NFP: Plot Twists From the Great Director and Scriptwriter by Kristy Tucker

April 18, 2022 Article by  

Change the channel! NOW! Please!” I yelped, burying my face in my hands

“You know this is just a movie, right?” replied my husband Mark, as he graciously changed the channel. The movie had gotten too scary and depicted a scene that I know would give me nightmares. The only way I could control the movie was to not watch it.

Sound familiar? We humans love control in aspects of our lives, and modern conveniences like smart phones, drive-thru windows, and remote controls make us feel that way. Even in the aspect of our fertility, secular society offers the ultimate control: a surgery, a pill, or IVF to make a pregnancy happen or prevent it. Whether it’s having kids at the perfect time, avoiding at the perfect time, the illusion of contraception makes it look easy. But were we meant to exhibit that much control in the first place? Natural Family Planning (NFP) would say, nope.

And while we’re on the subject of movies, NFP is like navigating a changing plot of an action movie. Are we as a couple ready for another baby? Sure. If not, why? Which method are we using to track fertility? Is it helping or do we need to switch? And we have to remember, sometimes God waits in the wings of our uncertainty with a BIG plot twist, like an unexpected pregnancy. Or a sudden health condition that forces us to change plans. There may be the twists and turns of infertility, miscarriage, or hyperfertility. Our family size may not exactly look as envisioned on our wedding day.

My husband and I have been on the infertility side, anxiously plotting fertility signs and working with a NaPro doctor. Ten years and four kids later, we found ourselves on the other side: after trying to avoid for a long period of time, a surprise baby showed up when we were 42 years old. Both events felt like a horror movie.

In the moment, both seemed impossible and scary. We didn’t know what would happen next. I started to envy my friends who publicly bragged about perfectly controlling their number of kids, even down to season of the year for their babies’ births, thanks to contraception. Meanwhile, I sat on the other end, wondering how I would survive infertility or having an advanced maternal age pregnancy.

But just like special effects and animation mask and enhance the ordinary events in a movie, contraception masks its side effects and long-lasting consequences. I am more accurately envious of the appearance of fertility control and easily forget the unseen spiritual and physical dangers lurking in the shadows

The first four years of our marriage, we endured cycle after cycle of trying (and failing) to conceive. Thanks to a wonderful NaPro doctor and some arduous treatment, our first child arrived in 2010.

Fast forward to 2019: Three children (plus one in heaven) later, I wondered why my cycle was late. We had felt content about the size of our family. Giving birth to our third child at age 38 in 2015 was hardly a walk in the park for me. Digging for a pregnancy test in the back of the cabinet and taking said test felt unreal. Seeing the positive reading sent me into shock; it would have made a great climax of a movie. There was no question that we would accept this child; however, I asked “What in the world are You doing, God?!?” far more than, “OK, Your will be done even if it’s scary.”

Thankfully, the Wise and Great Director sent a wonderful supporting cast my way: friends who understood I wanted support, not congratulations, about my geriatric pregnancy. Extended family who promised to welcome the baby. Dr. Mattingly and his mother-in-law Sylvia (our Creighton Method instructor), who assured me that my body could do another pregnancy. On April 7, 2020, Andrew John arrived at the beginning of the Corona Virus shutdown, forever making our family bigger and brighter.

The feelings throughout the fertility journey have been raw, dramatic, and real, straight out of a movie. Several times I wanted to quit this movie and write my own script for my fertility journey.

In fact, if God the Director had allowed me to read the “script” in advance, I would not have planned our fertility journey as He did. The infertility and miscarriage journey would have been nixed, and I would have preferred that our 4th child arrive before I turned 40. But that’s the risk and beauty of NFP; you make plans, you chart and try to make sense of things, but in the end God has the final say. And it’s good to use the various NFP methods to work with instead of against a woman’s body. Fertility problems can be detected sooner.

And many times, His plan turns out like one of those intense action flicks with a happy ending, or a fabulous plot twist that gets everyone talking.

That doesn’t mean this plot, or fertility journey, becomes an easy road. Uncertainty, fear, sadness when our hopes don’t work out, and many hardships usually make frequent appearances in this plot. In our particular journey, we lost a baby to an early miscarriage, have stood at the graves of dear friends’ stillborn babies, and watched too many difficult adoption processes.

Obviously, God didn’t take my advice nor listen to my plans, and that’s a good thing. Even if the control freak in me would rather He take MY directions. Like a famous Hollywood director pointing out the intricacies of an Oscar-winning movie after its premiere, I hope God does the same for me in heaven. I can’t run out of this room to the perceived safety of complete control of my fertility, but I can look back and marvel at the arrival of each child, and how the Great Director crafted this movie together with Mark and me.

Kristy Tucker is a coffee-loving, mini-van-driving California girl now living in central Kentucky with her husband Mark and their four rambunctious children, carried to term safely thanks to NaProTechnology physician Dr. Jason Mattingly.