In the NFP community, there are some interesting acronyms to describe a couple's family planning intention. They include: TTA, TTC, and TTW.
When a couple is TTA (trying to avoid), they will time intercourse during their infertile time so that they will not get pregnant; for those who are TTC (trying to conceive), they time intercourse well within their most fertile days in order to have another baby. For these two intentions, it’s pretty cut and dry of when and how to time intercourse. You either have sex during your fertile time....or you don't!
So what about those who are trying to whatever (TTW)?
For those who are neither for nor against another pregnancy, and wish to emulate that spirit, “letting them come as they may” is harder to practice at first. When a couple has a good understanding of their fertility signs, how can they truly have intercourse whenever they want, without fully knowing if they will get pregnant?
There are different ways to accomplish a true TTW attitude, and what I share here is from my own experience and advice from others. Don’t feel like what I write here is the end all be all of TTW practice! Follow your gut and compare it to what you learn here and elsewhere in order to make your decision.
- Don’t chart at all. If you don’t have serious health-related reasons to chart, then why bother? Don’t log into your charting app; file away your paper charts; don’t check your cervical mucus and cervix position when you go to the bathroom; pack up your thermometer and/or ovulation predictor kit; in essence, ignore your body! It may take getting used to if you have been charting diligently for so long, and it is not easy trying to push aside all you have learned about observing fertility. But once you stop charting altogether, it will come to you more easily. And for those who always found charting to be a bother: this is probably the easiest thing you can do!
- Chart, but bend the rules. Perhaps you have a health-related reason to chart (such as being high risk for miscarriage), or you simply want to accurately predict the due date in case you do get pregnant. If that is the case, you can still remain TTW while observing your fertile signs. This can be done by not strictly following rules to TTA or TTC. You can achieve this by: having intercourse on days during your "less fertile" mucus days; not waiting until a few days after your last occurrence of fertile mucus to continue with intercourse; etc. Although chances of a pregnancy occurring your your less fertile days is not big, they certainly are not small either!
- Practice Psuedo-Charting. If you want to do away with strict charting but still have an idea of when you ovulated (in order to predict a more accurate due date in case you get pregnant), then you can chart lazily! Perhaps this means only charting one fertile sign instead of many (if you practice STM or Marquette), not detailing the specific traits of your cervical mucus if you do Creighton or Billings, or jotting down general notes on your fertile signs onto a notepad instead of having a clear chart telling you what’s what. In essence, make your charting as simple and basic as possible, to where you have a vague idea of when you are fertile, but nothing is certain.
- Space pregnancies with breastfeeding ONLY. Ecological breastfeeding, if followed properly, can be a great way to space pregnancies without having to chart. Some women who breastfeed will pay attention to any signs of returning fertility so that they can chart, await ovulation, and avoid intercourse when necessary. However, other women may not pay attention to any fertile signs at all and thus do not abstain, making them TTW. They ecologically breastfeed and that’s that! Some pregnancies are spaced by a few years, others a little less than a year. It varies in length, but it gives the couple the option of spacing children without having to chart and thus not knowing when they are or are not fertile.
Additional Tip: Just because you go TTW one cycle, doesn't mean you are obligated to stay that way another. If you don't get pregnant and find that you wish to go TTC or TTA, then by all means: switch intentions! The beauty of NFP is that you can always change your mind (though if you change to TTA after becoming pregnant during TTW/TTC, it's a bit late for that).
TTW is certainly a unique intention that has the possibility of charting, sort of charting, or not charting at all. It gives couples a sense of surprise as to whether or not they will have another child every cycle that comes, and for others it's simply a relief from charting when they don't feel the need to be that serious about it anyway.
If you and your spouse decide that being strictly TTA or TTC is not your thing, give TTW a try. Hopefully any one of these pointers can help you decide how to accomplish that!