Saturday, December 26, 2015

Day 37 and No Peak :(

Between a few very stressful work weeks, traveling, and yet another cold, ovulation has been very delayed. I can't decide whether delays are more frustrating while TTA or TTC. We had a wonderful Christmas and I can't help but hope we'll have a baby next year. Exciting stuff!

Now that we're approaching New Years, we're starting to think seriously about resolutions. I've been neglecting my 10000 step goal and I really want to get back to it. NaturalGuy and I have a few personal projects we're hoping to complete in the next few months. I'd also love to get our home more organized and get rid of things we no longer need. So many goals!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Happy Advent!

We've had a crazy couple of weeks and we're still recovering! There's something about this time of year - it is so easy to get busy and so hard to slow down. NaturalGuy and I have both been extremely busy at work, we're working on getting ready to teach our first CCL class in January, and we're going to way too many Christmas parties.

Between being busy, not getting enough sick, and getting sick twice in 3 weeks, my cycle has gotten very strange - I had a few patches of mucus and very erratic temperatures. I'm on day 27 and I'm really hoping that I ovulate soon. There's so much waiting involved in trying to conceive! Waiting to ovulate, waiting to test, rinse and repeat. It's a little different from the abstinence involved in trying to avoid pregnancy, but wow, they both take patience.

Wishing you all a joy filled Advent and Christmas followed by an exciting New Year!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Trying to Conceive!!!

This probably doesn't come as a shock after recent posts - NaturalGuy and I are very excited to have a child and finally feel ready to go for it!

How did we know we were ready to switch? It was 50% logic and 50% heart. We took a good look at our financial situation and read the fine print of our health insurance policy. We prayed and talked and prayed more. And then, one day, mid-cycle, we just had a lot of trouble justifying abstaining because we wanted to have a baby, preferably soon! We switched mid-cycle, two days post peak, and recently completed our first "real", full, TTC cycle. We aren't expecting yet. We're somewhat relieved - I'd be a little worried about using NFP in the future if we'd conceived on the P+2 day. We're also somewhat disappointed because we'd love to be expecting already! We're certainly excited to see what the next few months bring.

We couldn't be happier with how natural family planning transitions from "trying to avoid" to "trying to conceive." It has been incredibly helpful to have months worth of historical data and a good idea of when ovulation occurs - not to mention that there's no need to discontinue birth control or worry about the effects of artificial hormones on future pregnancies. We plan to continue charting until we're expecting - and we'll keep blogging about it, though I expect our notes will have a slightly different focus.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Hello again!

Between being crazy busy at work, catching a terrible cold, and dealing with our insurance company (aaarrggghh!), NaturalGuy and I haven't blogged in over 2 weeks! Yikes! We've managed to read and listen to a few interesting things this week.

We'd love to promise that we'll be more consistent, but we're going to Hawaii next week and it's Thanksgiving the week after that, but we promise to be back on the wagon in December :)

Friday, October 23, 2015

What does "trying to whatever" actually mean?

Last week I had a great discussion with a friend about what "trying to whatever", TTW, means in the context of NFP. It's pretty easy to understand what "trying to avoid", TTA, means - what ever method you're using, you don't use any days identified as fertile. It's also self explanatory what "trying to conceive" means if you're using NFP - you should be aiming to use those fertile days!

I've had "trying to whatever" explained to me as a couple doing what they feel like and letting nature take its course. This seems like a slightly awkward definition to me - perhaps because in more secular circles, "trying to conceive" is used to encompass couples who are not contracepting, happy to have a baby if it happens, and having sex whenever they feel like it. On the other hand, it seems sensible to distinguish between couples who are partaking in the marital act when they feel like it and open to whatever happens from couples who are eager to get pregnant and timing intercourse to up their chances. For many couples, the results of "trying to whatever" and "trying to conceive" are the same - they get pregnant within a few cycles. But for other couples, it takes much more focused effort to achieve pregnancy.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Baby Naysayers

I'm generally fine being asked when we plan to start our family, provided we're all very much on the same page about how unpredictable these things can be. It drives me up the wall though when people instruct me in what those plans ought to be. The most common ones I hear are "don't have kids! It will ruin your life!" or "wait at least 5 years to have babies," often spoken by absolute strangers.

Is having small kids very very difficult? I'm sure it is! Are they worth it? Most parents seem to think so. I've done other difficult things, and for most of them I've been offered encouragement and support. People mention that these things are difficult, but worth it in the long term. Why not tell would-be parents these things too? After all, while couples have some ability to increase or decrease their chances of becoming pregnant, almost all couples, even those using contraceptives, "risk" becoming parents. Surely it can't be good to start out with years of baggage saying that your child has ruined your life?

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Reluctant to take the mandatory NFP class?

Are you dreading your first natural family planning class? When you realized you had to take it as part of marriage preparation, did you and your fiance roll your eyes? You are not alone - many couples, including NaturalGuy and I, are initially skeptical about NFP. When we got engaged, I just assumed that we would do the "responsible" thing and use birth control. It never crossed my mind that there were other options. NaturalGuy had heard about NFP in high school, but hadn't given it much thought since.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Some Thoughts on Abstinence

Couples have very different experiences with NFP - I am so grateful that NFP has, at least so far, been fairly straightforward for NaturalGuy and I. There are so many factors that make NFP easy or difficult to use, and we're very lucky to land on the "easy" side of the spectrum.

Last week I read an article by protestant pastor Jonathon Parnell about "when the sex should stop" in a marriage. It's not written with NFP in mind, but it gets to the core of sex being about sacrifice for your spouse. Some months, the sacrificial aspect of NFP seems especially topical! And then I read articles about couples with truly grave reasons to postpone from sex, and I'm reminded once again of how lucky we are!

Friday, September 4, 2015

Why EVERY couple should learn NFP and required NFP courses are a BAD IDEA

Our diocese is currently considering making an NFP course a requirement of marriage preparation. If the diocese changed their requirement, all couples would be required to complete a full course in NFP, which generally means a series of three classes and charting follow up. Currently there is required NFP training, although it it generally mentioned briefly in the general marriage prep classes, or brought up by a priest when individually counseling couples. I have mixed feelings about this. We were not required to learn NFP while engaged, but we took our course at a parish that requires it, so we've seen a little of both situations.

On one hand, I really like the idea of requiring NFP training before marriage. Natural Family Planning is really just information - it's helpful to any couple of childbearing age. There's an obvious utility to requiring this course for couples who plan on postponing children when they are first married, but I think it's also useful in other cases. If a couple plans to try to conceive as soon as they're married, NFP can help them identify any obvious fertility problems when they are engaged, giving them a head start on addressing those problems. A well-rounded NFP course also covers how to increase your chances of conceiving, the benefits of breastfeeding to mother and child, and breastfeeding's effect on fertility. If these couples wish to use NFP after the birth of children, they will be able to pick it up much faster than if they had never charted before. This is especially important because post-partum charting can be more difficult, and of course, time is precious when a couple has small children! Finally, many couples switch to trying to postpone pregnancy during very stressful times in life - job loss, financial troubles, health problems, a child who needs extra help - and it's good to already know the basics of NFP before hand, so you aren't trying to learn something new and difficult in the midst of everything else.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Things to Read and Watch

For the past couple weeks I've been too busy to blog, but I have managed to collect a list of things that I've read/watched recently and LOVED.

When should you get pregnant? (Article)

A Sane Woman's Guide to Raising a Large Family, by Mary Ostyn, and Raising a Large Family, by Katherine Schlaerth, M.D. (Books)

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

CANFP Conference was AWESOME!!!

This past Saturday NaturalGuy and I went the CANFP annual conference. It was fantastic! Great talks and an awesome opportunity to network. The highlights:

  • We got to hear the creator of the movie "Eggsploitation" speak about the ethical issues with IVF and the serious health hazards of donating eggs. We watched the movie a few days later and I highly recommend it. It isn't directly related to NFP but it is a very good documentary!
  • There were couples representing Creighton, Billings, and several sympto-thermal methods. It was very neat to have so many methods under the same roof. There were also a ton of teachers as well as nurses and doctors. We even got a few more recommendations for NFP-friendly doctors in our area.
  • We talked to a few CCL teaching couples and they encouraged us to consider taking the teacher training. It's been on our minds lately and we're thinking about it. 
I highly recommend seeing if your state has a similar organization! It's an awesome chance to meet other couples using NFP, as well as NFP knowledgeable professions. We couldn't have had a more productive weekend.

I'll probably be posting more about the conference this weekend - we're exhausted from our extra busy weekend and extra busy week.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Preparing for Pregnancy: How will I know I'm pregnant?

If you're chart shows high temperatures for three days longer than your longest observed luteal phase, or if you have 18 high temperatures in a row, there's a good chance you are pregnant. Of course, you may already know by that point, since pregnancy tests are generally accurate by the 12th day after ovulation!

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Why We Don't Use Condoms

One of the big differences between the Fertility Awareness Method (FAM) and NFP is whether couples use barrier methods during fertile times in the woman's cycle. Reader's may remember that when we first married, we assumed that we would use condoms, but a few months ago decided we wouldn't use them anymore. In fact, we've grown to feel that barrier methods are wrong, something we did 't anticipate before marriage.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

CANFP Conference!!!

For everyone in the San Francisco Bay Area, the California NFP association is having their annual, state-wide conference in two weeks in San Francisco. Check out their website if you're interested in registering.

What happens when ovulation is delayed?

Ovulation can be delayed by many things - stress, weight loss, sickness, travel, even wedding planning! For women who don't chart, the most noticed symptom of delayed ovulation is an extra long cycle - often leading to confusion over why a period is late when pregnancy tests are negative.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Preparing for Pregnancy: Getting Fit

We all know that exercise is good for us, but I sometimes forget how great it really is! NaturalGuy and I want to live to see our great-grandchildren, and while nothing can guarantee good health, staying active is the closest thing we have to a magic bullet.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

5 False Assumptions About NFP

1. Assumption: NFP doesn't work - it's one quick trip to pregnancy.

Truth: All modern NFP methods - Billings, Creighton, and SymptoThermal -are highly effective. Like 98+% when used by highly motivated couples effective. In one German study, the sympto-thermal method was 99.4% effective for couples avoiding pregnancy.

2. Assumption: Only crazy religious Catholics use NFP.

Truth: Many NFP resources are Catholic because of Church teachings encouraging it's use, but NFP practitioners come from many religions. In fact, "Taking Charge of Your Fertility" is an entirely secular guide to charting, and many women use FAM for purely secular reasons. (TL/DR: Crazy health/eco conscious couples use NFP/FAM too!)

3. Assumption: If you don't use artificial birth control, you will have 20 kids just like the Duggers.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Cervical Fluid Photo Diary

When I first started charting, I found  classifying cervical fluid to be difficult. I found it incredibly useful to take photos of what I was seeing - then I could compare days more easily after the fact, or even ask our instructing couple for their opinion. I haven't taken photos in a couple months, but think it was a great trick for learning. Also, I think it would make a great add-on to most charting apps.

These photos span from day 9 to day 16 of the cycle. Day 1-6 were menstruation and days 7 and 8 were dry with no observed mucus, so nothing to photograph. Days 17-20 were the same very stretchy mucus as day 16. First day of drying up and temperature rise was day 21.

A note on terminology: We use the CCL classifications for sensation and cervical fluid. The sensation descriptions are dry, moist, wet, and wet/slippery. The cervical fluid descriptions are none, tacky, and stretchy/watery.

Day 9 - Dry, Tacky
Small amount of yellow/redish mucus.
Rubber cement texture.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Happy Belated NFP Awareness Week!

I've been traveling and haven't had nearly enough time lately, but wanted to share two of the great NFP videos I saw last week for NFP Awareness Week.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

How many kids could we have? (Or, "Why I'm impressed with the Duggers")

In my last post I mentioned that NaturalGuy and I have a great deal of confidence that we couldn't have 20 kids if we tried. I thought I'd share our math.

We're young - 23. The average age women reach menopause, defined as a full year without menstruation, is 51, and almost all women reach menopause by 55. It's worth noting that fertility declines significantly before this. But, let's be generous and assume I'll have 30 fertile years.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

What is missing from sex ed? Fertility Misconceptions.

NaturalGuy and I have had interesting conversations lately - in which we've had to inform very well-educated friends, friends who have taken college-level biology, of some of the basic facts of how human reproduction works. Now, if I were talking about the details of fertility, I would be more understanding - but we're talking basics. For example

  1. Women are not fertile all the time. For the majority of their natural cycles, women are not capable of getting pregnant.
  2. Women are not fertile forever. It is not unusual for women over 35 have trouble conceiving and by their early 40's many women can't achieve pregnancy. Later pregnancies come with greater risk to the mother and child.
  3. Breastfeeding reduces fertility, especially if it is ecological breastfeeding.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Preparing for Pregnancy: Nutrition (Part 3)

NaturalGuy and I have been putting some effort into improving our eating habits. We want to be healthy and we want to raise our children with healthy attitudes towards food. I want to eat as nutritious a diet as I can - afterall, I'm hoping to grow a baby in the foreseeable future!

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Being "Pro-Creation" in Conversation

Sex, children, and marriage are not infrequent conversation topics among our diverse group of friends, and those are sometimes tricky conversations for us. Most of our friends have different views on these topics and it can be tricky to explain what we believe - and tricky to even feel included in many of the conversations. In the past few months we've been trying to get more comfortable living our faith publicly and one way we're doing this is by being more open about how we want children sooner rather than later. We've been lucky enough to get some great advice from more experienced married couples using NFP -

Sunday, June 21, 2015

The affect of night light on menstrual cycles

I just had the shortest cycle I've had while charting, and I suspect the shortest for a while before that as well. I ovulated on day 19, a solid 7 days before my previous earliest ovulation and my cycle ended on day 31. What a sudden change! This has gotten me speculating on what might have made the difference. At first I thought that nothing had changed, but then I did some sleuthing and found a few articles on the effect of light at night on the menstrual cycle.

Monday, June 8, 2015

10 things to do during the fertile phase

NaturalGuy and I are abstaining at the moment - we're seeing fertile mucus earlier than in previous cycles and we're hoping that means I ovulate earlier as well :) Last night we went to a talk on discerning, as a Catholic, that your vocation is marriage. Obviously we'd already done the discerning! But it was certainly interesting to listen to a deacon talk about dating and very fun to talk to some people we'd met at previous talks.

During the talk, one woman asked the deacon whether abstaining during the fertile phase while married was the same as abstaining before marriage. To me, this was an unexpected question.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

NYT's follow up to "The Population Bomb"

 I've written about population growth before - namely, why I'm not too worried about it, but I had never heard of "The Population Bomb", a alarmist book published in 1968 that predicted that by the year 2000, overpopulation would cause world-wide disaster. Apparently, this is one of the books that kicked off the fear of overpopulation. The New York Times created this fascinating video, although I think the video does watchers a disservice by not describing the horrific means the author Paul R. Ehrlich considers for decreasing the population.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

How are American women managing their fertility?

Based on data from CDC study of American women's contraceptive status from 2011-2013.

How many women use natural family planning?

Not very many!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

When articles on NFP are stupid...

Today I read an exceptionally stupid article on NFP. The article begins by outlining that using NFP effectively requires users to correctly identify when they are fertile. I don't think any of us would disagree with that. There were some incredibly troubling portions...
accurate “fertility awareness knowledge” (defined as knowing that there is a certain time in a woman’s menstrual cycle when she is most likely to become pregnant and being able identify that time as roughly halfway between her two periods)
Looking through the links, I found that the survey asked if a woman was most fertile "before", "after", or "halfway between" periods. What a terrible way to ask! I'm not sure what I would have marked, since the best answer is "it depends." I suppose in a perfect 28 day cycle with ovulation on day 14, fertility would be roughly halfway, but few women have this perfect cycle. If a woman has a 21 day cycle, with ovulation on day 7-10, wouldn't "after" her period be the most sensible answer? And with my long 38 day cycles, treating "halfway" through my cycle as fertile would be a quick ticket to pregnant.

NFP - Around the World

I've been reading about NFP use in the developing world lately. Very interesting, and controversial!

It's hard to know how many women use NFP world-wide, because women using NFP are often simply classified as "not using contraception."

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Abstinence is Difficult!

NaturalGuy and I finally have enough charting experience to use the Doering rule and "last-dry-day" rule, giving us about 12 days of abstinence instead of 21 - thank God! I have long cycles at 37 days, at the shortest. We're definitely still getting a handle on how to deal with this! If your charts are hard to decipher or give many many days of abstinence, it's worth considering your options, whether it's talking to a teacher, addressing nutritional problems that cause cycle irregularities, switching methods, or accepting increased risk of pregnancy in exchange for fewer days of abstinence. But even with great charts, most couples need to abstain for a little under two weeks and those two weeks can be tough!

We've been lucky enough to get some advice on handling those difficult two weeks. My favorite was the advice that abstaining in marriage is not the abstinence we knew before marriage, so no need to avoid making out and "heavy petting" - provided you can avoid going further of course! It's also a great time to plan dates - the exciting type we took early on in our relationship. Picnics, museums, hikes - all the things we normally postpone because there's no time :) And finally, it's a great time to put some extra effort into preparing to have children - whether that's figuring out how to save a little extra, or working on a home improvement project.

We're on day 1 of a new cycle today, so we're headed towards the fertile period. Hopefully it will be shorter and easier this month than past months!

Friday, May 15, 2015

Review of "Breastfeeding and Natural Child Spacing: How Ecological Breastfeeding Spaces Babies"

My mother has been a huge advocate for ecological breastfeeding as long as I can remember - both my brother and I were breastfed past age three, my mother was very active as a La Leche League leader, and my mother remains very outspoken on the benefits of breastfeeding for babies and mothers. One of the benefits my mother has always mentioned is that breastfeeding naturally spaces babies - providing mothers and families with a healthy period of time to adjust to a new baby.

Ecological breastfeeding (EBF) describes a type of exclusive breastfeeding where a baby is nursed frequently, on demand, and spends most of her time, waking and sleeping, with her mother.  Ecological breastfeeding is defined by a set of seven standards, and differs from cultural breastfeeding in that it does not include supplementing with formula, pacifiers, schedules, or separated sleeping. While cultural breastfeeding has little influence on fertility, ecological breastfeeding delays a mother's return to fertility to 14 months after her babies birth, on average. This provides couples with a natural way to parent their infants and space their children.

Friday, May 8, 2015


I've had a busy couple of weeks! Between job interviews and moving to a bigger apartment (finally, a 1-bedroom!!!), we've been running around trying to stay organized.

We finally found a pro-life doctor who knows NFP! She's trained in the Creighton method but seemed to understand our sympto-thermal charts. I think she was surprised that so much of sympto-thermal charts is based on mucus? And she certainly felt Creighton was a better method than the sympto-thermal method - she thought that taking your temperature every morning would drive anyone crazy. Personally, We haven't found it to be bad at all. But regardless, she was very good about reading our charts and giving advice, and she seemed to understand where we were coming from, so I'm happy. Her practice also includes midwives, another huge plus in my books.

We've switched from using Kindara to using the CCL's CycleProGo website/app. I wanted to switch because I got sick of Kindara's charts - they're beautiful on the phone screen, but there's no good way to print them. Also, the Kindara community is kinda weird - there's a lot of people who don't seem to know what they're doing giving advice. The down side of CycleProGo are that it's a slightly clunky website/app and it costs $35/year. But overall, much happier with it.

Aside from that, life has been pretty boring. We're waiting for me to finally ovulate (day 32! Argh!) and are REALLY looking forward to the end of this long round of abstinence. My new doctor suggested trying the supplement Vitex to make my cycle more regular. Also, trying to figure out which rules we can apply to our future charts in order to abstain less. We're looking for a new CCL teaching couple, since the couple who taught the course we took seems disinterested in actually looking at our charts. I've recently acquired three books about NFP - "The Garden of Fertility," an old CCL book on ecological breastfeeding, and the 1980 edition of "The Billings Method." Interesting stuff, and perhaps the topic of a future post!

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Actually, this is my new favorite video!

New favorite website and video!

I discovered my new favorite NFP website. It's a great secular intro to NFP - the type of website I can see myself emailing to friends when I'm sick of answering questions myself!

CCL also released a new video promoting NFP as pro-health and pro-environment.

Wonky Cycle

This weekend, NaturalGuy and I spent some time looking over all of our charts. I have 4 very consistent charts - 37 or 38 days, which ovulation on the 26th or 27th. However, I have one chart, from the months right before our wedding, that is extremely long! NaturalGuy noticed something very strange - it's almost exactly twice the length of my normal cycle.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Things to Avoid - Pthalates, BPA, and Parabens

NaturalGuy and I have been looking into what we should be limiting our exposure to, for general health but also for fertility and pregnancy. Last night we watched an interesting documentary on the environmental impact of certain endocrine disruptors on boys and men.

We've been slowly working on reducing our exposure to pthalates, BPA, and parabens. BPA, pthalates, and parabens are all linked to endocrine disruption - they mimic the effect of estrogen in the body, disrupting the normal regulation of hormones. Pthalates and BPA are both found in plastics. Pthalates make plastics flexible and soft. BPA is used to make plastics rigid and clear. Parabens are used as preservatives in food and cosmetics.

5 things we've learned about sex in 5 weeks of marriage

NaturalGuy and I have been married for 5 weeks!!! Here's what we've learned so far:

  1. It can be tricky to get the hang of sex. While wedding night sex was very meaningful and special, it was also incredibly uncomfortable for me, despite being relaxed and using a ton of lube. In fact, it took about two weeks before it was really comfortable. 
  2. UTI's are hell on earth. Also, yeast infections and oral thrush brought on by the antibiotics taken for said UTI. That being said, it is fun to check the "sexually active" box for the first time on a medical form.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Interesting Video and Book Recommendation

I watched this and thought it was so interesting. It seems that a lot of my friends use hormonal birth control for similar reasons - for more stable moods, etc. I'll have to see if I can get a library copy of the book.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Argh. UTI's, Yeast Infections, and General Misery!

Friday evening I went from feeling 100% at 5:00 pm to sitting in Urgent Care getting an antibiotic prescription for a UTI at 7:30. The antibiotic wasn't ready to pick up until 11:00 pm (pharmacy mix up coupled with insurance screw up!), by which point I was literally crying at the pharmacy in pain. Thank God NaturalGuy was there to take care of me!

The antibiotics are doing their job - perhaps a bit too well, since I now have a yeast infection too. I just can't catch a break!

Will hopefully be posting something more interesting when medicine isn't making me so sleepy :(

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Finding a doctor?

NaturalGuy and I are having the worst time finding a pro-life general practitioner/ob-gyn/midwife. We'd really like to find a doctor to take care of routine well-woman care, and we'd like someone who is understanding of us using NFP. When I get pregnant, we'd like a doctor who thinks they're treating two people. But we're having a terrible job finding someone!

We've tried googling, contacting our local parish, calling the Couple to Couple League, and calling our local pro-life crisis pregnancy centers. No luck! We're in a major urban area - why is this so hard!?Argh.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Preparing for Pregnancy: Nutrition (Part 2)

While NaturalGuy and I work on re-jiggering how to cook and eat (see Part 1), we've paid special attention to how what we eat will effect fertility and pregnancy. We recently read "Be Fruitful," by Victoria Maizes, MD. "Be Fruitful" is written with couples who are not yet pregnant in mind. Dr. Maizes recommends that couples protect their fertility through healthy living, well in advance of planning to have children. She explains what dietary changes typically improve fertility, what lifestyle changes couples can make prior to trying to conceive, and other preventative medicine tips. She also discusses conventional and alternative approaches to treating infertility.

I thought the chapters on diet were sensible and helpful. The chapters on environmental hazards and pollution were informative and helpful, without being alarmist.


Preparing for Pregnancy: Nutrition (Part 1)

NaturalGuy and I have been focusing on "family planning" in its broadest meaning lately. We've combined our finances and set up a plan to save for our new family's future expenses. We've reconnected with old friends and expanded our social network. And, after eating and eating and eating for the pre-wedding, wedding, and honeymoon, we're finally getting back to normal eating.

I've also had more time to read and cook since the wedding (not working helps!). Before the wedding planning got crazy I'd been working through some of NaturalGuy's family recipes.  We come from very different ethnic backgrounds, so the recipes include a lot of unfamiliar ingredients. NaturalGuy is the expert on how the dishes should taste and a great cook, but he hasn't learned to cook all the dishes either, so we've both been figuring the recipes out - often with some help from my mother-in-law :)

Tuesday, March 24, 2015


NaturalGuy and I got married on March 14th!!! The wedding was beautiful, and the honeymoon was very relaxing. We've been back to normal life for a few days now - although it's not quite normal to me because I quit my job before the wedding (unbearable boss!) and I'm now looking for another job while unpacking NaturalGuy's boxes and trying to make our tiny apartment fit 2 people :) I haven't even managed much reading! Hopefully I will get back to posting regularly later this week.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Interesting articles

I've been incredibly busy with last minute wedding details, but in the empty moments, I've managed to squeeze in some reading. Two especially interesting articles, about changing recommendations for childbirth that recognize that many women have long, but healthy labors, and a critique of the pill.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Long cycles and honeymoon :)

I'm on day 3 of a new cycle. The last cycle was 73 days, probably because of stress. I'm getting very excited for the wedding and honeymoon! It looks like we'll be in the fertile window for the honeymoon - to be more accurate, we'll be 7+ days before when I normally ovulate, so we suspect I won't be fertile, but don't want to test our luck. We'll be bringing condoms, but still avoiding sex altogether during the time we'd predict top fertility. (One more reason we're bad Catholics, but we're really only concerned about avoiding abortifacients, we're happy to enough.)

Anyway, probably won't be online very much for the next 2 weeks!

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

5 Benefits to Natural Family Planning Before Marriage

  1. We've gotten very comfortable discussing the human body. After discussing the consistency and color of my cervical mucus, not much else is "too gross" to talk about.
  2. We've been extra-motivated to get our financial lives in order. We've paid off student debt, saved significant amounts, and, after the wedding (aka "the money drain") is over, we're on track to live off one of our incomes, while putting the rest away for savings.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Book Review: The Art of Natural Family Planning (4th Edition)

Today I found The Art of Natural Family Planning (4th Edition)  at the used bookstore for $10.00 - score! I haven't finished all 511 pages, but so far I like it. I vastly prefer the tone of the 4th edition to the more recent edition, which seemed a little dumbed down to me. The book still has very overtly Catholic sections, which I am "meh" about (same feeling towards the most recent edition). At the same time, I think I slightly prefer the tone of the 4th edition to "Taking Charge of Your Fertility." I think there is a greater emphasis on marriage and using NFP to grow your family than in TCOYF, which more closely aligns with NaturalGuy and my goals.

Fives Things About Observing Cervical Position

This past (long) cycle, I've been working on getting better at observing my cervix. Observing temperature came very easily to me - it's objective and straightforwards. Observing mucus was a bit more difficult, but after one cycle I felt quite confident, and at this point, I have a pretty good feel for what's "normal" for my cycle. The cervix - it's just been more challenging! It's unfamiliar and I can't see it. Here's five things I've learned so far:

Interesting Article on Family Size

NaturalGuy forwarded me this article. Coming from a family with a very "filled in" tree - several aunts and uncles, many cousins, not to mention great-aunts, second-cousins, and the greater extended family- I really hope my children get the same. I hadn't thought about the children I will have as a gift to my grandchildren, but aunts and uncles have certainly played a huge role in my life.

Friday, February 20, 2015

More on stress...

I read a very interesting article on how stress effects pregnancy today. Between working long, frustrating hours recently, and wedding planning, I have been feeling worn thin lately. I think that I may have finally ovulated though, on cycle day 63. Waiting to see if tomorrow's temperature confirms it.

Long story short - I am very excited to be married and done with the wedding!

Sunday, February 8, 2015

How does stress affect ovulation?

For the past month, I've been feeling particularly tired and caught every cold that's come through the office. I'm currently on cycle day 53, and I haven't ovulated yet.  The good news - according to my last doctors appointment, I am the picture of health. The bad news - stress is the likely culprit and de-stressing is not easy!

The simple explanation for why stress delays ovulation is that stress effects the hypothalamus, a gland in the brain which is responsible for stress response as well as the reproductive system. (It's also responsible for for regulating appetite, temperature, and emotions - this explains SO much of the past few weeks!). The hypothalamus regulates the pituitary gland, which controls the release of the hormones FSH and LH. When stress effect the hypothalamus, it results in delayed release of FSH and LH, which leads to delayed ovulation. 

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Day 41 and no ovulation?

I'm heading to the doctor tomorrow because something is not quite right. I've been feeling very tired for the past 6 weeks or so. I'm constantly cold. I've been feeling light headed from time to time. I'm on day 41 of my cycle, and haven't ovulated yet. Hoping it's something easy to fix (maybe I'm not getting enough iron?).

Friday, January 23, 2015

Preparing for Pregnancy: Folate

NaturalGuy and I plan on having kids in the next few years, and we'd like to be as ready as possible. In addition to the general requirements of good health, women planning on getting pregnant have a few extra things to think about, and folate is one of these.

What is folate and why should I take it?
Folate, also called folic acid, is a B vitamin that plays a role in creating new cells. In adults, it is linked to heart health and the prevention of cancer. In pregnancy, healthy levels of folate dramatically decrease the risk of neural tube birth defects, such as spina bifida and anencephaly. Spina bifida occurs when the unborn baby's spinal column does not close around the spinal cord correctly. Because the spinal cord is not properly protected, nerve damage often occurs, leading to lifelong disabilities. Anencephaly occurs when the most or all of the brain does not develop, and is almost always fatal. According to the Spina Bifida Association, supplementing with folic acid before and during pregnancy can reduce the risk of neural tube defects by up to 70%.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Charting Apps

I recently got my first smart phone, and I've ventured into the world of charting apps. I was surprised by how many choices there were. I wanted a free app that tracked temperature, mucus, and cervical position, and wasn't aimed at couples trying to conceive.
  • CycleProGo
    • Pros: Created by the Couple to Couple League, and it applies the rules taught in the Couple to Couple League courses.

Sunday, January 11, 2015


I haven't been doing very much blogging (2 months and a LONG to-do list before the wedding!), but I have been reading when I have a chance. Recent favorites are "A Hard Pill To Swallow" and "Dear Newlywed, You're Probably Worried About the Wrong Thing".

I found a great website promoting NFP - I think it's exactly the type of promotion NFP needs - complete with great photos of young, modern women and couples. (Not a single '70's style hair-do!).

I've also been looking for a good NFP-friendly doctor. Having only moved recently, I don't have family or close friends to ask for recommendations. I'll be changing insurance plans when we get married, so there's that added complication. Googling hasn't been particularly helpful (why are all the lists from the early 2000's!?). I'm hoping that the local Catholic hospitals have recommendations? I'm not particularly picky - I just want a doctor who is willing to work with us and go along with the NFP details, although obviously it would be nice to work with a supportive expert!

Monday, January 5, 2015

Does previous use of hormonal contraception affect future fertility?

Hormonal contraception obviously effects a woman's fertility while she is taking it (otherwise it wouldn't be a contraceptive!). When women discontinue taking hormonal contraceptives, often after years of taking them, they notice differences in their menstrual cycles. But it's hard for an individual to know if those changes are a result of the medication, or of age and lifestyle changes that occurred during the years of contraceptive use.

After discontinuing hormonal contraceptives, a non-trivial number of women find that it takes many months to return to a normal cycle, delaying pregnancy achievement. 

Friday, January 2, 2015

What if I forget to take my temperature?

Between traveling for the holidays and staying up WAY too late for New Years, I've forgotten to take my temperature, or gotten wonky temperatures, a few times in the past two weeks. I suspect I'm not alone :)

How to deal with missing data? First, consider where you are in your cycle.

  • If you've already observed 3 high temperatures and no mucus, indicating that ovulation has occurred, and you haven't gotten your next period yet, a missing temperature doesn't matter.