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…