As I was between appointments at St. Peter Chanel, Denise happened to pop her head into the door before picking her daughter up from Catechism class. It was a great surprise because we haven’t seen each other since Clergy Day … Continue reading
It’s a great privilege to journey with my clients through some of the most difficult seasons of their lives: huge transitions, infertility, pregnancy loss, family stress, marital conflict, etc. Many of them don’t have a supportive group of friends who understand what they’re going through, and these challenges are so personal that they don’t often share their struggles with others. Much of it comes out in the sacred space of our offices and I find myself encountering the whisper of God in our midst as we search for the greater good and deeper beauty that He is bringing forth in these circumstances.
Marriage is not always easy…parenting is not always easy…using NFP is always not easy…life is definitely not always easy. But grace ALWAYS abounds. When we discover the virtues that bear fruit through perseverance, it makes the hard times so worth it. And the witness we give to our communities of the commitment to our spouses, our children, and to God is absolutely priceless. Some people may not care for it, but others depend on the example of our faithfulness. They are looking for a reason to hold on to hope for themselves as they battle with their own darkness and desolation.
When I look across the desk into the eyes of my clients and acknowledge their frustration and pain because in many cases I’ve been where they are, I pray that I can also continue to live the advice that I give them and remember every day the lessons that I’ve learned walking my own rocky path. One of the greatest joys I experience as a Creighton practitioner is not only watching the growth of these families, but also the spiritual and emotional growth of these beautiful souls. Seeing them move courageously through their doubts and fears and sitting with them as they make resolutions to follow the Lord’s good and perfect will for their lives…I have much to be grateful for in the work He has given me to do.
All for His glory…all for His kingdom. Amen.
I got an email from Fr. Alphonsus asking for Effectiveness stats to give to the OC priests as follow-up to our recent Clergy Day. This is what I sent to him. It’s the Creighton Model Effectiveness Study for avoiding pregnancy … Continue reading
Last December, a handful of us sat around Bishop Vann’s dinner table talking about what we need to do to promote natural family planning in the Diocese of Orange. Four months later, NFP instructors from the various methods gathered with … Continue reading
Tonight I sat in front of a woman who was angry. She was deeply grieving the loss of her daughter who she carried only five months in the womb as well as the second child she lost in an early first trimester miscarriage, and she couldn’t understand why no one told her what she heard at this Introductory Session.
Unfortunately, her story wasn’t the first or only one I’ve come across in my work as a FertilityCare practitioner. And I’m sure it isn’t going to be the last.
Every woman deserves to know and understand how her body works. Our menstrual cycle and the beautifully orchestrated events that make it happen every month are incredibly amazing, to say the least. When we learn about its intricacies, we greatly appreciate our femininity and the miracle that each child truly is.
I’ve found, however, that many women who inquire about Creighton Model are looking for answers as to why their bodies are not functioning the way they are supposed to. Irregular cycles, abnormal bleeding, ovarian cysts, and endometriosis are conditions that must be thoroughly evaluated and effectively treated. Miscarriages and infertility are circumstances that should never be blown off, minimized, or dismissed. The broken spirits crying for help in our offices are but a fraction of the countless women out there who cannot understand what in the world is going on with them.
More often than not, their doctors don’t understand either.
What’s wrong with this picture?
The growing movement of CrMS and NaProTECHNOLOGY has picked up speed in recent years, thanks to Catholic media exposure and the internet. Testimonies are shared, infertility groups are spreading the word, and women are getting more savvy when it comes to their own personal healthcare. But there is still so much more work to be done.
I ask The Lord for more laborers in the fields. It’s difficult to launch an extensive marketing campaign when the task force is so few in numbers compared to the general population. There is a noble effort underway to at least solidify the culture of natural family planning in the Church and call women to join the ranks in all available NFP methods. A few souls are being stirred to action as they consider how they can contribute to promotion and active teaching.
I do feel a personal responsibility to the medical avenue through CrMS, especially after being reminded for a moment of the painful yearning for motherhood. None of my four children would be here were it not for the help I received from our NaPro medical consultants, and I’ve realized through my clients that the gift of my vocation is nothing to take for granted.
So what now?
We continue to serve at the front lines. We pray for strength and courage to testify to the fruit of this work. We pay careful attention to the marching orders telling us which steps to take next.
And we pray…because God is faithful. Amen.
Since writing my Top 10 Reasons Why I Became a Creighton Model FertiltyCare Practitioner in November 2012, I have a few life updates for you all: LESSONS: Each client appointment gives me an opportunity to reflect on my attitudes about my marriage, my children, and my faith. There have been many nights when I would come home apologetic after realizing that I hadn’t been as appreciative as I should be for the blessings I’ve been given. I’ve met couples on the brink of divorce…couples who struggle with infertility or repetitive miscarriages…women who face complex reproductive issues. And with each situation, I recall moments of my past when I felt insecure and fearful in the midst of painful circumstances as well. After almost five years of teaching CrMS, there have been multiple times when my clients would mirror back to me areas in my heart that needed healing and purifying. I cannot be more grateful for the older couples freely sharing parenting advice, clients who do marriage mentoring generously passing on amazing resources, and those who have fervently prayed for me and my family. Every person God has brought into my life through this work has become a part of me, and I would not be the same without the lessons each of them has shared with me. One of my favorite follow-up appointments happened some time ago when I met with our beloved Denise and Ben. They encouraged me to dive head first into strengthening the ever-so-important SPICE component at last May’s Practitioner Refresher Workshop because according to them, it is the #1 reason that they are still married. “Don’t doubt yourself, Marianne,” Ben said to me boldly. “You were made to do this!” And off to Three Rivers I went…
BABIES: As pregnancies were achieved among my clients, we also decided to be open to having Creighton Baby Dyogi #4. This is Jean Paul Pierre born on October 4, 2013 (the feast of St. Francis of Assisi)… When we found out I was pregnant, Gary and I decided that it would be a good time for us to make the switch where he would go back to work and I would be home with the kids. As much as I wanted it since Meleana was born in 2007, I faced a tough transition. All of a sudden I had to take my three little ones to all my prenatal check-ups and frequent fetal stress tests while picking up where Gary left off with homeschooling and domestic duties. Not to mention that I was still working part-time as a CrMS practitioner. Crazy, I know…I think I cried more than the kids did…but by the grace of God we got through it! With tons of treasured memories and a spiritual storehouse of Holy Spirit fruit springing forth from constant self-denial and humility, I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything on this planet.
GROWTH: It has been about two weeks since we made the decision that Stella Maris FCS would offer full-time FertilityCare Services in both English and Spanish. Last November 2013, two of my clients went to EPI in Three Rivers to be trained as practitioners! One of them, Arianna Banuelos, is bilingual and a parishioner at St. Peter Chanel. She has joined me at Stella Maris FCS as a practitioner intern and is in the process of finishing her program with our educator Margaret Howard. Arianna is undoubtedly a walking CrMS billboard. We always laugh about how she referred several clients to Stella Maris FCS before she even met me! I truly enjoy working with Arianna because she is dedicated, hard-working, and a strong prayer warrior. We are excited to see what God has planned for our Center this coming year! There also have been major stirrings in the Diocese of Orange for NFP promotion, thanks to efforts spearheaded by Fr. Alphonsus Hermes, O. Praem. and Fr. Benedict Yang. We are working with our sister practitioners Sarah Rooney and Alyson del Hierro to serve couples alongside Dr. Mary Kotob, a recently trained CrMS Medical Consultant and head of the Catholic Medical Association OC Chapter. Please pray for this endeavor, as we do have our work cut out for us. There is much to do and an overwhelming number of women out there who need to have this valuable information about their bodies. We are asking The Lord to send laborers for the harvest, so if you are reading this and want to be part of this revolutionary movement in women’s health…send me a message and jump on board! Stay posted…there’s lots more to come!
1) MY HUSBAND MADE ME DO IT
When my CrMS Practitioner was temporarily out of commission due to health issues, the thought of going through the training myself became more and more appealing. With all the problems I was having with my chart, I needed help and I thought maybe I could meet someone through the Education Program who could figure out what was going on with me. But when I finally presented the idea to Gary, I figured I wouldn’t have the time or the money to go through with it. He responded with a very optimistic outlook (as he always does). “Babe, if you don’t do it now, you’ll never do it. You can help a lot of people.” And Gary backed me 150% of the way. From going with me to both EPs up in Three Rivers to watching the kids while I met with clients and worked on my assignments, he was an incredible support. I wouldn’t have been able to do it without him, especially because I was still teaching full-time at St. Jerome. My husband continues to be my greatest supporter to this day, and I’m SO glad he talked me into signing up for the program.
2) OTHER PEOPLE NEEDED HELP
Apparently I wasn’t the only woman having problems with my fertility cycle. I heard that there were others who couldn’t get pregnant, having recurrent miscarriages, or weren’t getting their periods regularly. Gary was right – I COULD help a lot of people this way. And by the grace of God, I have had the privilege of teaching women how to observe and chart so they could identify problems and truly monitor what was going on with their cycles. There have also been many opportunities to listen to their struggles, to the challenges they face in their marriages and families, to pray for them and offer support in their individual situations. I am constantly left awestruck at the different ways I am able to give back to God the gifts He has so generously blessed me with.
3) MORE THAN A NETWORK, IT’S A FAMILY
The women I was trained with I know as my “sister-practitioners”, and rightly so. Linda, Jennifer, Camille, and Marcy are an incredible group of women who played an integral role in my EP experiences, sharing their stories and encouraging me through their prayers. Our “momma-educators”, Margaret Howard and Dr. Lynn Keenan, prepared us with the knowledge and counsel we would need to fight for authentic reproductive health…for the dignity of women…for love and life. Margaret is known as the “itinerant Educator”, traveling all over the world to train Practitioners and Medical Consultants in the Creighton Model. Her story is amazing and definitely worth reading…
My own practitioner and supervisor here in SoCal, Pat Poindexter, has also been a mother-figure to me, not only looking out for me during my internship but also for my family and personal well-being. Because of the common mission and purpose that binds us all together, every new intern is welcomed into the “family” with open arms and given support throughout their training program as well. If one of us needs something, there’s always another Practitioner willing to help because we know this work is too important to leave each other to go at it alone. Candice, Ann Marie, Peggy, Wendy, and Sarah – who all came into the program after I did – have become a wonderful presence in my life…even on Facebook!
4) ALIGNED WITH GOD’S PLAN FOR LIFE AND LOVE
There is wisdom in God’s laws, and He imparts this wisdom upon His Church through the guidance of the Holy Spirit. It is the Magisterium – the teaching authority of the Catholic Church led by the Pope – that prayerfully discerns various situations that may arise with societal changes and technological advances. With such aggressive promotion of the Pill upon its distribution in the 1960s, a clear and immediate response came from the Church through Pope Paul VI’s encyclical Humanae Vitae. This document thoroughly explained God’s plan for the vocation of marriage and the gift of the marital act that allows husband and wife to participate in the transmission of human life. It described in detail the prophetic consequences that would wreak havoc on a society that would adopt artificial contraception as the norm for family planning – painting a very vivid picture of the world we live in today. The entire document is worth reading, for a greater understanding of why NFP has been advocated and birth control rejected. (full text)
5) BLESSED BY THE CHURCH
Ever since I began teaching CrMS at St. Peter Chanel, the priests have been my biggest source of referrals. It is a requirement for the engaged couples who want to get married at the parish because they need to know that there are services readily available to them – a method of planning their families that is not only natural and safe, but morally acceptable and aligned with Church teaching as well. I have also had clients come to me as their penance after receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and these have been most inspiring because they are committed to changing their ways out of obedience to God and His good and holy will for their lives. Fr. Ed always greets me with enthusiasm and says, “I’ve got to be your #1 promoter! I’m sending as many couples as I can to you!” Fr. Larry reminds me how important and valued this work is, and I am so thankful for everything they are doing to provide a place for CrMS services at SPC.
6) MEETING AMAZING COUPLES
I would like to introduce you to Jack & Katrina Crow and Mark Anthony & Abby de Jesus. These are just two of the many incredible client couples I have worked with as a Creighton Model Practitioner who have not only strengthened my faith through the witness of their experiences, but have also become wonderful friends on this journey of life. Katrina has since joined the team and is currently one of our Practitioner Interns, and Jack also helps her do Introductory Sessions and informational talks about NFP awareness. Mark Anthony is the author of naprohusband.com, a heartwarming blog that shares the lessons learned as a Creighton Model husband who has lovingly supported Abby through her diagnosis and medical treatment. For her upcoming birthday, Abby has requested a donation to the Pope Paul VI Institute (CrMS/NaPro headquarters) in lieu of gifts – a humble gesture that totally made my heart smile. My clients always inspire me through their dedication to Christ and His Church who I can and should be as wife and mother, leading me to a greater conviction and sense of purpose.
7) OUR CREIGHTON BABIES
When I was a brand new intern, Pat had shown me pictures in her binder of babies born to her clients who had difficulty conceiving. One by one, she told me their stories of hope and perseverance and spoke of the joy each mother felt when she finally gave birth to the child so desperately longed for. I wanted an album like that! Not that I could take full credit for the lives of these children, by any means – however, it would serve as a reminder of how good God is to those who are faithful. The experience of infertility is a painful one, as my clients have shared with me; and for a husband and wife to be blessed with a child after such waiting is a beautiful sight to see. So I present to you one of our Creighton babies, Ari Joseph Corral…
His beautiful mother, AJ, was one of my classmates in my LMU CAST program back in 2006. At the time, she told me that she and her husband were trying to have a baby for 6 years and nothing was happening. We reconnected in 2010 after I had begun my CrMS Practitioner Education Program, and I asked her if she might be interested in learning the Creighton Model. She said after 9 years she had accepted her infertility with peace but was open to meeting with me. I taught her, she charted and met with one of our Medical Consultants, used a fertile period while her husband was home for 2 weeks from Afghanistan, and in August 2011 little Ari was born!
8) WOMEN’S HEALTH AT ITS FINEST
The following excerpt is straight from the NaProTechnology.com website (because I couldn’t have said it better myself):
This is the first women’s health science to network family planning with reproductive health monitoring and maintenance. It is a fertility-care based medical approach rather than a fertility-control approach to family planning and gynecological health.
NaProTECHNOLOGY uses the Creighton Model FertilityCare™ System biomarkers to monitor easily and objectively the occurrence of various hormonal events during the menstrual cycle. NaProtracking provides valid information that can be interpreted by a woman and by physicians who are specifically trained in this system.
Unlike common suppressive or destructive approaches, NaProTECHNOLOGY works cooperatively with the procreative and gynecologic systems. When these systems function abnormally, NaProTECHNOLOGY identifies the problems and cooperates with the menstrual and fertility cycles that correct the condition, maintain the human ecology, and sustain the procreative potential.
Women now have an opportunity to know and understand the causes of the symptoms from which they suffer.
THIS is preventative women’s health! If a woman wants to know whether she is healthy enough to conceive and maintain a pregnancy, she needs to chart. If she wants to understand why she has painful periods or cramping in the middle of her cycle, she can find answers with NaProTECHNOLOGY. If there are ANY menstrual irregularities, the birth control pill does NOT regulate anything. Women deserve answers and the kind of medical care that gets to the root of the problems, rather than the standard “band aid” protocol they often receive that does much more harm than good. Creighton Model and NaProTECHNOLOGY gives us the knowledge we need about our bodies and the leverage to advocate for quality reproductive health care.
9) MY BACHELOR’S DEGREE IS BEING PUT TO GOOD USE (FINALLY!)
I graduated from Cal State University, Long Beach in 2000 with a B.S. in Health Science: Community Health. After working for 3 years in the public health sector, I realized that I preferred to work directly with people as opposed to sitting behind a computer doing research. God answered my prayers and led me out of community health into elementary school teaching, and I have always enjoyed my career as a Catholic school teacher. A part of me felt guilty about not pursuing a Master’s degree in Public Health, like I had wanted to years ago, but I found my niche and was having a blast despite the fact that I never before imagined I’d choose to surround myself with a classroom of junior high kids all day, every day. When the prospect of becoming a FertilityCare Practitioner arose, it dawned on me that I could as last use my health education background and training. I still work full-time with the school, and I meet clients in the evenings and on weekends – so it definitely is a lot at the moment. But I’m always amazed by how God gives me the energy for the client appointments after a full day of teaching. For that, I am so grateful!
10) WITNESSING GOD WORK IN PEOPLE’S LIVES
It is by no means a requirement to be Catholic to use the Creighton Model FertilityCare System. It can be taught in a completely secular setting without any mention of faith and Church teaching. This is important for people to know because ALL women – regardless of faith or religious affiliation – can benefit from learning how to identify biomarkers through charting their cycles.
That being said, most of our couples do come to us already seeking to follow God’s will for their lives and their marriages. Some have passed the childbearing years and simply want the information for their daughters and younger female relatives. It has been incredible to watch the different ways God speaks to those who come to us looking for alternatives to artificial birth control, sterilization, and IVF/IUI. Husbands and wives develop an increasingly stronger dynamic of communication, leading to prayerful discernment about many areas of their lives. Priorities shift and values become more important than temporary desires and ambitions. Catholics who want to educate themselves and others about natural family planning appreciate the tools they are given to explain how valuable Creighton Model is to a woman’s reproductive health. And engaged couples rise up to meet the challenges to remain chaste until marriage because they begin to understand the precious gift of the marital act reserved for their spouse alone.
Believe me, this work is not easy. It moves FAR BEYOND simply teaching the method. Much prayer (and fasting) goes into each one of my client cases. Many a follow-up session has involved counseling through the woman’s personal issues when we discuss how stress is affecting her cycles. But the Holy Spirit equips the called, and He has never failed me. I don’t ever feel that I have all the answers, so I have surrendered each woman…each couple…to the Lord. At the end of the evening I can only lift them up to Jesus in the Eucharist and present their needs to Him. And He is the One who works the miracles…
The Creighton Model System (CrMS) relies upon standardized observation and charting of biological markers that are essential to a woman’s health and fertility. These “biomarkers” tell the couple when they are naturally fertile and infertile, allowing the couple to use the system either to achieve or to avoid pregnancy. These biomarkers also telegraph abnormalities in a woman’s health. The CrMS allows a woman to unravel the mysteries of the menstrual cycle. (from www.creightonmodel.com)
I started using CrMS seven years ago as part of our marriage preparation process upon the recommendation of our priest, Fr. Ed Broom, OMV at St. Peter Chanel. My gynecologist had prescribed the birth control pill to me some 8 years before then to control endometriosis and to prevent the return of ovarian cysts after a surgery in 1997 to remove a cyst on my right ovary that grew to the size of a grapefruit (yikes!). I knew nothing about how the Pill worked. She said it was safe. I wasn’t using it for birth control purposes. I didn’t want to end up in the hospital again…so I took it.
See, you can’t stay on the Pill while you are learning a natural method and observing the signs of your body because the artificial hormones essentially SHUT DOWN the reproductive system for the entire time you are taking them. So I stopped because I had to. What of the endometriosis and the cysts? As far as I could feel, they didn’t come back but I also had a doctor who practiced some degree of NaProTechnology that cooperatively worked with CrMS to take care of any medical issues I had.
You’re waiting for my reasons, I know. So here they are…
1) LITTLE GARY
This is our first child. He was also our first “Creighton baby” because we timed his conception, hoping to deliver him during the summer so I wouldn’t have to take off work during the school year. He left us at 6 weeks old in the womb, and we were incredibly heartbroken. I had been working with a pro-life ob/gyn who was referred to me by my CrMS practitioner, and he was wonderful in spiritually and emotionally supporting us through the miscarriage. Not once did he say, “Well, you’re young. You can always try again.” He took his own personal rosary out of his pocket and prayed with us, giving us the rosary after we finished. We could see that not only was our doctor committed to his faith, he was committed to his patients as well.
2) MELEANA GRACE
A few months after losing Little Gary, we chose to try for another child. Using CrMS we were able to identify the fertile window and were able to conceive successfully. But since I already had a past miscarriage, my doctor continued pregnancy maintenance with Prometrium, a prescription medication that is chemically bioidentical to the progesterone naturally found in a woman’s body. This is standard protocol in NaProTechnology, and I am so grateful for it because there are many women who lose pregnancies in the first trimester, possibly due to low progesterone levels. God blessed us with Meleana Grace who was born on October 14, 2007.
3) THERESE HOPE
We planned on waiting until Meleana was 2 years old before having another baby, but Gary and I decided together that we would be open to the possibility. Creighton Model had worked well for us in postponing pregnancy months before, and this time it served its purpose for achieving our third pregnancy. Again I was placed on Prometrium for the first two trimesters, and I carried Therese to term with a smooth and quick delivery on March 13, 2009.
4) KALI DAMIEN
Our little boy, Kali Damien was born on Holy Thursday, April 21, 2011. We’re incredibly blessed to have him because after Therese I had 8 months of unusual postpartum bleeding. It was disheartening and terrifying at the same time. I didn’t know what was wrong with me and none of my doctors could figure out the problem, much less the solution. With the expertise of my Education Director and faculty Medical Consultant, I was put on Prometrium once again to jump start my cycles. What a relief it was to see a chart with some regularity! We wanted to continue growing our family, but my progesterone levels were still so low that I had two very early miscarriages. After a few months of consistent progesterone support, Kali was conceived and I continued to have my levels monitored throughout the pregnancy. Most ob/gyns advise against progesterone use after the 1st trimester, but our CrMS Medical Consultants want to make sure that the numbers stay up and will prescribe it through the 2nd trimester.
5) I’M A SCIENCE GEEK
I was completely fascinated by the Creighton Model Intro Session when my practitioner showed me slides of the ovulation cycle, cervical mucus, and the biomarkers that were unique to NaProTechnology. I’d never learned about the intricacies and complex processes of a woman’s body this way – and I was a science major. Over 30 years of research has gone into developing this system and refining it for women all over the world to learn. Now, I understand that not everyone is as captivated by this stuff but I’ve always been the kind of person to look for answers and explanations for EVERYTHING. I thought this was absolutely awesome.
6) IT’S A TRULY EMPOWERING SYSTEM FOR ALL WOMEN
This new understanding of fertility was mind-blowing, and it has allowed me to appreciate the authenticity of CrMS’s approach to women’s reproductive health. I wasn’t at the mercy of a doctor who wanted to send me home with an IUD or use the birth control pill as a band-aid for any and all problems that I was having with my cycle. Since I began using CrMS, I have 7 years worth of charts that serve as a medical record and a visual aid when I am communicating with my doctors. When I needed to rule out uterine/endometrial cancer during all the bleeding I was having, I was able to show the doctor what was going on and we were able to determine whether or not the treatment he was giving me was working. He was willing to look for the possible causes much more quickly because of the information my chart provided.
7) IT MAKES FOR A STRONGER MARRIAGE
Jason Evert wrote a beautiful article about why couples who use a natural method of family planning have such low divorces rates. The following points are made:
- NFP depends on some of the same virtues as marriage itself: commitment, communication, consideration, and self-control
- Since the spouses are not constantly sexually available to the other, it keeps them from taking the other for granted
- In the words of one husband, “It’s wonderful because it almost creates the honeymoon over and over again.”
- It allows you to love in many different ways
- The exchange of the marital act is not as likely to be a means to bury problems but an opportunity to celebrate their love
- They tend to have larger families [by choice], and divorce rates are highest where children are fewest
- NFP couples also tend to take their faith, and therefore the sacrament of marriage, more seriously than the average contracepting couple
- They are truly renewing their wedding promises each time they exchange the marital act
You can read the article in its entirety here:
8) IT’S COMPLETELY PERSONALIZED
I grew up thinking that my menstrual cycle would function like clockwork. I was told to expect my period every 28 days or so. If I don’t get it, I’m probably pregnant. But there is a biological orchestra playing every day that I wasn’t even aware of until I started using CrMS. Little did I know how many changes my body actually goes through, with hormones constantly fluctuating between pregnancies…irregularities that I never expected…stress that I have to deal with – all affecting my fertility in so many different ways. I’ve been able to detect those changes and understand what is going on hormonally, based on what I observe on a day-to-day basis. Because my body is so unique – as is every woman’s – my CrMS Practitioner helped me navigate through my cycles with a program that is specifically tailor-made to my particular situation. It’s definitely not a “one-size-fits-all” kind of method. Creighton Model FertilityCare System is designed for a variety of reproductive categories, and coupled with NaProTechnology has served me well as a single woman, in my marriage to both achieve and avoid pregnancy, and also through the abnormalities that needed to be diagnosed and treated.
9) IT’S SAFE!
In a “green world”, I am so grateful that I have a system that is completely natural and free of artificial carcinogenic chemicals. It’s frightening to listen to the litany of possible side effects at the end of birth control commercials. I would rather choose periodic abstinence during fertile days than to flood my body with contraceptive pills that increase my risk of heart disease, breast cancer, and stroke. The rings, patches, implants, and shots are no different. None of them are good for a women’s health or for her fertility. Designed to interfere with the natural processes of fertility, these methods of artificial contraception prevent ovulation, attack the cervix, and deplete the uterine lining. Intrauterine devices (IUDs) disrupt the uterine environment and do not allow an embryo (a.k.a. BABY) to implant into the lining if conception should occur. The same happens in the case of a breakthrough ovulation with progestin-only or combination birth control pills that thin out the lining of the uterus. Birth control + Baby unable to implant = Early Abortion.
Additionally, since we are using CrMS, we are not planning on having surgeries that will damage our reproductive organs. Couples who choose sterilization may suffer from post-vasectomy complications and an increase incidence of kidney stones in men, and/or post-tubal ligation complications and an increase in pelvic infections in women. I could go on and on with these topics, but for the purposes of this entry I will leave you with this website:
10) IT WORKS!
Research has shown the Creighton Model FertilityCare System to be 99.5% effective to avoid pregnancy. It is 98% effective to achieve pregnancy within 6 cycles of use in couples of normal fertility. With couples facing infertility, there is a 20-40% rate of effectiveness just using CrMS alone to identify days of fertility. The numbers skyrocket up to 80% with both CrMS and medical treatment. There are thousands of couples all over the world that will attest to the benefits of using Creighton Model with NaProTechnology. It does take time and patience to learn, but we are so grateful that we stuck to it. I truly feel that the fertility awareness and knowledge I have has given me leverage when dealing with my doctors, strengthened my marriage, and kept me healthier overall. I can’t thank Dr. Hilgers enough for devoting his life to this work, and for the countless CrMS Practitioners and Medical Consultants who make themselves available to educate, empower, and serve women like me.
For more information about CrMS and NaProTechnology, please visit:
My next entry: Top 10 Reasons Why I Became a Creighton Model FertilityCare Practitioner
I can’t go to sleep tonight without touching on the immense wealth of knowledge, wisdom, and love that was poured into my mind and heart this past week. I have to start by saying that on Tuesday, November 2nd, I got a negative biopsy result for endometrial cancer. The exhaustion of the last 6 months – physically, mentally, and emotionally – was so taxing and it drained much of my energy in so many ways. I left home on Friday, November 6th for Three Rivers, CA to attend the first phase of a 13-month training program to become a Creighton Model FertilityCare Practitioner. It was wonderful to know that my husband and children would be coming and I was excited about what I didn’t know would happen. However, there was still a heaviness I carried with me from not knowing what was wrong with my body…not understanding why God brought me to this place.
It was quite a journey for the four of us who walked together as “sister Practitioners” (as Linda had called us). We came from different places with different experiences…different heartaches, but with a common sense of purpose. We were called by God to be there TOGETHER. And the two women who guided us down that path were phenomenal, to say the least. This week – all of it – was incredibly providential.
There are volumes to be said about what unfolded over the course of the week, but I have to start somewhere. During the morning Masses, I started to see a thread being woven through the readings…connecting them to the work God has called us to do in the field of fertility care. As the days went by, it became more and more clear that we were part of something HUGE…bigger than any of us could even imagine.
So I will begin with those readings and share with you the insights that came to me as I sat there in the chapel, as well as the realization of what this means – for me, for the the Church, and for the greater good of humanity. Bear with me, as I try to get it all down…taking it day by day…”down the road, up the mountain, and back down again.”
SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 8
Gospel (Mark 12:38-44)
“…she from her poverty, has contributed all she had, her whole livelihood.”
The Lord is calling us to a generosity beyond what the world may understand. The widow shows us what it means to totally trust…to present to God every last bit, even when it feels as if we have nothing more to give. We never read a word that she uttered, but maybe we can assume that although this woman chose to sacrifice the little material wealth that she had, her heart was so full of love. I don’t imagine that she had a look of despair as she dropped the two small coins in the box. She must have known that she still had something going for her…that she could still offer her heart to God and to others because the love He had placed in her heart was limitless.
This Gospel spoke to me because I felt that I didn’t have a whole lot to give after being broken for so long. I didn’t have a lot of money, I didn’t have a lot of time or energy…and at that point, I didn’t even have my health. God said to me through His word, “What little you have, Marianne, give it to me.” I didn’t know what to expect for the coming week, but something told me that He was going to make it all worth it. Somehow, I would be repaid without even asking for it because He loved me far greater than I could ever know.
And so I took His hand and I walked…
MONDAY, NOVEMBER 9
“God is our refuge and our strength, and ever-present help in distress. Therefore, we fear not, though the earth be shaken and mountains plunge into the depths of the sea.”
What an incredible comfort these verses were to me. The Lord had always carried me through the darkest, most confusing moments in my life, and He proved to me that He wasn’t about to abandon me now. I needed to be reminded how sovereign and powerful God was. He brought me to a place of healing…He introduced me to people who could help me…I needed to be there at the St. Anthony Retreat House at this particular time with these particular women. The weeks before the biopsy were quite heart-wrenching, and I found myself questioning God. Yes, it took some time for the answers to come, but He made them so clear to me. Today, He told me that I didn’t have to look anymore.
TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 10
1st Reading (Wisdom 2:23-3:9)
“Indeed God created man to be immortal in the likeness of His own nature, but the envy of the devil brought death to the world, and those who take his side shall experience death.”
This is when I truly began to study the spiritual battle we had chosen to fight. God had a beautiful plan for humanity, and through the enemy’s hatred for us, we have been enticed to destroy ourselves and each other. Under the guise and pretense of convenience and women’s rights, artificial contraception and abortion have directly and indirectly caused chaos throughout our society. Death. Death to our own children…death to our marriages…death to the amazing opportunity to be co-creators with God. But if this was the end, what hope would any of us have for the salvation of the world? The story needed to continue…it had to.
So I kept reading…
“The souls of the just are in the hands of God and no torment shall touch them. In the eyes of the unwise they appear to be dead. Their going is held as a disaster; it seems as though they lose everything by departing from us, but they are in peace. Though seemingly they have been punished, immortality was the soul of their hope. After slight affliction will come great blessings, for God has tried them and found them worthy to be with Him; after testing them as gold in the furnace, He accepted them as a holocaust.
At the time of His coming they will shine like sparks that run in the stubble. They will govern nations and rule over peoples, and the Lord will be their King forever.
Those who trust in Him will penetrate the truth, those who are faithful will lie with Him in love, for His grace and mercy are for His chosen ones.”
The Holy Innocents…from the time of Moses to Jesus to the very culture that we live in…these children had their lives taken from them because someone decided that they had a right to do it. Pharaoh…King Herod…our governments all felt these children didn’t have a place in this world. Pharaoh wanted to save his kingdom from the threat of a slave uprising. King Herod wanted to protect his rule from a child who would become the King of the Jews. Our governments have placed in the hands of women the choice to take the lives of their own children.
It is a great tragedy. But praise God for the hope He gives to such souls – these babies who were never given the chance to fulfill God’s plan for their lives. This passage that follows the mention of Satan’s envy and the death he brings to our world shows how God still continues to reign supreme. The Good Father creates us to be immortal, and as the holy martyrs have said, “They may kill our bodies, but they cannot destroy our souls.”
So let us always remember these little saints, as they pray for us and intercede for the cause of defending LIFE. May we fight courageously for justice, for the end of abortion, and for every child who awaits the chance to do something great in this world.
WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 11
1st Reading (Isaiah 61:1-3)
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because Yahweh has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He sent me to bind up broken hearts, to proclaim liberty to the captives, freedom to those languishing in prison; to announce the year of Yahweh’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God; to give comfort to those who grieve; and give them a garland instead of ashes, oil of gladness instead of mourning, and festal clothes instead of despair.”
We have an enormous responsibility to bring the truth to those who have never heard it. My husband once told me that we may never be able to change the laws in our country. Roe v. Wade may never be reversed, but if women do not want to abort their children, it will make a world of a difference to them and the children in their wombs. As I sat in our classes learning about the journey of Dr. Hilgers and the history of the Creighton Model System and NaProTechnology, I grew more and more aware that we were being called to be prophets in this age.
Pope Paul VI knew what God willed for His Church, and in his 1968 writing of Humanae Vitae he begged us to acknowledge the wonderful design of male and female, to remain faithful to the natural means of family planning, and to pursue research in this area. How profoundly prophetic this man was, as he foresaw what our society would become upon the acception and widespread use of artificial contraception. Selfishness, broken marriages, abortion, and government-regulated population control. We cannot say that God didn’t try to tell us.
Very few listened, but praise the Lord that they did. Without the receptivity and obedience of Dr. Thomas Hilgers and those who were willing to work with him, we wouldn’t be able to carry on this message of liberation to deliver to those who have bought into the advertising tactics of pharmaceutical companies. We are here to bring freedom to the women who want to be educated about their bodies because they no longer want to be imprisoned by the lies and the health risks they have been exposed to. And to the couples who are unable to conceive, we are being sent out as beacons of hope to proclaim the amazing possibilities available that no one ever told them about.
What joy comes from walking in the Light and being taught for the first time who God made us to be! It was an amazing personal discovery for me. Yes, I did go through a conversion experience at 21 years old…yes, I have fallen in love with Jesus and the Church as I learned more in the years following…but I had not known what perfect design He had planned for me to be a mother…not just in the circumstances and situations that allowed me to marry my husband, but in the very nature of our bodies.
If but every woman knew what a miracle she was…
if but every man grew to appreciate the gift of his wife’s fertility and the role he plays in creating a child…
if but every child was loved enough to be given a chance to live…
if our world could only come to realize how sacred our bodies are…
how beautiful life would be.
THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 12
1st Reading (Wis 7:22b-8:1)
“In her is a spirit that is intelligent, saintly, unique, manifold, subtle, active, concise, pure and lucid… She enters holy souls, making them prophets and friends of God, for God loves only those who love wisdom… for light gives way to night, but evil cannot prevail against wisdom.”
We were learning so much. As each day passed, our minds and our hearts were filled with knowledge that empowered us and inspired us to DO SOMETHING for other women. I remember telling Margaret and Lynn, “I cannot go back out there into the world and not share this! To see so much pain…to know that they need to know the truth…we HAVE to tell people about what we’ve learned!”
And the instructions were simple: Let Wisdom be your guide. Straight from the Word of God. We could not work in the spirit of pride and self-righteousness. We had to speak the truth with love. It was truly like the Transfiguration in many ways…we went up the mountain (literally) and were shown God manifested in His creation – in our very own bodies. Then we were called like the early Christians who had witnessed the Resurrection…like Peter and the Apostles pouring out of the Upper Room on the day of Pentecost, saying, “It’s true!!! You need to hear this!” While those before us preached eternal life and salvation found in Jesus Christ, we are an extension of that message, sharing that very life in its fullness as God has made us in His own image and likeness. Prophets and friends of God…we were filled with the wisdom of His Spirit. The week was spent learning more than just statistics and information. We saw what it meant for this generation and the generations to come; not just here in the United States, but all over the world. This was a gift to humanity, inspired by God Himself.
FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 13
1st Reading (Wis 13:1-9)
“For from the greatness and the beauty of created things
their original author, by analogy, is seen.
But yet, for these the blame is less;
For they indeed have gone astray perhaps,
though they seek God and wish to find him.
For they search busily among his works,
but are distracted by what they see, because the things seen are fair.
But again, not even these are pardonable.
For if they so far succeeded in knowledge
that they could speculate about the world,
how did they not more quickly find its Lord?”
They had a chance. Great men of science had the opportunity to make an enormous impact on reproductive health in such a positive way, but they didn’t listen. Forty years later, many still don’t hear the message or see the truth. They pursue medical and technological advances that will perhaps make life better for us, but they are led down a path of deception by a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Most have good intentions. They sincerely want to help humanity. But where is God in all of this? Has He not tried to show them the way in their seeking? in their learning? in the voices on the steps of the nation’s Capitol crying out for life?
May the Holy Spirit work to bring about the conversion of hearts and minds…to raise up a new generation of medical professionals who will follow in the steps of Dr. Hilgers and make straight the way of the Lord!