Wonderfully Made - Alejandra's Story

Friday, July 28, 2017

It's NFP Awareness Week! This year I am sharing stories from women who learned NFP methods while single. Single women often get left out of discussions of Natural Family Planning, but there are great benefits to be reaped for them too. It's time to hear some of their stories!

1. Tell us a little about yourself.

My name is Alejandra, and I’m originally from southern California, but am now living in Oakland in the Bay Area. I just recently became a licensed Architect – hooray! Believe it or not, you can’t just call yourself an Architect right out of university, and I had to pass seven national exams and one state exam over two years to earn that professional title, so I’m pretty proud! I’m currently working at a high-end residential firm in Emeryville that does beautiful work in this area. 

I speak three languages – Spanish, English, and Italian – because my mom is from Chile and I studied abroad in Italy. I’m forever grateful to my mom for making sure we were bilingual from the start – languages are one of my passions! In my spare time, I love to cook and bake, work in my garden, spend time at the beach, hike in the Oakland redwoods (or anywhere for that matter – we are blessed with so many natural gems here in the Bay Area!), read, draw and paint, hang out with friends, and most of all, horseback ride. I’ve recently become an equestrian and I take English riding lessons here in the Oakland redwoods. There is nothing more wonderful than being out there with the horses… Unless it’s snuggling with my two adorable goddaughters of course!

2. How did you hear about NFP?

I’m I guess what you might call a “cradle Catholic,” in that I grew up Catholic and went to Catholic school all my life, so I do vaguely remember learning about NFP, at least as a concept, during middle school and high school. I was aware it was out there, but didn’t know the details, especially because I always assumed it was just for families or married couples, so I wrote it off in my mind as not applicable toward my current state of life.

Later, when I was already living and working here in the Bay Area, a dear friend of mine introduced me to JPII’s Theology of the Body. The more I read up on it, and the more I started reading the incredibly beautiful ways that JPII talked about man and woman, the “feminine genius,” and his reflections on the body in terms of the ordering of love and our existence in connection with God and Love, the more I started seeing the connections between Theology of the Body and NFP.

Around the same time, another very dear friend of mine was starting her own family and pregnant with her second daughter, and she began explaining to me the details about taking her temperature, charting, and how it all helped her and her husband either conceive or avoid pregnancy in a natural and faith-filled way. She suggested an app that helps record this information and generates a visual chart, and so I was encouraged to begin charting myself!

3. How did you pick a method?                         

At first, I didn’t really know what I was doing other than waking up at 7:00am to faithfully record my temperature on this app each morning – however, the app also has a handy “Knowledge Base” section that answers all the basic questions about charting your cycle and what it means. Through this, I was able to gain some basic knowledge about basal body temperature, temperature shifts, the luteal and follicular phases, hormones, etc. 

I was fascinated! However, it wasn’t until a priest friend of mine personally called me up one day, and said that there was a woman offering Creighton Model classes at his parish, that I started getting serious about a particular method. He was trying to specifically enlist as many young, single women as he knew to take the classes with her, because he believed in its importance before young women get married (or even if they never do!), even as having a basic, positive health benefit. What a blessing that call was (and what a wonderful priest!), because I enlisted for the classes, which were private, one-on-one classes that helped teach the basic concepts of the Creighton Method and also helped me chart through several cycles until I got the hang of it. The Creighton Model does not utilize temperature, but rather a very detailed charting of daily mucus, in order to understand a woman’s fertility, cycle, and general health. It’s truly amazing how intricate, integrated, and synchronized our bodies are, and how much they tell us! We only have to learn and listen.

4. What has been your greatest challenge?

They say that with knowledge comes great responsibility, right? I would say my greatest challenge has been finding out that there are perhaps some “irregular” or “not ideal” things about my cycle. Ever since I began my period as a teenager, I have always had very heavy bleeding and most times very painful cramping. In high school, I dealt with this by taking evening primrose oil, a natural oil that is known to help regulate your cycle and alleviate or even eliminate painful cramping. It did for some years, but it has found its way back. Ever since I have begun charting, I’ve noticed certain things like the appearance of mucus when a woman typically wouldn’t have any, and other “red flags.” Charting prompted me to go see a Catholic OB-GYN in the area who reads charts, and after having to get some blood tests done (ick), she has been able to see some of these irregularities as well as low levels of hormones, among other things. And what’s amazing is that just by reading my charts and checking out my blood tests, she discovered several other things that were “low” in my body. 

Now, I’m the type of person that magnifies every worst possible situation (I’m permanently infertile! I have some crazy disease! I’ll never be able to have babies!), so while it was quite a challenge, and even sometimes terrifying, to “find out” about these issues and hear potentially “bad news” – at the same time, I have to say that it has been also a positive thing, because not only do I now know about these issues, but I can also work on fixing them by natural means, like vitamin supplements or honing my diet to my body’s needs. And ladies, we’re not just talking about focusing on my fertility – there are now some general health items that have been uncovered that I can improve in my body, so that it is working to its fullest potential all-around! And I wouldn’t have known about them had I not started charting, and I am thankful to be working on these issues before I meet someone. It’s like getting a head start - How cool is that?!

5. What has been your favorite benefit?

Apart from getting to know my body better, and turning my energy toward improving it so that it is healthy and works to its greatest potential, I’d say some of the greatest benefits have been empowerment, humility, and gratitude. I understand my body and how it works in a way that I had never known before, and this has given me an incredible appreciation for God’s genius in creation. 

How beautiful, how intricate, how perfectly engineered and wonderfully made is the female body… the human body! As a single woman, this appreciation and healthy love for my body I think contributes to my understanding of who I am, who God created me to be, and how he wants me to use my gifts. It’s part of that grand search for meaning, and it most certainly reflects the great Love our Lord has for each one of us. 

Check out the previous posts in this series:

1 comment :

  1. I've really been enjoying this series about NFP and single women. Thank you so much!


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