Oh hey, look! It’s me, your whiner-in-chief! If you want a nitty-gritty bio, visit my about page.
I’m so passionate about a gloves-off honesty with how NFP is lived as a way to cultivate solidarity, healing and strength. This project certainly grew out of that. If you are looking for NFP community, I host weekly discussions in my stories on Instagram where people share their experiences and learn the very important truth that they aren’t alone.
1 What led you to choose this method of fertility awareness? What’s something you have learned that you wish you knew at the start?
I started using Marquette when I was newly postpartum after my second surprise babe. I switched at the recommendation of a few friends who said they loved the objectivity of it, particularly for navigating the scary and crazy postpartum time.
I’ll define the “start” as when I first learned NFP in marriage prep – and I wish that I knew that one method does not fit all. I wish I knew there was more than one method to learn, and I wish I had access to making an informed decision about what method I used.
2 Had you used other methods previously, either of fertility awareness or birth control? If so, what were they, why did you switch, and what was the transition like?
Yes. I learned sympto-thermal through CCL during marriage prep which was sponsored by our diocese. When we had our first child, I knew that taking my temp every morning was going to stress me out way too much so we looked for a simpler method. This led us to Creighton at the recommendation of a friend. Turns out trying to learn how to decipher the nuances of my (continuous) cervical mucus when I was postpartum and breastfeeding was not a great choice. I ended up missing my return of fertility, and we discovered that I had conceived our son 2 months before it was medically recommended for us to do so.
Switching to Marquette after all that was incredibly low stress. My instructor held a Google video class with several women, and has been available for follow up questions ever since. She’s been great!
The worst part about the transition each time was having to invest another large chunk of change, and navigate yet another learning curve because each method has its own rules (and they are not meant to be combined).
3 Fertility awareness, while not impossible, does have a steep learning curve. What were the costs associated with this method? Financially, emotionally, intellectually?
The big costs for Marquette were initial instruction ($100) and the monitor ($110). Those costs vary depending on the instructor and where the monitor is purchased. The ongoing costs are for the test sticks, which now that I’m in regular cycles means roughly $10 a month ($30-40 per box), though the prices fluctuate depending on the vendor and their mood.
Intellectually, it was so simple. Granted, I had two other methods under my belt at this point, so I was fairly familiar with how fertility awareness works. For this method, I just pee on a stick in the morning starting on a certain cycle day and stop when I catch the LH surge (peak).
Emotionally, the cost was the lowest of the three methods I’ve learned. It’s not me who is determining my window of fertility (as was the case with Creighton), it’s a computer. That was such a huge weight lifted! It also dramatically simplified sharing my fertility with my husband, which is extremely important to me. It’s now as simple as him asking, “What was the reading today, babe?”
4 What do you like about this method most? Least?
Most – the objectivity. It’s simple, straightforward, and easy for my husband and I to share. For regular cycles, having a set window of fertility minimizes the pressure on me.
Least – the cost can be a drawback that I know makes it inaccessible for some. I think it’s completely worth it though for the peace of mind alone.
5 How has using fertility awareness affected your faith life and marriage?
Badly. No, horribly at first. And then with time and discipline, more and more good. The circumstances of our two surprise babes drove me into a dark night spiritually, and I was very angry at God, the church and the way I had been instructed. I realized that I began marriage with completely unrealistic expectations of my husband based in no small part on things I heard in marriage prep, and it took a little while to work out what was right for our marriage.
Now that I’ve come through the fire so to speak, I can understand why NFP is the only means the Church allows for couples to space babies and plan their families. It’s definitely been a case of obedience teaching wisdom, which of course means that wisdom came after a lot of pain. I know now that that’s ok (didn’t always), and I’m grateful for the discipline NFP requires. Though you know, since I’m human, I still wish that condoms could be ok at least some of the time. Then again, they’re known for diminishing sensation, so on second thought, I’ll pass.
6 If you met someone interested in learning fertility awareness, what would you tell them?
Yay! And also, brace yourself.
It’s a microcosm of faith and marriage, meaning it is about accepting your cross. That shouldn’t freak you out cause you already know that crosses are the ladders to Heaven. But if it does give you pause, it’s ok because a) there’s a lot of bad information about God’s plan for sex and marriage out there already messing with your head, and b) you’re going to have to be brave and sort through all those questions with your spouse who will have varying levels of excitement about what’s going on in your cycle.
Fertility awareness is difficult, but it’s not impossible. Don’t let anyone sell you the lie that you can’t understand your fertility, or that you aren’t strong enough to govern your sexual desires. You’re plenty smart to learn to read your body, and with the grace of God, sex will only ever be you’re servant (and oh! What a servant it is!).
Emily! I’m so thankful to have found your blog! Thank you for putting all of this together! I’m new to the different methods and was wondering if you know how long a woman should start using one method before getting married?
Thanks for all your help!!
I’m so glad this helped!
There is literally no bad time to start charting your cycles, the sooner the better. There are so many benefits to learning your body far beyond family planning. Check out this blog post to get started https://totalwhine.com/2020/09/17/all-the-single-ladies-who-want-to-learn-fertility-awareness/
Reach out anytime if I can be of further help! And be on the lookout for information about the new nonprofit fertility awareness database I am currently in the process of starting up (check out my homepage for more on that).