Real love is demanding. I would fail in my mission if I did not tell you so. Love demands a personal commitment to the will of God.
-John Paul II
This article was originally published in The Catholic Week, the official weekly publication of the Archdiocese of Mobile, AL under the Family Matters Section in the June 19, 2009 issue.
Two years ago, my husband and I were preparing for our wedding day. Our priest had provided a checklist of things that we needed to do before the wedding, and taking a Natural Family Planning (NFP) course was in the list. So, with a great deal of skepticism about the effectiveness of NFP, we signed up to take a course at our church. Soon after, we began charting my cycles.
After several months of charting, we noticed that I was having irregular menstrual cycles. I visited an OB/GYN who completely disregarded the fact that I did not have a menstrual cycle for 6 months. I explained to the doctor that we were using NFP to chart my cycles in order to postpone a pregnancy. Instead of looking at my charts, he proceeded to tell me that I should just take contraceptives, and that my cycles would eventually correct themselves.
Because of opposition that the physician showed towards NFP, I stopped seeing him. Fortunately, we were able to find a new physician that supported our use of NFP. We were told that I might have polycystic ovaries, but no conclusions were made. We began to research polycystic ovaries and found out about the Pope Paul VI Institute. The institute specializes in diagnosing and treating women with fertility problems. We contacted the institute and discovered that we would have to begin charting my cycles using the CREIGHTON MODEL FertilityCare™ System (CrMS) before I could receive any treatment. Unfortunately, there were no FertilityCare™ Practitioners in the Gulf Coast at the time, so we had to receive long distance training. We soon met our long-distance practitioner and began learning how to chart my cycles using CrMS.
The Pope Paul VI Institute and its instruction of CrMS is founded on the appeal of Pope Paul VI in his encyclical letter, Humanae Vitae (of Human Life), calling public authorities, men of science, Christian spouses, doctors and health care professionals, priests and bishops to assist him in upholding the teachings of the Church on the topics of contraception and abortion. Dr. Thomas Hilgers and his wife responded to that call and founded the Pope Paul VI Institute on the same day of Pope Paul VI’s death, August 6, 1978. The institute has helped countless women with their infertility. In fact, in the June 16, 2008 edition of The Catholic Week, Tom and Caroline McDonald gave a fascinating account of how the institute helped a local woman to achieve a pregnancy after years of unsuccessful treatments. (You can find the link to the Buckley’s powerful story at www.familylifemobile.com under the NFP link.) The focus of CrMS is to help women and couples understand and appreciate their gynecologic health. By simply making observations of biological markers, the method is just as effective as contraceptives at postponing a pregnancy. The method is also less expensive and safer than contraceptives because it does not require the ingestion of pills. Furthermore, it can also be used to determine when the wife is fertile, thereby increasing a couple’s chances of achieving a pregnancy
After charting a couple of cycles, we had the opportunity to visit the Pope Paul VI Institute in July of 2008. During our visit with Dr. Hilgers, we had an ultrasound and blood work done to determine a conclusive diagnosis of polycystic ovaries, in line with what my charting showed. With time, future charting of cycles with CrMS, and more blood work, Dr. Hilgers discovered a couple of irregular hormone levels. Upon treatment with medication, I eventually started to have natural cycles on a monthly basis rather than every six months.
We were extremely thankful to God for leading us to NFP and eventually CrMS. Both fertility care methods answered important questions that we had regarding my body and fertility. If we had decided to use contraceptives instead, we could have waited many years before discovering that there was a problem with my cycles and pursuing a diagnosis. We are currently trying to achieve a pregnancy and praying that God will give us the grace to accept His will.
If you would like to learn more about the CREIGHTON MODEL FertilityCare™ System in Mobile, please contact Felricia Brown, FCP at GraceFertility@gmail.com, or phone (251) 421-3581. Introductory Sessions are held at the Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Student Center on Old Shell Road.