Friday, July 30, 2010

Our Journey with NFP

I should be posting a Hi Lo today, but this week is NFP Awareness Week, which is an entire week devoted to bringing attention to Natural Family Planning. This year, the theme for the week is Trust: God has a Plan for your marriage. I encourage all of you to open your minds to studying and using Natural Family Planning. It's good for your body and soul!
**This post is honest and detailed, so please be gentle**

Phil and I were so lucky to be raised in big Catholic families that used Natural Family Planning, attend Franciscan University of Steubenville were it was "drilled" into us even more, and then start our marriage off on the right foot. We took a class in the sympto-thermal method of NFP, which was taught by a Deacon and his wife who had 8 children of their own. We took this class about 6 months before we were married, and honestly, Phil seemed to be better at figuring everything out than I was. I have very long and irregular cycles, and I usually end up getting frustrated by the whole process (did I ever tell you that patience is not a virtue I have yet to acquire?)

As the wedding drew closer, we realized that we would have to abstain for the latter part of our honeymoon, which was super hard, but we got through it. We returned home from the Caribbean, made it through another cycle, and then whoops! got pregnant with John-Paul. I have to admit it, I was extremely upset that we had "failed" in NFP by getting pregnant while trying not to. Before anybody judges us, please realize that at the time, I was the only one working and providing benefits because Phil was in grad school. We were living in my parent's house because we were managing the ice cream store on the Cape for the summer, and didn't want to get an apartment for only 3 months. We literally had no idea what would happen in our future, but being pro-life and faithful to God's Will, we started getting really excited for the baby growing inside of me.

Once John-Paul was born in February 2003, I hoped we could obtain the infertility that is supposed to happen while breastfeeding. No such luck for me (or my mother or sisters, it must be genetic), and my cycle returned when John-Paul was 4 months old. Luckily, Phil got a job teaching in September 2003, and I stayed at home with J-P. We struggled financially, and my little sister was getting married in September 2004, and since I was to be the matron-of-honor, we decided to use NFP to postpone the birth of the next baby until after the wedding. There was one specific month I remember saying to Phil that we could not conceive a baby because I would be giving birth at the wedding. Well, guess what month we conceived? Luckily I didn't give birth until 9 days after her wedding, to Andrew in October 2004.

After Andrew was born, money was even tighter because our housing situation changed yet again, and now our rent was $1000/month, our portion of the health insurance was $500/month, and our student loans were $600/month. We had two car payments and two little ones in diapers, and Phil was making $32,000 a year, before taxes and insurance coming out. We couldn't make ends meet anymore, and started doing all sorts of side jobs to pay the bills. Phil worked summers, became the CCD Coordinator of our Parish, and took on a parking lot duty job at school. I babysat, tutored students in math, and had a couple of small bookkeeping clients. I even worked nights at H&R Block during tax season so Phil was at home with the kids. Needless to say, we were doing our best to provide for the children we already had, and were using NFP to space out the next child.

Once Andrew was 15 months old, I was getting baby fever and mentioned to Phil that if we tried to get pregnant right now, Andrew and the next baby would be 2 whole years apart (after having the first ones 19 months apart, 2 years seemed like a BIG deal!). Well, Phil didn't need much prodding, and Eamon was born in September 2006! I must point out that this is one of the huge benefits of using NFP, it's not just to postpone pregnancy, but to achieve it as well. And you don't have to worry about getting off the pill for a while before trying to conceive, you just do it :)

Eamon really threw our world for a loop! He had colic and was allergic to dairy and soy, and was a very hard baby. I fell into post-partum depression, though at the time I convinced myself it wasn't. Because my diet was so limited while trying to breastfeed him, and because I had just started working part-time, I gave up and put him on hypo-allergenic formula. My cycle returned when he was 4 months old, and Phil and I were planning to use NFP to postpone the next baby for a long time, because we seemed to have every grave reason in the book to do so! But, by complete surprise (NFP does require being open to life at all times!) we conceived Maggie when Eamon was only 5 months old.

I was beyond shocked, I was devastated. I was depressed, and overwhelmed and really questioning this whole NFP thing. I never wanted to use artificial contraception, but figured the only way to ensure postponing another baby was complete abstinence. Poor Phil! I was feeling very sorry for myself, and then feeling guilty about those feelings. I was a Catholic mom after all, I wanted a big family, I was a strong advocate for NFP, but I was also fed up. I started seeking out more mature Catholic moms to get advice from. Phil bought me some books from Danielle Bean, then I discovered her blog, and the world of blogs soon followed. I was so happy to meet other moms who had lots of little kids (some on purpose, others not so much) and who could relate to our situation.

I started to feel supported by these women who had already walked in my shoes, and when we found out Maggie was a girl at the 20 week ultrasound, my depression was instantly lifted! I loved my boys so much, but wanted a little girl too, and here she was. I finally could see God's plan all along...she had to be conceived at the exact moment she was for her to be her. If we had not been open to life by using NFP, Maggie wouldn't be here at all. In fact, none of my children would be here, and that is just too awful a thought to handle. We currently use NFP to postpone Baby #5 because we still struggle financially, but as my mom says, "Your rewards will come in the next life"!! We may not be "rich" monetarily, but we are rich in love and family. And the longer we wait, the more "ready" we are to expand our family.

Using NFP means giving of our whole God, to each other, and to our children. Yes, sometimes it's hard to abstain when your husband is a hottie (are you blushing, honey?) , and yes, an unexpected pregnancy can be scary, but following God's Will is the only way to ultimate happiness, and I'm so glad NFP is part of His plan.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Important News!!

Tomorrow is:

So go to The Cheesecake Factory and get your slice!! I'll see ya there ;)

Top Ten Thursday: Things I've Learned as a Young Mother

1) It's not about me anymore. The wedding, the pregnancy, heck my whole life up until I became a mom, was about me. Now, it's all about them.
And I'm honestly much happier this way.

2) Naps are the greatest - whether it be the the one you squeeze in on the weekend, or the one your baby takes so you can catch up on everything else.

3) This too shall pass. Seriously, it works with any situation.

4) Giving a child a sibling is the best gift you can give them.

5) Having two kids is easier than having one. Moms of one never believe me, but it's so true, especially once they start playing together.

6) You have to let go of some of your parenting ideals. I was convinced all of my children would be born naturally, breastfed for a year, love their vegetables, and never talk back. Ha! God is still laughing :)

7) Choose your battles. You want to wear a costume that's two sizes too small? Fine, just make sure it's clean!

8) The house will NOT be perfect. I still obsess over this one a little too much. But the kids really will rather remember a mom who played with them more than a mom who cleans all day.
9) Do something to keep your sanity. For me, that's exercise. For others, it might be going to the grocery store by yourself or having a mom's night out once a month.

10) PRAY! As the ever-so-wise MC Hammer once rapped, "You've got to pray just to make it today". So true! Pray for your marriage, pray for your children's future, and pray that your daily to-do list is an offering to God.
What would you add to the list?

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

A Movie Review, sort of

Phil and I went to see Inception last weekend. We LOVED The Dark Knight (Batman) and this was the same director, so we were excited to see it.
Phil absolutely loved it. He doesn't want to stop talking about it.
As for me, well I have never been so cold or confused as I was when watching this movie. The theater must have been about 60 degrees, and I was so uncomfortably cold (because I stupidly wore shorts) that I couldn't concentrate on the movie. And this is one of those movies you need to concentrate on. I was pretty much so thoroughly lost by the middle of the movie that I fell asleep, and then woke up just in time for the ending.
The ending, by the way, was superb.
As for the rest of the movie, well we will have to rent it and watch it in the comfort of our own home.
And then perhaps I'll try to review it again :)

Monday, July 26, 2010

Our Rainy Afternoon SITUATIONS


(IPod had been lost for weeks!)






Friday, July 23, 2010

Hi Lo: July 23rd


1) We are getting a refund for our vacation house fiasco! (In case you don't know...we had mice in the house we rented) The owner of the house isn't giving us a full refund, but we are getting 2/3 back, which we are happy about.

2) Track Club for the boys has been going great. They had a meet this week, and they all racked up some first place ribbons. Not that that's what's important...but they do have my competitive streak...and they love to win!

3) Phil fixed our dryer. Whatta man! Have I told you all how much I LOVE my husband? Seriously, like for real :)

4) Happy Birthday to my sister-in-law Angela, who turned 29 (again) on Tuesday ;)
My brother took her away overnight, and we watched their 3 kids. Clare missed her mom, but warmed up to me quickly, and Brogan and PJ were awesome! Love those kids!
Clare and PJ playing together

The kids loved sleeping over their cousin's house...
...and sharing beds!


1) Eamon needs to be evaluated for possible speech therapy. He has a little lisp and still mispronounces his L's and R's. He's only 3 and speaks so sweetly, but I'd rather get it fixed earlier than later. John-Paul had physical therapy, Andrew had speech therapy, so we'll see what Maggie will need in the the rate she's going, probably some classes in manners :)

How was your week? Tell me, tell me!!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

A Tune for Tuesday

This song is awful...awfully good!! Hell hath no fury like a MAN scorned :)

Monday, July 19, 2010

On Why I'll Never Be Rich

Though there are a million practical reasons why I'll never be rich - a Catholic School Teacher Hubby, 4 children (so far), living in Taxachusetts, and TONS of student loan debt - there is an even bigger reason I don't think I'll ever be rich.
I think I might lose my soul.
You see, when I daydream about being wealthy, I imagine a life of luxury and leisure. A life in a mansion with landscapers, house cleaners, nannies, a personal chef, a personal trainer, a chauffeur, a pool boy, and the ever-so-necessary masseuse. My children will be well dressed and given anything their little hearts desire, and I will be sitting by the pool in my bikini (hello cosmetic surgery!!) barking out orders to the employees under my care. Change diapers, who me? Clean my house, yeah right! Lovingly prepare dinner for my family when we have a chef? Why bother?
Of course, I can easily see how "bad" that would be for my spiritual life. Why would I *need* God when I have everything I could ever (monetarily) want? If I don't suffer even a little in this life, I have to make up for it in the next, and wasting money on such shallow aspirations does not a saintly person make.
And Jesus said to His disciples, "Truly I say to you, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.
These dreams of grandeur are easily shattered by my reality. My fabulous husband loves to tell me that God will never make us rich because I would indeed lose my faith. He knows I would love to shop and go on vacations and get a "break" from being a mom all the time. And while these things can be okay in moderation, they can easily become vices.
So while it is hard to look around at what everybody else has that I'm lacking, I do thank God for the opportunities he has given me. I'm thankful for a strong and loving marriage, children who are being raised by their parents and not by nannies, and a house of our own that we take care of all by ourselves.
At the end of a long day, it is rewarding to fall asleep knowing that I have faithfully fulfilled my duties as a wife and mom. And I'm hoping that when Judgement Day comes, God will agree.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Hi Lo: July 16th

1) Our friends Sarah and Katie came to visit from Indiana for another friend's wedding. I'm not sure who was more or my kids!?!?

2) Fr. Jay wasn't assigned a Mass last Sunday and offered to have one at our house. So cool!

John-Paul served as Altar Boy.

It's intriguing to watch a Priest getting dressed for Mass.

The kids were excited to have Mass in our house!

The Readers at Mass

Fr. Jay getting ready...

And Mass begins!
3) The wedding was really nice. Amanda and Ray were all smiley and happy as could be. Maggie's godfather, Fr. Dave, gave an awesome homily. Of course I forgot my camera - whoops!
1) Still no vacation house refund.
2) Our dryer has been broken, but Phil is working on it.
3) Lots of rainy days (but today is looking sunny!!!)
How was your week?