Natural Family Planning: The Turning Point


My wife, Jeannette, and I started dating when we were 17. She was my second
girlfriend, mostly because I was the awkward band geek, but also because I never really
understood the whole “dating” scene. If I was going to enter into a relationship with
someone, it was for the purpose of eventually marrying that woman. It was never a
conscious decision on my part. It was simply the way I always decided to pursue

Life continued on a normal course through high school and college, and we got
married. And with that next step, came the decision about children. We were broke,
post college kids, married at 21 and trying to find out what our place was in the world,
so Jeannette made an appointment and got an IUD. There was no real research on
either of our parts, just a doctor’s recommendation and a commitment that once it was
in place, there would be no children until it was removed. The beginning and end of the
discussion, and how the contraceptive worked, was that this would keep her from
getting pregnant. It wasn’t until around two years later that the “how” of the equation
came to our attention.

I’ve always been of the belief that life begins at conception, and it wasn’t any sort of
religious reasoning behind that perspective. It was simple. Prove to me that it
doesn’t. I would rather be overly cautious about my ideas of life than swing hard the
other way, only to find out later that I was grossly undervaluing what exactly a human
life is.

But we were laying on our bed one afternoon when I happened to notice the drug
information regarding my wife’s IUD on the nightstand next to us. I remember thinking
that I should read how it works (something which years later, neither of us had really
taken the time to do). I mean, I read boxes of cold medicine before I take it, but I was
willing to accept “this will keep your wife from getting pregnant, because it keeps her
from getting pregnant” as an acceptable answer. What we read that afternoon changed
our lives.

The IUD was “releasing low dosage of progesterone into her, which would kill sperm or
render them immobile”. In addition, it “changed the lining of her uterus, preventing
implantation should fertilization occur”. I had to read the second part again.
We were never opposed to children, and we certainly were not willing to abort had she
become pregnant, but wasn’t this secondary function essentially doing that anyway? If
life begins at conception, wasn’t the prevention of implantation (which happens after
conception) the destruction of a new life?

Having come to this realization, she made an appointment and had the IUD removed
and we began our search for another method of birth control that would better suit our
needs and desires for a family.Jeannette had brought this up to a friend of hers, who was Catholic and involved in a
program called Natural Family Planning. It was an interesting idea, especially with the
preconceived notions about Catholics and their large families. But she invited us to a
session about the program, and assured us that it wasn’t some sort of religious
recruitment drive. And it changed our lives.

Imagine a method of birth control that doesn’t require your wife to mess with the
hormone levels of her body, doesn’t compromise any sort of moral boundaries you have
set in place for yourself (religious or otherwise), and that understands that just because
you want to avoid pregnancy, doesn’t mean you see children as some sort of
consequence. More than that, it encourages a couple to appreciate and understand
how a woman’s body works, and brings a dignity back to sex that I wasn’t even aware
was missing in the first place. That’s Natural Family Planning.

I’ve learned to respect my wife’s body, not confuse it. To listen to what it’s telling us, not
ignore it. And we have a new level of respect for the natural act of conceiving a child.
And, I’ve learned patience regarding sex. That I don’t have to give in to desires as soon
as they enter my mind. In today’s culture, this is something that cannot be over-stated.