charting Early. 18 comments

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.

(NOT my chart...but look, stickers!)

(NOT my chart…but look, stickers!)

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!

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18 thoughts on “charting Early.

  • Mama Fence

    I’m so glad you’re telling women to learn early!! I so wish I had, it would have made understanding my body so much easier. I should tell you sometime what it was like telling Fence about NFP, over the phone, before we were married. 😉

  • Lauren

    This is great! 🙂 I thought I was the only engaged lady out here with my charts and my icky, wonderful conversations with my fiancé about cervical mucus and the like…
    Congratulations on your engagement and thanks for your bravery in sharing this info on your blog. (Creighton is amazing for stressed out brides-to-be… And for confusing doctors who have never heard of NFP!)
    Love from Ireland xxx

  • Sarah

    I agree! Many methods want several months of data on their system before they will tweak things. I had been charting on my own, but then my cycles decided to get SUPER weird right when I started taking NFP classes before our wedding. (They say the stress of planning always makes the cycle before your wedding extra bad, too.) And then I found out I needed a minor procedure to correct some of the irregularities. If had found an instructor sooner, I might have taken care of everything earlier and our transition to married life would have been a little smoother. But I’m so grateful for the Billings practitioner I have now!

    • Amanda @ worthy of Agape

      True story about needing a few months of data to get a good/consistent read on things – yet another wonderful perk of starting early. I don’t even want to know what the cycle before my wedding will look like, but I’m leaving it all to God! Praise God for it all working now and for the fact that you have a wonderful Billings practitioner!

  • Little Wife


    I’m not Catholic, and I didn’t know ANYTHING about NFP before getting married. We used hormonal birth control until I started researching NFP and went, “Oh my goodness. What!Am!I!Doing!?!”

    We’re sympto-thermal method ourselves (no stickers.. boo), and it’s been amazing. Just amazing. I wish I had learned this years and years and years ago.

  • Cat W.

    You are so smart to have learned it ahead of time. I knew about NFP and knew I would use it years before I got engaged, but there I was, scrambling during our engagement to find someone to teach it to me (I did not know there were different methods at the time). My fiance was only able to come to one of the 3 sessions (thanks, Navy!), so I really was just doing it on my own. I guess I never thought there was any reason to chart when I was single, but in hindsight, there are so, so many reasons.

    • Amanda @ worthy of Agape

      For the long time I was of the same mind – why chart when I’m single and no where near engagement/marriage? Good thing a good friend of mine became a Creighton practitioner and needed clients and was willing to show me the ropes! Like I said in the post, in hindsight, I’m so glad I learned early and encourage everyone I know to do the same! 🙂

  • Olivia @ To the Heights

    LOVE Creighton. Love charting for a variety of reasons (not just avoiding or achieving pregnancy, although it’s helped us do both!) like bonding with the hubster and knowing myself better. I also charted early and I agree with everything you’re saying! I’ll want my girls to chart early because it is such a comfort to know how God designed your specific body and cycle and be able to care yourself better because of it. Hmm, come to think of it, I actually miss charting! Lol… I am getting more and more excited for you as your big day approaches! Eek!

    • Amanda @ worthy of Agape

      I love Creighton too! I research sympto-thermal for a paper in high school but I’ve found Creighton to be more my thang 😉 I definitely agree with what you are saying about knowing yourself better and that is a HUGE perk of charting too!

      I’m sure you’ll get right back into the swing of charting! When is your due date?! I’m getting so excited for YOU as you get ready for your little one 🙂

  • Andrea

    We avoided the extra work by not charting at all 🙂 We didn’t have reason to avoid pregnancy and figured that if we had trouble with fertility, then we’d look into it then 🙂 The sexual journey of marriage is hard enough in the beginning and I can’t have imagined juggling NFP as well! The free giving of oneself during marriage is so important that I can’t imagine constraining it to time frames unless there was a super serious reason.

      • Andrea

        The cool thing about being Catholic and getting married is that, unless serious reasons present themselves, getting married in itself is pretty much the decision to have children right away 🙂 I think misinterpretations of the Church’s intention for NFP can sometimes cloud that. Couples start thinking “When’s a good time to start having kids?” as opposed to traditionally, “Kids come with the marriage”