In Which We Discover if I Really Meant it About Not Doing NFP

Mailbag time!

The Question:

Hi Kendra,

I find myself at a point where I am needing to sort of “vent” out some frustrations with NFP, and storing children’s clothing in a too “small” of a house. I went searching your blog for “storing clothes” and somehow found your post about NFP and that for some people it is a struggle. I read your post, and I totally get what you are saying there! I was always taught that it’s so “bonding” for a couple, and that “you only have to abstain for a few days a month, maybe a week” and “well, now that you’re breastfeeding, the Sympto-thermal method isn’t going to work so you should try Creighton” which led to like 8 months of abstaining and “yellow stamps” because my mucus was hard to get charted to find something to go on.

Fast forward (we had the 4 under four you referenced, starting with honeymoon baby), living in 5 homes in 8 years, multiple job changes, etc. We basically have 4 or 5 days each month now in the infertile “phase 3” stage to take advantage of. And that’s really regardless of how I’m actually feeling about the whole thing by that time of the month. And I learned later on that it seems the only people who are so enthused about NFP in general are those who had problems with infertility. And the whole “if you nurse your baby, you will space you babies…” was a bust for us. 2 months after having our first, I got my period, and she only nursed. 4 months after the birth of our first, we were pregnant with our second.

Anyway, I wondered about asking you about how you store things for all your kids, how you decide what to keep and what to toss, and how did you become so open to so many children… we are at 4, and our youngest will be 4 next month… Our oldest will be 8 next month. We abstain far too much and I’m at a spot in life where I’m getting really depressed about it. It’s so … nice… that we can most of the time sleep through the night. But when I see little babies at Mass, all cute and snuggly, and I see the world the way it is, I want to bring more babies in so we can raise them to help make things better… but I’m still conflicted in the night.

God bless your day,


The Answer:

Hey Jennifer,

I feel you on all of this. And there are no easy answers. We spent years trying and failing at NFP, and it was really disheartening . . . although we did get quite a lot of lovely children out of it. But then we felt we had a real need to postpone, so we spent a year being serious about NFP and were able to be successful. As you saw in that post, I really did not like practicing NFP. Our reason for wanting to not be pregnant was that my husband didn't have a job. But, even so, we weren't in dire straights financially, and we had family we could call upon in an emergency, so eventually we decided that we would quit NFP even though my husband was still looking for a job. I got pregnant right away, but he was employed before baby Frankie was born. So, for us, it worked out quite well.

If our reasons for avoiding pregnancy had been my physical or mental health, or serious financial concerns, it would have been a different story, of course. But, for us, after that, we decided not to go back to NFP and just take babies as they came.

That philosophy was put to the test a bit lately though. I've always been able to count on ten months or so of breastfeeding infertility after each baby, which means my closest age gap is nineteen months. That's made our "come what may" strategy manageable. But then, I had baby number eight in July and got a period when she was SIX WEEKS old, despite cosleeping and nursing on demand.

I kept thinking c'mon baby, you had ONE job.

So there we were, trying to decide if our commitment to not doing NFP extended to the possibility of ending up with Irish twins. And I wasn't sure it did. We abstained for a while longer to see if it had been a fluke thing, and to figure out whether we were really ready to be open to another baby.

The answer to both questions ended up being a rather hesitating, "yes?"

I didn't get another period on schedule, and haven't gotten another since then, so my hope is that we will get some infertile time here after all. But I also think we and I could handle another baby if that happened. I just turned thirty-nine, so I figure the baby train IS going to stop sometime in the next few years. I wouldn't mind having another one or two before this part of my life is done.

When people ask how many kids we are going to have, I like to say, "All of them." I don't want to miss one. :)

But that only answers the emotional part of your question. Logistically, I save a LOT less stuff than I used to. I used to carefully sort and organize everything and save it for years and years only to not use it because seasons were off and/or the new or newER clothes people gave us were cuter and cleaner and more stylish. Also, my babies now don't need as many items as my first babies did because we do laundry every day, instead of once a week.

Now, when kids outgrow a size, if things are in really good shape and I have someone who will wear it within the next year or two, I'll hang onto it. Also a few sentimental items get saved. But, really, I get rid of almost everything. I donate it all, and figure we will be able to buy or find donations of clothes as we need them.

It helps that we just all keep MUCH less clothing than we used to. My kids each have around thirty items of clothing total. It means less clutter, and it's a lot less expensive than having a huge wardrobe.

Only you and your husband can know, of course, if you need to continue to avoid pregnancy. Being pregnant is hard on me and hard on my family, and I know some women have it much harder than I do on that front. Babies and kids are time consuming and expensive. But they're also really, really great. Not doing NFP is great. Having sex with your husband is great, and good for your marriage.

So, I'm still not doing NFP. I'll admit, I did think about it. I even found our old charts and stickers. But, if I'm going to err, I'd rather it be on the side of having too many kids than too few.

Good luck on all of this. Pray about it, and remember you can ask God to give you peace about it. That always helps me.

You might also enjoy . . .

Why I Don't Do NFP

Dear Newlywed, You're Probably Worried About the Wrong Thing

Maybe We CAN'T Talk About NFP Without Giving Offense

Disclaimer: I am not a theologian, nor am I an official spokesperson for the Catholic Church. (You're thinking of this guy.) If you read anything on this blog that is contrary to Church teaching, please consider it my error (and let me know!). I'm not a doctor or an expert on anything in particular. I'm just one person with a lot of experience parenting little kids and a desire to share my joy in marriage, mothering, and my faith.

If you've got a question, please send it along to catholicallyear @ gmail . com . Please let me know if you prefer that I change your name if I use your question on the blog.
p.s. I am WAY behind on my mailbag. Like, a month behind. Maybe two. Between keeping up the blog, writing for Blessed is She (my turn today), the printables and custom work at the Etsy shop, the mugs and t-shirts and pint glasses at the Cafepress shop, planning the fixing up of the house we bought, keeping the house we are trying to sell in a condition to be shown, the general care, feeding, and education of my children, and four birthdays in five weeks . . . I am fresh out of time to respond to emails. But if you wrote to me to ask a question, please know that I got it. I read it. I composed an answer to you in my head. But I haven't typed it up yet. It is my sincere intention to do so sometime in the near future.