Life Update

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It feels like years have passed since I last posted! It also feels like whenever I do post now, it is just for a quick update! Well, such is the life of a mother. Unexpected, busy, and messy.

I’ve taken a part time job as one of our county’s sexual assault advocates. As you can imagine this is hard work, and can demand a lot of decompression time after a training or shift. So far, I haven’t had to work face-to-face with survivors, but the research and training a lone is rigorous and for me, can only be taken in small doses.

When I’m not doing that, I am trying as best I can to be present to my family and cherish them. Getting a first hand look at the atrocities humans commit against one another intensifies my instinctual desire to bond closely and love on my children. To leave them without a desire to look for an imitation of my love elsewhere, and to find certainty and confidence in it.

Both jobs have been equally exhausting and rewarding. As rigorously as predators are planning their evil, there are amazing humans planning prevention against them. My work has strengthened my faith in humanity more than it has robbed me of it.

In any case, that is why I have been so absent. I’m still taking time to care for myself. Zumba, weight lifting, tea, and books have all consoled me and relieved my stress at different times these past few weeks. J and I celebrated our 5th anniversary and have been making some plans to really focus on that success next month when the calendar is less congested. Until then, we are just taking it a day at a time.

Wishing you well, readers! Have a good week.

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4 Reasons We Didn’t Cohabitate

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Disclaimer: typically I hate disclaimers, because I shouldn’t have to apologize for having an opinion or sharing my life experience with my readers, but I’ll give you one anyway. This is not a condemnation of couples who choose to cohabitate, nor is it a religious post… these are 4 logical reasons J and I decided not to cohabitate before marriage, and why I recommend it to every engaged couple I know.

I have an amazing marriage. Even though it’s not without it’s problems, I credit a lot of our success to our more “traditional” practices, including not living together before we were married. Over the Thanksgiving holiday, my news feed was full of couples announcing their engagements which made me feel happy and nostalgic about mine and J’s engagement period. I began to think about how “different” we are than a lot of other people our age, but how I wouldn’t change a thing about the way we prepared ourselves for marriage. So, without further ado, here are the reasons why we chose to live separately:

  1. It was cheaper. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard couples try to justify living together before marriage because “it’s more affordable.” Really? Allow me to explain why you’re wrong. I was splitting the cost of rent and utilities with 2 other women. J was splitting his costs with 3 other men. The more people you have sharing the cost, the less each of you have to pay. I really don’t see how J and I living together in a house and being responsible for all the costs would have been the more economical choice.
  2. We were trying to practice chastity. Now, I don’t want to argue with you about chastity, but I will say this… remember those days of raging teenage hormones that had you in a perpetual state of lusting? Yeah, chances are you didn’t make the best life decisions back in those days, at least I know I personally didn’t. When I went away to college, I promised myself I wouldn’t be guided by sexual desire ESPECIALLY when it came to looking for a future spouse. Why didn’t we ‘seal the deal’ after our engagement? Because, contrary to popular belief, engagement is still a trial period. Granted, it’s a more serious, more committed time in your relationship, but it’s your last chance to make sure you’re picking the right person to spend the rest of your life with. I knew if I gave myself over physically and emotionally, my judgment would be completely clouded. I can’t tell you how many of my friends I have seen justify their boyfriends bad behavior because they gave themselves over too soon. Again, not a judgement, just my personal experience. I wanted a clear head. It was much easier to commit to chastity when I wasn’t going to sleep next to the love of my life every night [and trust me, it was still hard, even though we lived apart].
  3. “How do you know if some one is good for you unless you live with them first?” I’m calling BS on this argument too. In fact, I think living together before your married tells you LESS about a person as opposed to more. When you live together, decisions are easier. You don’t have to coordinate pick ups or drop offs, you just do what you want to do together. When you live apart, every choice involves communication. “Where do you want to meet? What time do you want to go? What time do you need to be home? Is there anything you need to get done before we leave or can I come over before?” Any old married couple will tell you how key communication is in a relationship. Living apart forces you to communicate with your future spouse, and I think that practice makes perfect. There is a lot of coordination and communication that has to happen when you live apart, and it made a huge difference for us in learning how we  communicate.
  4. Bachelorette Pad. I got married 10 days after I turned 21. That’s pretty young, especially for some one of my generation. What I hear most often from college sweethearts is that they feel like they didn’t get to take advantage of their “best years” before tying the knot.  Living apart from my future spouse gave me one last shot at living it up as an unmarried woman. I could dance in my underwear, invite all my girlfriends over late at night, binge on ice cream while watching chick flicks endlessly, have people stay the night, be as clean or as messy as I wanted to be, have pink curtains and a hot pink bedspread… I mean, the list goes on. I didn’t have Justin waiting up for me, expecting me home at certain times, wanting to eat every meal with me, or not wanting to have all my crazy friends over at what would have been “our house.” I got to spend time with him, and then go get to be a crazy girl on my own time. The fact of the matter is this, the “two” hadn’t “become one” yet, so there was no reason to pretend or act like we had. I mean, if you’re getting married you literally have the REST of your lives to figure out how to “become one” …it certainly doesn’t need to start the moment your realize your boyfriend is “the one.”

Anyway, I know every person/relationship is different, but I am so glad J and I did things the way that we did. I feel like we had a really solid foundation before I walked down that aisle, and the ways living separately forced us to grow, were invaluable tools that helped us survive that first year of marriage.

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A Love Affair

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So, if you’re facebook friends with me, then you probably got bombarded with my California pictures already, but for those poor unfortunate souls who only follow my blog, I wanted to share them with you too!

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Being an overweight, 5 month pregnant woman isn’t easy. Being an overweight, 5 month pregnant woman who needs some thing nice to wear for a wedding was just down right depressing. WAS… was depressing. You see, I found this beautiful Jessica Simpson maternity dress that I thought I looked great in! It was modest without being frumpy, and although it was black polyester, it kept me surprisingly cool at the 80 degree beach wedding I attended [I mean, I still had hot flashes, but the sweating was at a minimum, and that’s saying a lot.]

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So no, Jessica Simpson is not paying me to write a product-placement post, I just wanted to share with you that I actually felt beautiful for once during this pregnancy. Maybe I was high on feel-good hormones from both baby and getting to be reunited with my whole family, I don’t know, but my cousin’s wedding was just a genuinely good evening.

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For being a Halloween wedding, they really didn’t do over-kill on the Halloween details. The colors were a chic black, white, and gold, with gold pumpkin place cards, dia de los muertos cake topper, and candied apple buffet. While Dana and Lindsay have a beautiful love story of their own, any wedding I attend always makes J and I reminiscent of our own engagement and wedding. Every wedding we attend is secretly a celebration of our own marriage. Every time we dance or make eye contact at a reception, I feel like a bride again and he a groom.

New York!

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Pretty much a week after the Pope leaves and in the aftermath of NYFW and Hubs and I are just arriving in the city that never sleeps! As you’re reading this, we are already settled in our hotel and sightseeing! It’s been 2 years since we’ve taken a trip up here, but J surprised me for our anniversary by making all the arrangements! For those of you who don’t know, J and I are total comic book and cartoon nerds. [I wrote my Senior thesis on the origins of superheroes in classic literature for heaven’s sake!] So, of course we’re here for Comic Con.

In addition to loving superheroes, we also love food though, and I’m definitely hoping to indulge my inner foodie while I’m here in the city. During the next couple weeks I’ll have some wonderful pictures to share with you all! Until then, I’m taking a break to spend some QT with my dear spouse, while Gigi and Pap get to spend time with Sophie back at home. Enjoy your weekends, everyone!

Natural Family Planning: My Story

Normally, a mommy blogger wouldn’t take to her blog to discuss how she manages her fertility. Well, I am not just any mommy blogger. You see, if I were on the pill, or using some other kind of barrier-form of contraceptives, I probably wouldn’t write about it, simply because those methods aren’t worth writing about. Those are the methods you learn in middle school [if you went to a lovely public school, like yours truly]. Those are the methods you know inside and out without ever having to use them, thanks to sex-ed classes, pop culture, TV and movies. I’m embarrassed to say that I didn’t even know Natural Family planning existed until I took a “Christian Marriage” course at my very conservative, small, Catholic, liberal arts college. I never understood why my church said contraceptives were wrong, because I never new they offered a better alternative way to avoid and achieve pregnancies. That is why I am taking the time to write about some thing so personal… because it changed my life.

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I could give you a very long list of reasons why I love NFP but the main reason is: it is the most organic, basic way for you to manage your fertility. You literally just write down what’s going on with your body every day, and then at the end of the day you decide whether you had signs of fertility or not. All you need, is a female anatomy. So basic, you guys.

Before I give a more personal testimonial on why this has worked for me, I’d like to address:
REASONS WHY NFP “DOESN’T WORK”
1. “I have a messed up cycle.” That absolutely does not matter. There is a misconception that women are given a picture of a perfect woman’s perfect cycle and told “follow this” and if your cycle deviates from that, you’re screwed.

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That is not the case! Trust me, no one’s cycle looks like that ^^^ In reality your chart is going to look more like this:

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That’s ok, that’s normal. Your instructor gives you specific instructions tailored to your personal cycle. You can still get pregnant, or avoid getting pregnant [whichever you prefer] even if your cycle looks like that crazy chart up there.

“I tried that once and I got pregnant so it doesn’t work” What if I told you, when used correctly Natural family planning is JUST as effective as the pill and condoms? See those green squares? If you’re trying not to get pregnant, only have intercourse on days with the green sticker; those green stickers indicate that you’re NOT fertile. The chance of you getting pregnant on those days, are the same chances of a condom breaking. If you are just really in the mood and decide to have sex on a white baby day [a day of fertility] then you can’t claim NFP “doesn’t work” when in actuality, you didn’t use the system correctly.

“NFP doesn’t work because my significant other wants to have sex a lot, and you can’t do that with NFP” Ok, remember those green stickers I pointed out? A woman gets 12-15 days of infertility during each cycle. If your spouse wants to have sex more than that, you have other issues to worry about besides NFP. Even if you’re on the lower end of the spectrum, 12 days is A LOT of opportunities to have sex and not get pregnant.  And if you ARE trying to get pregnant? Then its open season people, all those days are up for grabs! I would argue that your sex would be BETTER if you follow your natural cycle and avoid using artificial interferences to manage your fertility. Let that natural libido free!

SO it’s really quite simple: no sex on white days, and ‘green means go’ on those green sticker days.

What’s hard about NFP – I’m not going to pretend that I didn’t face any challenges with this method. Like I said before, we all grow up knowing what the pill is, while we’re completely clueless about NFP. It takes time to learn. How do you know if you’re supposed to put a white sticker or a green sticker? You have to learn. The beautiful thing about it is, you have all the equipment already. Every time you go to the bathroom and wipe, you have to look for mucous. There, I said it. I know it sounds gross, unnatural even… but its not. This is how your body communicates to you. If you’re “dry” and have no mucous all day, that’s a green sticker = infertile for the day. If you have mucous even once, that’s a white sticker and it means you are fertile for the day. Eventually, you’ll become so accustom to how your body works, you’ll be able to anticipate when you’re fertile or not fertile. This is such valuable knowledge and can help you detect health problems earlier on. For example, if you know it’s around time for ovulation [this is some thing you eventually learn after charting for so long] but you have no signs of mucous for several days, you may have something going on hormonally that is postponing ovulation. It is easier to detect what is going on with your body when there are no other interferences [IUD, the pill, or anything else that messes with your body’s natural hormonal cycles]. If there is some thing wrong, there are a ton of options nowadays! There is NaPro technology which involves non invasive hormonal treatments to help you get back on track.

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Personally, when we first got married, I was 21, and still had 1.5 years of college left. We wanted to have children, of course, but decided it would be better to get my schooling finished first. For the first YEAR of marriage, we strictly avoided having sex on days of fertility. Easier said then done? Of course. You know that comment I made about libido earlier? It’s no joke. When a woman is fertile, her body is designed to desire sex. Basically, you’re turned on. Awkward, I know, but that is the way God intended it! He wants you to procreate. It was hard to say no on those days of fertility, but we knew it was important to avoid a pregnancy, so we did. My husband and I were both virgins when we married, thus he would always say to me, [during the times of fertility, when it was hard to say no…] “I waited 23 years for you, I think I can handle a few more days” because he knew, on the other side of those white stickers, were a whole line of green stickers we could take advantage of.

Ok, so the year passed and on our anniversary we decided that since I only had a few months left of school, and pregnancy is 9 months, I could probably survive being in my first trimester of pregnancy while finishing my last semester of college. Hello white sticker days! It took us 3 weeks to get pregnant. The great news about being pregnant [besides the bundle of joy] is that you don’t have to chart!

Flash forward to the delivery room: my OBGYN comes in and immediately begins writing me a prescription for birth control. “No thank you,” I say, “We use NFP to avoid pregnancies” …cue a weird grin on my doctor’s face, as if I had just told her I was Wiccan and planned to say some spells to avoid a pregnancy. “You know,” I explain, “its that method where we don’t have sex when I’m fertile…” still, she’s on the verge of laughing right in my face, “Actually my husband and I have been doing NFP for almost 3 years. We avoided a pregnancy for an entire year, then planned this one.” She basically chuckled and said “OK… Good luck”

Well, we didn’t need luck, because we know how to chart. My first year postpartum we avoided getting pregnant again, the same way we avoided it the first time. IT WORKS PEOPLE. After little Sugar Plum turned 1, we knew we were ready for another, and so I’m pregnant again. 1 year on, 1 year off. We follow the instructions, I am vigilant at looking for signs of fertility, and it WORKS. No pills, no condoms, no spermicide, no IUD, no foreign objects have a place in my sex life, and that is truly glorious.

If you want more information on the Creighton Method [that is the method I personally use] or any other method, I recommend iuseNFP.com They have super informative recourses on all the different types, as well as personal testimonies, such as this one, and other facts you may not know about your current mode of contracepting. Or, feel free to private message me via facebook. Most of all, thank you for taking the time to read this post, and please reconsider whatever you’re doing that is not NFP!