Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Kids are Great! and No Sex for Months Part II

In case you missed the announcement I am pregnant for the sixth time.

6!

We've gotten a few reactions:

- How did you keep it a secret for so long?!
(Sadly, it's easy when you're already 45lbs overweight.)
- Why did you keep it secret for so long?
 (Well, come July Travis wanted to just show up with a baby, so this is early according to the original plan.)
- Wow... five kids... wow....
(You fail.  But you also perfectly explain why we kept it a secret for so long.)
- Ahhhh!  Congratulations!  That is so great!
(Thank you.  Really, thank you.)

In a way, I don't blame the people who can only say "wow".  Even for Travis and me this pregnancy is a bit of a mixed bag of emotions.

There's plenty of good emotions.  For starters, have you seen my other kids?  Travis and I make cute kids and so there is no doubt that this baby is going to rock the awesomely adorable just like her* big brothers and sisters.
See?  Super cute kids.
Also, we always thought 5 sounded like a good number of kids.  Five kids, a family of 7 - that would be fun if we could get it.

And we like our kids.  We like having kids.  Sure, by the end of the day we are ready for them to all be tucked into bed and fast asleep but our lives have been made richer by each of our children.  We may not be able to do much traveling or pay for college or have phones with data plans, but we have been given much life and that seems to be a fair trade in our eyes.

But then there's the rest of the bag to deal with. 

I think most people aren't happy for us because they know that we are already struggling financially, but that's not the part that worries us so much. Save winning the lottery we will never be rich, or even upper middle class, but that's never been our goal.  And we are already working towards our actual goal of being comfortable enough.

Our real struggles are with natural family planning, getting enough sleep, and me not walking around screaming at the kids all the time. 

We are so tired.  With teaching, coaching, grading, and giving extra attention to kids who just cannot write a chemical formula Travis is working at least 10 hours a day and gone for almost 12.  He gets up with James, I get up with Teresa, we both get up with Lydia and Bennet.  I'm pregnant and irritable and the kids and I walk around as perfect examples for why people only want 1 or 2 kids.

And, while I will hopefully not be pregnant for the next five years (pleaseGodpleaseGodpleaseGod) we will have babies and toddlers and little kids who do not sleep through the night for the next five years.  Just thinking about it makes me so tired I want to take a nap.  Who has energy to type?!

Then there is the irritability.  I have never had pms moodiness but I pretty much have it for all 9 months of the pregnancy and 6-10 weeks post partum.  The fuse for my temper is this (.) short and even shorter if I don't have enough sleep.  And, well, you already read the previous two paragraphs so you know it's pretty short.  Fortunately I'm almost half way to birth so the crankiness will end sooner than the sleepless nights.  Just not soon enough for my poor kids.

And then there's NFP.  

(And here's a Potential TMI warning.  Don't want to read about sex and peeing and mucus?  Then stop reading.  Also, there be swear words.)

I've talked about this before, but for me and my husband post partum nfp is a Josephite marriage.  We have tried CCL's sympto-thermal method.  We have tried to incorporate Creighton teachings into how I observe signs.  We have kept our babies exclusively on breastmilk for as long as possible.  And doing those things has just ended up with me pregnant. All six of my pregnancies may have been planned by God but only half were planned by Travis and me.

After this baby is born we will try the Marquette Method but we will also be abstaining for a very, very long time.  Long term abstinence is why we didn't get pregnant after James until we felt called by God to do so.  Trying to chart without a period is why I'm pregnant now.

Right now the only reason we're using nfp is because we have to.  The Church tells us it's good; I believe the Church is right on such matters and so even if I don't understand or agree for the moment I bow to Her authority.  But mostly I lie in bed praying to God, "You duped me, O Lord, and I let myself be duped!" (Jer 20:10)

I feel embarrassed to be pregnant but I hate feeling that way.  Why should I be ashamed of being in a solid, awesome, enjoyable marriage?!  But I look at my belly and my shopping cart so loaded with kids there's barely room for the groceries and I feel like a rabbit, a breeder, some stupid woman who can't tell the difference between mucus and semen and whatever the hell else there is coming out post partum.

I want to smack women who boast about using nursing to space their children.  I want to smack women who have easily and perfectly spaced their kids every 2-3 years.  I want to smack women who tell me I need to neatly fold my toilet paper and wipe before and after I pee, carefully checking the mucus both times.  I've had 4 big babies in 4 years - I'm lucky I don't pee on the toilet seat half the time!  Kegals my ass - I don't have time to neatly fold the toilet paper, let alone wipe before I pee!  And I definitely don't have time to lock the door to keep the kids out so I can scientifically observe how opaque my mucus is - when I have to pee I have to pee RIGHT NOW and usually the door is left wide open as I dash to lift the lid in time.

I'm sure there are women with infertility struggles who want to smack me, who want to shake me, who are yelling in their head that they would gladly trade places with me.  And honestly, at this point, I would love to give away my fertility to one of you.  I know infertile couples shoulder a brutal, aching cross but sometimes I don't think it's that different than the cross of the super fertile.

I know God has blessed us with these children and with our fertility - and I in no way regret any of my kids - but anymore the fertility is only a cross and it's one I'm tired of carrying.  Probably the day will come when I will regret typing those words, when I will long to once again feel a baby moving in my womb.  But right now I just want to crawl under a rock and take a very long nap.

And when I wake up I want to have had experienced a trauma-less delivery, have all my kids sleeping through the night, have cycles to chart, and have lost 50lbs.  That's not too much to ask for, right?


*Yes I think I'm pregnant with a girl. And I've been right on the gender of all my other kids so I'm just gonna go ahead and refer to this baby as a girl.

114 comments:

  1. I really can't think of anything to say that won't sound trite or overly familiar or just straight up weird, but I just love you and I love that you shared this. You're so brave and such a good mother, and I can tell this is a post I'll come back to again and again...so thank you. And I'll pray for you. (Trite, overly familiar AND weird. Check, check, check.)

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    1. Thank you, Jenny. I love you just for saying it all. And because your profile pic always makes me smile. :)

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  2. I love you, Bonnie.

    When I shared with Paul the great news, he said, That is great! God has abundantly blessed them, because He knows they can do this. Knowing Paul, his compliments always come from a place of the utmost sincerity. We are so happy for you and Travis!

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    1. Thanks, Lisa. I'm glad Paul believes in us - he seems like a good judge of character.

      Miss you.

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    2. Bonnie, congrats on your new little miracle! That being said... THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU for writing this post! I've never read your blog before until my friend sent me this link and said" I thought of you" .... seriously it's like you took these words out of my brain!!! Thank you again, is all I can say. I just can't believe there's finally someone out there I've met who is like me, breeds like a rabbit, I nurse constantly and get my cycle back at two mo ppd, my friends all effortlessly space two yrs apart. I'm currently ten wks preg with my fifth and my fourth is almost 8 months old. Oh, and did I mention the chronic illness I have and that I'm only almost 29 yrs old??? Yeah, fertility is a HUGE CROSS for me to bear and I'm just incredibly thankful that there is at least one person out there that understands! !!! God bless you, your marriage and your kids. I will pray for grace and strength for us both.

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  4. Thank you for sharing this. I am pregnant with my third in three years. Almost every word of this could have been written by me. No, we don't have six yet, but I have had been pregnant each time the older is five months old. And I am tired, and a little scared and I detest being pregnant (love having the babies). Anyway, thanks for making me feel less alone.

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  5. Oh, and I want to say one more thing that I could get smacked for. Last week, my sister (who has been blessed in her fertility with a two year old, one year old and newborn twins) and I were discussing the cross of extreme fertility and the fact that it is an isolating cross one is not allowed to speak of. Thanks for speaking of it.

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    1. You're welcome. Thanks for joining the conversation. And congrats on your pregnancy!

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  6. Thank you for this. I always feel like such a jerk for inwardly lamenting my ridiculous fertility and am glad I'm not alone. It's terrifying for me to contemplate having another baby any time soon - with a 3-year-old, 2-year-old, and 3-month-old twins, I need a break. Of several years, I hope. But I *know* that we'll end up pregnant before we feel ready and I'm just praying it's not twins again...

    I get that God wants me to have a big family. But I also just don't feel like all these babies are fair to my other kids sometimes... I'm constantly nursing both babies and have approximately zero time for the older kids. I really hope I figure out this mothering thing before the kids start getting messed up because they get no attention and get yelled at all the time because I have zero patience and am just. so. tired.

    And I know it'll get easier. I know it will. But right now it is HARD, and it doesn't help me to think about the fact that it's going to get easier some day. I want it to be easier now, but that's not how it works.

    And talk about being a jerk, sometimes I find myself thinking, "But Mary only had ONE baby. She only had to be pregnant ONCE! This is way harder!"

    And then I remember that she had to bear the Savior of the world and watch him die for our sins. So I guess it puts things in perspective.

    So anyway, I'm praying for you a lot. This is wonderful and beautiful and awesome but TOUGH.

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    1. Girl, I feel ya! I have a 2 year old, 1 year old and 2 month old twins.... busy, fun, and tiring! lol

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    2. "I get that God wants me to have a big family. But I also just don't feel like all these babies are fair to my other kids sometimes..."

      Wow - I TOTALLY relate to that. My kids love me all the time but they enjoy me a lot more when I'm not pregnant or post partum.

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  7. I have six as well. But I think mine are spaced further apart than yours. I have two sets 19 months apart, and my biggest (and most recent) space is 27 months.

    Back in the day, people understood that GOD decided the size of families. People now think that, but for the pill, they'll ALL have 10 kids. But of course, some would have none and most would have four and you and I would have 10 (sorry, but it's probably true, right?). But my point is, that while we all have sympathy for the childLESS, people also used to have sympathy for the childFUL. Since they understood that both were from God and not your fault.

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    1. What an interesting point, Kendra.

      And don't feel bad about your earlier comment - it was nice to hear someone put a light at the end of the tunnel.

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    2. Thanks! It was just waaaaaaay too long!

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  8. I think that if we don't struggle under the cross that God asked us to carry, then there's no point. Like, it's not a cross then.
    I don't think you need to feel badly for struggling with your fertility any more than another woman needs to feel badly for struggling with her infertility. Some people carry their temper as their cross, and others carry the cross of emotional distance. We all have our crosses to bear, and there will be people asked to carry an opposite burden. Struggling with it doesn't make you a failure. It means that you haven't given up on your Faith, or set the cross down and turned your back on God.
    I'm sure that this post, with all its frustation and honesty, will be a light to other people struggling with the same frustrations. Thank you for not being scared of honesty.

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    1. Also, this was a horribly inelegant response, and I can't believe how many times I used the words "cross" and "frustration" in the same sentence.
      Blech.

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    2. Well thanks, Cari. There does seem to be a bit of an unspoken rule that people with kids can't voice thier struggles and especially because of my "for Pete's sake" series I hate to do so. I don't want to add to another person's pain but I finally just had to get it all out. I've been sitting on these feelings for 19 weeks now!

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  9. I think it's wonderful that you are having another baby. :) I know you probably don't hear that often, but I do.

    While I don't get pregnant at the drop of a hat, I still deal with the early return of fertility (due to nursing issues I have) and I do live with a fear that I might conceive again. Sadly, I give into the world a bit and worry about what people will say, even though my dh and I are open to any life that God sends our way. That and no one has ever said (to my face) anything about our family size!

    Many prayers for you!

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  10. ...also when I say that we are open to life, I am not saying that you aren't :).

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  11. I can't believe I've never heard the term "Josephite Marriage" before. You always teach me so much!

    Thank you for your honesty, bravery, and undeniable wit. These, along with the grace of God, will get you guys through the next 5 years, don't worry.

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    1. I can't believe you've never heard of it either!

      And, I hope you're right, Alisha.

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  12. i will carry your intentions with me into my labor (that is hopefully anyday). i pray that He will shower you with the graces to joyfully die to self, continue to sacrifice yourself for those He has blessed you with, and to find a peace in this season of your life. i pray the same prayer for myself. this journey is not easy but i pray to persevere in hope that i can bring Him glory, grow closer to him, and repent for my own sins and the sins of the whole world. i thank Him for giving me this small opportunity to serve Him. ad Jesum per Mariam, lena

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    1. one more thing. it helps me to reflect on mother teresa's words, "Stay where you are. Find your own Calcutta. Find the sick, the suffering and the lonely right there where you are -- in your own homes and in your own families, in your workplaces and in your schools. ... You can find Calcutta all over the world, if you have the eyes to see. Everywhere, wherever you go, you find people who are unwanted, unloved, uncared for, just rejected by society -- completely forgotten, completely left alone."

      this is my calcutta. i must remember that these are His children, the least of these--i must find Him in them.

      it saddens me immensely when i examine my conscience and realize that i often treat others far better than i treat those who have been entrusted to me. it is a daily struggle for me to die to self and serve joyfully. it helps to ask for help from our blessed mother and to remember that these are not my children. it must all be done for Him. it is the least i can do for the price that He has paid for me.

      continued prayers for you and the many other (including myself) who struggle with the current season we are in. may we cooperate with Him and joyfully do His will, no matter what the cost!

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    2. Thank you for the supportive words and the prayers, Lena. I appreciate them.

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  13. Thank you for being so honest. Congrats and you are in my prayers!

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  14. Ahh! Reality! Thanks for your honesty. I admire you for sticking with NFP when it can be so difficult. God's plans are not our plans, and you are living proof!

    Don't feel bad for being cranky and irritable - hormones are powerful!

    Congratulations on baby #5. I was pregnant five times and have two beautiful (adult) children and three little ones I lost before birth. I sometimes try to imagine how my life would be different if the three I lost survived. I would be the mother of five adult kids! The mind boggles! Take care, you will get through this chaotic time of your life. Really, you will! You are in my prayers.

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    1. Thank you, Paula. God bless you and your whole family.

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  15. I just can't wait to meet my god-baby :) Love you.

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  16. I feel like I could have written this myself. I'm only 6 months postpartum and I'm 8 weeks with our #5. I'm trying to not get caught up in counting just how many children I could have during my fertile years, (I'm only 28.) but God it can be a tad overwhelming. So ((hugs)) to you, mama. Your children are beautiful.

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    1. Thanks, Jess. Oh do I know how you feel!
      Congrats on your beautiful family.

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  17. I appreciate your honesty. Postpartum NFP is so confusing. We only started using NFP after this 3rd baby and is was hard. I put aside my sympto thermal books and went for the Marquette. Now that my cycle is back i am so pleased to be able to follow the sympto thermal rule. I just want you to know that I can relate to your situation. I also totally understand the exhaustion and irritability. Do you have anyone that can come in and help with the kids, even in a mother's helper capacity (playing with older kids so you can nap and nurse the baby, etc)? As a mother of 3 young kids, ages 6 to 11 months, I often think that this is the stage in life where we actually need people to help us. We mothers need help!

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    1. I agree that moms need help at this stage in life. Fortunately we do have many friends and our parents who are very supportive and helpful. But it still just doesn't feel like enough. Oi vey.

      I'm glad to hear that Marquette worked for you. I think I'll switch back to sympto-thermal once my cycles have returned - it's so much cheaper and it works really well for us - as long as I have cycles to chart.

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  18. "Our real struggles are with natural family planning, getting enough sleep, and me not walking around screaming at the kids all the time." Holy cow, do I relate to that.

    We do no service to ourselves or to our sisters in Christ when we act like this path is easy and all sunshine-and-roses. The mature Christian knows that there is no joy without suffering, and that even under suffering, there is joy. Reading your post does not scandalize me; I don't think it will frighten or put off anyone in mommy-blogger land. It is an affirmation, a sign that we are not alone.

    Remember that emotions are God-given, even the "negative" ones. Feelings are not sinful; how we act on them may become so, but everything you've described above is normal and to be expected. So much of what you've shared resounds with me. I've also wrestled with guilt every time I get pregnant. What a relief to know that another NFP- mommy out there does as well! I've wondered if it is the curse of being pregnant in the modern world; there is constant pressure out there for us to *not* be pregnant.

    Also, I yell more than I'd ever wanted to... I know that is an area where I need to pray to God for his grace to grow in virtues of patience, self-control and forbearance. Because I am not there yet, either.

    Honesty *is* the best policy. Stuffing our emotions and our experiences in regard to the challenges of NFP life is not helpful in living or in promoting Church teaching. The truth is that NFP is beautiful but *hard* and that some couples have a more difficult time with it than others. Some women have more regular cycles; some have shorter or longer phases... Then there is *nursing* and living Church teaching, and... Oy!

    Thank you for your witness, for being real. You are writing from inside of the fire, and that is both brave, awesome and wonderful. I'm with Jenny; I'll be back to visit again and again. Hang in there. By His grace, you know you *can* do this. Our prayers are with you.

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    1. Thank you, Lee. It's good to know you're not scandalized! (Really. I'm being sincere.)

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  19. You are living the AUTHENTIC Catholic life and sharing it with the world - this is just what we need if we are to support a culture of life - Bonnie, YOU ROCK! (Maybe one reason God is sending you babies!)

    God will bless you and your children so tremendously - Heaven will reveal so much more. Congrats on your pregnancy and your happy marriage - and on your honesty.

    Have you read JPII's Totus Tuus prayer to Mary? It is helping me tremendously right now - especially bc I struggle with patience/temper (2 young ones plus dad in grad school = mom DRE breadwinner = stress) - he asks for her disposition, thoughts, etc and it is so beautiful and transformative. i highly recommend it :)

    On a lighter note, THANK YOU VERY MUCH for your paragraph about wiping and peeing and kegels - I only have had TWO (big ones) and I went to a Creighton class and nearly laughed out loud at the thought of myself frantically removing my clingy 21-month-old from my person just barely in time to "make it" to the potty - trying to observe mucus more accurately is a bit of a pipe dream right now!

    I will pray for you - motherhood is so tiring - keep up the Dr. Pepper outings once in awhile ;)

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    1. Thanks for the tip on the Totus Tuus prayer. I'll look that up - it sounds very encouraging!

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  20. Wait...did you hack my blog, find this post in my drafts folder, and steal it for your blog? Because I'm pretty sure I wrote it. Or meant to write it, anyway.

    Thank you for giving voice to what so many of us are thinking, but don't feel like we can say.

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  21. I am basically waiting for the positive pregnancy test now that I have an elderly 4 month old, then I will come to you for encouragement that I can do it. I am amazed at your openness and trust with all you have been through, I am just so glad I found your blog. So so glad.

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  22. Thank you for your honesty. Since I am on the completely other side of the spectrum - it took us 3 years before we conceived our daughter Elizabeth and have experienced 2 miscarriages before her and 1 after her - my perspective is a bit different. But I do appreciate the call out to those of us struggling with infertility.

    Yes, I would love to be the recipient of your fertility - if it were oh that simple! :) But like I said - I do appreciate the sentiment. You are right we both have crosses. I would counter that super fertility and infertility are very different types of crosses - my cross is a cross of absence and mourning over my babies that I can't hold. But I know you know that latter cross as well as you have miscarried once, so I am not trying to diminish your cross at all. They are just different. But in the end we both are called to carry our own unique cross and it just plain sucks sometimes. I will offer some of my suffering up for you and Travis and your struggles with NFP and that you indeed get that 5 year break.

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    1. I get that there are parts that are very, very different and it's true - now that I have my 4 kids + 2 it's easy for me to say I'd trade it away.

      Have you read Sarah's post at Fumbling Toward Grace on Humiliation and Trust on how infertility is humiliating? (Here's the link if you haven't: http://fumblingtowardgrace.com/2013/01/31/humiliation-and-trust/)

      I understood every single paragraph she wrote except I understood it as someone 180 degrees away from her. She's humiliated by the 20th pregnancy announcement; I'm humiliated by telling someone I'm pregnant again and for the 20th time having them give me a look, or count my kids, or tell me that Creighton is the answer.

      She's humiliated when she looks at her empty mini-van; I'm humiliated when I look at my full one and wonder how on earth we'll fit another car seat in it since we can't afford to buy a new one.

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    2. The humiliation is very much the same.

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    3. Yes, I had read Sarah's post. You are both beautiful writers and cover both sides of the issue well.
      Congratulations on Baby #6! I am sorry I forgot to include that in my previous post. You and Travis do create beautiful and joyful kids.

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    4. I was thinking about this point more today - I hope you don't mind if I jump in...

      I have followed (as I'm sure most others here have) a very close friend through her IF journey, along with knowing of family members (older than me) who went through it too, and the cross is so bitter - it struck me that it is so much like the Garden. Such an absence, such a seeming betrayal on some level - so much to spiritually battle to get through it, so much interior suffering.

      I have been through the early mommy phase, and added a little one to our crew with a non-potty-trained-toddler (though not the 1-2-3-(4+) punch with 12-18 month spacing like some awesome mommas here!), and I know what those post-partum hormones are like, how physically demanding those early weeks are (reading Grace Patton's minute-by-minute play-by-play of a morning with 3 recently brought me right back - phew!), and it struck me that this cross is so much like the carrying of the cross- all physical, all persevence, no rest for the weary..., ready to collapse any moment, public commentary all the way...

      And how - yes - they are both totally and completely THE cross. Yet they feel like such different experiences of it. I only thought the bitterness of IF is so much more stinging - while the physicality of demanding young mommy life is just utterly deadening sometimes (but I get Bonnie that the humiliation part is there too).

      In writing this I'm just grateful to see in all of this, difficult as it is, Christ is/has been there, before us and with us. It's still the cross...it still hurts. I remember realizing as a newbie mom, how exhausted and utterly *poured out* I was - "ah! if my vocation is the cross, why am I surprised when I am utterly spent at the end of each and every day?!" Now that my vocation is a little less physically demanding, I have to ask myself honestly if I have chosen to pour myself out fully by the end of each day. Sometimes those crosses that press us are a blessing in that the initial assent to the vocation assumes our future moments of freedom for us and we have no choice but to press on - our gift is being taken from us at our initial word given (presumably in marriage/baptism/confirmation/etc.) and we are carrying forward with the difficult work entrusted only to us. I am certain you ladies are transforming the world with the purity and beauty of your offerings!

      Wayyyy too many words from this tired mom...Good night and God bless you both!

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  23. Bonnie thank you for your honesty!!! (And when are you due in July? We're expecting our second at the end of July.) A million congrats!

    My husband and I have struggled with mild infertility (we tried for almost a year and a half before I conceived this time) but I have a close friend who is super fertile and she has opened by eyes to the cross that can be. Bless you for your openness to life!!!! You will be in my prayers!!

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  24. Just know that you have been an inspiration to me and I appreciate how honest you are with the reality of your life. Once when I was in confession and complaining to the priest about how hard it was mothering my (at the time) one son, he said something that helps me get through the sleeplessness: "Motherhood can be a path to sainthood."

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  25. I could have written this. We had three in 2.5 yrs. Then we abstained completely for 9 months until a normal cycle returned. My breastfeeding post partum signs are crazy like yours. Now we use the Marquette method with the Ovacue monitor. I love this monitor b/c it predicts the fertile window but it also confirms ovulation!!! It is more $$ initially but you never buy sticks b/c it is a saliva test so no follow up costs. Took me a month or two to get how it worked so we abstained for that time frame also. Highly recommend the method and the monitor. The abstaining is hard but we were really serious about not getting pregnant for a good while.

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  26. Wonderful post Bonnie. I especially loved your peeing and folding paper paragraph. Even with a toddler-it never occurred to me how difficult that could really be. A definite eye-opener.

    I agree with Marie that infertility and super-fertility are both crosses, but they are very, very different crosses. One is incredibly lonely and the other is (I imagine) incredibly exhausting. I think most infertiles would gladly trade places with a super-fertile. But I doubt it's ever the other way around. Not that that means one is "harder" than the other-just different.

    Anyway-excellent points. I love how you are always capable of expressing tough truths and doing with style and sensitivity.

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    1. Thank you Kaitlin for saying much better than I could what I was trying to get at. I would trade places in a heartbeat with a super-infertile if that was the Lord's will. But alas, so far that is not His will for my life and so many of my friends walking this same lonely path. So there we are. But I love being Catholic in that no matter what cross we are carrying, even women on the opposite ends of the spectrum in regards to this issue can pray for each other and help one another carry our individual crosses!

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    2. At this point in my life I actually feel very lonely. Every day I feel like I'm "all alone in a crowded room." It is so exhausting that I can barely engage and enjoy my kids one-on-one. You delight in and focus on Hannah in ways that I just cannot do, especially while pregnant. Hopefully as my kids age this will change, though.

      And I think that for many of us super fertiles, by the time we have figured out that we are super fertile we would gladly trade places. For me at least there is a huge guilt in watching a friend suffer with infertility while I keep accidentally getting pregnant. But you're right, straight off the bat and before any kids, I don't think any of us would want to trade places.

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  27. Thank you for this - our son just turned two and part of the reason he doesn't have a sibling yet has been because of a lot of abstinence (along with trying to learn NFP basically on our own) and it's nice to know that others take the same road even if it is hard.


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  28. I'm about to hit the fertility after baby train ANY day now. But I'll probably miss it and get pregnant and the thought of it is terrifying me. Especially because I barely pee and get out of the bathroom before my baby comes in to unroll all the toilet paper, my oldest will set up his toys in a row for me to see and my daughter will strip down and beg to use the potty too...Am I supposed to be checking mucous?? HA! Right.... For some reason, my fertility is taking super long to return (probably because my 1 year old never sleeps and only nurses). But I am with you on all of it. Reading your post reminded me of my terribly short fuse when I am pregnant and my general anger all the time at everything. I really do not like pregnancy. I love my kids. Do I want to find out I'm pregnant in the next couple weeks?? Oh hell no!! It's probably what will happen though. Just so you know, you're not alone. And this post came on the perfect day for me - I have been cramping all day and I'm PRAYING it is just period cramps...

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    1. I know - why do they think the bathroom is a stage or a playroom? I don't get it.

      And I totally get the whole praying it's period cramps. After Teresa I had 4 days of light bleeding which I CONVINCED myself HAD to be the "warning period" even though I've never had one of those. But it was implantation bleeding, also very, very different than what I've had with all my other implantations but that's what it was.

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  29. You're awesome. Just wanted you to know that. :-)

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  30. Oh thank you for this post. We are only on baby one. But the thought of another yet simply terrifies me--so we just abstain.

    A different place than you obviously. But thank you.

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  31. Thank you so much for sharing this. Don't compare yourself to couples who struggle with infertility. They have their cross and it is heavy. You have your cross and it is heavy. There is no reason to feel guilty when the weight of your cross is crushing.

    Something I've been thinking about a lot lately...the joyful mysteries of the Rosary are filled with stories that aren't particularly happy. A young, unwed pregnant mom? An ancient pregnant mom? A baby born in a stable (followed by the slaughter of innocents)? Yikes! A new baby is always a joy, but you don't have to feel happy. It's enough to say "yes, yes, yes, Lord" even if it's through gritted teeth.

    I also really enjoyed the paragraph about peeing/wiping/mucus. Seriously. I barely make it to the bathroom in time to get my pants off most days!

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  32. I read your post last night, and found myself thinking about it this morning. Here's the thing; this world needs more Catholics who know and live their faith. MANY more. I am truly sympathetic to your situation (though I live on the other side of the fertility fence and have never had to chart, etc), but all I can think about is how much better the world is going to be because of YOUR kids, and the kids of everyone else struggling with super-fertility (some of my best friends, I may add). So thank you, thank you, thank you for making this world a better place.

    I wish I could help with the present moment. All I can say is that when that last one (whoever that may be) learns to buckle him/herself into the car seat, your life will be amazingly different. Yeah, that's a long way off, but now that my youngest is 12, I can't believe how fast it went.

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    1. Thanks, Tina. I think my kids are great and I hope they do, as Kid President and you say, "make the world more awesome."

      I saw a sign on Pinterest recently that said something like, "Motherhood, the days are slow but the years fly by."

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  33. Bonnie, I know it isn't the total answer because post-partum lactational infertility is a very individual thing, however, have you actually followed Sheila Kippley's eco-breastfeeding rules? Most people think it's merely a matter of not giving the baby anything but formula. While that does work for some women, others have to got the whole no pacifier, use the breast for comfort, no mother baby separation, wake the baby if they sleep too long at night without nursing, sleep with your baby, take a nap with your baby (I know not very likely with 4 other little ones!)route. Sheila herself says it didn't work for her until she started doing the daily nap with the baby route. My daughter found it worked for her without the nap and as soon as her fertility returns she gets pregnant. I never did the nap and ended up with post partum infertility that lasted 14 months and 18 months respectively. My fertility returned later after the baby who nursed really really frequently than it did after the one who mostly nursed on a three hour schedule after the first couple of months. In my experience, and I'm not at all saying this is what's happened with any of you, the thing that is the fly in the ointment as far as breastfeeding and fertility is concerned is that moms prefer to use a pacifier to pacifying at the breast and they push their babies to sleep as long at night as possible. Since some babies will throw in a 7 hour stretch for awhile around 3 months it can really play havoc with the ovulation suppressing benefits of breastfeeding. It's certainly possible that you are one of the outliers for whom eco-breastfeeding really doesn't work, but if you haven't tried the whole method you might want to give it a shot next time. The women I know who've actually followed Kippley's rules tend to have a much longer time of post-partum infertility (around a year). Some of them have gotten pregnant before their period returned, but they've ended up with spacing of around two years. The good thing about that is that it does give you time for the littlest one to get big enough (and the bigger ones to get big enough) that you might have at least a shot of having a long enough time to pee to actually check your mucus. If you've diligently followed all the eco breastfeeding rules and still end up with closely spaced babies I think you've probably figured out the only answers to that. Blessings on you for continuing to be open to life despite the difficulties. I just wanted to make sure that you, and the other highly fertile moms knew that there's more involved in suppressing ovulation with breastfeeding than simply exclusive breastfeeding. People who follow the Ezzo's breastfeeding rules (for example) don't end up with a long post-partum infertility at all, despite avoiding bottles and solids. The !Kung people who have such wide baby spacing also nurse their babies for a minute or two several times an hour. Frequency and close mother baby contact does seem to make a difference. Cultural breastfeeding where bottle feeding rules are mimicked seems to yield much closer baby spacing.

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    1. Hi Liz. I applied the rules in the CCL book which meant nursing on demand, no bottles or pacifiers, etc. We did not co-sleep because co-sleeping makes me want to murder someone but I do nurse my kids throughout the night and don't force schedules. However, I never used breastfeeding as my sole means of nfp - I always also charted my fertility signs as well.

      And God bless you for being willing to risk a smack in the face so you can help educate. ;)

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    2. I, for one, followed Kippley's rules more closely than the 10 Commandments. Yet my Ecologically breastfed children were born 13 months apart, to the day. No period. Eco breastfeeding + CCL sympto-thermal + Creighton mucous signs.

      It's wonderful. And it's brutal. And I also fight the desire to smack Sheila Kippley and the entire CCL and Creighton crew for it. Like other parenting/fertility/etc theories, it carries a huge shame with it if you "do it just like the book said", but your child/body/whatever is the exception. "Well, you must have done it wrong." I'm tired of moms defending various theories so staunchly that they are willing to blindly heap shame on other moms.

      But, I try to remember even though Sheila said it was impossible, even though my charts said it was (all but) impossible, all things are possible with Him. And sure enough, baby two was the miracle reason I was able to discover a MAJOR medical issue. God knows what he's doing when He defies our "rules", even when I'm mad about it and the scientists can't explain it.

      Thanks, Bonnie, for this article. By the comments it's obvious that so many of us feel like this, whether it's our second or tenth pregnancy. So now let's talk about it! Is this just the nature of the NFP/Catholic family beast? Suffering comes with the territory? Are we "off" on our attitudes? How can we remedy that, so that we can find more joy in both the happy and the hard parts? How are we going to be more supportive of each other in our honesty and our attitudes?

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  34. Being fertile is a challenge. I always joked that my husband could look at me sideways and I would end up pregnant! We also breed poor sleepers...which completely sucks! Being on call 24 hours a day is not easy at all!
    I try the Creighton method and the other thing we have done is use ovulation tests. There is also a little microscope that I had at one time(that the kids broke) that you put a little saliva from your mouth on and if you're fertile then you see a fern shape.
    We have done extended abstinence(definitely not easy on my husband...but neither is a crazy wife so he has to pick his poisin!). All I know is that at one point in our lives after having 7 kids in 10 years, it became easier to track and prevent a pregnancy. My youngest went to kindergarten and I felt really sad. Just as I adjusted and looked forward to the next phase in my life...I got pregnant. Our bonus baby was 15 mths old when the flu and lots of extra nursing screwed with my cycle and our "bonus, bonus" baby arrived 9 months later. But God's plan is good...I may never sleep through the night...and I have plenty of days when I am overwhelmed and discouraged...but if we are trying to follow His will(which is HARD sometimes) and trying to seek Him daily then He will give us the grace that we need. Ask for help, surround yourself with people that are encouraging and understand where you are at, and schedule regular quiet time(I know it's hard!) so that you can recharge!...and the occasional date night helps, too!

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    1. Oh we have regular quiet time!

      Love the "bonus baby" and "bonus bonus baby"! I've never heard that term before.

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  35. well I am very happy for you that you get the honor of bringing another soul into this world. that is so awesome.

    But being that I have 7 kids. I can relate. baby #6 was a really hard emotional pregnancy for me. I cried almost every day. I also felt like a huge embarassment. I had no support except for my husband...it felt like the whole world was against me. So--I urge you to seek out supportive people and ignore the losers because its so important to emotional well being during pregnancy :)

    and I haven't had a period since like 2001! Seriously. I used to know my signs and had predictibilty but after my now 11 year old--none of the signs retuned ever no method of nfp works for me. So I understand that struggle. But I don't think my husband would ever agree to a Josephite marriage--hence why we keep getting pregnant. LOL. I would just pray about it and don't lose hope.

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    1. Thanks, Kim. I appreciate your positivity. I think the most important thing you said was "don't lose hope." Amen.

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  36. Despite the money, the full shopping cart, the struggles with NFP - I remain in the pool of "Ahhh! Congratulations! I'm so happy for you!" reactions, and I mean it. : ) Like you said, each of your babies has added joy to your lives, and I can't wait to meet this one too. I love that you recognize your growing family as a fruit of your "solid, awesome, enjoyable marriage." I will pray for full nights of sleep for you! It makes a huge difference in the amount of yelling in our house too.

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    1. I know you do, Marie. Thank God I have IRL friends who don't shirk away from me and my herd of kids.

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  37. As someone who has been on both sides, I want to smack you and hug you at the same time HA! Every major growth in my faith life has been directly related to my fertility...but it is usually hard to see it while I'm going through it.
    Congrats again!!!

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    1. Ha! I appreciate your humor and honesty, Teri. How interesting that every major growth in your faith has been related to your fertility.

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  38. Thank you for sharing this, Bonnie. I have another friend who also struggles with her (hyper)fertility and NFP, and I think your perspective helps me to understand her struggles a little more.

    I agree with the others who say that we really shouldn't compare the struggles of fertility and infertility. There are some similarities, but they are not the same.

    I am glad that you noted that you do sometimes feel isolated. I never really thought about that before. I know that I have definitely felt isolated and alone and that I did not fit in anywhere b/c of infertility. Ultimately, though, we cannot compare our crosses. How do you measure agony? As the one commenter said, we are just called to pick up the cross that we have. That is the path that we have been given to help sanctify us. It definitely isn't easy, though.

    I do wish that I had more children, and sometimes it's tempting to wish I could trade places with someone who has a large family, but I realize that THIS is the way that God wants to work in my life.

    I am so happy for you, and I am glad that you are able to be real and share your struggles. You are helping other women realize they are NOT alone. For example, I was so relieved to read that yelling and having a short fuse are struggles for others when they are sleep-deprived, too. That's a hard one for me. :) I love your blog!

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    1. This isn't necessarily directed only at you, PCM, but to everyone who has told me to stop comparing crosses. And in case the tone is confusing I'm not mad or defensive or jerky. Were we sitting over coffee you'd know that but online maybe not.

      To be clear, I never said infertility and super fertility are the same. I can appreciate that it must be infuriating to some to have me draw comparisons between the two but I don't regret doing so. I wanted to vent and also to illustrate to people that having a lot of kids is much more than dealing with a bunch of "Your hands are full" comments. I've found much sympathy online and in real life for infertile couples - that is a great and necessary good. Without taking away from that I also wanted to foster some understanding for my side of the spectrum.

      My intention is not to hurt anyone's feelings or to say "your cross is better than mine." I just wanted to say that I feel tired of this cross. I haven't set it down and walked away from it. I did - perhaps naively - think that someone with one kid could commiserate with me, could be my Simon of Cyrene just as much as a mom of many. We both sit at church feeling judged because of the size of our family - surely there is more in common between us than couples who have no struggles avoiding or achieving pregnancy.

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  39. Hey friend I definitely could have written every word there for sure! I'm pregnant with my fifth and my oldest is five. Sometimes it feels as if not many people out there quite understand the concept of how difficult it is to have that many toddlers...as in no one over the age of reason! I think it makes a huge difference even when you're talking to other moms of lots of children. And NFP is such a struggle, I know with me that I have to figure out underlying medical issues which are appearing to mess with my signs. I hate to be a method pusher, but the Billings method has recently discovered that even increased levels of glucose can significantly affect fertility signs so I think theres some hope for us who struggle if we can figure out underlying medical issues. Even if this takes what feels like forever and we have to struggle with abstinence for a long time. I think just the thought of the abstinence after this baby is born makes me even more irritable right now! I am so irritable, I totally understand your frustration and I pray you do better with it than I do! Sorry to ramble so long here-God Bless!

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  40. Wow! So you already have a ton of comments essentially saying the same thing but I have to add mine in anyway because I enjoy reading your blog so much and admire your honesty ok? Ok.

    I suffered infertility likely to PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome) for three years and then thanks to progesterone and clomid bam! We were expecting twins. At 19 weeks I was put on bedrest because of a supposed incompetent cervix...By the grace of God our twins were safely born at 36 weeks. And 4 months later, yep four, I was pregnant again.

    I had such guilt over being completely overwhelmed because this is what I wanted right? Babies? I felt bad if I so much as complained about my sudden luck in the fertility department. From infertile to not so much. So three year old twins (one of whom is special needs with a moderate to severe diagnosis of autism), a 22 month old daughter, here were are expecting #4. I'm also due in July!

    All I can be thankful for right now is a healthy pregnancy and a hopefully competent cervix this time around. I still complain, I still yell at my kids, I still need confession. A lot. I am so glad you wrote this post because on the days when I don't feel like getting out of bed, it's comforting to read about other young Catholic moms who are going through the same rough times.

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  41. Thank you so much for your honesty, Bonnie. And congratulations on #6!

    I have to admit, as someone on the childless side of the spectrum, I need reminders that having lots of kids can be a cross too. That it's hard, and exhausting, even if it's a blessing too. I'm grateful to read what you wrote because I can become too focused on my own suffering of childlessness and even start to envy other people's crosses - which I think to myself isn't *that* big of a cross...ugly stuff. And disastrous to the unity of our Church family. Yes, I would say that I'm jealous of you - I would love to have 5 kids, when I have none. I would love to be pregnant right now, but I'm not. But my jealousy is my problem, and it's not the reaction I want to have or should have.

    I think you're on to something when you say that infertile couples and super-fertile couples have a lot in common. On the outside, they look really different. But both have had radical lessons in accepting that family size is not in your own hands, despite your best efforts. That's a lesson I'm learning constantly as an infertile woman, anyway.

    My heart goes out to you with all that you're dealing with. I do sincerely hope that you and your husband get the break that you desire. And thanks again for your honesty and openness. Prayers for a healthy rest of your pregnancy and safe delivery!

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  42. Congratulations and I hope you'll soon reach the mid-pregnancy "sweet spot". I don't have any words of advice since I'm in a similar boat but I thank you for your honesty. However, the "little old women" at daily Mass assure me that it gets easier and that this time with lots of littles is the hardest. And I can attest to that as my oldest reaches 10 - he's just so much more helpful and independent (plus I just have an easier time with older kids). Today I offered my rosary up for an infertile acquaintance and for all infertile couples - tomorrow I'll offer it up for you and Travis and all the obedient but overwhelmed couples.

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  43. Did this post the first time? I saw it and then it disappeared. Sorry if it's a double post.

    I am currently pregnant with #4. I guess I relate to your super-fertile cross, but in a different way. I am lucky to have long postpartum infertility so my children are spaced 2-3 years apart. (Don't smack me!) But once my fertility returns, there is no breaking/bending/chancing the rules. Bent rule = baby.

    And I hate being pregnant. I'm sick and exhausted for the first half, have about six good weeks in the middle, and then exhausted and exhausted for the rest of the way. I'm cranky, have heartburn and joint pain and I have discovered insomnia this time around. And the crying and moodiness....UGH!

    So the decision to let go of the rules a bit is always agonizing because it comes with the knowledge that it is extremely likely within six weeks, I will be the walking dead again.

    Two of ours were completely planned and this latest one was a "let's see what happens." Umm, you know what happens, I get pregnant immediately.

    Only one of ours has been a complete surprise and in some ways, it was very freeing. I didn't have the agonizing mental wrestling match of "should this be the month?" She just was there. I was in shock for a week or so and then the sickness set in. I didn't have time to dwell on anything, but just live in the moment.

    I think the hardships of having many children is absolutely compounded by the attitude of society at large. People look at families with more than two children and blame them for their troubles. When I am sick in the beginning, I don't get a sympathetic ear, but an accusation of bringing it on myself. There is no understanding outside a small circle.

    Hang in there! Congrats on the new little one. You will sleep again one fine day.

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  44. Great post, Bonnie. It's a privilege to hear of other people's burdens so that a) we can pray for each other, and b) because then we realize that even if our burdens are very different, we suffer together as a body with a Head who suffered for us. So thanks for your honesty and sharing your burdens - and your joys! - with us.

    On a *MUCH* lighter note (and because um, you started it by bringing up sex) I hope you're taking full advantage of this 9-month window of endless opportunity, if you catch my drift. ;) Have you considered a "baby moon" with Travis? Could friends or relatives take the older kids, even for just 1 night?

    God bless you and your beautiful kiddos!

    Oh, and I too had been 3/3 right on gender, but this pregnancy made it 3/4 - I was so wrong! Thought it was a boy for. sure. and turns out we'll have our 3rd girl in a row in June. That's 80 nails to paint (mine included). Oy. :)

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  45. Congratulations, Bonnie. I don't know you, but from reading your blog, you come across as a wonderful woman, wife, and mother. I honestly believe that - you are a great person, and this new little person you and God are creating is lucky to have you for a mama. :)

    That said, my heart breaks for you over the NFP issue. If this is your choice, let it be your choice, and not the choice imposed on you by the Catholic Church. I and millions of other Christians truly believe, after much thoughtful prayer and seeking, that using birth control in situations like this is NOT a sin. It's kind of like responsible gun ownership - it's not wrong to own a gun, it's wrong to have a glib attitude about it. It's completely possible to be open to life while using birth control for the sake of your own mental and physical health, your family life, your marriage, and your relationship with God. There are many wonderful things about NFP, but sometimes it does more harm than good. I believe that the Catholic Church is seriously misguided on this point. God will love you, cherish you, and support you, whether you line up perfectly with the rules of the Church or not. It doesn't matter what other people think of you. All that matters is the grace and love of God. God bless you, Bonnie.

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    1. Alison,

      I appreciate your concern but using birth control to control birth is ALWAYS a sin. The Catholic Church and I are not being glib.

      Also, I have no idea how it can be possible to be open to life when you're using contraception, especially items like the pill and IUDs which cause abortions (life begins at conception - not implantation) or sterilizations. It is possible to be open to life and refrain from sex for periods of time.

      Also, I appreciate that you have prayed about this but there is only ONE way to interpret Scripture and there can be only ONE Truth on moral matters such as sex and birth control. How you personally feel doesn't sway me. As Fulton Sheen said, "The truth is the truth even if no one believes it. An error is an error even if everybody believes it."

      Finally, "All that matters is the grace and love of God." It's true that they matter but my reaction to those things matter as well. God established one true church and it is the Catholic Church. He guides it with His Holy Spirit and none of her teachings are misguided. Catholics in the Church may be misguided at times but not the Church Herself. Some of her teachingers are harder to follow than others, especially at different times in our lives, but that doesn't mean I should disregard Christ's teachings on sex, procreation, and marriage. I should follow His command and pick up my cross and follow Him.

      I know you're trying to be helpful but you are the one who is misguided and I don't want your good intentions misguiding anyone else.

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    2. Also, I'm sorry if that last sentence sounds a little harsh. I feel like you insulted my Mother.

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  46. Congrats Bonnie, and you do have amazingly adorable babies. Praying for safe pregnancy and delivery and calm minds! :)

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  47. Congratulations! God Bless You.

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  48. Bonnie, first of all, congratulations on your pregnancy and growing family! And thank you for courageously sharing your thoughts and experiences. It’s good to know we’re not alone!

    Personally in my own marriage, I used to think that we were the only ones who had to abstain and sacrifice so much. I thought it was very rare and abnormal for NFPers to have “no sex for months.” This made abstaining much more difficult and frustrating. But over time, my wife and I learned that while our experience isn’t universal, it isn’t particularly rare either. Many deal with this, it’s just that few talk about it, because most people aren’t comfortable talking about how often they have sex.

    Suppose we define (somewhat arbitrarily) that a “Josephite-ish” marriage post-partum means that you could count on one hand the number of times you had sex in the first twelve months post-partum. Then I’ll bet you know plenty of people, in real life and through blogs, who’ve had that experience.

    Also, the way that many practice NFP, it’s not really about getting better at recording and interpreting the signs – instead, it’s about setting and following new rules that are much more conservative. For example, saying that Phase 1 is off-limits entirely, and setting much more conservative rules for determining when Phase 2 is over. NFP is pitched as a short window of abstinence per cycle, but for many the reality is the opposite – a short window of non-abstinence per cycle. Again, it’s not fun having no sex for months, but it’s not as abnormal as I used to think. This doesn’t make the cross any lighter, but it helps to know that you’re not carrying it alone!

    -Ryan

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  49. Congratulations!! I am happy for you! You and Travis do make lovely children! :) Number six will be just as lovely, I'm sure.

    I will keep you in my prayers. I can only imagine how challenging/exhausting it is to be pregnant and with four little ones running around.

    As a woman going through infertility, I am not offended by comparing the crosses of infertility and super-fertility, I agree with ecce fiat above, that the two crosses are similar. "On the outside, they look really different. But both have had radical lessons in accepting that family size is not in your own hands, despite your best efforts." God is in control, not us.

    I hope the marquette method is able to help you for you post-partum phase.

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  50. I hear you on wanting to smack women who manage to space their kids through breastfeeding/have them perfectly spaced 2-3 years apart and I'll hold your coat while you smack the ones who want to lecture you on how to fold your toilet paper and check your mucus. Heck... I'll distract your kids while you use the bathroom in privacy.

    Fertility and infertility aren't my crosses to bear (special needs/medical interesting child is) but I know I find it annoying when people sweetly tell me that if I hadn't vaccinated my (incredibly immuno-suppressed) preemie/put him on the GAPS diet/did ____________, I could fix his autism. It never ceases to amaze me how many "experts" there are on autism who don't have autistic kids or who have never taken any class on it.

    Hang in there and ignore people who are tempted to offer you endless advice on what you "should" do. They're not living your life.

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    1. Jen,
      I wish I could smack the nosy Nellies for you! Prayers for you as your care for your special needs little ones.

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    2. Elizabeth, I only have one. He's almost 4 and he was born at 29.5 weeks because I developed HELLP Syndrome. We've had a number of health crises with him, developmental delays, and texture issues which means he has problems eating.

      I contracepted for 2 1/2 years after having him before stopping the Pill because I wasn't comfortable with all the side effects and I was also just not really enamored with the fact that it's an all-purpose answer to what could be a spectrum of medical problems. (I'm a Lutheran pastor's wife so I'm not violating my denomination's teaching.) I'm currently re-programming a used LadyComp and temping on my own until I can get that done. I'm not opposed to having more kids but my son requires a lot of me and given that my pregnancy with him was really tough, my husband and I are wanting to wait. This, of course, leads to people telling me I'm selfish for not giving my son a sibling and me wanting to bang my head against a wall.

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  51. Wonderful news, Bonnie! And I'm with you on this hyperfertility bandwagon. Even if I follow every principle of Ecological Breastfeeding, my cycle still comes back at 5 months (and my babies like to nurse every hour on the hour so...how is that even possible?!) I am so grateful that we haven't ever had trouble getting pregnant but I am also very tired and very queasy most of the time and I think acknowledging that mothering while pregnant without much spacing between babies is HARD helps us all support each other. And it's encouraging to hear about other families that are living out Church teaching even when it's not convenient or easy. It makes me feel less like a crazy person : ) Love to your sweet family as you anticipate this new little one!

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  52. Life is hard and wonderful, no doubt. I am living in your shoes too. Number seven arrives in Sept. (please God he/she will - and safely too). This is our 9th wedding anniversary this summer. We are so beyond overwhelmed that it is now a joke among us at our house. We swear to it that our sense of humor keeps us sane. When I surrendered it all and begged for daily graces (Mother Mary is your absolute best friend here!)life became better. Now, hope shines at the end of that tunnel but I have to remind myself to stop and look for it every day. I also give myself endless permission to make things easier for myself - let go of the cleanliness I so desire and be more ok with messy; making a daily quiet/nap time seem like a fun adventure with the kids and then we all rest and nap for about 3-4 hours everyday (books, colorbooks, movies, soft music, blinds pulled shut, and phone shut off from 1-4). This doesn't alwasy work out, but most days yes. I nap with them. I don't over worry about super nice dinners or caught up laundry. I inch my way through each day. I ask Mary for everything I need. I have tangibly experienced her graces helping me. It isn't ozzie and harriet over here but we're healthy, mostly happy, and I realize we are so blessed with each other and so many things. I do a gratitude journal which helps me.

    My mother who also had 7 of us, with less money, and dad drove a freight truck and was gone 4 days a week, says "one day at a time". She still has that saying on her hallway wall "Motherhood - the days are long but the years are short." She tells me all the time that she still has moments where she wishes she could have one of those days with all of us back.

    Another thing that pretty much changed my perspective was watching a young mother go through a pretty harrowing situation. She had 4 adopted children, the oldest with special needs. When her youngest (twins) were only 2, she lost her husband to a hellacious mid-life crisis. She was a stay at home mom and there was no money from the absent husband. She lost her spouse and then her house to bankruptcy. I saw how she prayed and slaved her way through her days to keep her children at peace and loved. She is surviving it al (because of prayer and determination). Things are getting better daily for her and her children. This woman still smiles too! So she comes to mind when I feel a little too burdened. God bless.

    I really appreciated your kind but firm reply to Alison.

    Sorry this was so long.

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    1. Kayla, thank you for your comment, I admire your grace and patience and reliance on Our Lady, I have heard many people say that you should always ask Our Lady for help, but I am pretty bad at actually doing so - I tend to give in to whinging instead :(

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  53. Hi Bonnie, Congratulations on your little one and thank you for being honest about the realities of family life. Sometimes because we live in such a hostile world it's hard to actually admit that life is tough, even on the Catholic side of the fence! I have no advice, but just wanted to wish you all the best

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  54. I appreciate you continuing the conversation about the difficulties of NFP. I thought of you when my fertility started to return about 3 months after Celeste was born, despite nursing her exclusively and frequently. Though we do not really feel tempted to use artificial birth control, I was definitely disappointed, especially after hearing all those people talk about delaying cycles through breastfeeding. The Couple to Couple League revised their guidelines for the postpartum period, but it requires an absence of mucus that I just never have - and I DO wipe before I pee with folded toilet paper! Most of our bedroom conversations conclude with, "it's very possible we'll get pregnant...how do you feel about that?" Not exactly something to get you in the mood.

    I pray for you often.

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  55. I just want to say Congratulations!!!

    My husband and I are defintely on the very fertile side but my fertility also doesn't come back until at least 9 months post partum, so while we've had 5 chidlren in 8 years of marriage, the closest two are 19 months apart. So, I sympathize but I am also not in your position. I have a friend like you though who is super fertile and is having similar struggles I think - I'm going to pass along your blog post to her. Prayers for a safe pregnancy and an easy labor.

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  56. Praying for you. I can't imagine the cross you carry but it is a cross indeed. For your sake I wish more people had more children, then you wouldn't feel so alone at the grocery story or want to hide. Thank you for your honesty about NFP-I really think there needs to be a support group in town for NFP people trying to get back into charting and just figure out what is going on after a birth. Im hoping the marquette method works and brings less stress-I have heard a priest recommend that before to mothers with lots of kids because it seems to be the most time efficient method. I can't relate to what you are going through, but I can pray! Also-I would add to the list that people who say nursing makes them lose all the baby weight-false, false,false!!! Hang in there, you and your family are a beautiful witness. Praying to Peter Mark to intercede for an easy delivery and healthy mom and baby.

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    1. Ry- talk to Lisa Gesterling. She struggled with nursing causing her to not lose any weight.

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    2. Yes, I hardly lost a pound after my second while I was nursing. I worked out, I ate lean cuisines, I did weight watchers and despite my efforts, lost only a couple pounds over many months. And then I'd hear about someone who ate a whole box (!) of oreos in one sitting and lose 5 lbs that week! Honestly, I don't have much advice. Once I weaned my daughter (1 yr), the weight started to come off. I blame it on hormones. And, so you don't feel doomed, it wasn't that way after every child, so maybe next time (God willing!) it'll be easier.

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  57. So, I just posted on my blog that despite a crud-ton of our friends being pregnant, we are not. However, thank you for writing this and making moms feel perfectly normal (especially Catholic moms) when they feel a little more like Jeremiah in lament, than Mary in assent. Thank you for your witness in letting us know it's okay to feel what we feel, but also to have the 6 kids in 6 years, because there is a lot of judgement out there. In everything you've written and all you are feeling, thank you. A cross is a cross - we each have ours. We may as well be able to talk to one another and help each other bear the journey, huh? Praying for a healthy pregnancy, delivery and sanity! I only have 2 and can completely empathize, so I won't try to imagine 6. God bless you!

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  59. Congratulations on your pregnancy and for being honest! You might find some inspiration over at Sarah's blog, Amongst Lovely Things. Hang in there!

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  60. Congratulations on #6. I'm sure you won't be able to imaging your family without her.

    But I know what your are going through is hard.

    I wish I could give you a hug. We felt that way after only two! Thank you for your honesty. At the time we felt like we were the only ones who weren't completely overjoyed at having children so close together.

    Unfortunately we gave up and used contraception. Trust me when I say that contraception creates more problems than it solves. We're back with NFP, and once you get it to work, the Church's teaching makes sense.

    K has a hard time with NFP. She has gone through 4 different methods before finding something that works.

    She tried Creighton first, but couldn't tell a White Stamp from a Yellow Stamp. It's hard to make all the observations with a little one around.

    We tried Creighton while breastfeeding and she got pregnant the first cycle despite clearly identifying Peak and following the rules. (She had a double peak, which we didn't notice in time.)

    We then tried CCL. They were still using the old book. Symptothermal is useless when breastfeeding because her temps are erratic. When we couldn't make heads or tails of anything, we gave up in frustration.

    When we tried NFP again, we tried FAM from Taking Charge of Your Fertility. The instruction was FAR better than what we got from Creighton or CCL. (I think some Catholics, especially older Catholics, are hesitant to talk about sex and don't give couples enough information to be able to use the method.) But she couldn't figure out CM. So we used it very conservatively. We had a lot of abstinence.

    Then we found out about Billings. Billings is NOT Creighton. We learned from online classes at nfpaware.com. Kristin is fantastic. She explained everything to K. The instruction was the most detailed of any class or book we had taken. She was even able to help clear up the problems that were making things so difficult. (Your difficult charts may be the sign of a health or nutritional issue.) K says Billings is by far the simplest method.

    What we use now is a combination of Billings and STM. I have heard good things about Marquette, but we haven't had the need for it.

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    1. ...and scratch Billings. Nevermind.

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  61. Congratulations on the new little love! And sincere and empathetic compassion for the many more hazy days and sleepless nights!

    I know these sentiments all too well! The excitement but not of welcoming a new babe, the secret yearning that we got married later in life or were just a little less successful at procreating, the dread of NFP while breastfeeding and post partum and that there may be a possibility we will be trying to avoid pregnancy for the next 10-15 years or at least for certain the next 3-5 AND the constant nagging that since we are 'bucking the tide' and going against the popular culture (and our extended families' opinions) we need to show how wonderful and lovely this life is when in fact I'm EXHAUSTED with four (five and under). Yep, I get it, and wrestle with it!

    With husband in the military and deployed I am exhausted but I have less fear of babe coming soon...but he will be coming home eventually! (we just started looking into the Marquette Method and I am waiting on the arrival of the monitor from Amazon!) As you so graciously pointed out when nursing, not sleeping and constantly tripping over the four littles in the house sympto-thermal, Creighton not all that user friendly - though we did successfully use ST to conceive 3/4 of our babes I am not ready to rely on charting noncycles and being confident when he returns!

    I will keep you, united these crazy 'both ands' of prolific motherhood, in prayer! Grace and blessings to you always!

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  62. Congrats! A friend of mine's Dad (who was the father of 9) used to say people should pay him and his wife to have kids because they make such great ones. Same goes for you guys:)

    I used Marquette Method after Baby #2 and it worked great, so I'll keep my fingers crossed that you have success with it too.

    God bless!

    p.s. I love Fulton Sheen too and our next baby (who is due in October), if a boy, will have the middle name Fulton. Love him.

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  63. I really enjoyed reading through all these comments...I sometimes feel like being superfertile is a rare thing, but it seems there are plenty of people carrying this cross :) My prayers are with you, Bonnie!

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  64. Hey Bonnie congratulations, I am late to the party but lovely news. Very happy for you and sending love. I am sure you will find the strength within yourself to embrace this 6th child in your life. Lots of love from Australia (I might go quiet sometimes but I'm still here!) Maddi xxxx

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  65. "Right now the only reason we're using nfp is because we have to. The Church tells us it's good; I believe the Church is right on such matters and so even if I don't understand or agree for the moment I bow to Her authority."

    NO way. You know that better. It is a natural law. The Church in a way "enforces". I really truly do not believe that you would do such a thing, let alone POST something so raw of an internal struggle that you could have SERIOUSLY mislead a women struggling with WHY do we as Catholics believe in NFP. Why it is how GOD designed women, with their natural ability to postpone and prevent pregnancy within our God given ability and bodies through self control and prayer.
    I would be your Simon of Cyrene, I think that was an absolutely STUNNING way of putting your feelings towards this pregnancy. I will pray for you!!!
    You are the amazing mother of beautiful gifts. I mean, seriously FULTON SHEEN healed one of your sons. :-)
    That being said, it really upset me when you wrote that paragraph, because I truly thought that you of all people (we all have weak moments) would not ever share such a thing. In our dark nights, we all think and say and do things that no one but a confessor and maybe not even THEY have heard our inner most cries, but SHARING a thing about, that you, would use something besides NFP if you could is ONE THING, but stating that it is only because of The Church is not even a correct statement.
    A choice has been made, you are in a sense a public figure, so the responsibility falls high on not misleading others through your vents/rants/opinions/stories to your best ability, and keeping within Christ's Law, Natural Law, and Holy Mother Church; while at the same time, being the honest, blunt, and raw Bonnie that we love!!! A beautiful wonderful child of God!

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    1. Anon, I don't think anyone has ever told me before that nfp is a natural law and *that* is why we must practice it. However, I would love to read what you have read where nfp as a natural law is discussed.

      Also, small point to clarify so no one is misled: Fulton Sheen did not heal my son, Jesus Christ did. Also, that healing had nothing to do with me and who I am. There are many amazing mothers with beautiful gifts who are not given miracles like I was given. Please don't think I did anything to deserve it.

      I can tell you are upset because you're caps-lock-shouting at me and you must have been typing quickly because some of the sentences are hard for me to understand. From what I *can* gather, I would disagree with the complaints you've made. Following the Church's teachings because all I have is a belief that the Church knows better than me despite my emotions and understandings is *not* a bad thing. There are many women whose emotions and understandings do not line up with Church teaching and so they decide to do whatever they want - to "follow their heart" and contracept or divorce and remarry or whatever. So I believe that I have done nothing to mislead but instead am modeling something good, namely: choosing to do what's right even if it's hard.

      And what am I misleading them on? That it's Church teaching or that it's Church teaching because it's natural law? I'm doing it because it's Church teaching, not because it's natural law so I don't understand how I said something that is "not even a correct statement."

      Lastly, you're right in that I am somewhat of a public figure. Since you chose to be anon I can have no idea who you are but you speak as if you know me personally. Perhaps you are also a wife and mother with many kids spaced closely together but I get the sense that you cannot relate at all to what I've said. I appreciate that you are worried about me misleading women but I have found that there is a huge amount of good, Catholic women who want to follow Christ but are really struggling with the cross that we have of super-fertility, lots of kids, and having a sex life that is very different than what we were promised by our nfp instructors and promoters. Perhaps you know women who were misled by what I wrote and if that's the case I would appreciate you giving me more, clarifying, not emotionally driven information so I can try to make things right. As it stands, I've found that this post brought a great deal of comfort to women who are hurting like I am. There is much guilt and shame in the silence and it's hard to do anything with them until they are brought to the light. I know for myself and other super-fertile women this post brought our feelings to the lights so that we could embrace our cross and move on.

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  66. "The Church of God is not a restful garden, but a working vineyard." ~ St. Lucy Filippini

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  67. Hi Bonnie, I feel funny commenting on this post months later, but just wanted to say thank you so much for writing this!! I so needed to read it- you truly put in words what some of us think/feel/struggle with. God bless!

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