“This has brought us so much closer,” says Marcus Wells. “We might not have seen it right away, but it definitely has.” His wife Adrienne adds, “It has helped us see what God is calling us to, honors the vows of our marriage, and allows us to be open to life.” The “this” to which they are referring is the practice of natural family planning, or NFP.
“We initially learned about NFP through the Couple to Couple League we participated in as part of Catholic Engaged Encounter, and have practiced it since our marriage in October 2009. We knew it was Church teaching, and we were committed to living out our faith within our marriage. At first, because of the discipline required to routinely chart my cycle and abstain during fertile times, we had some difficulty and were frustrated. Over time, the process became easier for us and our frustration abated,” Adrienne explains.
NFP can be a valuable tool in helping couples conceive. “In May of 2015, we had an ectopic pregnancy, which had been preceded by three miscarriages in 2014. At the time, we had been using NFP to not conceive and were not being very successful. It turned out that we had been inaccurately reading my signs,” shares Adrienne.
“A friend who was studying to become a Creighton practitioner (a recognized program of NFP) knew we were having issues, and invited us to be her students as she trained in the Creighton model. She met with us on a regular basis, and was able to identify some health concerns contributing to our difficulty in reading my signs and the resulting miscarriages. She was loving and gifted in teaching us what was going on, listening to us and helping us. She was able to give us specialized directions. When I became pregnant in August 2015, she referred me to doctors who specialize in NaPro. Based on my charting and biomarkers, I was given appropriate supplements that have allowed this pregnancy to progress further than the last four, and saved our baby.”
The Creighton Model Fertility Care System uses the science of Natural Procreative Technology (NaPro), with a series of standardized medical assessments to evaluate and treat infertility, miscarriage and other women’s health conditions. Begun at Creighton University in 1976, it is practiced worldwide by Catholics and non-Catholics. NaPro doctors have had specialized training and prescribe the least harmful supplements to address women’s health concerns. Their practice is more holistic. One of the biggest surprises for Marcus and Adrienne was not just the amount of time the NaPro doctor spent with them, but that she asked if she could pray for them. “She was emotionally and spiritually supportive, and her medical knowledge saved our baby.”
Both Adrienne and Marcus, devout Catholics and open to the life the Lord blesses them with, are eager to declare what a blessing this process has been. Marcus says, “Learning this process along with our fertility struggles has required us to talk openly with each other and make sure we are on the same page.”
He adds, “Because the Creighton method is interactive, it has taught me more about a woman’s body and its cycles. It has made me appreciate and respect women more for what they endure in pregnancy and childbirth. I have always felt God would take care of us, but using the Creighton method, I have found a great deal of inner peace. This really illustrates how much of a miracle life is.”
Adrienne chimes in on further benefits: “While biblical reasons for natural family planning were important to us, I also wanted to respect my body and not put chemicals in it. In addition, this program is also great to help teenage girls be aware of their body and understand how it works. This kind of awareness give girls control and power over themselves.”
Both Marcus and Adrienne highly encourage other couples to follow NFP, and Marcus adds: “In today’s culture, instant gratification is sought, but that isn’t being open to what God wants. Trust that God will provide for you, helping you stay steadfast and on the right path.”
There are several resources for those seeking more information on Natural Family Planning or NaPro technology.
In the Lansing area: Rita Johnson, 517-775-7229, firstname.lastname@example.org
In the Hillsdale area: Emma King, 540-760-5262, Creighton.email@example.com
Christine Backlund, NFP coordinator for the Diocese of Lansing, 517-342-2587; firstname.lastname@example.org
Richard Budd, Director of the Marriage and Family Office, 517-342-2471