Natural Family Planning: Nature's Way - God's Way

15. Vignettes from Poland: Family Experience

I. Sophia and Joseph

My husband has a technical education and is an electrician. I have a primary education, and do the farming. We were married in 1964. 1 learned the natural method of family planning in 1968 and was very glad about this, since I already had two boys and a six-month old daughter. With this knowledge we could at last arrange our marital intercourse without having to fear a next pregnancy; at the same time we preserved our self-respect, and lived as Catholics.

The first child planned in accordance with the natural method came in 1974, but for unknown reasons there was a miscarriage. Two years later, in 1976, we planned a daughter; but a son was born in March 1977. We now have four children aged 15, 13, 12 and 3. We do not plan to have more.

Since I have short cycles, we use the second infertility phase of the cycle. In the past my husband had no difficulty in observing periodic abstinence, but of late, we don't know why, it is sometimes difficult.

I work now in the Family Advisory Service of the parish. I think that the married couples, especially the younger couples, should not be left alone and entirely unaided when they practice periodic abstinence. Additional lectures should be organized for them from time to time. Older couples should also be helped in this way, right up until the time they become grandparents. I speak here about our parish and the region in which I live.

II. Stanislawa and Henry

Our housing conditions after marriage were very difficult. We had four sons who were born in 1950, 1952, 1953 and 1955. Family planning, and planning the sex of the child, were unknown to me. My husband did not approve of having so many children and feared that we would not be able to cope with our problems. He had a good job. I stopped working for five years, then I took a job in my profession as a nurse-midwife.

After my third child I looked for some information relating to family planning which is in harmony with human dignity and does no harm. I used the Ogino-Knaus calendar method, and conceived a child, the fourth one. I searched again and learned about the thermal method; I learned fully about this only in 1966. That method was rather difficult and required much sacrifice. My husband was accustomed from the beginning to a comfortable marital life and had difficulties observing abstinence during the fertile period.

In March 1968 1 began to teach other people at the Birth Control Center. There were some difficulties about interpreting the signs which indicate the first beginning of the fertile phase; and some women were unwilling to measure their temperature. Then I learned the Billings Ovulation Method which was a great help to me for resolving difficult problems.

I began with myself. We had much trouble in our conjugal life. My husband wanted me to use contraception, considering that I had much medical experience as a midwife. My opinion was, however, that as I teach other people, I must be able to give witness to the possibility of a married life based on periodic abstinence.

On seeing my determined attitude, my husband had to accept this. He soon became convinced of the correctness of my arguments when he heard people talking about the many problems arising from an unhappy married life. At present we both are of the opinion that the solution of the birth regulation problem lies in applying periodic abstinence, and that this leads to moral order and happiness in marriage.

In my married life I always saw the element of natural spontaneity. At the age of 15 or 16, 1 listened with great interest to the lectures of a priest who explained to us about the order and harmony prevailing in the world; he told us that there are no hopeless situations. I often remembered those words during my life, and in return I want to help other people with that advice. I feel deeply this union of God and creation.

III. Hedwig

At first we made use of the calendar method. Our first child was not planned. It was a boy, born in 1963. We planned the next child who was born in 1966, also a boy.

At that time I heard about the thermal method. I travelled daily to Krakow where I attended lessons to learn the method. That was in 1967. Since that time we apply the thermal method only.

After a longer interval we planned a third child, using the method. A son was born in 1974. My husband dreamt of a daughter. After three years we planned another child, and this time also planned the child's sex. There was only one intercourse, immediately after menstruation. This time we succeeded. On January 28th, 1978, our longed-for daughter was born.

Obviously we continue to use the, thermal method. My husband is very satisfied. We cannot imagine another kind of marital union. For some years I had a time of very irregular cycles. The shortest cycle had 28 days and the longest 55. But thanks to the method we were able to have intercourse and to plan the family. I measured the temperature accurately and observed the symptoms of ovulation, so I always knew in which period of the cycle I was at the time.

I consider that the natural methods are the most fitting for man.

IV. Stephana and Bronislaw

At the time of our marriage there were no courses in NFP. We knew nothing about the thermal method, and we did no planning of our children. Within ten years we have five children. I never resented this, and my husband resented it only a little whenever I became pregnant again. But I often thought that if things continue to go on like this our situation would be difficult. Then, when a child was born, my husband's displeasure vanished and he was satisfied.

In 1968, I learned the thermal method. The beginning was rather difficult; I did not have much confidence in it. Besides there were some difficulties about periodic abstinence. After ten years of marital life we suddenly had to adjust ourselves to this change; sometimes the waiting for the fertile time to pass was long. It was not so easy, especially for my husband.

Month by month the method started to work; my husband waited patiently, and at last we got used to it. Within that time we often wanted to have a child, as our situation was a little better. But I had experienced some difficulty before in bringing the pregnancies to term. We have the same blood group "A", my husband Rh+ and I Rh-, so that we were afraid of a miscarriage. At last the longed for day came and our sixth child was born in 1979. We, the parents, and also our older children were very pleased.

We appreciate very positively the thermal method and I want to encourage my children to use it when their time comes. Since the time we used the method, the whole world seemed changed for us, and our mutual love has grown stronger.

The biological method allows us to keep inner peace in the humdrum affairs of daily life. My husband appreciates my work as advisor, as I now work in the Advisory Service of our parish. I do this because I find that our young people need some help and admonition. They should be engaged now already in planning for the family, so that they can create truly healthy families. I know that there is often a lack of common language between the parents and the teenagers. So I do my best to do some good here, to teach them to appreciate the family and to feel responsible towards the Church.

V. Our Children Have Congenital Defects - Michalina

Michalina, aged 40 years. Adam aged 43, is a manual laborer.

We have two children now aged 13 and 15. Our children have congenital defects owing to hereditary transmission: under-developed eyeballs and cleft spine with fistula; they are seriously mentally handicapped. When pregnant with my first child I had a miscarriage. The second child also died. The third and fourth are the children now living.

Because of our children's congenital defects, I became interested in natural birth regulation. Since 1968 1 have been learning about it quite thoroughly-the thermal method. I made use of the second infertile period. There were great difficulties, because of the long waiting period for the infertile phase. Though it demanded understanding and sacrifice on the part of my husband, we observed the periodic abstinence. The beginning was particularly difficult since I had to get up during the night to look after the children. The charts were less readable then, but I kept them up very accurately.

In 1975 1 became acquainted with the Billings Ovulation Method, which was less strenuous and by which we could determine the first infertile phase after menstruation. From 1974 to 1975, we applied a combination of the mucus and thermometer signs. At present the Billings method alone has stood the test in our marriage. This method enhances our marital love which had slackened due to other circumstances, and it also exerts a favorable effect on our mutual love.

During all these years I have been taking advantage of the Family.

Advisory Service offered in our parish, and I was under the guidance of the same person. Also I profited much from reading books which I borrowed from the Service Center. Thanks to the information and advice there is some order in our family in spite of our handicapped children and other difficulties.

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