Archive | July, 2012

How NFP Made Me Catholic

28 Jul

In my last post, I talked about why I love NFP. Here, I’d like to recount the story of its role in my becoming Catholic.

A little bit of background: I grew up going to Protestant churches. First, a Baptist church, later a non-denominational church. They were both lead by and filled with loving, genuine Christians who wanted to know God on a deeply intimate level. I knew no Catholics. After going off to college and meeting people from all over the country, I befriended several Catholics and some people in the process of becoming Catholic. One in particular stands out, because I ended up marrying him.

Charles and I both love to discuss theology, and in the early days of our dating, we would sometimes spend hours debating Catholics/Protestant issues. I was always able to respond to his questions with verses from the Bible that left me satisfied with my Protestantism, until he brought up the sixth chapter of John’s Gospel. I don’t have space here to write about how that chapter affected my faith, but suffice it to say that it did cause me to reconsider several misconceptions I had about Catholicism.

At that point, I was beginning to think that perhaps my interpretation of the Bible was off here and there, but I wasn’t drawn to the Catholicism in a major way.

Enter the Church’s teaching on contraception.

Charles sent me home with a copy of Dr. Janet E. Smith‘s talk Contraception: Why Not. I had never considered that there might be anything wrong with using contraception, so I was very skeptical about what Dr. Smith would say in her talk. Over the course of an hour, I was convinced that there were serious problems with the use of contraception, especially in a Christian marriage. I absolutely can’t do justice here to her talk, so I would encourage everyone to get ahold of it if you’re interested in what Dr. Smith has to say. (I’m happy to share my copy!)

As I became more and more convinced of the rightness of the Church’s teaching, I realized an important thing: The Catholic Church is the only Church that maintains its teaching against contraception. The only one. All Protestant churches, prior to the 1930’s taught against it, but one by one they made concessions after the Anglicans allowed it in special circumstances. Fast forward to today, and you will rarely, if ever, hear it spoken of in Protestant churches.

But the beautiful thing about the Church’s teaching is that it’s not just a “no” to contraception, it’s a resounding “YES!” to NFP–to full, free, faithful, and fruitful love between a husband and wife.

By the grace of God, I was able to see the beauty of NFP, to recognize that the Catholic church is the sole keeper of its truth, and to seek and receive full communion with her.

-Erica

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Why I Love NFP

23 Jul

It’s Natural Family Planning awareness week, y’all! I am a huge proponent of NFP, and I wanted to take a few minutes to hash out the reasons why I think it’s so great and, later, to reflect on how this largely ignored component of Catholic doctrine lead me to Rome.

Although you certainly don’t have to be religious to use NFP, the Catholic Church is the only church who sanctions the method exclusively, so I will talk about NFP through the lens of the Church. NFP is a moral way for married couples to postpone a pregnancy, if they have reason to do so. The Church doesn’t define what those reasons are, but “we can hardly make our mortgage payment and keep food on everyone’s plate” is a better reason than “we have a cruise planned and I don’t want to look chunky in my bikini.” It’s up to the couple to pray and consider their circumstances in order to determine if the time isn’t right to welcome a new member of the family.

The way NFP works is that the couple is taught to read the wife’s fertile signs.  They include basal body temperature and cervical mucous. The signs are charted, and the couple learns to interpret the chart in order to determine when the wife is likely to become pregnant. If they need to postpone a pregnancy, they abstain until later in the month when she is unlikely to become pregnant.

No pills. No barriers. No synthetic hormones.

Here are some reasons why I love NFP:

  • It requires communication. Let me just be blunt: it’s no fun to abstain. If you’re facing a week or so of having to go to bed with just a peck on the cheek, you’re going to be darn sure that the time isn’t right for another baby. NFP necessitates that the husband and wife are always talking about important issues: their finances, their stress levels, and what they can do to make life easier for each other.
  • It helps a woman understand her body. God totally knew what he was doing when he designed Eve. (We are the pinnacle of creation, after all!) It was really, really cool to learn how all the hormones in my body interact throughout the month, and to learn why about 75% of the time I’m not likely to conceive, but 25% of the time, I am.
  • Relatedly, it helps diagnose health issues. After just a few months of charting, I was able to see that I had a luteal phase defect. This can cause problems getting pregnant and can cause miscarriage. Since I had been charting, I knew to bring this up with my prenatal practitioner, who prescribed me progesterone once I got pregnant, to lessen the chances of miscarriage.
  • It prevents you from sounding silly about sex. NFP honors the fact that sex, bonding, and babies are all related. I will never not be baffled when someone talks about an “unexpected” pregnancy. Uhh… don’t you know where babies come from? If you got pregnant from sex, even if you were contracepting, nothing went wrong. Everything went right! Your body did what it was supposed to do! Yay!
  • It’s natural and cheap! I love that I’m not introducing any extra artificial hormones into my body on a daily basis, and that, aside from the initial cost of taking an NFP class, it’s free!

I know that it’s weird to care so much about family planning methods, but by golly, NFP is awesome and I want everyone I know to know about it! To learn more, check out this great website that just launched this week: http://iusenfp.com/home/

-Erica

A Quilt For James

12 Jul

Not too long ago, my sister had a baby! Little James Hudson (don’t you love his name?) is my very first nephew, and I am so happy he is here. I put the last few stitches in his quilt Wednesday, and I’m going to mail it first thing in the morning! I planned to have it finished before his big debut, but life happened and I’m a few weeks late. (In my defense, he’s an eager beaver and decided to arrive two weeks before his due date.)

I used the “New Wave” pattern (with a few simple modifications) from the blog Oh, Fransson! which can be found here. I thought I’d share a few pictures from my version, so here you go:

Ta-da! This is the first quilt I’ve made for a baby boy, so I enjoyed working with blues, greens, and reds.

I’m not a huge fan of super masculine motifs for babies, like football or motorcycles, so this vintage line from Blue Hill Fabrics won me over quickly. The little scenes are so sweet, without being girly–perfect for a baby boy.

The blue circus print is my favorite. Camels and elephants and clowns, oh my!

Well, James, I hope you enjoy your quilt. Go easy on your mom and dad. I can’t wait to meet you soon, and neither can your cousin! She sends her love… and gummy smiles!

– (Aunt) Erica

Our Cloth Diapering Experience

10 Jul

Some people have really great, ideological reasons for not using disposable diapers. They’re concerned about their consumption and the state of the earth they’re leaving for their children. That’s all well and good, but our primary reason for trying cloth was financial. I am pretty unabashedly frugal; I’m downright cheap sometimes.

For the first several months of Natalie’s life, we had bought her diapers at Essex, this great liquidation store where you can find awesome deals. We got our Graco Pack-N-Play there for $5o, when it was selling on Amazon for over $100. I’ve gotten great deals on baby things, all for about less than half of what you’d pay at a retail store: an extra car seat base, a NoseFrida, a My Breast Friend nursing pillow, etc. (They have more than just baby things, too! I saw a KitchenAid Stand Mixer for $200 the other day!) Anyway, we had been getting the HUGE boxes of 230-ish diapers for $35. That’s an awesome deal! But, the inventory of Essex changes all the time, and you can’t count on anything to be there at any given time. So I had to buy diapers at Target a few weeks ago. Do you know how much diapers cost? Like 25 bucks for 90 diapers. Uhh, we would go through those in like two weeks, and you know I’m not about to pay $50 a month for something I’m going to throw away. That was the kick in the pants I needed to finally buy some cloth diapers.

We used the “Changing Diapers, Changing Minds” trial program from Jillian’s Drawers, a natural parenting store in New York. (I would have loved to buy local, but I couldn’t find a program like this nearby.) They sent me about 8 or 9 different types of cloth diapers to test out for 25 days and refunded my money for any diapers I returned, stains and all. It was great to get to try out different types of diapers, because trying to pick which type I would like best without actually having them in front of me was nearly impossible. All-in-ones or pocket diapers? Prefolds or fitteds? Organic or simply unbleached?

I’m so glad we used this program, because I ended up liking the prefold-with-a-cover system the best, when I wasn’t even really considering it before the trial. So, we’re now using the unbleached OsoCozy “Better Fit” Prefolds with Thirsties Duo Wrap covers. I went the prefold/cover route because they were less bulky than AIOs or pocket diapers. Changing a cloth diaper isn’t any more gross than changing a disposable, and cleaning them is simple, too. (One cold rinse without detergent, one hot wash with detergent, let the covers air dry, tumble dry the prefolds on high.) I will say that disposables win in terms of convenience and trimness, but I was willing to compromise in those areas.

My stash is small right now; we’re going to fill it out in the next week or so. When all is said and done, I’d like to have five covers and 18-25 prefolds. That’s about $100 worth of diapers. Even with factoring in extra water and energy, cloth will save us a lot in the long run, especially when you think about reusing them for a second child.

Hope this helps anyone considering trying cloth! I highly recommend the Jillian’s Drawers trial to anyone who wants to try cloth but doesn’t know where to begin.

-Erica

My New Nook

9 Jul

My new sewing nook, that is!

Since Natalie has finally started sleeping in her crib for one or two naps a day (can I get a hallelujah?!), my little sewing space in the nursery corner didn’t make sense any more. So, yesterday Charles and I moved my sewing desk downstairs. It fit just perfectly in the little space next to the stairs. I think it looks just lovely, and I’m so excited about finishing up the quilt for my little nephew!

Image

It’s not the craft room of my dreams, but I think it’ll serve me very well in the meantime. But seriously, my craft room is going to be ridiculous one day.

-Erica