Wednesday, June 29, 2016

What We've Been Up To

We were introduced to this great summary of Catholic thought on sex, marriage, and contraceptives - "What the Catholic Church Teaches on Contraception and Why."

We've been following the news on Zika (remember our three part series on Zika). There have been two interesting reports from Colombia ("New Doubts..." and "Five new confirmed cases", both interesting and neither conclusive.

I finally got diagnosed with hypothyroidism, after nearly 2 years of being certain it was effecting my cycles. We've been reading a ton on hypothyroidism, and hopefully NaturalGuy will be writing a post with some of the studies we've found most helpful.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

We're back!

We're finally finding a new normal to settle into. NaturalGuy started a new job recently and I just quit my job. We're still very sad about the loss of our Nicola, but also increasingly eager and anxious for another baby. We're driving ourselves crazy with charting and spotting "pregnancy" symptoms.

We've spent a lot of time in doctor's offices in the past few months and we've been very grateful for our charts. We've been working with a nutritionist who uses CCL charts and through this and a blood test our doctor ordered, managed to diagnose and correct vitamin D deficiency. More recently, we've been working with a NaPro (Creighton) trained doctor. She is happy to work with our CCL charts, although we've started learning Creighton in case it gives us some insight. It's been very easy to get the hang of Creighton - the "rules" are very similar to CCL's mucus only rules, and of course, we're not TTA so it's mostly just observation. Creighton's notation for mucus is quite nice. I think the biggest weakness in Creighton is that there is no way to distinguish an unsuccessful attempt at ovulation from a successful one, aside from the note that if a woman is under "unusual stress" she should be prepared for multiple attempts. This would be really tough for us during my longer cycles. Creighton is also very heavy on instructor/couple interaction - we had a bit of trouble finding a teacher who "clicked" with us and switched after the first class.

Otherwise, we've been taking things one day at a time. We'd appreciate prayers!

Monday, May 2, 2016

Miscarriage :(

Only six weeks after receiving the thrilling news that we were expecting a baby, we were very sad to find our baby had died in early April. We have taken great comfort in our Catholic faith and in naming, burying, and having a funeral for our precious Nicola. We are also very thankful for family and friends, and for the meals, card games, and good company they have brought us.

We are starting to settle back into the routines of work and home life, while praying for Nicola and hoping for another baby. We're also hoping to start blogging again soon - we are more grateful than ever for the Church's wisdom on fertility and for the practical skills of fertility awareness.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

What we've been thinking about in March

We've had a busy, busy month! We're catching our breaths this Holy Week and looking forward to celebrating Easter with family. Then we're starting the next whirlwind of a month. We've had lots to think about this month, including

  •  Marriage - We've been thinking a lot about marriage because we just had our first anniversary. It is a joy to recall our wedding and the tremendous growth we've seen in the past year. What a whirlwind! And we suspect the next year will bring even more change and growth.
  • How to best share the ups and downs of learning and practicing NFP, especially when we teach couples who are struggling to move away from a contraceptive mindset and become more open to life.
  • Our families of origin and how they shape our lives, even now that we've married and live hundreds of miles away. It seems like parents and in-laws have a huge effect on how couples receive a new baby - they can either be a huge encouragement or discouragement. 
Hopefully there will be some blog posts on these topics and others in the next month! 

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

NaturalWomanhood has a new movie!

Here's the trailer for Natural Love Story! The full (free!) 40 minute movie is here - NaturalGuy and I just watched it and thought it was great. Highly recommend!

Friday, February 19, 2016

A Pro-Life Guide to Zika: So, what can married couples in Zika effected areas do?

Married couples who are effected by Zika should strive to generously and prudently grow their families - just like they did before. Decisions about marital intimacy and pregnancy are always very personal and discernment is required. A few scenarios illustrate the complexity of these decisions and the generous, prudent, and above all, Catholic responses to these difficult circumstances.
  • Maria and John have three kids and were just starting to feel ready to be open to a 4th when they got news of Zika in their area. Since their home doesn't have mosquito screens or air conditioning, they are worried they are at especially high risk, and they are especially worried after hearing of a pregnant friend whose child is suspected to have been effected. Maria and John decide to use natural family planning to postpone pregnancy until they have more information.

A Pro-Life Guide to Zika: No, Pope Francis did NOT give couples permission to use contraceptives!

Did Pope Francis say that couples could use contraceptives to avoid pregnancy because of Zika?

No. In an interview on February 18th (full text here), Pope Francis was asked the following question:
Holy Father, for several weeks there’s been a lot of concern in many Latin American countries but also in Europe regarding the Zika virus. The greatest risk would be for pregnant women. There is anguish. Some authorities have proposed abortion, or else to avoiding pregnancy. As regards avoiding pregnancy, on this issue, can the Church take into consideration the concept of “the lesser of two evils?”

Saturday, February 13, 2016

A Pro-Life Guide to Zika: What is happening in Brazil?

In October, 2015, Brazil's health officials started to notice an increase in the number of babies born with microcephaly in the northern states of Brazil. About 9 months earlier, in March and April of 2015, people had reported mild illnesses characterized by fever and rash, and it had been confirmed to be Zika. (For more of a timeline, check this out).

Is this the first time Zika has been linked to problems for unborn babies?

In 2013 and 2014 Zika spread through French Polynesia, infecting an estimated 20,000 people. While an increase in birth defects were not noticed at the time, health officials have taken another look in light of the news from Brazil, and found an increase in central nervous system malformations.

Source: NPR's "Zika in French Polynesia"

Before Zika arrived, how many babies had microcephaly each year in Brazil?

A Pro-Life Guide to Zika: How is Zika transmitted and how can I protect myself?

Do I need to worry about getting Zika?

4 in 5 adults infected by Zika have no symptoms at all. Those who do have symptoms tend to have very mild symptoms. Typically, 2-7 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito, a symptomatic adult experiences fever, rash, joint pain, and red eyes. Very few adults require medical attention, let alone hospitalization.

There is evidence that Zika can effect brain development in unborn babies. When a pregnant woman is infected, the infection can spread to her unborn child. This makes Zika a concern for many married Catholic couples.

A Pro-Life Guide to Zika: What is microcephaly?

What is microcephaly?

Microcephaly is diagnosed when a baby's head is much smaller than typical. There are varying criteria used by doctors. The most common is defined as a baby with a head circumference smaller than 2 standard deviations from normal (smaller than the 3rd percentile).

In about 15% of cases, babies with microcephaly have no other problems - they simply have small heads. For many babies though, microcephaly is the most easily observed sign that brain development has not gone normally. Babies with microcephaly are much more likely to have epilepsy, cerebral palsy, genetic issues, and mental retardation.  These co-conditions are more common with more severe cases of microcephaly. Some experts advocate for using 3 standard deviations from the norm for diagnosis because they believe this more accurately predicts which babies will have serious problems.

A Pro-Life Guide to Zika: Introduction

If you are trying to conceive, currently pregnant, or just Catholic and open-to-life, you have probably been following the recent news coverage of Zika virus. I know NaturalGuy and I have - it's hard not to tune in when some people are advising women to postpone pregnancy for 2+ years (presumably by using contraceptives) and advocating for legalized abortion in Latin American countries.

We've been especially interested because we are hoping to be expecting soon and the link between Zika and health problems in unborn babies is worrying. Like all Catholic married couples, we are called to generously and prudently grow our family. Accurate information is essential to this task. Unfortunately, we've had a lot of trouble finding that in the 24 hour news cycle.

We've had a lot of questions about Zika and I'm sure our questions are not unique. We hope you find the research we've done for ourselves helpful - we've linked the sources we've used so you can get the full story from the experts if you are interested. We're also working on a few more blog posts so stay tuned!

Should I be worried about zika virus? How can I avoid it?

I keep hearing about microcephaly - what is it?

How many babies are effected in Brazil?

No, Pope Francis did NOT say contraceptives were acceptable for married couples!

So, what can married couples in Zika effected areas do?

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Another Great Promo Video!

I love when I see awesome promotional material for NFP! I know it's made on shoe-string budgets by couples who donate their time and talents because they know what a difference it makes!

The Question You Should Never Ask

"Why don't you have a baby!?"
"Do you have any... news?"
"We need a grandkid/niece/nephew by Halloween/Christmas/Easter!"

NaturalGuy and I got so many questions this Christmas season about babies - whether we were currently expecting, when we planned on having them, and why there wasn't one already.