Yesterday morning during our usual Monday morning breakfast date, I told my fiancé about how some crazy lady committed to writing seven posts in seven days on my blog. Anthony was quick to jump on board, “Great! It has been a while since you updated your blog!” I told him I wrote two posts last week, and I still update it. He reminded me that at one point I used to have a post every other day, but that isn’t the case anymore. I reminded him that we’ve been a little busy planning our wedding and trying to figure out where to live, so the blog has taken a hit (but hopefully not a huge one!). So here I am, posting once again and trying to breathe some life into my perhaps slightly dilapidated blog.
I’ve written before on charting and Natural Family Planning (NFP), but as I inch closer to marriage, my reflections on charting have changed. Ever since I started charting some three and a half years ago, I’ve been a huge proponent of gals learning to chart early. So many of my friends waited until they got engaged to learn about NFP. Nearly all of them lamented what a hassle/extra burden it was to learn NFP on top of planning a wedding. I can relate. Now half way through our engagement (what?!), I can’t really imagine taking on another major task.
In essence, I’m glad I learned to chart early. Whichever method you choose (I’ve gone with Creighton [I get to play with stickers!]), choose one and learn. Don’t wait for the ring. I’m incredibly grateful that I have three plus years of charts to fall back on, because my reality is this: not a single cycle has been ‘normal’ for me since we got engaged. If I were learning the system right now, that might stress the bejeezus out of me, especially as we continue to discern children once we get married. However, because I have all of those charts to look back on, I know that the number one thing that changes my cycle is stress (whether I realize I’m stressed or not). My cycles haven’t been crazy weird, but not my usual clock-like regularity either. But here’s the beautiful thing about it: the fact that my cycles aren’t normal actually isn’t stressing me out. Because I have old charts, I know how stress has changed my cycle in the past and can more accurately predict what’s going on with my cycles now. What is even better about this knowledge is the ability to communicate this to Anthony.
I’ll be honest: my first meeting with my practitioner and Anthony was downright weird. I’d become so used to having ‘girl time’ with my practitioner that having a boy there (even one I’m soon marrying) was just odd. We left the session and he wondered why I was not as excited about it all. Sharing this stuff, getting into the details of my chart with him, was (and is) a really vulnerable place to be. But even that is beautiful too because it challenges us to go deeper than we had before. It challenges me to not be so afraid of my cycle, to own the times when I’m feeling like a pile of hormonal goop, and to move forward anyway. It challenges me to be vulnerable with myself and with Anthony, which is especially beautiful as we journey towards marriage.
If you’ve been thinking about charting or just learning more about NFP, do it. Chart early. Be aware. Because when that time comes and some gent slips a ring on your finger (prompting you to text your practitioner, “Looks like I’m going to be needing my practitioner soon because I’m ENGAGED!!!!…yes, that really happened), you’ll be more prepared for charting and making family planning decisions. I’m so glad I learned early, plus, it is one less thing I have to put on my “to do” list between now and May 31st!