I recently joined a group on Facebook looking for support because about a month and half ago, my fertility officially returned! Right around the six-month post-partum mark, I got to break out the menstrual cup and Midol for a good ole fashioned period.
Why do I sound so excited about my fertility? Because it means that I am healthy! It also means that I can now get back to charting my cycle and have sex with my husband knowledgeably rather than anxiously because we had NO IDEA what was going on with my body. But then my cycle returned and we can make informed decisions again!
But let me tell you, if charting without an infant was difficult at times (because I hadn't fully formed the habit of taking my temperature yet), it is going to be a challenge to form the habit around the sporadic sleep schedule of a teething baby.
But guys? It really is worth it. I have seen so much negativity on several NFP/FAM (natural family planning/fertility awareness method) online communities about how much the method sucks, on how it can ruin a marriage (!?), and why people hate it... and I'm sorry but I find that ridiculous! And I think it all comes down to your mindset regarding your fertility. Female fertility is not a curse! My cycle, in all of its ups, downs, and outputs, is freaking beautiful.
FAM post-partum is not going to be a walk in the park, but this is something I believe in for myself and my family. Why? Because there is so much more to charting than just trying to avoid (or achieve) a pregnancy. Charting helps us learn about and care for our bodies by answering questions such as:
1.) What's going on "down there"?
Taking your temperature every morning helps you to be conscious of not only when you ovulate, but when your luteal phase will begin and when you will menstruate. No more getting caught of guard and needing to run to the store for tampons! And as a mama, that's such a nice perk!
2.) How's my health?
Did you realize that your water consumption directly effects your cervical fluid? You can actually tell through charting if you are hydrating well or not. A lethargic phase that shouldn't be is an indicator that you're not sleeping enough. There are other things as well, like your nutrition and exercise. All of it contributes to your cycle and your cycle can tell you how you're doing, sort of like a progress report.
3.) Why am I upset?
I'll be the first to admit, hormones and I are not the best of friends. I really am so susceptible to PMS, specifically emotionally. Charting helps me to be conscious of the fact that my hormones are shifting right and I have tendency to feel more sensitive and dramatically when this is going on. It helps me check myself and make sure that the level of emotion (not the emotion itself) is appropriate to the situation and avoid overreacting.
I'm currently reviewing my FAM lessons I have taken over the last two years and have made my number one goal for January to intentionally chart. If anyone would like to re-commit or try charting with me, let me know in the comments below or reach out to me on Facebook or another social media platform.
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In my two months of motherhood, I can already tell you that I am not a pro-mommy. I'm still not certain if I should be eating only organic to make what he eats organic, I don't know what size he should actually be wearing because literally every brand is different, and I lose his socks constantly (but the internet assures me this is normal). My failures are numerous to say the least. There are times when I can't seem to solve the problem that has him upset, moments where I resent his needs at 3 am, and I keep forgetting to check the time when I start to feed so I know (approximately) when he'll be hungry again.
My biggest struggle as a person and a parent already is/was patience. Patience with my dogs, my husband, my infant when nothing seems to make it better, and myself for what feels like constant failings. I know deep down that I am not failing as a parent; my son is happy and healthy. He is growing, he smiles often, loves to move, and talks to us almost 24/7 through coos, grunts, and squeals. I have no doubt that he feels safe and trusts us. Which can only mean we're doing at least a few things right! Just like any relationship or change, it takes time to grow and develop, and it takes time with God.
But a quiet, deep conversation with God and an intercession to our Mother, Mary, for patience is slowly helping. When I feel impatient, which leads to me feeling helpless, hurt, or frustrated instead of snapping, I slowly, mindfully pray a decade of the Rosary interceding for patience and grace in a trying moment. I don't always remember to reach out to God first, but I can feel myself becoming more patient with little things that used to get under my skin. A change I've wanted to make and struggled with is slowly coming to fruition because of God, not me.
You can read more about God's power of transformation in the New Testament and in our own lives here