Thursday, August 7, 2008


Wow... catholic mommy bloggers are gettin' all snarky... I'm sure you've seen it over at DB's site from Tuesday, and the fun is gettin' all ramped up over at Red's place. Very interesting...

This seems to be one of those uber hot button topics... one fueled by mostly extreme emotion and it would seem that only the moms/women are saying anything (Daddio made a comment or two, but I've seen little else from the male perspective), which I think is interesting!

What are my thoughts and opinions... well, I rarely jump into this line of fire because of my own situation... since the labor force for my baby makin' factory unionized about 8 years ago and soon came to the conclusion that the work environment was unacceptable for their standards and has been on a prolonged coffee break until the conditions change... plus, I've been told that I really don't have a complete grasp of what the situation is.

But hey, this is my blog... right :0).

My guess is not everyone uses NFP perfectly (come on ladies we all know that our real desire happens during our fertile time and it can be hard to say no and wait till that time when we may have to work a little harder to get in the mood), plus some women run a little differently and can make using NFP even more tricky (which means they should probably look at other models out there to find a better fit to their cycle and readings... and there might be prolonged periods of abstanence in order to avoid pregnancy), so unplanned pregnancies will happen... as some have said "life happens" and you just have to roll with it. True, but what is the leading stresser to a marriage... anyone? MONEY, in all it's shapes and forms! For the sake of this argument: So you are already on some sort of gov. aid (or one more child will put you over the edge), money is already a stresser at this point, right? Is adding another child (by simply being open and not trying to avoid) really the best thing for your family... your current children, your marriage?

Personally I think we need to remember that our first and most important obligation is to our spouse... right (we get them to heaven, they get us to heaven... or that is what we are working on)?! Then to our children, those we already have... right?! I wonder if continuing to willfully have more children while needing the support of government aide, is in the best interest of the marriage and children already in trusted to our care? (Again, life happens, I get that...)

I would be really interested to hear more men speak up considering that in most of the cases I've read so far, they are the primary breadwinners. Where are their hearts in the matter? Do they understand NFP, or are they relying on their wives... or are they so depressed trying to manage the family income that they don't even voice their concerns to their spouses?

I certainly don't have the answers, nor do I go about my day judging others on their choices (and that certainly isn't the reason for my post)... the whole subject just perplexes me!


Jennifer F. said...

I've been following this debate as well. It seems to me that a lot of the discussions are based on two different understandings of being "open to life." Danielle Bean was referring to being open to life as in just not using artificial contraception. I also couldn't find anyone in the comments on her coffee talk post who advocated for willfully getting pregnant or doing nothing to avoid pregnancy while receiving government assistance (although I admit I just scanned it, I might have missed some).

I think the crux of the issue is the fact that there are plenty of couples out there for whom "life happens" a whole lot more frequently than they think is ideal, and what to do in the situations when those people are very poor. Certainly the world would tell them that they absolutely must get on contraception in order to avoid burdening themselves and society with more children. But what is the Catholic answer? I think that's what this is really about.

It's easy to question whether or not those families who continue to have children under less than ideal circumstances are perhaps not using NFP the right way, need to read up on Billings and Creighton, are being lazy about it, etc. etc. I would know, I used to be one of those people. The past couple of years have been extremely humbling for me when after all my talk (as a typical new convert loudmoth) about how effective NFP is and how you just have to read this book and take this class and find this doctor and it'll be just as effective as contraception...I find myself pregnant with my fourth baby in four years. We're not lazy and we're not uneducated about NFP, and have gone through months and months of abstinence. Life just keeps, well, happening. VERY unexpectedly.

Given my current situation, this whole discussion has given me deep sympathy for those Catholic families who are extremely poor and/or on government assistance and who continue to have children. My guess is that, like me, they probably started crying when they saw some of those positive pregnancy tests and went through extremely difficult emotional times, trying to figure out where the method that they were using so carefully broke down, asking God how this could possibly be part of his plan since they were so poor and maxed out to begin with. I really doubt that there are a lot of women out there who are poor to the point of accepting government assistance and are overjoyed to find out they are pregnant yet again. (Not saying that you said that -- I saw that presumption expressed by other commenters on other blogs.)

I'd imagine that those women feel beaten down by life, maybe even sometimes by God, and are deeply disheartened when they encounter finger-wagging and tongue-clicking by fellow Catholics who speculate that they're not being responsible enough.

Anyway, thanks for posting about this. My frustration here isn't in reference to your post, but to some of the comments I saw over at Danielle's. I appreciate you bringing up this aspect of the issue and opening it up for discussion!

Daddio said...

It's hard for some of us to imagine crying over a positive pregnancy test. For me, the bottom line is trust in God, whatever you are given or not given.

nicole said...

Money is an issue that brings out many emotions in people. And while no one may be explicitly stating that money is at the heart of their comments (which I have not read at DB's site, just Red's), you get the sense that it is.

We are fortunate that we have not had to rely on public assistance. In fact, T has tried to convince me to use WIC temporarily before but my pride just gets in the way. I definitely feel like we have a microscope on us because of our family size and that we must do all we can to "prove" that we can handle things. It is perhaps misguided, but it is how I feel.

We use NFP, but we lack discipline! We were not expecting to be pregnant with #5 when we were, but that is part of being "open to life" in my opinion. You use the methods approved by the Church to the best of your ability and accept that the possibility always exists for conception. I think the difficult issue for people to accept is that maybe we are called to more abstinence than we thought and no one wants to do that.

It has been interesting to follow the discussion on Red's blog. And I think the thoughts from a family such as yours shed light on the topic as well.

And Jennifer F.--congratulations! I'm sure you are feeling overwhelmed right now and I pray that you have moments of joy during the confusion. :)