can enter on Friday. I’ll be giving away two monitors on Friday: one for a winner in the US, and one for a winner in the UK. If you live in the UK, please only enter the UK contest on Friday! Sorry, residents of other countries are not eligible to win. Sorry with a chain saw!

When will winners be announced? I’ll choose one winner each day on Monday through Thursday, and two winners on Friday (one winner in the US, and one in the UK). I’ll announce all the winners on Friday, or possibly on Saturday if I am a terrible person.
If you are a winner, I will notify you using the address you provided to Rafflecopter.

Do I have to provide my actual email address, even though I worry that you will use it to steal my soul and then go on a shopping spree at Forever 21? Yes, please use an actual email address. I don’t even want your soul. Your valid email is the only way I have of getting in touch with you if you win, so please make sure that when you sign up for Rafflecopter, you use an active address! If I can’t get in touch with you, I’ll pick a different winner.

I think that’s it! Good luck, and thanks again to today’s anonymous sponsor.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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“Sex is thrilling after 18 years”: My interview with America Magazine

An interview I did with Sean Salai, S.J. is in America magazine today. Here’s an excerpt:

Some critics accuse the Catholic Church of being “anti-woman” for opposing abortion and artificial birth control. As a woman, how do you respond to them?

I think the secular culture is responding for me. For instance, Cosmopolitan magazine, of all publications, has recently run several articles about how women have been patronized and lied to, and how their health has been destroyed, by the contraception industry. More and more of my non-Catholic friends are realizing that they don’t deserve to be treated like defective machinery just because they have functioning ovaries.

As for abortion: what a filthy offense against the dignity of women. The church, at least ideally, says to women, “Life is good. Come on over; maybe we can help.” The abortion industry says, “There’s no help for you unless you choose death.” Tell me how that is pro-woman?

Others may see N.F.P. as a “religious thing” rather than a medically sound practice because they associate it with Catholicism. What do you think about that?

Modern methods of N.F.P. use cutting-edge technology and research. It’s scandalous how ill-informed so many OB/GYNs are about true reproductive health. More and more secular women are realizing that their fertility may be complicated, but it’s not a disease, and they’re sick of being patted on the head and told they can’t possibly understand their own bodies.

Also, it doesn’t take a religious fanatic to think, “Hey, why is the whole burden on me, just because I’m a woman?” N.F.P. is unique: it invites both husband and wife to think about fertility as a joint concern, and to make sacrifices for the benefit of each other and the family. Contraception says it’s for the benefit of women, but in practice, it gives men the impression that women should be available 24/7.

Read the rest of the the interview here.