I’ve been thinking about NFP this week and how prophetically genius Humanae Vitae is. I was going to share some of my favorite quotes but remembered I already did last year here and here. It’s not a long read, I highly suggest taking some time to read it. Too many Catholics, and non-Catholics, have missed out on this treasure.
I love the way God created the human body; it’s beautiful and amazing and miraculous. I am especially amazed with how intricate the design of the female body is with our natural rhythms and cycles. With such a deep respect for the Sacrament of Marriage coupled with how my body and my husband’s work together, it is only natural for me to also love Natural Family Planning. I write about it so much I created a new page for all my posts/articles on the subject. I’d like to add other author’s articles here too so feel free to send me a link to some good ones and I’ll post them there too. (Maybe I’ll make a new Pinterest board for that, too).
I re-read some of my past posts and I had to laugh a little when reading the one about being “Done!?.”. I have a different perspective on it now that I am pregnant and definitely feeling “done!” with this pregnancy. This time has been different than the previous three. I started out determined not to complain/whine as much during this pregnancy but well it’s kind of hard not to when it’s so physically and emotionally draining–it just takes over. Though I’m still ‘young’ (under 30) this is my 4th pregnancy and yes, it does make a difference. It has made a difference physically–even though I am ‘in shape’ my body isn’t quite as chipper as it was the first go around. Things are more…”saggy” for lack of a better explanation. It also makes a difference having 3 other kids to chase around/yell at/pay attention to/care for than just two sweet ones that usually got along wonderfully together. On the one hand, it’s kept me busier and more distracted, especially during the school year when I was frequently nauseous. The time has flown by quickly too. And, even though there is more ‘work’ with more kids, there are also more helping hands. I’m so thankful I can send my daughter or sons upstairs or downstairs to fetch things for me when I’m too tired to climb back up when I just came down. They even rub my feet and back for me sometimes!
The physical exhaustion has gotten to me the most this time though. I feel like Jessie Spano, I have all these lofty goals and ideas but at the end of the day I’m just too tired and only want to crash on my bed and sleep forever. However, when I do finally get to lay down I’m so uncomfortable or have to pee every 15-20 minutes that I don’t get much rest anyway.
That said, I’m incredibly grateful for how healthy I am and how good I do have it because I know of many other women who have much ‘worse’ times in pregnancy. And of course, there are those who have an even worse “empty” pain if they’ve lost a baby to miscarriage or have yet to even had the chance to complain about being pregnant at all. My only major complaint this go around has been my darn side ligament spastic pain that plagues me throughout the day/night. It hasn’t been as bad the last week as my body loosens up and prepares for labor/birth, which I am incredibly thankful for. Still, it’s those little ‘pebbles in the shoe’ parts of pregnancy that weigh me down after a while.
The combination of the physical exhaustion and the emotional stress of being pregnant with 3 other littles around has majorly tested me and I’ve failed more times than risen above. There were definitely moments of feeling done with the pregnancy in my other ones, but this has been the first time I’ve ever really felt like not doing this again…at least not for a long time. I know this might change, especially after I am no longer pregnant, but for now I feel I have reached my personal threshold.
With these feelings, I can relate to those women who resort to sterilization or contraception after pregnancy. There are many good-’sounding’ reasons used to justify their use, especially after extremely challenging pregnancies and/or births. Sometimes, it feels like too much and that the only way “out” is to permanently or temporarily prevent having to go through that again. I get it, I do. However, it doesn’t make it “right” in the same way it would not be right for a mother to drown her newborn baby in a bathtub because of similar feelings. There are other healthier ways to deal and it’s the same with “family planning,” (though I really hate that word and even think Natural “Family Planning” could use a better name).
I was carrying these burdensome feelings around with me and finally emptied them out honestly to a priest. He listened and then delicately said, “I know I could never possibly understand what this is like for you or any other woman or family, but remember, this is a GIFT”. I heard this before but for whatever reason, the way he said it broke the dark-thunder-cloud spell that had overtaken me and I felt a huge relief. This–this baby and all that comes with him–is a GIFT. This has brought me much-needed peace in the last few weeks and strength to continue with this last part of the journey with joy instead of only grumbling. In a few weeks, I’ll hold my baby–I’ll look into his eyes and smell him and feel his soft skin and I’ll know–all this was 100% worth it.
It is the joy my children bring me that will remind me of this if and when we may receive this gift again in the future; even if I don’t feel ‘ready’ and accept it a bit grudgingly, deep down, I’ll always be thankful and grateful for each child God sends us; for each GIFT he humbles us with. I may feel like I can’t do this anymore or ever again, but I know We (God, my husband, and me) can.