AFP: Awesome Family Planning

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On the outside chance that you haven’t already decided that we’re completely nuts, this post will probably convince you. You may previously have figured out that we’re Catholic converts leaning toward the traditional, but now you’re going to think that we’re bordering on total lunacy. Who knows? Maybe you’re right. And this topic is going to be a hot button for controversy, but I’m gonna post it anyway with this proviso: this is what WE’VE chosen to do and why. It is not meant to be a preachy judgment on those who have made different choices or believe different things about sex, marriage, fertility, contraception, etc. Ok? Ok.

As I mentioned the other day, we’ve been trying to decide what kind of NFP to use now that my fertility has returned post-Baby Lucy. Our journey toward Catholicism (which I keep meaning to write about) led us away from artificial birth control.

Luckily, we’ve discovered the perfect method of birth control for us! It’s called Awesome Family Planning. Here’s why it’s great: you can have sex whenever you want, you don’t have to use condoms, you don’t have to put carcinogenic hormones in your body, you don’t have to chart, you don’t have to take your temperature every day, you don’t have to even think about cervical fluid. Sounds perfect, amirite?!

But I should warn you that there is a possible side-effect: babies! Yes, you’ve figured it out. We’ve decided that for us right now, the most appealing kind of family planning is not our plan at all. Instead we want to completely turn our fertility over to God and let his timing be the right timing. (The one con to AFP is that everyone you know will think you’re completely insane. So you might have to make new friends that are also weird Catholics…which, now that I think about it sounds more like a pro.)

I’m not saying that NFP isn’t perfectly permissible in order to space children. The Church allows it. And, if there is an insurmountable financial problem or a serious medical reason to postpone pregnancy, we may resort to NFP at some point in the future. But right now, we can afford to feed our family. By making some sacrifices we are able to live frugally on one modest income. We have one car, we grow our own veggies, we cook at home, we don’t make unnecessary purchases. You get the idea. And I am perfectly healthy so there is no medical reason that would make another pregnancy dangerous for me or for a future baby.

So, we’ll see. I could be pregnant right now. Or maybe we’ll never conceive again (although I pray that’s not the case). Either way, it’s out of our hands. And not worrying about it anymore is such freedom. We’ve learned again and again that our plans fail and God’s plan is best. So we’re turning it over to Him.

When Baby 3 arrives someday (hopefully), we’ll need a new vehicle because three car seats won’t fit in the back seat of our Camry. But if we believe that God became man and dwelt among us, died for us and was resurrected, surely we can trust that he can get us a van…

This post was NOT written to make you feel guilty for using NFP. There’s nothing morally wrong with NFP, (check out Simcha’s recent post on the topic here) but for us at this time, we think that neither avoiding pregnancy or trying to achieve pregnancy is the most compatible method (or lack thereof) for our family’s view of faith and sex. And it wasn’t written to convince you to quit birth control, either, or make you feel judged. It’s just an explanation of why we’re living our life in this crazy, wonderful way.

You may be wondering: “But, what’s the point of this insanity?! You’re going to end up like the Duggars! What’s wrong with birth control?

More on that in the next post (I didn’t want this post to get so long that it looked like a dissertation, so I broke it into two parts)…

I humbly request that in the comments you are respectful of our decision and the stance of the Catholic Church regarding contraception, although you are welcome to express disagreement in a kind and charitable manner!

p.s. just a reminder that the blog has moved to www.carrotsformichaelmas.com so if you want to keep up with my loony musings, please update your reader with my blog’s new URL or subscribe via email in the upper right hand corner.

 

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Comments

  1. says

    I think it’s great that you’re at this point in your life – the world needs more children raised by parents who are excited to be parents. In fact I’m jealous, we’re using FA for the time being because I need a little bit more time to heal from my c-section combined with some financial things. That being said we can’t wait to be able to grow our family in the future.

    Ironically I was at the doctors just this morning and they had to go down the list of birth controls that I could possibly be on and when I said no she replied “playing it risky are you?”. I just smiled and rolled my eyes when her back was turned, but I had so much more I wanted to say.

    • Haley says

      Oh man, I love the looks I get at the OB-GYN when they ask what kind of birth control I’m on. And then there’s the inevitable: “You know what couples who practice NFP are? Parents!” joke. Gotta love that.

      • Jennifer says

        Funny. :) I get grilled at the OB/GYN about not being on birth control, too. I quit BC and used FAM for 14 months before trying and getting pregnant with our son. My OB office tried to push BC at my 6 week post partum check up and since breastfeeding is so important to me and I hated being on BC in the first place, I wasn’t about to go back on it. For a variety of personal reasons, we’ve used FA again since my cycle returned when my son was 17 months old. We are excited to switch to AFP at this point. :) I think it’s amazing to let go and give it to God. I can definitely say I wish sometimes that I wasn’t so in control – maybe we can move towards it from this point forward. Very inspiring post & blog!

    • says

      Wow! Great post and I am with you sister! : )
      We subscribe to the same AFP plan and have been blessed with 10. I am now 46 and let me tell you that I still “smile and roll my eyes” A LOT (like Molly Makes Do commented) and that once you get to be over 35, and even more so over 40 the doctors and staff can be quite aggressive in pretty much telling you that you are being risky. My last doctor even had the nerve to question the Catholic Church and Her teachings. I kid you not he ending it with Us (insert his denomination) we use us some birth control!
      Needless to say I will not be choosing him as my OB if the Lord should bless us again.
      Like you I am not bashing NFP. Like you our family has chosen not to use it unless we truly felt that we had serious reason and up to now that has yet to happen. It takes lots of prayer and reflection and HONESTY to see just what a serious reason would be. Each couple must come to terms with that on their own and hopefully with the guidance of a GOOD spiritual director….which is a whole other topic! :)
      ~Laura

  2. amy griffin says

    This is totally practical, and not a comment on or reflection of my meditation on your “loony musings:)”, BUT, we found three car seats could fit into a tiny Honda, or any other Sedan. So you MIGHT be able to make it work for a few more years.

    I researched for a long time, and measured, and reasearched, and re-measured, trying to find the perfect combo. (We did have to get 3 new car seats for this set-up, as opposed to just one, when Eleonora arrived.)

    Anyway, I don’t even really know what a Camry is. Is it like a Honda?

    • Haley says

      Haha, I love it, Amy! You are fantastic. I just told Daniel about this and he’s thrilled to know we don’t have need to buy a van if I get pregnant in the near future. How do you get to the middle kid?

  3. Sarah says

    Amy beat me to it! I just wanted to tell you that with these car seats you can fit 3 in the back of a Corolla….even smaller than the Camry. http://www.combiusa.com/Products/Item.aspx?Item=12

    I had 2 in mine for my twins and when I got pregnant with our third I was planning on just getting another. We did end up getting a van due to some very generous help from my mother, but I still love the carseats!

    More to the point I love this post and admire your faith and trust in God and your willingness to follow as He leads you!

    • Haley says

      Well, if I get pregnant this year I will definitely be checking these carseats out, haha. I do, on occasion, gaze longingly (covetously?) at vans.

      And thanks for your kind words! We are a work in progress. Giving up control (prying my fingers from the control) is such freedom.

  4. amy griffin says

    Hey, yeah! That’s Noni’s carseat (the link, the brown one, coco somethin…) We got the boys two taller, big kid ones…Radian Sunshine Kids 65, I believe. Still very slim, and very wonderful. :)

    It’s a bit trying to get to Noni in the middle. Even now, there’s some jerking and leaning and core work involved. I broke my elbow last fall running with our dog and while it was healing it was SO awkward trying to put her in with one arm. I did it, after a few weeks, because I was a little cabin crazy.

    I think it sounds wonderful to give up control. We’ve definitely been not-trying, not-preventing, in the past, and it is very freeing. Of course, we always got pregnant within a month! No joke…Anyway. You guys make beautiful babies.

  5. says

    You know what’s ironic? Or maybe not ironic but…I don’t know…something- that I would honestly enjoy the AFP lifestyle, but I get so dang sick for the entire first half of pregnancy that I can’t take care of my own kids. It’s a tragedy! So I have to wait until they’re old enough to not need me to nurse or anything else “mommy centric” so that other people can take over whilst I languish in a half conscious haze of near-hospitalization for 20 weeks. Sigh. It’s such a bummer.

    • Haley says

      Oh, girl. That sounds dreadful. I was so ill for my first two trimesters with my firstborn–throwing up every single day, nausea 24/7, dizzy, miserable. Not to the point that I was dangerously dehydrated or anything, but dreadful. I was so glad when the second time around was way better. Weeks 6-15 were pretty horrid and I did have to call my mom to come over a few times so I could lie down on the cold wooden floor, but otherwise, pretty manageable. Have your pregnancies gotten any easier or are you always super duper sick? I’m really hoping (wishfully thinking?) that each one will be easier for me.

      • says

        Mostly my pregnancies (in terms of sickness) have gotten progressively *gulp* worse with age….but I know there is no rule whatsoever that supports that happening to other people in a predictable way! My MIL, for example, was only sick with her first and then went on to have 5 more trouble-free pregnancies. She was actually surprised that I was so sick during subsequent pregnancies because it hadn’t occurred to her that that was a possibility! But just look- I’m about to deliver baby #5. So clearly I survived, as did my husband and kids, and I still firmly hold that it is all worth it in the end :)

  6. Mythri says

    That sounded so much like what my grandmother would have said in India 50 years ago. What a study in contrasts! Third world countries had poor people and your delightful termed AFP. Also a lot of maternal and infant mortality. Teen moms and weak kids born with no spacing between them who grew up into weak adults. Believe me, the women there today queue up to get a break from childbearing.
    Thats the perspective from a girl who grew up in the third world.

    • Haley says

      As I said repeatedly in the post, not avoiding pregnancy is what we have decided is best for our family at this time. I also explained that not attempting lots of spacing of our children is possible for us because of our financial situation and my lack of health problems making another pregnancy perfectly safe for me. I believe I made it clear that I was not prescribing this method, or lack thereof, for all families or all situations, but rather describing what we believe to be best for our family. Please understand that I don’t take the difficulties of women in the third world lightly and am grateful for Natural Family Planning that helps families space out their children in situations when subsequent pregnancies would result in health or financial crisis.

  7. Anika Adams says

    I stumbled upon this post when I checked out a different one I say on Pinterest-Love it! My husband and I made the same decision. Who knows if we’ll change our minds, but for now it is such a load off! I don’t worry:) We don’t share it with too many people, but we certainly get some funny looks. So maybe I should find some weird Catholic friends (and weird LDS/Mormon friends-that’s us)!

    • says

      I am also a weird LDS/Mormon friend Anika! Haha. We have always done a version of NFP mixed with a little AFP, haha. Right now though I have 4 kids and we are really struggling to get it all back together emotionally. I have a 6 yr old son with Aspergers who we really need to be able to focus more of our efforts on right now, a 4.5 yr old daughter who is just really in need of more positive alone time with mom and dad, a 2.5 yr old daughter who is desperate for some attention (or I am desperate to be able to keep her in my line of vision at all times, haha), and a beautiful 2 month old daughter who just needs my time as well for obvious reasons. Because of this and other health issues, for the first time, I feel like we really need to take family planning more seriously (even though each of my children WAS planned) and I am not OK with conventional BC. Do you have any posts outlining different NFP options? I would love to be able to learn more about them and love your outlook as it seems to fit with mine very well.

      • Haley says

        Stephanie, I don’t have any posts outlining the various NFP options (mostly because I’ve always been too lazy to commit to learning any method well, haha). But that’s actually a great idea since I have good friends who use various options. I’d love to do a series of guest posts on NFP options in the future. Some methods that close friends have used and loved are the Creighton method and the Marquette method. 1flesh.org has some great information about NFP (I think it primarily promotes the Creighton method), and the Couple to Couple League is also a great resource. Sounds like you have a beautiful family :)

      • Sally says

        Stephanie:

        I have used sympto-thermal method for the seven years I have been married . I have two kids planned and spaced using that method. It works for me!! Do some research and find a good NFP teacher! They are worth millions ;) best of luck!

  8. Angela Decker says

    I like that this takes a lot of faith and you’re willing to trust God, but I also take issue when people decide to simply “leave it up to God” when He is the one who gave us our brains and ability to reason and decide. We come up with a plan and then take it to Him in prayer to see if it’s right.

    • Margaret Kelly says

      And the “leaving it to God” philosophy also seems kind of disingenuous when we’re having sex, which after all is biologically designed to produce children. (And I still don’t understand why frustrating that biological tendency is more morally egregious than frustrating other biological tendencies, like wearing antiprespirant so I don’t sweat under my arms, but that’s another conversation).

      I’m no theologian, but I don’t see how God is choosing that any of us becomes pregnant or not-pregnant on a day-to-day-basis. We don’t say that God “chooses” to give us a flower when we plant a seed in the ground, even though some seeds produce flowers and some don’t.

  9. Christine says

    You are not AT ALL crazy. We have decided to do the same thing. I may start charting in a few months, when we start trying to get pregnant again, but for now, we’ll do as God intended and if he blesses us with another child, great!

    • Haley says

      Glad to know we’re in good company :) Honestly, I have never been so relaxed about my fertility as the past few months when I haven’t bothered to avoid or achieve pregnancy. I’m almost surprised I’m not pregnant already. Maybe because Lucy is still nursing all night? haha. Anyhow, I’m sure if I’m blessed to get pregnant again it will happen just when it should.

  10. Lauren says

    Well, we’re not Catholic (we’re Reformed :)), but we are thinking about the same things! We kind of threw BC out the window after our second and 19 months later had our now-7-month-old…. So here we are with three under the age of 4. What?? :)

    I was on the pill for two months and it was awful – not only physically but emotionally. Totally messes me up. But as you say condoms aren’t an awesome option. I wrestle with wanting to let it be and trust the Lord and worrying that people will think we are CUHRAZY if I get pregnant again…

    Anyway, thanks for posting this. :) Nice to know we’re not alone…

  11. Holly says

    Thank you so much for this bit of encouragement! My husband and I got married in June and decided when we got engaged that we would not use any form of oral or medicinal contraceptive. We’re Baptist, but we actually looked into Natural Family Planning methods. After a few months of charting, symptom checking, and much prayer, we pretty much made the same decision you guys did. It is so incredibly freeing to give up this area of our lives totally and completely to God! If we truly believe that God ordains every life, why not let Him?! His timing is perfect and we know that He knows best. We are trusting Him completely to bless us with a child on His time. We know God will honor this decision! Many blessings to you and your beautiful family! God is so good!

  12. Kathy says

    I find this discussion fascinating, but (after just skimming through), I didn’t see anything about methods of BC for people who shouldn’t get pregnant again for health reasons (gestational hypertension, too-small pelvic bones, 31+ hours of labor that led to an emergency C-section after baby got stuck). As a non-Catholic who is nonetheless intrigued by non-hormonal means of BC, what are the options?

    • Haley says

      Great question, Kathy. To clarify, the Church does allow couples to avoid pregnancy due to grave circumstances (which would certainly include significant danger to the mother’s life), just not through artificial contraception. I do NOT pretend to be an expert on Natural Family Planning because I have not been trained in it since we haven’t really been avoiding pregnancy since our conversion. But you might find some interesting information at this site: http://www.1flesh.org/argument_page/a-better-way/ which promotes the Creighton model. I have friends who have been trained in Creighton, some who are avoiding, and some who were able to achieve pregnancy through using it after suffering from years of infertility. During the only time we were kinda sorta avoiding pregnancy, I read “Taking Charge of Your Fertility” which is an introduction to charting fertility signs (temperature, cervical fluid, etc). I really should feature some guest posts from couples who are experts on different NFP models. You might also look in The Couple to Couple League which, I believe, features a different model. Is any of that helpful?

  13. Kathy says

    Great, thank you! I will check out the Creighton model and the other methods. I don’t actually have too much trouble with the micro-pill; I’m still nursing (my son is nearly 3 years old), so the combination of nursing and the micro-pill have actually led to one good side effect and a couple of (minor) negative ones.

  14. Rachelle says

    I will be praying over this for sure after our next little boy comes. We’re already in the ‘insane’ category with three almost under three and one car. Some how God provides and we ended up with a Mazda 5 (NOT a mini van – AMEN!). I feel like each blessed little boy we have we made the decision to have. We’re of the ‘if we decide we’re ready, we’re pregnant before we finish the sentence…’ I’m told fertility eventually slows down, but we haven’t really given up the charts to see if it’s really us that’s really fertile or that we are really just hitting the peak day without fail everytime! The key will be to NOT start charting, because as soon as I know the days and numbers and habituate looking at the signs – I know what’s going on and what to do/not do if we do/don’t want to get pregnant. That will absolutely be difficult knowledge to let go of and know that we have reasoned wisely that all is in greater hands than our own.

    • Haley says

      Can’t tell you how relieved I was when we fit the three car seats in our Camry! :) For me, the decision of whether we were ready or not was really stressing me out. It was such freedom to not allow myself to be in charge of the decision. Not that everyone has to do it that way! NFP is awesome. But for me, it was a relief. Will we always avoid charting? Who knows. But for now, I’m happy with with AFP :)

  15. says

    This is the most delightful post I’ve ever seen on this topic.

    Though Protestant, we also strongly believe as you do (i would guess, first time to your blog… ) about trusting God for his plans in sex, marriage, and the creation of life. We have 11 beautiful children thanks to AFP! (After five marriage years of intentionally avoiding that “side effect” we then had a … change in philosophy). I always say they were all planned, I just don’t clarify Who did the planning. AFP is definitely our favorite and the absolute ideal, though we finally have discovered there are times for a move towards NFP. (Our baby is being treated for leukemia, is breastfeeding, and I am exposed to chemo so concern for her need for extraordinary nurture and a new womb baby’s potential exposure). Moving away from AFP after years of that freedom, challenging.

    My link to your blog was actually through your list of books for girls .. good fun and great reviews from a different perspective and you included all our favorites, I like how you rightly included LOTR and HP with great justification, they were and are favorites with our boys and girls. I’m about to forward that link to our oldest girl, an English major. I have it on good authority that list works…

    Cheers! Sara.

  16. says

    IF you are at a point in your life where you can afford mentally, physically and spiritually to have another child this is an excellent plan. If, on the other hand, you choose to have baby after baby and expect the state to pay for their (and your healthcare) that is another thing entirely. Sadly, many of my patients fall into the latter rather than the former category. They have not made a conscious decision to care for and nurture such babies as may come but rather to apply for yet more welfare and food stamps with each new life. “I can’t be pregnant because I don’t want to be” comes frequently from their mouths when I inform them that they are, indeed, pregnant. You are fortunate to be able to make the choice you have made. Your children are lucky too!

  17. Nicole Elhardt says

    Yay! Note: being deeply convicted of God’s desire for unity for His believers, and His admonishment through Paul that Christ is not divided, I do not wish to identify as being Catholic or Protestant – simply, I am in Christ. That said, Catholic or not, I think more believers need to joyfully accept God’s gracious gifts, and let go of control and worldly wealth building, etc, etc. He says women will be saved through childbearing, if they continue in the faith; since having children, I’ve realized (as I seek to continue in the faith and raise my children in love for the Lord and godliness) what growth in faith and character it requires of us, the parents! This verse makes more sense, now. I cannot expect my children to obediently do anything I tell them without complaining without being struck with how *practical* the command “do all things without complaining” truly is. Children helped me take many issues out of the “deeply spiritual” realm and put my feet to the pavement, so to speak. God bless you as you desire His good gifts which bring joy and character refinement, lol.

  18. Anne says

    Glad to hear it has a name! AFP. :) I found your blog through Pinterest and will be reading a lot more. Anne-with-an-e, mother of 9, AFP practitioner, homeschooling, breastfeeding, Catholic, fellow crazy-person. :)

  19. Angela says

    This is tangential, but I noticed your comment about needing a van when you get to #3, and wanted to make sure you knew there might be another option: http://amzn.com/B005MQR794
    When we were expecting #3 a van was NOT in the cards for us, so we invested in a few of these to get by (since they’ll fit 3-across in many cars).

    That said, we got a van when #4 was coming along, and LOVE it. So, if you can get a van, then definitely do so!

    • Haley says

      What a fun idea, Andrea! I’m so technologically challenged but that would be great to have an AFP button :)

  20. Brenda says

    This was a great post. I am a Catholic mom of 5 – the oldest is 20 and the youngest almost 10. I am 47 and we have practiced NFP since marriage 24 years ago. After our last child was born (he was unplanned), we practiced NFP with a contraceptive mentality (which I didn’t consider at the time but now look back and realize). After reading Kimberly Hahn’s book, “Life-Giving Love” three years ago we started practicing AFP. I would love to have another child but I realize time is running out. It is a relief to not have to chart anymore or worry about reading the charts (especially as menopause approaches and cycles get all wacky).
    Anyway, I recommend the book “Life-Giving Love” by Kimberly Hahn!

  21. Liz says

    I love this quote:
    “But if we believe that God became man and dwelt among us, died for us and was resurrected, surely we can trust that he can get us a van…”

    I’m a weird AFP-using Pentecostal – can I be your friend too???? lol

    Great post, very articulate. Thanks for writing!

  22. Megan Keyser says

    J+M+J

    LOVE, LOVE, LOVE! My husband and I have been practicing “AFP” since we married almost seven years ago, and you know, even though it’s undeniably challenging to have five children in seven years, I wouldn’t trade it for the world! And it’s actually quite liberating to leave the question entirely in God’s Hands, knowing that He has the perfect plan for our unique family.

    Blessings to you and yours!

    • Haley says

      I really feel the same way. We will probably talk over what we plan to do after baby #3 after her arrival in a few weeks (particularly after all the debilitating morning sickness that lasted well into the second half of the pregnancy, eek!) because ideally I want my body to have recovered from any magnesium or other mineral/vitamin/nutrient deficiencies to hopefully minimize the morning sickness next time. But I can’t tell you how wonderfully freeing it has been not to try to decide each day, “are we ready for another pregnancy?” but to leave it far out of our control. So special!

  23. Sarah says

    LOVE this post! We have tried using NFP but due to my ridiculously fertile nature and what seems to be a constant reminder from God that we are not in control, We are having our 5th child right after my oldest turns 6. It is freeing to know we are not truly in control and I am glad God gave me 4 children that might not have been since we wanted to “space them more”. The regret I hear the most from older parents is “we should have had more” not ” I wish I never had so many” Yay for AFP :)

    • Haley says

      That’s a great point, Sarah. I have often heard older parents wish they had more kids but I’ve never heard a mother say, “Boy! Wish I hadn’t had all these kids!” This season of life challenges me at every turn, but I would not change a single thing!

  24. Beth says

    Hi-It is great to see younger women who are pro family! (Not that I am old, but in my 40’s). My husband and used AFP, but after our 5th CSection, (which we with our first 2 were hoping to use the Bradley Method, but God had other plans), it is too dangerous to have any more. I almost died with our last-seriously-3 hour CSection after 7 months of total bedrest, but God is good and I didn’t and we have a very healthy and rambunctious 4 year old girl today. Fortunately, I have younger sister in laws and one is expecting her 8th, and the other has 7, another has 3 (and is only 32), and another is expecting her 2nd. So many babies for me to hold and to get my baby fix! Praise God! Anyway, what ever your needs are, God will take care of them. We also live on one income, and we live very frugally-why do I need stuff when I have 5 delightful children! Besides, where would I put it? Thanks for the Blog! And PS…..I don’t think you are nuts!

    • Haley says

      Thanks for the encouragement, Beth! So glad your last pregnancy ended safely for you with the amazing gift of your little girl :)

  25. Pam says

    I just found your blog & I love this post!! Apparently, we have been using AFP without realizing the name ;) After discussing various types of NFP or just letting God’s plan unfold with regard to our fertility, we became pregnant with #4 and are so thrilled! God’s timing is perfect. And yes – even though this is only our 4th child in 8 years, everyone we know thinks we are insane!

  26. Cheri says

    Yes, yes, YES!!! AFP rocks! My hubby and I are interdenominational (LDS and Christian Scientist) but spiritully reached the same conclusion–creation is in God’s hands and we were no longer going to put barriers between us. Best decision we ever made!

  27. LyssaLoo says

    Actually, this sounds like a pretty solid plan! And people already think I’m crazy wearing veils at mass and chanting liturgy of the hours. Yeah, my MawG had 13 and God blessed her bountifully. My mawPlaisance had 16 also. The coolest part is, I got a buh-jillion cousins! And they are all crazy Catholics too! It’s pretty much awesome!

  28. Beverly says

    I just found your blog a few weeks ago and I have been loving every post! I haven’t quite found my place yet ( I was raised Baptist but am currently attending a UMC with my In laws, but it still just doesn’t FEEL right), but I feel exactly as you do about AFP (love the name!). My husband however feels the opposite. He has a daughter from a previous marriage and we have a son together and he says that’s all he wants. I should say he’s not really “into religion”, he attends church occasionally when the kids ask him to go and his family is a HEAVY influence on the how many kids aspect of his decision… I find it hard to talk to him about the “big” decisions such as family planning and where we should go to church. Any suggestions?

    • Haley says

      That sounds really difficult, Beverly! It’s really hard to give advice to someone I don’t know personally since every family is so different with different dynamics, but the fail proof advice is to pray for him and for your family that you can be one-minded and work as a team to make those important decisions together. My prayers are with you!

  29. Dina says

    It is wonderful to read everyone’s posts here. I am almost 49 and nearing menopause. My husband and I used to teach CCLI’s version of NFP, the sympto-thermal method. The couple that taught us were Lutherans who converted to Catholicism probably because of the Church’s teaching on this issue. They had only one child because the woman almost died during the pregnancy and it was a condition that would recur. They used the most conservative Rule C (waiting to resume relations until after ovulation) because they were so serious about avoiding another pregnancy. It worked for them. They were a wonderful couple and loved their daughter. We have six kids. Having read Sheila Kippley’s Breastfeeding and Natural Child Spacing, I nursed my kids for about 2 years each. My cycles always returned 18 months post partum. The kids are all about 2 1/2 years apart. We charted temperatures pretty consistently when my cycles would return because it became apparent that I typically ovulated late and had a longish gestational period. OB/GYNs would always ask the date of my last period and set the due date accordingly, which would be 2 weeks before I was actually due. I ended up going to midwives because they were willing to look at my charts and push back the due date. I think this helped me avoid induced labor with all of its potential complications such as c-section and uterine adhesions. I agree that AFP is ideal. Because I wanted to avoid medical interventions by litigation-wary OB-GYNs, I am glad I had my NFP charts. Fertility awareness can be a good thing.

  30. Melina says

    AFP – I love it! The term I mean – because my husband and I have lived this for the 21 years of our marriage. I don’t think people know what freedom there is in trusting God with this part of our lives. AFP is the reverse thinking of NFP (and like you say, there’s nothing wrong with NFP). With NFP we are open to God asking us to have another child. With AFP we are open to God asking us to stop having children. Both require regular communication with God. Both are open to life, but with NFP God has to speak quite loudly and quite clearly and maybe quite repeatedly before we get His message. With AFP we make ourselves vulnerable and in so doing we have to trust Him not just with our fertility, but also with all those other areas of our lives that we ache to control – our finances, our vehicles, our vacations, our friends (because face it, this choice will make people uncomfortable and we may lose “friends” along the way – I know I have). But God has a plan for our lives and He won’t lead us astray. Thanks for the reminder of why I do what I do – I have 11 children and 5 teenagers and sometimes life is just busy and I forget. I wouldn’t change anything for the world! God bless.

  31. Celeste says

    I loved every bit of this. I am getting married in September (we are not Catholic… Orthodox. Which doesn’t have laws about birth control, but does discourage methods other than NFP) Anyway, I am drawn to AFP. While I am totally fine with NFP, I am liking the idea of NOT planning more and more. Can you recommend other blogs and resources? Or at least some good Google search terms lol! I am having trouble finding more stories from AFP families and I would love to read more :)

  32. Mary Lynne says

    I just found your blog when I was looking up NFP on google as I’m looking around to figure out which method I will be doing after my wedding (which is still two years away so I know I have lots of time to figure it out). We’re both Catholic and have always known that NFP (or AFP when possible) is the only option for our future family. Since I found it, I’ve read much of your blog, and it has really helped me learn a lot about marriage and family in a practical, helpful way, which I really hope can help my own future family. Thank you for sharing you knowledge!

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