Thursday Three #42

  1. The biggest news is the latest Storm of the Century, Hurricane Florence. Fortunately, it is now a Category 2 and doesn’t look like it’s coming directly for North Carolina anymore, but it’s still going to bring a ton of damage. We are prepared… well, as prepared as we can be for a natural disaster.
  2. I found an interesting site where you can list your web-based fiction: Web Fiction Guide. I had no idea something like that existed until about a week ago, so it will definitely be something to keep in mind if I ever publish something online.
  3. Last weekend, my husband and I went to the Eucharistic Congress, which is basically Catholic-palooza. The most notable thing was that we got to see the bishop, and honestly, I found myself staring at him very hard, while I wondered whether he was a “good guy.”

If you are in the path of the hurricane, stay safe!

First Comes Love…

The inevitable happened. You remember that rhyme you used to sing when you were in elementary school, the one that went “first comes love, then comes marriage”? The thing that, in tradition, happens after marriage has happened to me.

My first thought was that I majorly screwed up, and I internally heard laughter at the joke (which I now relate to completely) that goes “What do you call people who use the ‘rhythm method’? Parents.”* My immediate second thought was “I’m married… isn’t this what’s supposed to happen?” My third thought was about how much tinier our 600 square foot apartment was about to become. Then I tried to stop thinking altogether and called the ob/gyn. It took a couple weeks for the morning sickness to kick in, and I am fortunate that it never got as bad as some women supposedly have it. I never actually got sick, but I got darn near close to it, and I was so tired that all I wanted to do after work was flop down on the couch and sleep (which I did on most days).

The exhaustion lifted slightly after the 12th week or so, along with the nausea. But I still wasn’t able to get happy about the whole situation. I’m Catholic, so I’m supposed to be all joyful about this little soul that God deigned to put in my weak human body. Man, was it hard to be joyful. Every now and then, the joy would come, but the next second I’d be back to kicking myself for what I perceived as ultimately a birth control failure. We should’ve been like one of those couples with great self-control that somehow manages to use NFP successfully for the first five years of the marriage, then has a kid in “God’s perfect timing.” Nope, we’re just regular people after all. The ideals have fallen yet again. So I have been contenting myself with the clichĂ©: “Nobody is ever ready to be a parent. You just do it.”

I’m trying to tell myself that we didn’t fail and that this is in fact a great success (and, you selfish thing, you better think about all the people who desperately want children and can’t have them), but my perfectionist nature is reluctant to buy it. The reality is that now is the time to let go of my perfectionist nature once and for all. I’ve been telling myself that it’s OK if the dishes don’t get done the second after we eat or that the apartment isn’t going to burst into flames if I don’t vacuum exactly on schedule. Or if someone emails me at work, I don’t have to get back to them within the next five seconds. Not to mention that I’ll traumatize my son (and probably my husband, too) for life if I keep being such a perfectionist.

All this life-changing craziness started in April, which means a little more than I’m halfway there. Then in January, we’ll hopefully have a healthy, crying, screaming little creature to be responsible for, for the next 18 years and beyond. Scary? Hell yeah. Fun? Yes, from what I hear. But marriage is my vocation, and with it comes children, as the rhyme goes. So my life’s true mission has begun. 🙂

As a side note, I’m not sure what will become of this blog in the meantime and after January. I’ve been using it less and less, even though the actual desire to write has not left me. I won’t ever delete the blog, but I may not keep my own domain. I’ll try to post every now and then, but I doubt it will be regular at all. I want to try really hard not to be someone who only writes about their kid and/or posts pictures of their kid. If I was a kid these days, I’d be pissed at my parents for posting pictures of me on social media.

*NFP is not the rhythm method, but it still relies mainly on self-control, which fails far more often than we weak humans would like.

Backlash Against Natural Cycles

Good news, everyone! The FDA has approved the “contraceptive” Natural Cycles. I put “contraceptive” in quotes because Natural Cycles is technically a fertility tracking app, not a true contraceptive in the sense that the Pill or condoms are. It involves no artificial hormones or devices and is “natural” because the woman is monitoring her body’s signs and using the app to track them. She is not altering the natural state of her body but merely observing it to determine when her fertile and infertile phases are. Based on her body’s natural signs, she can determine whether to avoid or achieve pregnancy during that particular cycle.

Fertility tracking is supposedly coming back into style because many are not satisfied with the Pill because it causes unwanted, uncomfortable side effects and is bad for the environment. Other hormonal contraceptives are often mistrusted for the same reasons. More “mechanical” methods such as condoms are not trusted because they were never known to be as effective as the Pill and the other hormonal methods. There is also the relatively recent obsession with having a cleaner environment, and hormonal contraceptives such as the Pill have been known to pollute the environment.

Upon approval by the FDA, Natural Cycles was met with backlash because, well, it caused women to have unintended pregnancies and was billed as a contraceptive when in reality, it is not. Used correctly, Natural Cycles and other fertility tracking methods can be extremely effective at preventing pregnancy, even more so than the Pill. However, they require a lot more “work” on the user’s part to reach the optimal rate of effectiveness. The user can’t just simply take a pill or put on a condom. Natural Cycles and other similar methods work best when both partners agree on using them and commit to using them properly. Together, the partners decide whether each cycle would be the right one in which to avoid or a conceive a child, and that decision influences how they will use the information from the Natural Cycles app. Using this kind of method without the involvement and full knowledge of the other partner is dishonest, so it is really meant for those who are in long-term, committed relationships.

It seems, from reading the negative comments about Natural Cycles, that people don’t like that there is an “ideal user” of the app. The “ideal user” is someone in a committed relationship, and that should honestly be the case for all contraceptives. Ideally, the decision to use (or not to use) them should belong to both partners. The “ideal user” is also mature enough to and organized enough to keep track of her cycle and handle the consequence properly if the app happens to “fail.” I would argue that Natural Cycles really isn’t meant for very young women who are in college or high school.

The app should not be used with the attitude that if the contraceptive fails, abortion can be used as a backup method. Supposedly (and very sadly), Natural Cycles was “causing” more abortions because it failed so often, but again, I think that is more a result of the FDA not giving it a proper label as a fertility tracker rather than a contraceptive. It is also more a result of users falsely believing that it is just as “easy” to use as more common contraceptive methods. Entering information into an app may seem super easy, but the information needs to be entered accurately for the app to correctly analyze the data.

In short, it is wonderful that the FDA approved Natural Cycles, but it won’t truly be effective or widely used and understood unless the overarching mentality around contraceptives, sex, and babies changes… and it will probably a long time before that happens.