10 Things NFP Instructors Want You To Know

1) We are just as worried as you about unplanned pregnancies. Yes, pregnancies and children are blessings. Yes, there is nothing wrong with being pregnant, "accident" or not, because it is a normal consequence of intercourse.

BUT, that doesn't mean an unplanned pregnancy - especially if the couple was avoiding for serious reasons - comes without challenges. Our fear, then, is to fail our clients on a method they are supposed to trust. We are good and well trained at we do, and you bet we double and triple check everything before giving an answer or advice! Yet, humans make mistakes, and instructors are not exempt from that.

2) On that note: we mourn with our infertile couples too. Some of us struggle with infertility or pregnancy/child loss and know the pain; others (like me) have not, but still hurt seeing couples carry that burden. We fight for awareness of the struggle, we advocate for wholesome, effective treatments, and for understanding of this condition because of your pain. We see you, we stand by you, and we love you.

3) We hate difficult charts just as much as you do.  It's not that we can't "decipher" them: they're just a pain in the neck. More than likely, we've had a season in our life where charting was more like a chemistry lab final than a simple charting exercise. We know exactly how you feel, know why it stresses you out, and that's why we help...not that it makes it any more fun of course!

4) We hate that you have to abstain too. First off, it's not our jobs to tell you when or when not to have sex: only when you are or are not fertile (if you ask for our input). After that, it's up to you as a couple as to what to do with that information. But we try super hard to make your fertile window as short as possible within reason. Why? Because dealing with longer than usual abstinence can take it's toll. We know, we've been there, and we're doing our best to help with that.

5) We know too much about NFP for our own good. We literally can not shut up about NFP. Okay, we can, but it's our profession and passion! We collect literature and resources on fertility awareness and health, all so we can look at one person's chart and go, "Ah HA! So that's what's going on!"

6) We probably talk about the "gross stuff" (i.e., mucus or sperm) a little too much. Like at the dinner table. Or at a women's group meet up. Or at church. Or to that person you just met on the metro. Nothing much else to add, we just forget in our NFP fervor that sometimes, not everyone sees the topic as "conversation friendly" as we do!

7) Advocating for NFP can be exhausting and downright depressing. Medical professionals blowing you off? People decrying sexism when you point out the risks and side effects of birth control? People constantly spreading misconceptions on the method you were trained to teach and talk about? Yeah. It wears down any professional. Knowing that people get the options and help they need in the end is what keeps us going, even if it is still demoralizing at times.

8) We know NFP isn't perfect. This isn't just related to failure rates (even the best methods can fail for multiple reasons, natural or not): it relates to how NFP can put a big, ugly spotlight on the not-so-nice things about your relationship with your spouse. How NFP can demand the best of us when we feel we shouldn't have to. How charting through a health crisis can make you look at your charts as a damned reminder rather than a helpful tool. How it makes you want to tear up your charts and cry. We instructors know this, and thus desire to help you go through this season in you and your spouse's life!

9) We've "cheated" at charting too. You know, taking chances? Whether we do it for the thrill of "maybe a baby", or out of simple sexual frustration: we've done it too. So, don't feel ashamed if you come to us with charts that show timing of intercourse different from your stated family planning intentions! Chances are, some of us have the babies to prove it.

10) We would do it all over again. Give us a time machine and we would go through the ups and downs of not just using NFP, but of teaching it. Whatever hardships came our way were worth the fruits of our work: empowered, informed couples, helping marriages in rough seasons, and people appreciating their body as it was made.

Are you an NFP instructor? Is there something you would add to take away from the list?