My Unplanned Pregnancy, Or Why We Stopped Using Birth Control—For Good

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Right now the result of our unplanned pregnancy is snoozing in his beloved “big boy bed.” As I check on him and watch his chest rise and fall, it hits me once again: here he is, the best gift of my life. My unplanned son and I spent the morning at the pool and I watched him shriek with joy as he went down the water slide, splashed in the water, and giggled after accidentally ducking his head under the water. “That was CRAZY!” he told me as his head popped up out of the pool. When I think that the joy he brings me, his very existence, would never have been mine to know if I hadn’t stopped taking birth control, I feel slightly ill. What if I had missed out on this? What if our plan to start a family after we achieved “financial stability,” “career goals,” “world travel” and had “figured out all the answers” had really come to pass? I thank God everyday for turning our plans upside down.

After two years of marriage, we were definitely in one of the “lows” rather than the “highs” of our relationship.  We were both full-time students (I was graduating, Daniel had a year and a half to go) so we obviously had nothing in the way of financial stability. We were in the midst of some major changes in worldview—particularly in our movement towards Catholicism. Should we convert? Should we wait? What do we think about the big issues? I still had vestiges of pink dye in my hair from when I dyed it tomato red and it quickly faded to Nymphadora Tonks pink. Daniel was wearing moccasins exclusively in those days. My main concerns (other than hearing back from job interviews for work to put Daniel through his last few semesters, yes, I was not COMPLETELY irresponsible) were throwing a really epic graduation party and going to see Radiohead in Dallas the following day. An objective observer would not have tagged us with a “ready for parenthood!” flag anytime soon. And parenthood certainly wasn’t on our radar AT ALL. We went on a 2nd anniversary trip to Disney and discussed having a baby in about…..four to five years. A couple of weeks later, and to our great surprise, we found out that during our future planning anniversary chats, a little soul was already growing in my womb: we were pregnant.

To explain just how NOT ON OUR RADAR this was, I was probably already 7 weeks pregnant before taking a pregnancy test.  Pregnancy hadn’t even crossed my mind and my housemate Courtney (girls in the same house notice these things) had to ask me….um…are you really really late this month? Eh, I shrugged. Thesis and Graduation pressure messing with my hormones! Besides, I can feel cramps coming on right now…not pregnant.

I was really, really late. And those cramps? Yeah, a little human embryo implanting itself in my womb. But I was oblivious. Courtney pointed out, “You’ve seemed a little tired lately…and a little hungry?” “What, just because I sleep all the time and ate breakfast twice today? Chill out!” But inside I was thinking…”hmmm, I have been feeling a little emotional…there was that time the other day when Daniel asked if I could run to the grocery store for something and I started crying hysterically and saying accusatorily: you know I HATE going to the grocery store. How can you even ask me to do that?” Courtney finally just put me in the car and drove me to the drugstore to get a pregnancy test.

After taking a pack of pregnancy tests (the two lines if you’re preganant, one line if you’re not kind) I was still unconvinced (even after making a friend be the control group and seeing that her results looked totally different from mine) and went back to the drugstore for a test that would blink “PREGNANT” or “NOT PREGNANT.” Until the moment I was waiting for the results, I did not want to be pregnant. I had just told Daniel a month before that I wasn’t ready to be a mom yet because I was still too selfish and enjoying being so. But as I waited, I suddenly WANTED to be pregnant, in fact, I’d never wanted anything so much in my whole life. My heart started to race and when the result blinked “PREGNANT” at me, I was filled with unexpected joy. I called Daniel who was at the grocery store (the poor man probably remembered the last time he asked me to go and went himself to avoid a similar uproar) and said…”I think I’m pregnant.”

His response was…”OK…I’ll come straight home.”

When he got home he said calmly, “I’m excited. We can grow carrots in the garden and mash them up for baby food. Maybe Reid can help me build a crib.” I’ve never been so glad of my husband’s cool and collected personality.

We had no idea exactly what we were going to do. I had just accepted a full-time position at Baylor University and Daniel had 3 semesters of full-time school to finish his BA. Who was going to watch this baby while I was at work? How were we going to pay for this baby? We don’t know the first thing about raising babies! These things crossed my mind. But mostly I felt an overwhelming peace and gratitude. I felt overcome with the knowledge that I didn’t even know I wanted this greatest of gifts and God had blessed us anyway. I knew I didn’t deserve the precious gift inside me and the grace of this blessing was so generous that I could almost not bear the thought.

How did we get ourselves into this predicament, you might ask? Six months previously, I had gone off The Pill, which I had been on for our first year and a half of marriage. Our reasoning for this change was two-fold. A primary motivation was that The Pill made me feel AWFUL. I was on a very low dose and it still gave me terrible nausea, unbearable headaches, and wretched mood swings. I was constantly emotional and overreacting. And why is it a good idea to put hormones in my body that I don’t need? But apart from the physical misery, as Daniel and I moved towards the Catholic Church we started to realize that artificial birth control didn’t fit into our mindset of marriage, sex, and family at all. So we decided I should stop taking it. It was one of the best decisions of our lives.

It wasn’t until after I stopped taking The Pill that I started to read about how it can have abortive effects. Due to the low levels of hormones in prescriptions such as the one I was on, it is possible for an egg to get fertilized. Due to The Pill, however, the fertilized egg will not be able to implant and the body expels it. Although I asked my doctor when she prescribed the Pill if it could be considered abortive in any way, she did not inform me of this possibility. This may have been because she did not know—it is not highly publicized. Knowing that this might have happened during the 18 months I was on the Pill grieves me. I’m not haunted or wracked with guilt, partly due to the fact that I was ignorant of this while we were using artificial birth control. But, I now look back on those 18 months with regret. I wish someone had told me there was a better way. I wish someone had told me that natural family planning was an option. I wish I had offered the gift of my fertility back to God, leaving him in control. Once we hesitantly moved in that direction, we were blessed with the best gift of our lives.

I have always liked to be in control (don’t we all?). The idea of giving up control of such a monumental thing is scary. Yet, I am learning over and over again that my plans and desires, if fulfilled, would lead to my ruin and that turning control over to God is an opening to God’s grace. God has been very good to us. It wasn’t until after I graduated from college (ok, the day after graduation) that we got pregnant. In some ways, perfect timing. And with baby #2, we were able to space our kids out by 2 and ½ years without me being on birth control. I know that next time the spacing might be smaller and our lives might get increasingly chaotic, but having to trust God has been for us so liberating.

Benjamin’s birth brought so many good things. He transformed Daniel and I and brought us closer together. We have become more like the people we were created to be. I shudder to think of the person I would be without the entrance of our son in our lives. I would not be half the woman I am.

And the joy he brings hasn’t been limited to us. Watching his grandparents enjoy him has been one of the greatest pleasures. When he was four or five months old, my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. The existence of her precious grandbaby gave her strength and motivation to complete the grueling journey of chemotherapy.

Unplanned pregnancy was the best thing that ever happened to me. In fact, of my closest 6 friends with babies, 5 were quite unexpected and all are desperately loved.  Now you’ll have to excuse me, my unplanned son has just woken up for some snuggles.

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Comments

  1. says

    this was lovely to read. i, too, grieve for the time i spent on birth control at the beginning of our marriage. and, yes, having them close together can be chaotic, but it is a miracle everyday! so excited for yall as you prepare to welcome little lucy!

  2. luke mitchell says

    Thank the Blessed Virgin and her Son for Benjamin! and Lucy! And thank you for taking the time to savor and share them both.

  3. says

    I’m saying this (not because you are my daughter): This message needs to benefit a wide audience. You have articulated a message of truth in an attitude of grace. Your story is summed up in your statement: “I wished I had offered the gift of fertility back to God….” This is a powerful message. Keep thinking, reading, & writing! Thanking the Holy Trinity for the gift of my two children & two grandchildren!

  4. says

    I’d be interested in talking to you about natural family planning. I’ve been reading about it recently and have been off bc for about 4 months now. I have a 13 month old and we are looking towards a 2nd pregnancy sooner rather than later. If you’d be open to discussing this, please email me or leave a comment on my (poorly-updated right now) blog.

    P.S. BC caused me to “abort” my baby in 2008. I didn’t know I was pregnant until it was too late. I still think about that baby from time to time and feel horrible that birth control caused such a sad thing.

  5. says

    What a beautiful and moving post. I found your blog when I was checking in on Sitemeter today (I have a writing deadline this week which tragically translates to constant procrastination and avoidance of what I should be doing and leads to things like checking my blog stats … the upside is finding blogs like yours.) :)

    Blessings to you and your family, and especially for your newest little one on the way!

    • says

      Karen,

      I’m so glad you enjoyed it! I have your book on the Rosary and found it so lovely and helpful (especially as we’re recent converts, so the Rosary seemed very foreign to me until reading your book).

      I love following your delightful blog and I think of you as a “kindred spirit.” :)

      Haley

  6. says

    This is a wonderful story. I’m like oddly transfixed by your little family because I can hear myself having this very same conversation with my honey. We are Catholic as well and I believe my exact words have been, “I’m still too selfish, I have things I need to complete” and I’m not sure I could react in the same calm, cool way that you did.

    However, your babies ARE beautiful and your family is totally cute and it obviously worked out for the best.

  7. says

    I found you via your very popular book list, as it was linked on another blog I read. And now I’ve read this post and it is just beautiful. I’m in TX, and soon I’ll go to bed, after checking in on my six kids. Speaking quite frankly, none of them were what you would call planned, but the degree of surprise varies for each pregnancy. I found out I was pregnant about two weeks after I started my first full-time job at UNT, just weeks after graduating with my BA degree. My then-fiance (now husband) was still a student. It was not ideal. Six kids later I still battle selfishness more than I care to admit. But there is no doubt that my daughter helped set me on my path to holiness, bumpy as it may be.

    (P.S. Jealous you saw Radiohead)

  8. Janelle says

    I just found your blog through the Simple Mom website and just had to post even though this blog post is rather old :) I love to hear of others who don’t use birth control and who’s surprise baby is the most wonderful thing ever :) Your story as to your reason’s for going off the Pill and then finding out about your little blessing are so similar to my story :) I think that God had us be surprised with our son because I’m a worrier and probably would have been really stressed figuring out if we were “ready” to start having kids. I am SO thankful for Him giving us our unexpected blessing. Anyways, just thought I would say hi since your post touched me so much :)

    • says

      Janelle, I’m so glad you enjoyed the post. When are we ever really “ready” to become parents, am I right? I would have waited way too long if it had been up to me. So glad it wasn’t!

  9. Julia says

    Loved reading this post and can entirely relate to your experience. My unplanned pregnancy (we had a steep learning curve using NFP) happened in the middle of my first year of medical residency amidst 30 hour calls in the hospital every fourth night for months on end. Not ideal, but God provided for our needs those first two years of our son’s life while I finished residency. I quite love the fact that our son was not at all planned… his existence was clearly God’s plan, not ours.

  10. Tara says

    Reading this post was soul food for me–thank you for it. I, too, am here via Simple Mom. I stopped using birth control about a year into our marriage (nearly four years ago), and as Catholics, we decided to “offer the gift of fertility to God.” What a lovely, lovely way you’ve put that:) Our twins were 18 months when I discovered I was pregnant with our third, who will be five months old tomorrow. Life is sometims chaotic, but we adore our beautiful, smart children more than words can describe. It’s tough to constantly get comments like, “you’re done now, right?” and to get looked at like I’m crazy at the doctor when I’m asked what kind of birth control I take and I tell them NFP. God knows when we’ll be “done” and will provide for us. Thanks again for this post. I now feel like I’m in good company.

  11. says

    Wow, I just came across you blog (through pinterest I think) and as I read this I felt like I was reading my own thoughts! My husband and I decided about 2 months ago that we wanted to “try” and I stopped taking The Pill. I have been taking The Pill on and off for nearly 8 years. Luckily I never had an bad side effects and I have been told by doctors that as soon as I stop taking it I can get pregnant (we will see about that). It is weird because we are at a junction in our lives where we just moved across the country and I just started my masters, I keep asking myself if this is the right time. I came to the conclusion that when you relationship is strong then any time is the right time.

    We have enjoyed our lives as dinks (dual income no kids) but as we stood in line at the Ferris wheel last weekend we realized it would be so much more rewarding to share the experience with kids (and that we were the oldest couple sans child). I love your blog and need to subscribe!

  12. says

    I just discovered your blog via pinterest and really loved this post. I am not Catholic, but Mormon. We share a lot of views on family planning. My husband and I are the proud parents of 5 children, including a set of surprise twins. When the twins were born, my oldest child was 5 years old. I hate it when people stop me when I’m out with all of them and tell me how “sorry” they feel for me. My children are the most wonderful things about me, the very reason God put me on the earth. I wouldn’t trade a moment of any day for anything. They are my heart and soul. Thank you for your post and best of luck to you in your families growth!

    • Haley says

      Thank you so much for your encouragement, Sarah. I can only imagine how awesome it must be to be the mother of five. And oh, I hate those sorts of comments, too. “You sure have your hands full.” “Better you than me.” etc. And I only have two! Sometimes it makes me feel angry, but then I just start to feel sorry for people who don’t understand the amazing gift that children are to a family. I’m so grateful for mine! Bless you.

    • Maggie Frances P. says

      We have 5 kids including a surprise set of twins born when the oldest was 5! I hear you on people’s reactions.

  13. Mary says

    Thank you so much for posting this! I too was angry when my doctor did not disclose the inability of a baby to implant afer conception if you are taking BC. We learned this after my husband and I had a reversion to our Catholic faith after we had been married for 7 years, and had two boys spaced out “properly” by BC. We had practiced our faith cafeteria-style since our marriage began (we were “responsible”, and what do those old, celibate men know anyway?), but with study and prayer came to understand the beauty of the Church’s teachings on sexuality. We were starting on a our new path, and SURPRISE! We found out I was pregnant. I remember panicking- I CAN’T be pregnant! My husband is going back to school full time! I’m working 36 hours a week as a nurse! I have a 2 year old and a 6 month old to care for! THREE KIDS IN COLLEGE AT THE SAME TIME?! Thank goodness for my husband’s calm and joyful response. He reassured me that God will provide, and he has! I am now a stay at home mom of 4, ages 8 years-22 months. And guess what? The surprise blessing #3 is my only daughter.

    • Haley says

      Mary, thank you so much for sharing a little of your beautiful story. What a blessing those four children must be to your family!

  14. says

    I’m a convert as well! I grieve deeply for my time spent on birth control. I had three strokes as a result of a hormonal birth control pill coupled with a blood disorder I didn’t know I had. If I had known how awful it was for me and for potential babies, I would have never touched them.

  15. Bethany says

    We didn’t quite do our family planning correctly and resulted in an unplanned pregnancy during college (with years, not just semesters left to go). Through it all, my son is the most precious miracle and my marraige, friendships, and walk with God are stronger because he exists. With almost all of my married friends waiting for that “perfect timing” to have children, I still feel blessed to have surrendered to God’s timing and embraced the most beautiful little boy into my life. Love your story!

    • Haley says

      Thanks for sharing your story, Bethany! After becoming a parent, you realize there is no such thing as “perfect timing” :)

  16. Marianne says

    What an enjoyable read! I was laughing out loud and reading parts to my husband. We just becam Catholic two years ago and after wanting a baby for five years of our marriage we conceived and now have George! A true miracle! NFP is great. The pill sucks! Hoping for many more blessings! Thanks for sharing your story!

  17. says

    This was beautiful, thank you so much for sharing! I’ve never thought about offering my fertility back to God but what a wonderful idea. Food for thought. God Bless!

  18. Ashley says

    Such a beautiful story. Like many others have said, my story is so similar. I’m a cradle Catholic and my husband was raised Baptist. We were pleasantly surprised to find out we were pregnant with our son about a year after deciding to quit bc. When we had our first ultra sound (the big one where you find out the child’s sex) we found out that our son had some pretty major kidney problems. Our doctor originally misdiagnosed him with a condition that would eventually be fatal. He never actually said this to us, but by doing our own research we found out the the condition he told us our son had, meant that our son would never even make it full term. The doctor had us come back every week for additional ultra sounds to check our son’s progression. None of the signs that should have been showing up with this “condition” ever manifested. He was truly at a loss for what was going on. He sent us to a group of doctors in Orlando which is the closest major city to us. They discovered that what he had thought was cysts growing in our son’s kidneys was actually just urine backing up from blockages. They relieved us in one way by letting us know that all his other organs were going to form normally, but we would still have to deal with major kidney issues after he was born. I didn’t care what we had to deal with, I was just over joyed that we had now gotten to the point that he was actually going to be born. Funny thing is I thought this was wonderful news, however this group of doctors still tried to talk me into having an abortion. They even told me they could arrange, if I wanted, to get on a flight to Kansas or somewhere where I could still abort this baby at such a late term. Any way to make a long story short, our son is now a 9 yr old little smartie in 3rd grade. He has gone through several operations and has recently been diagnosed with Aspergers. I wouldn’t change a darn thing. He and his little sister are the most precious things in the whole world to me. After he was born, I wanted to have him baptized at my parish. My husband eventually started taking RCIA classes and is now a convert. We had our wedding redone on the same day as his confirmation. I’m not sure why I strayed from the church in my late teens/early twenties except maybe laziness. Sponsoring my husband and going through the classes with him made me realize how beautiful my faith is. Now with my husband and little family, I just feel so fulfilled, blessed and complete.

  19. Dani says

    Thank you so much for this story and your blog. I can relate sooo completely! Your story is so similar to mine. I am not catholic, but I do believe in Jesus, and even though it’s hard sometimes to remember to trust my husband and I are leaving our life planning up to the Lord. Thank you again!

  20. Catherine says

    Interesting. I’m on the “other side” in the sense that I have 3 gorgeous girls, I’m nearly 40 years old and I had some serious complications during my last pregnancy which made my husband say “no more!” I’m rather sad, as I had always hoped we would have at least 4 children, but we had a long struggle with infertility and waited many years for the girls we now have, so I consider myself lucky to have any at all. I do not want to leave my 3 girls without a mother.

    I have studied the Bible and church history and I feel in good conscience that contraception is the right choice for us at this time. I was happy to leave the spacing of our family up to NFP (which is why I had my 3 girls in 4 years) but we are in a different situation now, and I do not think my religion or trust in God require me to risk my life in attempting to bear more children.

    I have found it interesting the number of other families I know in a similar situation – that there comes a time when many are comfortable with (non-abortifacient) contraception or sterilization. I think all the Catholic couples I know that are our age have sent the husband off for “the snip”.

    Sorry so long, I guess my point really is to live out your convictions, yes absolutely, but also realize and allow that your convictions may change in time. So a good dose of charity and fellowship and refraining from saying “I would never…” makes the world a happier place!

    • Haley says

      It sounds like you have a beautiful family, Catherine :) I’m curious what method of NFP you were using. I am soooo not an NFP expert, we’ve been too lazy to get trained in any particular method and start charting, but there are so many great resources out there.

  21. E. M. says

    Good heavens. This sounds EXACTLY like the story of our first little boy! How funny…we thought all the same things you did – wait until we’ve paid off our debts, wait until we can afford this and that. We thought we were being prudent. But when God changed things around on us, we accepted His will wholeheartedly after the initial surprise/shock…and we are happier than we’ve ever been in our lives! God is so good! I love how you put it…”the fulfillment of my own desires would lead to my own ruin.” SO TRUE! We HAVE to TRUST GOD!

  22. Claudia says

    Just posted this in my FB! We are catholic and not on pills. We have three beautiful ladies aged 3, 2 and 10 months. We want a fourth but in a couple of years more and people think we are nuts. Sometimes we feel like we are the only ones that aren’t on pills, that’s until I bump into strong and amazing moms like you!! THANK YOU!

  23. Chloe L. says

    Haley,

    Thank you for your beautiful post. I found your blog via a Pinterest post, and I couldn’t be happier with what I found. As a young Catholic wife myself, I find it so refreshing to read about others’ experiences when dealing with the intersections of faith and family. My husband and I have been married for about eight months now, and, having taken myself off birth control a few years ago, we are experiencing the trials (and benefits!) of Natural Family Planning. I converted from Protestantism in 2007, so it can be difficult at times to explain our circumstances to my family. Regardless, there’s not a day that goes by that I am not thankful that we made this decision to, in your words, give my fertility back to God.

    Your words are so touching because they reveal what the world wants to disrupt, which is that a woman’s body is free only when it is allowed to embrace its natural state. Birth control confuses the body, transforming it into something that eradicates human life, often without the consciousness of the woman. Your words give me encouragement in a society where men and women too often fail to understand the great severities of birth control.

    I look forward to reading more of your blog in the future. Thank you again for your brave words.

    • Haley says

      I love how you stated it: “a woman’s body is free only when it is allowed to embrace its natural state.” I really think becoming Catholic has helped me stop tolerating my womanhood and start celebrating it. To see my fertility as a gift and not something I needed to apologize for.

  24. Stephanie says

    Thank you for sharing. Our son was also unplanned. My husband and I were both in school. Looking back I see God’s hand on our life. He made a way. Lately I have been struggling with the idea of having more children. I don’t know how we will cope. My inner control freak has a hard time letting go. Your story is helping me see that God can make a way if we let Him.
    “I wish I had offered the gift of my fertility back to God, leaving him in control. Once we hesitantly moved in that direction, we were blessed with the best gift of our lives.”

    Thank you.

  25. AlbertaMom says

    Thank you for your story. I am a Christian and 100% pro-life. I appreciate the value you place on your children and the blessings they are. I just want to say that the pill when taken correctly (not doubling up on doses) is NOT abortofacient. My husband is a pharmacist and assures me of this is fact. If you took many pills at once, then yes, this could happen. This is essentially what the morning after pill (Plan B) is – a very high dose of birth control. But birth control pills taken as prescribed will not do this. I have many friends who do not use birth control because they believe it is not honouring of the blessing of fertility that the Lord has given us. I very much respect their choices and yours, but I am concerned about this idea of BC causing abortions. It DOES NOT. Please don’t believe you caused abortions of your babies while you were on it. YOU DID NOT. If you got pregnant while on the pill (say you missed a dose or it failed) continuing to take it as prescribed before you found out you were pregnant would NOT cause an abortion. I hate to think of women living in guilt because of this myth. It is not some sort of conspiracy or cover-up – my Christian-pro-life-refuses-to-dispense-morning-after-pills-pharmacist husband has done the scientific research and it is just not true.

    • Haley says

      Thanks for your comment. I think you bring up a valid concern that has been receiving lots of dialogue from both sides (especially during the recent election). I’ve seen interesting evidence on both sides of that question. From my understanding, it really hinging on on when you believe pregnancy begins. Because one of the ways contraception can work is to prevent a fertilized egg from implanting, conception can have already occurred (although some define the beginning of pregnancy as when the fertilized egg implants). Although I’ve read some sources that say that it would be unlikely for the Pill to prevent implantation…unlikely simply isn’t good enough for me. Some sources claim that there have not been sufficient studies done to see how the Pill might affect implantation, especially since women’s fertility can be very different from woman to woman. Regardless, as you pointed out, that issue is by no means the only reason I avoid the Pill :)

      • AlbertaMom says

        I believe life begins at fertilization. Which is why I believe the morning after (Plan B) pill can destroy a life. The birth control pill when taken as prescribed will not prevent a fertilized egg from implanting. Do you have any scientific studies that say otherwise?

        My main concern is women believing they caused abortions while taking the pill. Or believing a miscarriage was their fault because they took the pill. I have lost children (an early miscarriage and my twin boys, lost at 21 weeks) and I know there is already ‘what ifs’ and guilt associated with losing a child. There are enough legitimate reasons to encourage natural family planning without having to include a misrepresentation that could hurt so many people.

        • Haley says

          You might want to look into studies about how the Pill alters the uterine lining making it inhospitable to a fertilized egg. I don’t think there’s enough evidence to definitively say that the Pill would never prevent a fertilized egg from implanting and that is another reason we should be wary. This post is about our story and journey toward a different concept of fertility, and definitely not intended to make others feel guilty. I am so sorry to hear of the loss of your babies. I can’t imagine what you and your family must have gone through. I absolutely agree that there are other reasons to encourage NFP, but I wish someone had given me the information I have now before I ever went on the Pill.

  26. says

    This sounds a lot like our story. When we got married, I was on BC, but it started making me feel awful, so I stopped taking it. A few months later- surprise!- we were pregnant! We are ecstatic! After he was born, I was paying attention to my cycles, but at an “impossible” time in my cycle, I became pregnant with our daughter. Over the course of the next several years, we used NFP. We became pregnant five more times, but three out of the five didn’t make it past the first trimester. We fully believe that NFP is right for our family and supports our faith. It is difficult at times, but worth it as I would not want to ever been on the pill again. We have had seven pregnancies in eight years, and it has been completely worth it. Even my precious babies in heaven are a blessing to me. Our surprises over the years and switching to NFP has brought my husband and I even closer!

    • Haley says

      Thank you for sharing your experience, Michelle. So sorry to hear of the loss of your three little ones. Ceasing to use contraception definitely has done wonders for our marriage, too, and I wasn’t expecting that at all!

  27. Veronica says

    I went on the pill as a young adult after having irregular periods that were driving me nuts and a GYNO that didn’t seem to offer any other way to handle it. I was frustrated with my body, but what I really needed was to start charting. After my husband and I were married for about a yr, I went off the pill, irreguler periods resummed and about 10 months later I had my 1st of what would be 4 miscarriages. This lead me to read the book “Taking Charge of your Fertility” by Toni Weschler. She teaches what she calls “the fertility awareness method” which is an empowering form of charting. It is not NFP and has no religious reason for charting, but is very educational for what is happening every month within a womans body. Quickly, I could see that my hormone levels were off, and with the help of other natural resources, I was able to get my hormones back to where they should be. I also found out that I have a blood clotting disorder that means I should never have been on the pill in the first place, but no testing is done before the pill is prescribed. I have given birth to 2 beautiful babies, calling them both unplanned as I threw my plan out the window.
    I don’t believe that being on the pill caused any of my miscarriages, but it did cover up a problem that I wish I would have been aware of sooner. When my daughters are of an age, I will teach them how to chart their own cycles.

    • Haley says

      That’s the same book I read to introduce me to the idea of charting, etc! I couldn’t believe how much of the information about my body I didn’t even know. I have talked to so many friends who discovered problems with their cycle when they started charting. I wish that was the first thing OB-GYNs taught women to do when they are experiencing problems since it seems to be the key to so many solutions! Thanks for sharing your story, Veronica.

  28. says

    Hi, Haley! I’m a new reader, and your blog keeps me occupied for hours that should be spent doing homework. :) But this post (combined with others) really inspired me to take a look at what I’m looking for in a relationship, and what I should hope for in my future husband. I thank God for sending me holy women like you to remind me what is important and what is not, and to give me such wonderful role models. Thank you for your wonderful blog!

  29. Sharon says

    Haley, I’ve just stumbled across your blog while on my lunch break at work. I have been married for 5 months and after stopping birth control because of the same reasons you listed, I now find myself with an unplanned pregnancy. I’ve read your other blog post “Letter to My Former Self” and my heart ached because I said the same things to my husband about wanting to wait…and how I’m too selfish to have a baby right now. I never even really wanted one. I’m horrifed at the thought of being a mother, of my life being over and of being a complete failure, of having the same tulmultuous relationship with my child like the one I had with my mother. I am a Christian and fully believe that God’s plan is obviously different than mine and I know and have preached to others for so long that His plan is perfect and so much better than anything we can imagine…but I am absolutely horrified of being pregnant and having a child and of the irreversible nature of it all. I’m afraid I won’t love it, that I will hate motherhood, that I will lose intimacy with my husband…I’m just so afraid. I would love for the “motherhood instinct” to kick in but ALL I feel is fear and I cry all the time. I know I sound like a horrible selfish person, and I suppose I am, but I really am desperate for some help and guidance from someone who has been there and can show some empathy. I am begging for your help, if you are able to give it. I just need someone to talk to.

  30. Olivia says

    So you don’t want to use birth control of any kind, cool. But I don’t see how not using birth control, having sex and (presumably) be knowingly fertile equals an “unplanned” pregnancy. Those three things say to me, “Plan on getting pregnant.”

  31. Cheri says

    My husband and I have also benefitted from tossing the “prevent pregnancy” mindset and tools from our marriage. :-)

  32. Kaya says

    Hello, thanks for the wonderful article. I think you captured the spirit of Natural Family Planning quite well. I started learning about NFP before I was married, and we’ve been using it ever since. Even if I wasn’t Catholic, I would use it because I never wanted to put all those extra hormones in my body AND have the abortion effects from it as well. However, I don’t agree with your prospective of not considering using NFP as birth control. If you choose to not track your cycle, having sex whenever you like with no regard for what part of the cycle you’re in, then yes, you are not using birth control. However, I track my cycle religiously. We refrain from sex when I am in my fertile time. We have 3 kids and I’m trying to lose 100 pounds and I have just started homeschooling my pre-k child. We want another one, just not right now. So I AM using NFP as birth control, which isn’t abusing the process. Technically, every act of sexual intercourse has to potential for starting life, and we’re both aware of it, and accept that with joy, and I would accept an unplanned pregnancy with happiness. But NFP can also help us be responsible, and space out our children for the sake of my health…..and sanity. So, in short, I believe that NFP is a form of birth control, but causes no moral or biological conflicts that artificial birth control does. Please keep writing! Your blog is an inspiration!

  33. Anonymous says

    I am a pro-life Christian though I am not Catholic. My husband and I did NFP under a Catholic instructor for 5 years, so I am familiar with it and the spiritual philosophies behind it. I think it is a wonderful plan and have no problem with couples letting God plan their families (even those who use no “planning” at all). Our experience was one planned pregnancy on NFP and one unplanned (conception occurred days after the dr. approved my chart—he was definitely a gift from God).

    However, like the one women mentioned in a previous comment, I don’t think there is sufficient proof to say that the Pill is an abortifacient. I understand that it would be hard to prove scientifically because of the intricacy of conception.

    However, the opposite point has been proven many times. I know many women who have gotten pregnant while taking the Pill exactly as prescribed with no harm to the baby or the pregnancy. There are also many women who have had miscarriages while using NFP or no planning at all.

    I am not finding fault with your decision, and I am glad that you have made the choice that you did. May God bless you and guide you in your journey. Many just like to err on the side of caution. Yet, I would love to hear your explanation for the babies who have NOT been harmed by the Pill. Even my Catholic family doctor raised the same question when I asked him about it.

    • Haley says

      Thanks for contributing to the conversation, “Anonymous.” I’ve never actually had anyone leave an “anonymous” comment before! How interesting.

      To be honest, I’m not sure I follow your logic. How does the fact that some babies are conceived even on the Pill alter the fact that the Pill makes the uterine lining inhospitable to implantation? Some babies survive abortions, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t bad for babies. I’m a bit more confused by your comment about women having miscarriages even while using NFP. A miscarriage can be caused by a number of things….so…how does noting that women who aren’t on the Pill sometimes lose babies bolster an argument that the Pill doesn’t harm babies? Isn’t that like saying “some people survive car accidents, some people die when they’re not in the car; therefore, car accidents aren’t bad for people”?

      I agree that there’s evidence on both sides, which is why it’s best to err on the side of caution. But I’m not sure how babies being conceived on the Pill proves anything about the Pill not having any abortifacient capabilities. Maybe I’m missing something here…

      • Anonymous says

        I wanted to be anonymous because I didn’t want to announce our personal family planning information to the world! :)

        I was just meaning that there seems to be more proof for the other side of the debate than yours. Research proves that the uterine lining is less hospitable, but in real life what does that mean? If the birth control pill fails and allows for the egg to implant, the other mechanisms that thin the lining also fail. We have proof of this due to the many babies that are born while their mothers were using the Pill. There is simply no ethical way to prove that the Pill is actually causing abortions.

        I realize that there are many reasons for miscarriage. That was precisely my point. Women who automatically blame the pill for their miscarriage might consider the many who miscarry that are not on the Pill.

        I am a new reader to your blog, so I’m definitely not trying to attack your beliefs. I respect your erring on the side of caution. I also know that the Catholic Church is against the Pill for other reasons besides its possible abortifacient properties. I just, like a previous commenter, want to relieve the burden of guilt some woman may be carrying thinking she aborted many babies while in the Pill.

        • Haley says

          Ah! Now I understand what you meant about miscarriage. Yes, you’re absolutely right. A woman could definitely miscarry due to a completely unrelated reason while on the Pill and think it was the Pill that caused the miscarriage when it wasn’t. Gotcha, and good point.

          But I’m still not sure I follow the uterine lining thing. Why would the mechanism that thins the lining fail when other mechanisms fail? I think the concern is that the other mechanism WOULD fail but the mechanisms that cause the uterine lining to be inhospitable to implantation would NOT fail. As you said, no ethical way to be sure. And yes, I hate thinking that women are out there feeling guilty that there’s a possibility the Pill was abortifacient when they were on it. However, I think it’s important to share that it’s a possibility. We have no way of knowing it doesn’t happen. There is evidence on both sides. And if I had known that (that there’s evidence on both sides and it’s in the realm of possibility) I would NEVER have been on the Pill. And I wish I had that information 7 years ago and I’m a little angry that I didn’t. Does that make sense? I don’t think we’re doing women any favors by hiding that possibility, although, I would certainly hope that no woman would feel guilty for taking a drug she didn’t know had that capability. I, personally, am saddened that I was on it, but not knowing, I can’t really feel guilty. Thanks for sharing your opinions! You were very gracious. Definitely didn’t feel attacked at all and I think it’s an important conversation!

        • laura mckenzie says

          Something you might consider aside from the abortive qualities of the pill… There are also numerous (new) studies related to prolonged use of the pill (5 or more years) and rates of miscarriage & infertility following its use….and in women that no longer wish to avoid pregnancy. The pill is mechanically telling women’s bodies to avoid pregnancy, over and over again, so when they go off the pill, their bodies remained confused. It’s sad seeing friends and family members who are actively trying to conceive now, only after years of providing their bodies with a completely opposite signal. One other REALLY important thing to consider- check out the World Health Organization’s classification of oral contraceptives…they are listed as a Class A carcinogen, along with asbestos, BPA, and other known cancer causing agents. Yet, for some reason, women are not warned about this- our leading world health agency’s standards.

        • laura mckenzie says

          Something you might consider aside from the abortive qualities of the pill… There are also numerous (new) studies related to prolonged use of the pill (5 or more years) and rates of miscarriage & infertility following its use….and in women that no longer wish to avoid pregnancy. The pill is mechanically telling women’s bodies to avoid pregnancy, over and over again, so when they go off the pill, their bodies remained confused. It’s sad seeing friends and family members who are actively trying to conceive now, only after years of providing their bodies with a completely opposite signal. One other REALLY important thing to consider- check out the World Health Organization’s classification of oral contraceptives…they are listed as a Class A carcinogen, along with asbestos, BPA, and other known cancer causing agents. Yet, for some reason, women are not warned about this- our leading world health agency’s standards.

  34. says

    Hello my Dearie,
    I just discovered your blog and obviously LOVE it! This post is so fabulous. I have four chickies, and after the first two there was some debate whether we would have anymore. I felt really strongly that I love being a mother and its what I’m good at and wanted more. But in the end we listened to “reason” and “financial concerns” etc and decided that we would stop at two and I’d go back to work. I felt really gut wrenched about it because I knew in my heart I wanted more, but figured we were being adult and sensible.

    Two months later I went to the doctors about my sickness I was having…. and came out with a midwife appointment! What’s more, it turned out to be twins! What do you know?! I was gonna have the four children I’d always just felt that I would! I really believe that I got pregnant when I did because of God intervening.

    I’m not advocating iresponsibility or anything, but there is such an ides these days that everything must be so incredibly perfect before having a child. Nothing is ever perfect, thats what makes life so amazing!!!

    All the best!
    xxx

    • Haley says

      Aw, thanks, Laura!

      And what a wonderful story you shared about your twins! That is beautiful. “Nothing is ever perfect, that’s what makes life so amazing.” Yes!

  35. laura mckenzie says

    LOVE- love your candor, courage, and honesty about this topic. My hubby and I will celebrate our 6th anniversary this June with our 3rd baby due in May :)– and though NFP was not something I grew up learning about (my husband actually introduced me to the idea when dating), I LOVE the freedom it provides, in that God gets to do the ultimate planning for our family…we have enough decisions in this life, that I can’t imagine having to, or wanting to limit His great plan for our family. It’s still such a taboo topic in modern society, and so when I see an article such as this, my heart is warmed to know that there are others who are embracing God’s design (and the Catholic church’s teaching) on family planning- God bless you & your sweet family!

  36. Beth says

    I loved this blog piece as well as the “why I quit grad school” blog. I am a 25 year old grad student who just welcomed a little miracle in August! I just wanted to weigh in on the birth control argument. I took it for five years and when my husband and I decided we were ready to have a baby, I couldn’t get pregnant. After two years of trying we finally got pregnant, but had a miscarriage eight weeks in. Three months later we got pregnant and had an ectopic pregnancy. After a ton of bloodwork to rule out coagulation issues, we discovered that I was no longer producing enough progesterone. With my doctors help and lots of prayers, we conceived Addison, the best gift God has ever blessed us with. We are now trying for a second (prayers appreciated!!). I just wish I never would have taken the pill and my family could have been started earlier, but all in God’s time. If I had it to do over again, I never would have started the pill to begin with. I just wish more young girls and women knew the effects it can have on your fertility even at such a young age!!! Anyway, I LOVE your blog :)

  37. Maggie Frances P. says

    I LOVE this post! For us our unplanned pregnancy was at 17 while we were still in high school. We were suppose to be sad, suppose to realize our lives were ruined, but the hard headed counter-culture people we were (and still are) essentially laughed at those thoughts. We weren’t from good families and had an uphill battle but it was one we fought readily.

    I know I’m not suppose to say this, I’m suppose to feel ashamed and say “I wish we would have waited” but our surprise was hands down the best thing that happened for us. We had our girl, got married, and added 4 more daughters in roughly 5 or 6 years. Every time we’d get pregnant we were met with negativity. “You’re too young” etc, even from friends. But we ignored it all. After all, we were living on our own without government or family assistance. We were being responsible we just happened to be doing it way younger than most.

    The big lie is that we have to be perfectly prepared before having kids. Another whopper is that having kids without x, y, z is “wrong”. The greatest lie is that kids ruin you, your life, your chances to be happy, etc. I’m so glad we were “crazy” enough to reject these things and move forward.

    To be ashamed of my family or our timing would be to be ashamed of God’s gifts, IMO.

  38. says

    Honest question: if you are concerned with a fertilized egg not implanting, why wouldn’t condoms be a reasonable birth control method? Used properly, there would be no fertilization. Unless one is charting very carefully, NFP does not have a good success rate. So, in that sense, “giving fertility back to God” is really just saying “I’ll take my chances at getting pregnant.”

    Also, I’d like to point out that even women not on the pill often pass fertilized eggs. Sometimes something is genetically wrong with the egg, and other times the uterus is just not ready to support the egg. It is still unclear if the rate of egg passage is any different in women on the BC pill versus not.

    I don’t want to dissuade you from choosing your own personal methods for your family; everyone needs to make their choices. But please be gentle on those who have made different choices based on their life circumstances.

    • Haley says

      Hi Leah. Starting with your first question, concern over a fertilized egg not implanting is merely one of MANY concerns about birth control. Condoms are unacceptable for Catholics, not because a fertilized egg might not implant, but because we believe sex is both unitive and procreative. It should always be open to life. Condoms are a means of thwarting the procreative nature of sex.

      “Unless one is charting very carefully, NFP does not have a good success rate. So, in that sense, “giving fertility back to God” is really just saying “I’ll take my chances at getting pregnant.””

      Your statement above seems to misunderstand NFP. NFP requires careful charting. So if one is not charting carefully, NFP isn’t being practiced. That’s comparable to saying, “Unless you’re careful to always take your BC pill everyday, BC doesn’t have a very good success rate.” Or “unless you remember to put on a condom, they’re not very effective.” Perfect use of NFP (Creighton method) is 99.5% effective (same as BC pills). But typical use is significantly MORE effective than BC (96.8% vs. 90-96%). When I said “giving fertility back to God” I was referring to honoring my God-given fertility and no longer medicating for the “problem” of fertility.

      “But please be gentle on those who have made different choices based on their life circumstances.” In sharing my own personal story, in what way was I judging those who made different choices? Please point me to the section so that I can correct it, if that is the case. Thanks!

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