Twists & Turns in My Journey to Learn NFP by Michelle Borba

December 27, 2022 Article by  

As I reflect on my married life and think about all the extreme viewpoints I’ve had in regards to NFP, I can’t help but laugh at myself a bit. If I was truly honest, I’d admit I’ve been all over the place on this topic and have made it much harder than it needed to be.

Early on in my marriage I knew very little about natural family planning. I remember hearing a little about it at our Engaged Encounter weekend, but I got the impression it was out dated and not something anyone really practiced anymore. As I learned more about the teachings of our faith I saw the importance of NFP, but never knew how to make it work for me or even where to go for help. I scoured the internet looking for explanations and apps, subscribed to blogs and podcasts, used ovulation test strips and even purchased an automatic temperature reader with a monthly fee. I didn’t think I had time for a consultation or teacher and I didn’t want to admit I needed one.

I googled and subscribed my way through about ten years of poorly executed and haphazard NFP but never actually charted. I thought I knew my body and I’m fairly private so I wanted to do it on my own. I’d have seasons where I’d be doing well, being faithful to whatever method I was trying, but inevitably I’d get confused by my observations and extremely frustrated. Between irregular cycles, breast feeding and all the other life juggling I was doing, it just never really made sense. In an effort to go high tech I bought a wearable digital temperature reader and subscribed to the app and blogs that accompanied it. I thought with today’s technological advances I could rely on it to do the work for me. I quickly grew very frustrated with the lack of solid information and how it really applied to me. The app had secret proprietary algorithms which interpreted my daily basal body temperature, but I had no idea how it came to those conclusions. I knew it wasn’t taking into consideration how many times I nursed my baby each night. Many mornings I’d wake to review my sleep patterns only to see that it had missed times of feedings.

I have been abundantly blessed with my large family, and would not have had it any other way! I was finding myself, at 42, in a season of my life where I really felt a need to get this NFP thing down right.

It was about this time that our church had an informational meeting about NFP. God is so good! If we’re open to His will He always gives us what we need. I nervously went to the meeting feeling both desperate to get it right this time and also a bit defeated because my methods hadn’t worked. As I listened to the speaker, Sheila, explain the science and beauty of the different methods I quickly realized I really knew very little. I had hoped that after all the time I’d spent googling and subscribing to what I found online I was fairly informed. But sadly, I had just wasted a lot of time and energy. My time would have been much better spent seeking good, solid instruction from the beginning.

I signed up with Sheila right after the informational meeting and in five months and six consultations I have navigated the return to cycles from breastfeeding, and progressed from learning the method, to following the rules and most recently actually understanding my body. This last month of charting is the first time I could say with confidence I knew not only when I ovulated, but also saw the changes in my body for days before.

The companionship and fellowship of the process that I had deliberately avoided for so long was 100% necessary for this achievement. Once I overcame my pride and fears, and asked for personal help, I discovered it was a much better use of my time and efforts. I understand women’s desire to do this independently in this digital age when you can learn almost anything from you tube. But for me, and I’m guessing many others like me, nothing I found took into consideration all my individual variations. The time I set aside to talk to my NFP teacher about my personal questions and situations has proved invaluable.

Planning a family and having children is a unique and complex decision. Equally unique and complex is the women’s body. What works for others may not work for me, and what works for me may not be ideal for others. But I’m so very thankful to my priest for inviting Sheila to come speak and that her visit coincided with my readiness to listen and give charting a fair chance. I hope my story encourages women to find a teacher to guide them through their charting process and get the answers to the questions they undoubtedly will encounter as they navigate what NFP means for them.

Michelle Borba has been married to her husband Daniel for 16 years, and together they have had eight children. They are active members of their church and farming community, in the Stockton region. Michelle has found being a mother both the greatest gift and the greatest challenge of her life.