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  • Writer's pictureKaroline Heldt, CFCP

My fertility journey

Updated: Apr 18, 2023

Everyone’s experience with NFP is unique. Women and couples seek it out for so many different reasons and usually stay with it for another reason entirely. I hope my story can help some women feel a little less alone in their journey to understanding their bodies and fertility. One of the amazing things about the way we were created as humans is that often the more we understand how our bodies were designed and function, the closer we grow to the One that created them that way. And in my experience, the more our fertility becomes integrated into who we are as a whole person, the more authentic and fulfilling our life experience becomes.

When my husband and I were first married, we knew we wanted to start a family and only had a very vague idea about what NFP entailed. So, to exactly no one’s surprise I took a positive pregnancy test about a month after our wedding. I always smile when engaged couples say that they want to “enjoy being married” before starting a family because it takes a pretty long time to grow a baby. We were able to have lots of fun being married before our oldest was born the next summer. And even more fun as a family of 3!

As you might imagine with my non-existent family planning skills, we had 2 more babies over the next 3 years (and absolutely loved it!). However, the whole “3 kids 3 and under thing” was a little wild (to say the least), and at 4 months post partum with baby #3 I was starting to stress about my fertility returning and what that would look like practically.

This led to a conversation with a family member who had just completed her training as a Creighton Model FertilityCare Practitioner. I remember her saying “as a nurse, you will love this method and will pick up on it very easily!” She was kind enough to help me through that first 3-4 months of learning, and I distinctly remember being shocked when I was able to predict the return of my first post partum period. The whole thing played out so clearly on the chart! It was a big lightbulb moment of “Oh my gosh! I actually know what’s going on with my body!” It was such an empowering feeling. And when my husband caught on as well, he was equally as enthusiastic about being “in the loop” with what was happening.

Learning and charting the method together day in and day out for weeks, months, and now years on end is a daily exercise in good communication and being on the same page with your goals. I truly believe that being in-sync with your understanding of your fertility as a couple takes your intimacy, communication, and team-work skills to the next level. Even if your goal as a couple is to be consistently open to pregnancy (which has most often been our situation), the ability to give a whole-hearted “yes” to life, knowing when it is and is not possible is a truly beautiful experience. With knowledge and the ability to say both yes and no, there is true freedom!

It took a little longer than we expected to have our fourth baby and in the meantime a local Napro doctor was able to tell with a look at my chart and quick blood test that I needed a little help with my progesterone levels. Once I got my progesterone boosted up, we were thrilled to be expecting baby #4. After he was born, we were able to fully utilize that “98% effectiveness to avoid pregnancy” so that I could take plenty of time to heal after a traumatic and unexpected c-section.

A wise mentor recently told me “you can be totally open and receptive to God’s plan and do all the ‘right’ things and sometimes the answer is still ‘no’”. We’ve experienced this on a deep level. In the last 1 ½ years, we’ve experienced 2 miscarriages in the second trimester. Any loss at any point in pregnancy is profoundly painful. With both of our babies, the miscarriage was discovered at a 15 week check up after several normal and healthy first trimester ultrasounds. Anyone who has angel babies in Heaven knows that this experience changes you forever.

I turn 35 this year so my journey with my fertility is changing but it’s far from over. I’m incredibly thankful for the knowledge and resources provided to me by the Creighton Model. I know my journey would look much different otherwise. Whether I’ve been in an achieving-pregnancy season, avoiding-pregnancy season or healing season, the understanding of my body that comes with charting my fertility long-term has been invaluable.

I have so much left to learn and everyone’s experience is unique to them, but if any part of my story resonated with you, below are some things that helped me in the thick of things.

Surviving “3 kids 3 and under”:

  • Pray. Out loud. With your spouse. Daily.

  • Build a little something into each day that’s just for you. Some days that might be an hour of quiet time, some days it might be 10 minutes. But make it a top priority. I wrote a list of things that helped me feel calm and recharge so I could reference that in a moment of chaos. It included things like: a cup of tea and a chocolate, a decaf coffee with a bunch of whip cream (are you sensing a theme here?), get up 30 minutes before kids (if the baby slept) to read or pray, walk (outside or on the treadmill). If at all possible, try to make these non-screen activities for better long-lasting dopamine.

  • Family dance parties. I used these on the regular to turn the household mood around. Shove the mess to one side of the room, blast some good music and dance it out with the kids. They love it, and it usually gets everyone to stop crying.

  • Date night as frequently as humanly possible. Monthly at a bare minimum. If a babysitter is out of reach financially, a couple of solutions we’ve used in the past are

    • “date night in” where we strategize the day for an early kids' bedtime, get take out or something fun we don’t normally buy from the grocery store and play a board game or watch a movie.

    • Date night swap with a trusted friend in the same boat. “I’ll watch your kids while you guys go on a date and next weekend, you do the same for me!”

  • If you’re overwhelmed, start hacking things off your list of responsibilities until things feel a little more under control. Like Natalie and Jenny both wisely mentioned in their recent posts, say "no" wherever you can. Your spouse can help you discern more things you can say "no" to!

  • Let the little things go. There’s a season for everything and this, my friend, is not your season for a Joanna Gaines house or Top Chef meals. Create a 2-3 week simple meal plan and put it on repeat. Purge toys so you have less to pick up. Use paper plates, paper towels, disposable diapers, Amazon, curbside grocery pick up. Prioritize your sanity! Decide your non-negotiables, and let go of most everything else.

  • When little people are crabby, feed them (snack or meal!), water them (drink of water or a bath or both!) and take them outside! I’ve found this to be the cure to almost all cases of the crankies.

  • Find community. You NEED at least one (if not 2-3) really good mom friends. Women in the same season as you with similar lives and priorities. Pray for them. Find them. Treasure them.

In a season of grief or loss - things that helped me through my miscarriage experiences:

  • Naming and burying my babies. Honoring them with mementos like little keepsake boxes that contain their ultrasound photos and other things. Getting ornaments with their names for our Christmas tree.

  • Seeking help both from NaPro and an alternative medicine doctor to regain my mental, emotional, and physical health.

  • The book A Grace like Scarlett by Adriel Booker

  • Lots of time in Eucharistic Adoration

  • Journaling

  • Community (see my note about mom friends. You really need them)

  • Professional counseling

  • Saying yes to every offer of help

  • Exercise and time in nature

  • Continuing date nights

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