18 February 2014

birth control, part two.

This post has been on my mind for the last ten months, since I'd first promised a follow up. Can I blame pregnancy brain? Because, ironically, I do. I promise I have not forgotten to share with you why we've chosen Natural Family Planning (NFP) and how it's worked for us. If you missed my first post about our choice, you can read it right here.

why we use NFP - the health side
You can't scroll through your facebook feed these days without seeing at least ten links to articles, blogposts and videos informing us of all the perils that hide in every bite of food we eat. I read and watch nearly all of them because I like to stay on top of things and make the best choices for me and my family. And yet, the reality is that we are being sold on hormonal birth control everywhere we turn like we can't go about life as we know it without it. But did you know that hormonal birth control - the pill, iuds, the ring, etc - all contain class one carcinogens? If you're unsure of what that means, it means it's basically been proven to be as dangerous as it comes in containing cancer-causing agents (think asbestos and lead based paint). 

Unlike a lot of additives in food and plastic that we're all very concerned about the potential harm they could cause us or our loved ones down the road, this is a for sure thing. Women who have used the pill or other hormonal birth control for any length of time are 50% more likely to have cervical cancer and 10-30% more likely to have breast cancer. This isn't right wing propaganda, this is proven fact in study after medical study. In fact, I just read an article today about a documentary being made for release in 2015 by Ricki Lake (The Business of Being Born) that exposes the dangers of hormonal birth control. Word is getting out, and it's moving beyond religious circles and crunchy granola types into the mainstream.

If you're feeling skeptical, I'd urge you to do your own research. The information is out there, though somewhat hard to find at times because birth control is seen as a necessity for the masses. If you would like more links to information I've found, or suggested reading, please don't ever hesitate to be in touch! I am more than happy to share.

why we use NFP - the faith side
Like I said in my first post, the granola girl wannabe inside me is what originally motivated me to use natural family planning when we first got married. The more I read up on the faith side, prayed about it, and asked questions, the more I realized this was the way God had designed it to be. Not to have baby after baby and a "whatever happens" attitude, but to be open to His leading. How much angst I put myself through in high school, college, and right after about what God's will was for me. How much heartache and lament over who The One I was supposed to marry was. Over where to live, what to major in, what ministry to give myself to, what my career would be. And yet, God's will in my family planning? Not even a thought. I wanted the number of kids I wanted. And I think that's how most of us are. We think about the lifestyle we want, the family size, the number of cars, the neighborhood. But God convicted me right down to my core over and over about letting Him take control. Asking Him for guidance. Letting Him use our "family planning" to draw us closer as a couple, as a family. 

After I had Lute, our first, I was panicked about getting pregnant again right away.
Then a few months later, I was ready for the next baby. We prayed together, we tried and tried and tried. Every month I took a test. Every month I cried. I was sad and angry, but God was whispering adoption over us all along. I let go and trusted. And as we all know, not long after that I was pregnant. I wasn't shocked, because I knew which days made that possible and we were happily surprised. After I had George, I went into panic mode again a little bit, even though I knew how long it had taken my body to be fertile again after the first pregnancy. I was not ready to add to our little team quite yet, but everything went right on schedule. For the next three years, I charted my cycle, watched my signs, and didn't get pregnant. God doesn't say we have to ignore our fertility, and procreate like crazy. But when we embrace our fertility as a gift, we get to co-create with Him. It's kind of amazing and beautiful. And as much as people probably think we were crazy for having another baby right after we adopted (again), I knew it was a very real possibility that it would happen because I knew my schedule without even really thinking about it. And maybe we are a little bit crazy, but I really believe that letting God in on designing our family has been the best thing that's ever happened to us. And here we are again - in the midst of breastfeeding, no signs in sight - and I have to let go and trust. What a gift to have that option. 

So maybe you're thinking about it - making the switch and you don't know where to begin. First, start reading. I love this book. This website is a great resource for learning more and connecting with others who are also using NFP, as well as finding classes in your area if you want to know even more. And I want to encourage you - if your doctor is skeptical, or worse, scoffs at the idea of NFP, switch doctors. I have been lucky enough to have found an OB who is totally supportive (though her nurses think I'm weird). 

I have more to share, and promise it'll come in a more timely manner. In the meantime, feel free to share your questions or your own experiences in the comments section and I'll answer to the best of my ability!


  1. Thanks for posting! I've been off the pill for a couple months now simply because my prescription ran out and I haven't been back to the OBGYN. But I've been thinking more about this lately and think it's something I'd like to pursue after some more research!

  2. great post! there are so many options too (i love the marquette method so far!). i too freak out about getting pregnant but our babies have turned out to come just at the right time. god is good!

  3. I'm a hippie fo'sho. I for sure don't like the pill or IUD for health reasons and for religious convictions in that they let the sperm and egg meet before getting rid of it. I do believe life begins in that moment. But what I struggle with is how the logic behind NFP is any different than the logic behind any other birth control. It's all still controlling when you have a baby and how many children you want. Is using a condom off limits? The sperm and egg don't meet & there are no chemicals involved. So to me it doesn't hold up as a cover all standard/conviction for everyone to abide by. I really believe there some close handed issues where there's no wiggle room. But NFP isn't one of those for me. With that said, I value that god gives different people different convictions and not everyone will have the same. We all won't believe exactly the same things in such matters, so I'm not trying to be argumentative at all. But I'd love to hear your thoughts about that and am thankful you're writing about your convictions in an honest way! I think it's helpful for everyone to consider what they believe and why and I think you give an opportunity to do that with honest writings. Hope the pushback feels more like a convo and not mean spirited!

    1. No way, man. I love the convo. First off, yes I get the idea that it is a form of control, and I should've clarified that I meant artificial birth control. My hope is to share our story and show that the conversation is much broader than what you hear in the doctor's office or the high school health class. We're presented with pretty much one option and that's filling our bodies up with a bunch of junk to prevent pregnancy. Nobody ever tells us that understanding our fertility doesn't have to be a giant mystery. Nobody ever told me that I could include God in my family planning and didn't have to take the pill or get an IUD. It was kind of just a given that that's what you do when the time comes. And for us, condoms are a no go, the idea being that sex should be a total giving of self, instead of saying, "I want all of you, just not that part." That being said, I totally don't think everyone is going to be on board with me, and I am cool with that. Like I said, just sharing how we do things in hopes that we can open up a dialogue about it and show there's another way to do things than the standard MO. And I'm weird and love talking about this stuff, so I'm grateful for your comments, for real. I never want to come off like it's my way or the highway :)

    2. Jami, I totally agree with you. I have serious convictions on this topic and have blogged about it several times. But one thing that I always preface my posts with is that I never want to be legalistic. I only want to help educate and encourage everyone to do their own research. Like Carina said, we a rarely told about other options and sometimes doctors look at us like we have 3 eyes if we ask about any other method aside from hormonal birth control. I think we need to do a better job, especially within the Christian community, to educate husbands and wives about what happens when the sperm meets the egg and how different kinds of birth control work either before or after that point. With that knowledge every couple should be prayerful and seek wisdom as to what exactly is the best choice for them.

      As far as NFP being another way to control family size, etc, that is something I've wondered about and even struggled with at times. However, I think if we are prayerful about the Lord's plan and call for our individual families, not worrying about others, it gives us a chance to be seriously seeking His heart in yet another area of our lives, particularly along side our spouse. That is exciting and scary all at the same time.

      Last thing, because I could seriously talk about this for daaaaaaays. Have you read Religion Saves by Mark Driscoll? Chapter 1 deals with the topic of birth control for Christians and I think he gives a really fair assessment of the topic.

  4. I love this post, and it's the first I've seen like it on any blog thus far (at least on blogs I read). I used birth control pills for 4 months until my mom made the connection that my intense depression and anxiety had started nearly exactly 4 months ago, to the day (at that moment, I was yet again sobbing on the floor, thinking I was crazy). Once off, I researched like mad and, well, that was that for bcp. I can't use condoms as I have reactions to them. So I started intensely researching what those reactions were coming from, and found out about N9 (it has a longer name) that is in most lube on most condoms and is bad bad bad to be in or on our bodies. Thus leaving me with charting and researching and reading. There's actually something really powerful in all of this research, finding out what's actually in things, and making a choice about what I want in or near my body. After a recent breakup, I am not having sex nor plan to any time soon, but I'll keep charting so if and when a husband ever comes along, I'll be ahead of the game. Thank you for posting this!

  5. Thank you for this post! I get so encouraged when I see women speaking up on this topic. It's something that so many women just do, but we need to be more vocal about why we should get informed and educated before we get on the pill (or the shot or the ring or the patch or the IUD). It's a dangerous thing. And I'm super excited about Lake's documentary!

  6. A friend of mine who is interning to become a Creighton model teacher just guest posted on my blog about this - http://www.thatmamagretchen.com/2014/01/green-your-birth-control.html! I'm gobbling up information on NFP because for both health and religious convictions I'm not considering any hormonal birth controls. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts! Keep them coming :)

  7. Thank you so much for sharing openly! I have been using hormonal birth control for about 5 years now. I have wanted to stop it but didn't know what to do. I will definitely share this with my husband and do more research. It's scary to let go and trust God in this area (not like it's easy for me to do in any area!) but man, I can see how this topic is going to reveal a lot about my heart and desire for control! Thanks again for sharing...and I might be back with questions after I do some research!

  8. Carina, Thanks so much for this well thought out and well written post. I had been on the pill for many year (even before I was married) mostly for some of the hormone issues that my doctors equated with my acne issues but about 2 years into my marriage my husband and I found out that it doesn't always matter what pill you are or aren't on, sometimes God has a bigger plan... lol we are now the proud parents of a darling little girl. This life change for us has really put us thinking about our method of family planning and where the Lord fits into that. After Ellie was born we opted not to go back on the pill at first just because of the implication it could have on breastfeeding but the longer we are away from the pill the more we are considering staying away from it for good. NFP seems like a perfectly feasible option and the best part is it really has us examining not only our fertility but also our motives. Am I just popping a pill or are we having an open and continuing conversation about what our family looks like now and in the future. I REALLY appreciate the links and resources. There just isn't as much out there on the internet as I would have expected. All that to say THANKS and keep the conversations going. I would love all the help and resources I can get!

  9. Thank you so much for the information. Since I am trying to get pregnant with a baby boy naturally, my mother has suggested me to follow natural gender selection technique . So after following this method I was able to get pregnant naturally.