Not that I’m particularly obsessed with the realm of procreation but it is a new realm I don’t know enough about, and it’s too important not to navigate through it and do it justice. This is about doing it right.
In natural family planning (NFP), you basically chart your basal body temperature everyday (the sound of a thermometer beeping is now my alarm clock) and take note of any other physical indicators to predict when you are ovulating and when you aren’t. If you aren’t, you’re safe! You’re good to go.
My resistance to ear holes, laziness to make-up and reluctance to panadol are the result of my belief to be as au naturel as possible; I should be lovable and appreciated at my most basic/raw state i.e. the time one just wakes up (and vice versa, I should love people at their most natural state). So it’s no surprise I never took to things like contraceptives, I shouldn’t have to alter my natural state.
But of course the argument against contrceptives goes beyond stubbornness and vanity. Contraceptives just seem to inhibit the very thing that sex is meant to do: procreate and unite 2 people together. (you get to do neither really) It is like taking the UV filter out of a pair of sunglasses because it tinted everything brown, it kind of loses the whole point. So when it came to NFP, I was more than happy to embrace my body and to follow its rhythms – reporting daily to the husband if it’s a safe, unsafe or IDONTKNOW-dangerous-only-proceed-with-caution day.
At the core of it though, I felt uneasy, it felt like NFP was some holier, more reasonable, church-approved version of a contraceptive. Wasn’t NFP the wonderful tool to sustain a healthy marriage? (Couples who practice NFP have a very low rate of divorce!) My goal at the end of the day was to control pregnancy and avoid the inconveniences of caring for another life at this point in my life. How is NFP any different when I still wasn’t being open to life?
I discovered that the source of my discomfort really stemmed from my premise: let’s avoid having a child for now. NFP was really becoming like a contraceptive because I was so focused on purposefully avoiding the life-giving aspect of sex. (Technically, in definition, it isn’t considered a contraceptive still, but for myself to almost equate it to one, because the end result was the same i.e not have a child, raised a red flag.) I referred to this article quite a bit in trying to organize my thoughts.
I don’t pick my words well often enough, I’m not even sure how this terminology slipped into my vocabulary, but calling it safe and unsafe implied my self-centered intention of sex. It was safe for me to do it without bearing consequences, it was safe for my husband to respect our decision to not have a child, but it was about myself; it was not about God, my husband or my future child.
Ideally, I always imagined that when I was conceived, I was created out of an explosion of love between my father and mother, a moment of complete and utter self-giving so much so that it creates a whole other person. Literally, to be made out of love. (Whether it was intended by the parents or not is secondary, because whether I really do naturally conceive a child is ultimately not our decision, we only create the environment, albeit imperfectly) So how can I desire such an environment for my own child but also experience such self-centredness in the decision-making process? I was not truly being open to life and love.
It was a simple solution. Instead of safe/unsafe periods, we now frame my cycle as fertile/less fertile periods or more affectionately termed ‘baby-making time’, and it made all the difference in how I approached it. Every time I hear the question, it makes me consider just how open and joyful I am in creating life and how is it an environment of love, and not one of using one another to feel good. It makes me want to try and listen to my good conscience and not the one that indulges in ignorance and silence (that feeling of throwing all morals out the door ):).
Of course, it is not like we always have to focus on making a baby, but it’s about the intrinsic joy in union of man and woman, embracing the creative power of love. Beyond temporal pleasure, it pushes us as a couple to focus on lasting goodness and respectful unity.