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Mom to Mom: Family Planning and the Unplanned

Posted by Becca on 3/2/2015 to Mom Madness

Family Planning and the Unplanned

When I got married, there was one thing I suddenly had to think about that I hadn’t given any though to before: birth control. I know I’m not in the majority here, many women think about it far before marriage, but for my husband and I birth control was a moot point until our wedding day came.

The pill was the first method I considered. A couple of months before the wedding I experimented with different types of pills, trying to find one that worked well with my body. Some were so strong I felt sick all the time. Others weren’t strong enough and my body stubbornly menstruated despite the hormones. The last one I ended up with was very strong. What it did successfully was to make sure I didn’t have my period on my wedding night or during my honeymoon. When we got home and stepped into our normal life, both my husband and I discovered that this particular pill also gave me bipolar qualities and I became easily angry about the tiniest things. “I can’t go on like this,” my husband said, not a month into it. “Me neither,” I agreed.

I tossed the pills and we switched to condoms without looking back. I liked the idea of condoms because it was a pretty safe guarantee that we wouldn’t get pregnant without altering my body’s systems. Since my husband and I weren’t accustomed to sex yet, we didn’t know anything different and it became our norm to use one. It was neither a bother nor was it restrictive to us.

family After our daughter was born, we went back to condoms because her pregnancy had been traumatic and I didn’t want any surprises. When she was two years old and we were ready to try for another one, it was seventeen months until we actually got pregnant.

Sick of trying to conceive and of scheduling intimacy around my body’s clock, and tired of my period coming every month to ruin my party I told my husband I never wanted to use birth control again. We were going to leave it in God’s hands from now on. He agreed.

This was frustrating, trying and failing every month, not knowing if we would have had a second child sooner if only we would have left it up to God in the first place.

Then, oh blessed day, our son was conceived. His long awaited pregnancy was twice as awful as his sister’s had been, and when it was all over we were so happy to have him, and doubly scarred by our second pregnancy experience. I still look back on it today and shudder as if I’m dealing with a mild form of post traumatic stress disorder. It was that bad. When he came and it was finally over, we really wanted to use birth control, but we knew we wanted more kids. Ultimately, we remembered our resolve to leave it up to God and decided to stick to it.

Except we sort of didn’t. I was so scared by getting pregnant again that I kept a watchful eye on my periods and ovulation. I even got an “app for that” (It’s called Period Tracker if you’re interested), and during certain times of the months we were both quite motivated to be temporarily abstinent. I’m not going to lie, I felt guilty. We were holding back on our pact. We prayed about it and thought about it and felt that if God really wanted us to get pregnant, our schedule wasn’t going to stop him, so we kept being really careful and vigilant. I didn’t realize this but we were following a tried and true method of birth control called “Natural Family Planning.”

family planning

Natural Family Planning worked the way we wanted it to...until last month when I didn’t pay very close attention to my body or the Period Tracker and we miscalculated. I honestly didn’t even know it had happened until five days passed without my expected period and I peed on a stick to rule it out...only I didn’t. Woops!

So, our family planning method “failed” and now we’re completely caught off guard at being pregnant. Even though I’m scared terrified of another bout of hyperemesis gravidarum, I look at my beautiful kids and I know it will all work out all right. I believe in God and I know he is intimately involved with every detail in my life. If he feels that this is the time for another little one to enter our family, then I take comfort and peace in the fact that He knows more than I do and He will get us through it. This little life I’ve barely had time to consider is precious and loved, even when inconvenient. For that, I’m glad we went the natural method.

So what’s your birth control method? How many different methods have you tried before you got here? Did you ever have an “oops” pregnancy due to the family planning you and your spouse chose? How did it all work out?



Rachel Keuler
Date: 3/2/2015
I'm so glad that you posted an article about Natural Family Planning. My husband and I have used NFP exclusively to decide when to try for or postpone pregnancies. Not only is it over 99% effective at postponing/preventing pregnancy (when used correctly) during any given cycle, but it helps me to know my own body better. Within a few days of my first pregnancy, I knew that I was pregnant. Because I knew my own body so well, I could tell that subtle changes were already taking place in preparation to carry our child. I also knew that pregnancy was a possibility given the timing of my cycle that month. It was so thrilling to know so early that we were being blessed with a child! NFP also gives my husband and I a chance to really think every month if we're ready to try for a baby, so it's a natural communication facilitator for planning our family. I wouldn't change anything about using this method. We don't have to deal with messy condoms and I don't have to put synthetic hormones into my body that could have any number of undesirable side effects.
Anne @ Zephyr Hill Blog
Date: 3/2/2015
Becca, I get pretty sick during pregnancy and that's hard enough, but I can't imagine dealing with morning sickness the entire 9 months. It must be so debilitating! And yet, like you said, God knows all and is with us every step of the way. My prayers will be with you. Your attitude of joy and resignation to God's will is very inspiring. Last year we welcomed baby #8 and as far as birth control goes, I can only laughingly say that we're one of the few that Natural Family Planning does not work for. After two "method pregnancies" (i.e. conception even when using the method correctly) that baffled our NFP teachers, my husband and I are trying the Marquette Method this time around. Our hope is simply for some spacing (my last few pregnancies were at 6, 7 and 9 months postpartum)....but ultimately it's God's call.
Theresa H.
Date: 3/2/2015
Thanks for sharing your experience. I feel like our experience with birth control was similar, a couple months into being married (and using hormone birth control) I just didn't feel like myself and I hated it. We switched to a barrier method too and I'm so glad we did. Now that we're TTC, I'm learning more about the NFP method and I feel like I understand my body better too. I love it!.
Date: 3/3/2015
This sounds similar to my experience in many ways. When we first got married, I was on the pill, and my husband's insurance wanted me to switch to the generic. My doctor and I both thought this was no big deal. But ohmygoodness it was! lol I vividly remember my husband wrestling the phone away from me to call my doctor and tell him to SWITCH IT BACK while I screamed at him "There's nothing wrong with me!" from the floor where I was bawling. Trying different brands made me sick, and we eventually switched to the shot. In my ignorance of how the human body is supposed to work, I thought it was great because I didn't have my period. Until we started TTC. For months, I bled 10 on, 3 days off. It was awful. I went to the doctor, ready to do anything to make it stop up to and including a hysterectomy. He laughed at me and put me on the pill for just 2 months to try and even things out. In all, it took 10 months to conceive, and we vowed we'd never use the shot again. Post baby, our new doc put me on the mini pill, which promptly dried up my milk and caused us to decide we were not using hormonal birth control at all anymore and finally began us on a long journey of discovery which led us to use NFP.
Camille W
Date: 3/3/2015
Thanks for such an honest post. I would like to point out, however, that the Period Tracker app, doesn't actually use the Natural Family Planning Method. By my understanding it's more akin to the Rhythm Method which isn't nearly as effective as NFP. The difference being that with NFP you actually pinpoint ovulation as opposed guess when it happens based on your cycle length. I think this is an important point for couples who may be interested in the method but haven't taken a class or read a book for more details. Anyone considering NFP or the Fertility Awareness Method (FAM) should do extensive research to ensure they really understand the method and its rules. I hope I don't sound too negative - my husband and I used FAM until we conceived 9 months ago due to user error. I still plan to use FAM after this baby is born but the point is that I understand why and and when we conceived and won't be abandoning the method because it "failed".
Camille W
Date: 3/3/2015
And congratulations! I pray you have an easier pregnancy ending with a happy and healthy baby.
Date: 3/3/2015
We used symptothermal NFP taught by John+ Sheila Kippley at Natural Family Planning International here: Over 20 years, we never had an "oops" as you say. Their method teaches various rules based on 40 years experience in order to tailor natural family planning on whether a more or a less conservative style is needed. They also teach a cervix sign plus inform about which style of breastfeeding is most likely to give 9-20 months of "no cycles". Almost incredulous, we went 12-14 months without cycles with their defined "ecological breastfeeding". We also abstained in the fertile times and are sure this adds to "effectiveness". Prayers and best wishes! Apps are only being "studied" now scientifically to see if all the math alogorithms and such are truly effective/accurate. We just printed free charts at the website above and did not use any apps.
Date: 3/3/2015
thank you for posting this!! NFP is wonderful and I'm always excited when someone posts about it! congrats!
Andy M
Date: 3/3/2015
I felt compelled to comment because I'm at the end of my second pregnancy with HG and as I was reading, I wondered if you suffered through the same. HG is such a debilitating and dangerous disease for both mom and baby. And we're not the only ones who suffer through it, but our husbands and other children do too. I will pray this pregnancy is easier for you, some women have had HG ease when they begin preemptive treatment. We also used NFP but after this pregnancy we decided after much praying and soul searching that we would choose permanent birth control aswe think our live children need both their parents more than we'd love to have more biological children.
Date: 3/3/2015
Congratulations! We went from being on the pill, to NFP, to just turning everything over to God and taking it one day at a time. We are celebrating our 20th wedding anniversary in May, and expecting our 5th child also in May. And our oldest will be turning 18 in May. May is a big month this year! I also suffer from Hyperemesis Gravidarum with my pregnancies, and many people think I am insane for being willing to go through this again and again. But the gift of my children go unequaled. I truly will do anything for them!
Veronica Bohan
Date: 3/3/2015
Having more babies is so exciting!
Brooke Warren
Date: 3/3/2015
We spent a year trying to conceive our first, due in April. I was on the pull for years and I have a feeling that is what affected us so long. After baby is born we will be back to condoms, so hopefully in a few years when we try to conceive again it won't take as long.
Date: 3/4/2015
God bless you and your growing family!
Date: 3/4/2015
In spite of the struggles you go through while pregnant, you are so blessed to be able to have children. There are those of us struggling for years with no child, and preventing hasn't even entered our minds.
Maggie M.
Date: 3/6/2015
Right now I'm currently pregnant so no BC obviously. lol I've tried IUDs and they don't agree with me. I refuse to use the pill because I had to before I got married because of worries about ovarian cysts and they made me totally crazy. Never again. So mostly we just use condoms. I can't do NFP because since having kids my cycle is all over the place. Blah. It used to be very exact before kids. Even with BC we still trust that God will know when the time is right for us to have kids. That can be hard sometimes when you feel like you are suppose to get pregnant but then it takes FOREVER to get pregnant, like. ok you said to get pregnant! How come we aren't yet!? But it really is his timing and looking back it makes sense even if I don't understand completely.
judith martinez
Date: 3/11/2015
I hated being on the pill. We have used VCF a spermicide method for years. After our 7th child and my 2nd c-section we decided that was it and I had the Essure procedure done. I'm a little sad that there will be no more babies but as a 42 year old mother of 7 I'm at peace with our decision.
Erin B.
Date: 3/23/2015
I was originally on the pill until we decided we were okay with getting pregnant and then we have used natural family planning! I will never go back to the pill, nothing in particular against it, just like my body to do what it's supposed to when it's supposed to. Congratulations and good luck :)
Jessica J
Date: 4/4/2015
I don't do well with hormones, I'm allergic to latex, and the copper IUD caused me to excessively bleed each month (emptying my menstrual cup once every hour). natural family planning is the way to go! it feels so much better than medication :D
Date: 4/12/2015
I won't use fertility awareness for the simple reason that there would be many days on which I could not have sex. That is unacceptable to me. My method is the Paragard copper IUD. It solves the issue of artificial hormones - I wasn't putting any of that in my body either, and it is incredibly effective over a long period of time without requiring you to think about it. An added benefit is that your fertility returns immediately on removal.
Date: 8/6/2015
I'm sorry you're having to deal with HG. I have a friend who has 10 children. She's had to deal with HG for the last four pregnancies at least. We had the same midwife and our midwife would give my friend B12 shots to help take the edge off. I know at one point the shots she gave had no preservatives IIRC. My last pregnancy was one of my toughest. I was very sick (though, not HG) through to 8 months or so. I was also incredibly exhausted. Even more so than usual during pregnancy. I also had a lot of body pain that still hasn't gone away almost 3 years later. I'm also still incredibly exhausted as well. I'd love to have a few more babies, but my time is running out and I'm kind of afraid of what another (fourth) c-section would do to me. I think I'm going to schedule a doctor appointment soon despite the fact that I don't trust doctors much to see if there's something to all this exhaustion and body pain. Either way, I'm looking in to some good supplements to try to get my health back. Good luck on your pregnancy. I hope it's going well. I've never had an "oops" pregnancy. My husband and I have conceived 9 babies together. We lost three to early miscarriage and one to stillbirth. I've been on the mini pill, the pill, the Depo shot (hated it!) and then we switched to the FAM after reading Taking Charge of Your Fertility by Toni Weschler. It's an extremely informative book. I agree with many people who read it when they say it should be required reading for every woman.
Jilliann M
Date: 8/18/2015
Did you end up with HG again during your 3rd pregnancy?

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