The Decision to Avoid is a True Discernment Process
"If therefore there are well-grounded reasons for spacing births, arising from the physical or psychological condition of husband or wife, or from external circumstances, the Church teaches that married people may then take advantage of the natural cycles immanent in the reproductive system and engage in marital intercourse only during those times that are infertile, thus controlling birth in a way which does not in the least offend the moral principles which We have just explained." -Humanae Vitae (The Catholic Church Encyclical the Creighton Model is based on)
Avoiding pregnancy is not always something you hear us talk about, unless we are talking about a serious medical condition or charting. Even then I am not sure we have talked about it all that much. I feel it is an important topic to discuss because not everyone is in a place to be trying to conceive, so I do want to talk about the other side of using the Creighton Model System.
There are seasons in life where avoiding pregnancy is absolutely valid. For example if you are someone who suffers from postpartum depression and it affects your life significantly or if you had to have a c-section, your body needs time to heal. Avoiding pregnancy is not wrong as long as you have a mindset of still being open (God works in mysterious ways), it is not a unethical to take care of yourself and do what is best for your family.
I am someone who is in a place of avoiding and potentially for the rest of my reproductive life. I have had 4 c-sections, been pregnant 7 times total (we have had 3 miscarriages), and I have a tremendously hard time with postpartum depression and anxiety. Making the decision to avoid was one my husband and I did not take lightly. We love babies! Having kids is hard, but it is so rewarding. Being pregnant is an amazing experience. Those newborn snuggles just make me melt. Having a big family is something we always dreamed of. But the more we struggled with secondary infertility, with each pregnancy postpartum became much more challenging, and with each c-section the recovery became increasingly difficult, we knew we had to really discern having more children. My husband and I turned to God to pray and work through our desire for a bigger family, but to take a good look at the reality of our situation.
After many conversations and a lot of prayer, we know for the time being having more kids is not what we are meant to do. This was not a decision that came quickly. This was something we really took to prayer and had many conversations about, it was a true discernment process. The best decision for our family and overall well being is to not have anymore children. So what now? How do we continue to use this method well when avoiding and with an open mindset?
I am not going to lie using the method to avoid is not easy. It is even harder when you have a difficult cycle or your chart is complicated (my chart can be crazy!). When you are in a place of avoiding, intercourse should only occur when there is no fertility present. Couples can find this part to be particularly difficult. When you are in a time of fertility the desire for intercourse is very natural, but when you are not fertile it is not as heightened. In a way using the method to avoid, is making sacrifices in this department. Intercourse may happen as often as you would like. You are naturally going to have to find more ways than physical intimacy to connect with your spouse. We have talked about SPICE so much on the blog, but really this is where it comes into play. Avoiding doesn't mean all intimacy goes out the window. It just means you have to find different ways to create a connection with one another. There is a lot of trust to go into the decision to use the method to avoid. Not only in ourselves, but also in the system.
Remember there has been a lot of research and studies done, which have gone into creating the Creighton Model System. We want people to trust in the method and believe it can work for their life situation. When practiced correctly to avoid pregnancy, "the Creighton Model– is 99.5% effective in preventing pregnancies". If you are finding yourself in a place where you feel you need to avoid, remember the system can be used with great success.
I want all the couples out there, who are trying to decide if they should have more children, to know there is no perfect answer. Making a decision whether or not to grow your family is not an easy one. Take it month by month or even year by year. This is something that takes true discernment. God wants what is best for you and your family. He truly will not give you anything he feels you cannot handle.