How I Came to View Fertility As a Delicate Gift
I’ve been thinking a lot about new life this springtime.
After a long winter, this week in Cleveland, we saw our first daffodils and hyacinths. They’re always the first to show up, and they may not last more than a couple weeks, but the sight of them represents something larger—the promise of spring and warmer days to come. And a reprieve from the long wait for winter’s end.
After more than four years, my husband and I are having a baby, expected this fall. When this baby’s born, our last baby will have turned five. One could say it was a longer space between them than either of us were expecting, but we are incredibly grateful. Similar to how long winters make the spring all the more anticipated, a long space between conceiving the next family member makes their arrival all the more exciting.
There’s nothing to make you appreciate fertility as when it doesn’t work when we want to conceive. Many women experience this. As Jeanette Flood writes in a past article at Natural Womanhood:
“Being able to reproduce another human being—sheltering, nurturing, and carrying a new person within one’s own body—is really an amazing gift. I never understood just how special it was until two things happened to me. First, my husband and I couldn’t get pregnant after 17 months of trying. I certainly appreciated the ability to bear a child much more when I faced the prospect of not having it.”
I had heard similar things from two other friends of mine, but this time was personally felt.
I put my attention back to my charting, and scheduled a visit with my doctor. Nothing seemed to be wrong with me biologically. Now after conceiving, it seems the only detectable difference between pre and post conception were stress levels. Which of course can be the hardest thing for couples to work on, especially when trying to conceive. (It’s this difficulty that has made me appreciate programs like Organic Conceptions that tackle the much-neglected mental health aspects of infertility and subfertility.)
So, I upped my self-care, quality time with my husband (live music and karaoke included), dates with my girlfriends, and massages. I chose to be thankful for the two kids we have, and I tried not to worry about it. And I chuckled as one of my sisters told me, “You know the best way to get pregnant, right? Tell yourself ‘now is not the right time.
A Gift that Needs Greater Appreciation at Every Step of Our Lives
We can tell from the lucrative assisted reproductive technology industry how much demand there is for the gift of fertility when it doesn’t come readily. Which makes me think we should do more as a society to protect it. For too many women, tragically, fertility is not there when they seek it. It can seem like a cruel trick of nature.
Which is why we at Natural Womanhood are so passionate about helping women and couples be educated in fertility awareness and why I find it so rewarding to work here. Fertility should be treated as the precious resource that it is. Charting one’s menstrual cycle with a modern fertility awareness-based method (FABM) can reveal when in a given month that a woman is fertile and when she is not. In addition, charting can reveal, as early as teenhood, any problems that could disrupt a young woman’s fertility, which can often be treated and reversed with the help of doctors trained in FEMM or NaproTECHNOLOGY.
Another way to protect fertility is to avoid toxins that disrupt the reproductive system. Unfortunately, such substances are consumed en masse, and for years at a time, by women who are prescribed one form or another of hormonal birth control. Intentionally disrupting the natural processes of the reproductive system, pharmaceutical contraceptives are responsible for nutritional and hormonal deficits that can make it harder for women to conceive later when they want to. In addition, women who have infertility-causing hormonal imbalances or period irregularities before getting on birth control are not served well by contraceptive drugs that cover up their symptoms and enable underlying problems to progress untreated—problems that we have the technology to treat today, for those educated in fertility awareness-based methods.
As women, we owe it to ourselves to learn how to chart with a fertility awareness-based method so we don’t feel the crippling lack of knowledge should fertility complications arise in our lives. I am so thankful I had the opportunity to learn the Creighton Model from a nurse practitioner in 2009, which made me feel confident in postponing pregnancy the first year of my marriage (my husband and I were living apart part of the year) and subsequently conceive our two sweet children like clockwork later. And fertility awareness charting made me feel especially empowered in understanding my body this year when I was able to take my pregnancy test on the first possible day conception would be detectable, at four weeks, and realized a third child had taken residence.
I believe that greater education on modern, evidence-based fertility awareness-based methods is needed if our culture and society is going to come closer to the healthy balance of respecting fertility. Because, unlike the pharmaceutical industry that profits from contraceptive sales, FABMs and natural family planning methods recognize that fertility is delicate and worth appreciating.
There’s a bumper sticker I’ve seen on cars that says “Peace begins in the womb.” Pregnant now with our third wished-for child, I feel that phrase intimately. I’ve come to view fertility as a fragile and precious gift that I want to let take its course, uninhibited. Like the peace that begins in the spring, when the first flowers sprout through the rain. Or the first late twilight, and the fresh dawn that follows, bringing a warm new day. It’s a gift to behold and may only last for a short window of time, but it’s a promise of hope that’s far more enduring.