Betty Duffy

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Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Catholic "Birth Control"

WARNING: Net Nanny probably won't let you read this one. And Mom, you probably shouldn't read it either.

Last night my sister told me that someone who knew me pretty well (like her) could figure out my menstrual cycle based on my blog posts. I was like, “Ha ha! Do you know how long it’s been since I’ve HAD a menstrual cycle?” And I had no intention of starting one now. Because we all know that women who are exclusively breastfeeding, taking a nap every day, co-sleeping and baby-wearing are 99% less likely to have a menstrual cycle in the first 6 months post-partum.

I’ve known for awhile that I’m a part of that one percent who does NOT enjoy prolonged infertile periods after giving birth (A nap every day? Who has the time?), but I am indeed surprised this time around. At exactly two months PP I am officially ovulating. There are some people around here who would point to the pacifier I’ve been using in the car (for the first time with any of the kids), and say, “See. I told you that would happen.” But this is fine with me, really, because I prefer to know these things, than to spend the hazy months after a baby wondering, “Am I fertile? I don’t know. I can’t tell. Is it stretchy or just present?”

Enter Natural Family Planning.

Having five children, people are unlikely to ask me for NFP advice. But, I say, it works. It really does—as long as you—get this—DON’T HAVE SEX when you're fertile. Five times my husband and I have played Russian Roulette with the NFP, and five times we have taken the bullet (the bullet being these sweet little darling blessings who currently surround me). It would be un-Catholic of me to say that I’m not having any more kids, but I do not see myself opening my mind, heart, or legs, to take another bullet anytime soon.

The utterly ridiculous thing is that my husband is ovulating too. It happens. He sniffs me out, and the drive to procreate becomes just as fierce in him as it does in me.

The bedroom dialogue when I’m ovulating:

Husband: “Come here. Let me just rub your back. We won’t do anything. I promise.”

I hide in the bathroom, picking my zits or something. “Just a minute.” I peak through the crack in the bathroom door to see if he’s fallen asleep yet. Much as I want that backrub, I know where they lead. They’re dangerous. Dangerous.

Contrast with bedroom dialogue when I’m not ovulating:

Husband: “Wanna do it?”

Me: “Is that foreplay?”

Husband: “Yeah, but if it helps, I’ll let you see me naked too.”

Ooooh….That’ll do it.

Well, I’m not falling for it this time. I’m not going in for that backrub. I am going to invest my creative energies in something other than procreation. The NFP experts say that spouses should not avoid one another during fertile periods—that they should not abstain from signs of affection while they are abstaining from sex. I find that advice a little naïve.

If I have to go seven days without showering or brushing my teeth, I’ll do it. I’ll wear the hijab. I’ll hide in the closet when my husband comes fee, fie, foe, fumm-ing home from work. I’m serious this time.

35 comments:

Sharon Kieffer Steele said...

Seriously, I feel like I could roll on the floor laughing. This is hilarious, friend. Hilarious.

Emily said...

I see that you warned away Mom, but what about Joe?

We like to say we PRACTICE NFP, not that we're very good at it. I'm with you on getting your fertility back: It's much easier to know.

A great truth: NFP is great for a woman's libido. A great sorrow: You can't have it when you want it, unless you like gambling. And the more kids you have the more motivated you are to stay up late a night hiding with a book in the bathroom. However, I keep seeing all these really cute newborns. Know any good reads?

A tip: The Dollar Store sells pregnancy tests and ovulation tests. Only $1! Stock up.

Kate said...

Didn't know there were dollar ovulation tests... hmmmm.

This was a great post. I had a much-needed laugh.

Betty Duffy said...

Seriously, I may be addicted to newborns, but not enough to have another today.

I read another article about a green party leader saying we need to help the environment by encouraging procreative responsibility and curbing the population with birth control and abortion. I'm thinking about weighing in on this one in upcoming post. From the perspective of a wrecklessly procreating Catholic.

Glad I could provide a laugh.
Joe truly does not care about my comic portrayals of his dialogue--but it's worth pointing out once again, that specific details may have been altered for my artistic purpose (then again, they might not have).

Emily said...

You could mention how we help the environment by having no contraceptive waste whatsoever, no extra drives to the dr for prescriptions and side effect treatments, and no extra insurance payouts for sterilization procedures. And we can buy in bulk! That's environmental isn't it? And we can't afford to eat at McDonalds.

Kate said...

I'm gonna go with 'not'... this is an educated guess based on my own experience - both marital, and my knowledge of Joe's, shall we say, verbal thrift.

jenx67 said...

i love posts where people confess stuff and i feel better about my life!!!!

Justyn said...

I seriously could have written most of this post.

Word Queen said...

Ahh.... that's one part of being unpregnant I'm not looking forward too. 40 weeks of no fertile times and absolutely risk free = a great motivator for accepting the backrub(besides the beautiful newborns and the fun of pushing back on the foot currently trying to poke a hole in my side)

FISHChrysallis said...

How sad that the Vatican only approves contraceptive methods that deny human biological realities. My mom had seven kids, mostly because she--like me--tended to ovulate out of cycle when she climaxed. Some women give themselves totally to their mates, as they should, and it has biological consequences. Throwing my cycle off by having sex in my fallow times resulted in years of cluster headaches and horrible cramping as my body tried to "correct" these unnatural rhythms.

You ladies are so lucky that you didn't physically suffer like that!

I am so very, very glad that my childbearing years are behind me.

Betty Duffy said...

Word queen, Congrats on your new addition! And enjoy that backrub while you can.

FishChrysallis, welcome! Thank you for your comment as it is the first mention I have ever heard of climax causing ovulation. If you would, point me in the direction of some reading material that could explain this phenomenon in more detail. I'd love to know more.

SuburbanCorrespondent said...

Babies are wonderful! From a woman whose baby factory seems to have closed for business, I say take that backrub!

mrsdarwin said...

This makes me laugh (in a good way) as I sit here nursing my five-month-old and contemplating buying a pregnancy test.

Jennifer @ Conversion Diary said...

You really need a warning on this one not to read it if you're drinking something. Wiping off my monitor now...

My husband and I didn't convert to Catholicism until I was pregnant with #2, so we had to start learning NFP during that sketchy postpartum period. Two babies and three years later, we still haven't quite got it down.

Thanks for another great post. :)

mrsdarwin said...

BTW, test negative. Is it so wrong of me to sit shaking in relief and murmuring, "Oh, thank God!" ?

Betty Beguiles said...

Have you ever read "Use NFP: It Doesn't Work" by H. W. Crocker III? Hysterical article...much like your post. Thanks for the laugh!

Kaighla said...

i beg to differ regarding your comment on hijab. In my limited experience, hijab made the man in my life more interested, not less. lol

Betty Duffy said...

Mrs. Darwin, I am exhaling in solidarity with you.

Fellow Betty, I'll look for that article. The title sounds promising.

Kaighla, good to know about the hijab--perhaps a girdle of armour.

Mrs. T said...

My great joke, for years and years before I became Catholic, was that I would wait till I was menopausal. Uh, ha. Let's just say the joke's not on God, the Pope, the Blessed Virgin Mary, or anyone else who's not me. Alas.

Mrs. T said...

Very funny post, though. Forgot to say that. That Crocker article was in an old issue of Crisis -- all their print issues are archived online.

Ranee @ Arabian Knits said...

This is weighing in late, but aside from not wasting gas, etc. we are also not p*ssing estrogen into all the water supply!

Renee said...

Found this entry through Jen's Mr. Linky.

People love asking me about sex out in public when they find our I have four kids.

Right now I answering to a 'machine' (fertility monitor) as a part of the study to determine ovulation to avoid pregnancy.

What a great post!

This Heavenly Life said...

I'm just hee-hawing over here, this post was so great. I read it out loud to my husband and he laughed too - so funny!

And I'm interested in that info Fishchrysalis had about ovulation in response to climax - I swear I think I do that. Have you had any response from her?

Emily a.k.a. Smoochagator said...

Here from Conversion Diary, and LOLing. What I want to know is this: you made your vow to actually abstain from ovulating sex back in February... how did that work out for you? ;-)

Great post!

Betty Duffy said...

Still not pregnant!

Haven't heard back on ovulation in climax, but I wonder if there's not somewhere else to look for information. I doubt CCL would have data on that.

Anonymous said...

Loved your husband's comments. Mine says "Mmmm. Your armpits smell really good!" when I'm fertile. I'm not counting it as an official sign yet, but if I catch him sniffing at them, I'm more likely to say no.

nicole said...

Oh my, I could have written this post. #6 is on the way now and I do enjoy extended infertility while nursing, but we don't take advantage of it because we are terrified of being pregnant again right away.

confused homemaker said...

This is funny, especially the foreplay line. It's true that you have to abstain & if you don't...well babies can abound. I am using the Marquette Model right now, but it doesn't abstain for us :P

As for the female orgasm causing ovulation, I've never come across any scientific data in the academic journals to support that. It sounds more like sex was better during fertile times, women want sex more as they near ovulation, & perhaps underlying medical conditions (the body shouldn't result in pain if having sex outside of a fertile time).There is a lot of research that shows climax can assist in fertilization because of how the uterus contracts & the production of CM.

Ute said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ute said...

Betty, I've been following your blog for a couple of months now and found this post through Jennifer's post today at Conversion Diary. Men must be all alike, because the conversations my husband and I have are exactly the same. Well, maybe substitute foot rub for back rub.
And despite exclusive breastfeeding and all that my babies are 14 months apart (it was planned this way, what was I thinking?), so I'm in that 1% group of super-fertile women too. By the way, the difference that not using a pacifier with baby no. 2 made in regard to the return of my fertility was a whopping two (in numbers: 2!) weeks. So much for that.
Anyway, I wanted to add another one to the rumors about things that cause ovulation: I've heard that women ovualte spontaneously when their husbands have been away at war and come home on leave. And yes, my husband is currently deployed and will come home for two weeks in about six months. I don't think our bathroom doors are sturdy enough to hide behind them during this time... not that I would want to, for obvious reasons. But I'm scared!! Newborns still look awfully cute to me, but I prefer them belonging to someone else at this point in life.
Thanks for this post and your blog in general! I needed the laugh...

PS: I'm going to link to this post.

CM said...

On Saturday, December 12, my wife and I will be starting our 9th week of marriage and 8th week of pregnancy.

Guess we need more practice...

just evelyn said...

re: ovulating at climax--we know that eggs actually have to be ripened before the ovary pops them out. This takes a few days, and women doing fertility treatments that involve harvesting eggs have to do days of hormone shots that make them feel awful, just to get several eggs to ripen. So I'm thinking that orgasm causing ovulation could only happen when eggs were ripe and things were set to go anyway.

BettyDuffy said...

http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_councils/family/documents/rc_pc_family_doc_08121995_human-sexuality_en.html

Anon,
The link above pretty much covers the gamut of sexual questions within the faith.

A final thought though concerning what is licit within marriage: location of ejaculation must allow the potential for procreation.

Amy said...

"The NFP experts say that spouses should not avoid one another during fertile periods—that they should not abstain from signs of affection while they are abstaining from sex. I find that advice a little naïve.".......... LOL

Jen @ Canadian Rhapsody said...

Ute,

There isn't anything to show that women will ovulate when their husbands are deployed and returning for leave.

Admittedly, there are a lot of 'tour babies' but that's more because spouses have been apart for so long and there is a lot more sex going on, so if the woman is ovulating, procreation is a lot more likely.

If it is not a fertile time for you (and you've been tracking really well) you have no concerns over getting pregnant spontaneously when he is on leave.