I hope by the time you read this it doesn’t embarrass you to know that Daddy and I use a form of natural family planning called the Creighton Model.
I was skeptical at first. I had heard the old joke many times:
What do you call people who use natural family planning methods?
As a non-Catholic, pretty much all the people I knew used some form of chemical or barrier birth control; I had always assumed I would go “on the pill” whenever I got married. I still don’t see anything morally wrong with barrier methods or forms of chemical birth control that prevent fertilization. But it’s important to keep in mind that many forms of chemical birth control available today are abortifacients; I do take issue with those.
In preparation for our wedding in the Catholic Church, however, we were required to attend an introductory session for one of the natural family planning methods. We were given a booklet listing the different methods, with dates and times of the introductory sessions. We promptly forgot about it, until it was almost too late. A couple months before the wedding date, the priest reminded us about the requirement. By that time, though, there were only two dates left on the list, and we had a scheduling conflict for one of them. We were going to the Creighton Model class.
We fully expected to be bored and cynical all through the presentation, but I was hooked early on. The science behind it seemed sound, and trials had shown it to be just as effective as non-natural methods, when the system was used correctly. What sold me, though, was when they started talking about ways the Creighton Model could help diagnose certain fertility problems that were otherwise likely to be missed. As they described symptoms of low progesterone, which could result in early miscarriage, my ears really perked up. I’d already recognized some of those symptoms in myself, even without using their methods. I wondered what else we could learn from the Creighton Model.
After a few months of using the system, our consultant recommended that I have my progesterone levels checked through blood tests. Sure enough, my levels were considerably lower than they were supposed to be. Miscarriage would have been a potential problem if we had tried to conceive without this vital information.
I thank God for leading us to that introductory session, and for opening my ears and heart to the possibilities.
I felt like we had been rescued somehow, spared the heartache and grief we might have felt. And not just once – we’d learned that conventional practitioners typically don’t investigate too deeply until a woman has experienced three or more miscarriages. Three or more!
I took progesterone supplement pills for about a year before my hormone levels reached the appropriate range to support a pregnancy. Once we successfully conceived, the doctor checked my levels again and found progesterone was still a little low. So I continued taking the supplement throughout the first trimester, after which point the danger is past.
What’s amazing to me is that if I had not married a Catholic, or if we had decided not to have a Catholic priest officiate, we might never have learned about my insufficient progesterone production. Or at least, not until we’d already suffered tragedy. The hormone imbalance was easy to diagnose and easy to treat! How many more babies could live, and how many more parents spared the devastation of a miscarriage, if people only knew the information is out there?
The Creighton Model is available to anyone, not just Catholics, but because our society is so dependent on barrier and chemical methods, the vast majority probably never even hear about it! Or worse, they lump it in with other, less effective methods as foolishness.
That’s a real shame.
I’ve told many friends about our experience, and I want to make sure you know, too, Munchkin. Your parents had only planned pregnancies while using this form of natural family planning, and the Creighton Model method may even have saved your life.