Married couples are called to live the truth and beauty of God’s plan for married love

Kayla and JD Collins and their children. (Courtesy photo)

National NFP Week July 19-25

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By Becky Knapp
The following is one couple’s real-life witness to celebrating and reverencing God’s vision of human sexuality. Kayla and JD Collins of Uniontown, Kansas, a married couple with three children and members of Mary, Queen of Angels, Parish in Fort Scott, explain their great adventure and how NFP helped their marriage.

Natural family planning is a journey. Anyone who has tried it knows this to be true. This journey will always bring you closer to God, build a stronger relationship than you ever thought possible with your spouse, and allow you to have the family that God has planned for you.

Before my husband and I married, as part of our premarital instruction, we attended an NFP meeting with our local NFP advisor. While both my husband and I were very eager to learn about our fertility, we felt shy about speaking with another adult. However, when we began our meeting with our instructor, we found it was far less awkward than what we anticipated.

We trained to use the Billings Method. At that time we did not know there were any other models of NFP. We listened and followed along. I went home with my little booklet and stickers and kept track, met again with our instructor and thought I had the whole thing figured out. After JD and I were married we immediately wanted children. So, I monitored my body and by September we were pregnant. It was that simple. We thought “wow!” we have really got this NFP thing down. I laugh at our arrogance now.

Welcome a daughter in 2015

In June of 2015, our beautiful daughter was born. That was the best day of our lives thus far. We realized in an instant just how special becoming parents truly is. We realized what a miracle a child is. And we realized God chose us to parent this child. This was a wonderful point in our lives and our marriage.

I breastfed our daughter for the first six months of her life. I knew I wanted to breastfeed because of the many benefits breastfeeding offers, including suppressing ovulation. My husband and I didn’t meet again with our NFP instructor simply because we didn’t make time and I thought I already knew what I needed to know. Little did I know that breastfeeding and weaning would provide me with completely different signs. My body started to make some changes, but I wasn’t paying much attention to it, because after all, I knew what I was doing. Ha!

The day seemed perfect

Flash forward a few more months. My daughter was about nine months old and everything was just perfect. One day I was driving home after work and on this particular day, I was having a bad day. I was longing to further my education but wasn’t sure what path to take so I prayed about it. As I was praying about my future educational goals, I remember reflecting on Mary at the Annunciation and how she said: “I am the handmaid of the Lord, let it be done to me according to your word.” I remember thinking how brave she was to just turn everything over to the Lord. I, at that moment, prayed that God would do the same with me. I asked him to help me find his will for me and to help me courageously say yes as Mary did. All the while I am praying this, I am thinking along the lines of my career.

When I got home that night, my husband was out taking care of the cattle and I was cooking dinner and watching our baby. It dawned on me that I was a few days late in my cycle, but thought nothing of it because I still wasn’t regular. So I decided to take a pregnancy test. I remember thinking “I just know I’m not pregnant, but this will ease my mind”. So, I took the pregnancy test and low and behold it was positive. I cried and cried, and cried and cried some more. “This was not what I meant in my prayer Lord. I am not ready for another child. We can’t afford another daycare bill. I am taking away my daughter’s baby years. It was supposed to be about her and her only for a while.”

Kayla’s faith challenged

I had all the negative thoughts that our society instills in this culture. I completely acted like a big baby with little faith. I went from reflecting on the Annunciation to becoming a Doubting Thomas in the matter of an hour. I am so ashamed of my reaction to this wonderful gift of my child. When JD came inside, through my tears I told him the news. His reaction was the polar opposite of mine. He was excited about the new baby! This lifted my spirits a little. Later, he would tell me that he too was falling apart inside but he didn’t want to show it. This pregnancy took me to a dark place for a little while. I felt shamed. I had talked to so many people about how wonderful NFP was. I could tell, most women I talked to were intrigued but scared of an unplanned pregnancy. What kind of example have I set for them? The nay-sayers will give me the “I told you so” they had been anticipating.

It’s important to explain all of the fear and anxiety I felt during my surprise pregnancy because someone out there might be feeling scared and overwhelmed about their pregnancy. I will tell you this, hang in there, when you turn everything over to God there is always so much good He brings forth.

A kind word lifts spirits

To continue, I thought, so much for contacting our NFP advisor now, we have another nine months of throwing NFP out the window. I saw our instructor out one day and she saw my pregnant belly, we exchanged glances and she sweetly smiled at me. I remember saying, you and I need to talk. She looked at me and simply said, “God loves you so much.”

Oh, how badly I needed to hear that. I was so grateful for that comment. I received so much negativity from people who were close to me, acquaintances to me and complete strangers that would look at me with pity as they saw my young daughter and pregnant belly. Rarely would I encounter a sweet and kind response about the baby in my belly. To this day this blows my mind.

I did encounter some people who were kind and loving and looked at my growing family with great joy! And to those people I am so grateful! I was a married, grown adult, with all of the “stabilities” our culture says are necessary. The scrutiny we encountered about our second child was mostly “have you lost your minds?” I have empathy for any pregnant woman because pregnancy can be a tough period. But after that, I especially have empathy for those who are pregnant and not in the best of circumstances. To those women who are getting those looks and comments, maybe a young teen mom, or a single mother, whatever the circumstance may be, keep your chin up mama, you are going to love the ending!

Second child delivered in 2016

During my second pregnancy, my husband and I decided we would not find out the gender. The baby was due in December. There had been no boys in my family in over 30 years. Delivery day came and I grabbed the bag I packed with my neutral outfits in it and off we went. I delivered my second child on December 9, 2016. I will never forget my husband saying to me as I labored, “it’s a boy, Kay!” The joy I felt is indescribable. We had a boy! What a gift from God. As soon as I saw that sweet baby boy my heart melted. I had such an overwhelming feeling of love and guilt for how I reacted to my surprise baby in the beginning. All the fear, doubt, et cetera I felt before delivery completely and totally disappeared as I looked into his perfect little face.

JD and I got past the wonderful honeymoon stage of having a baby and we are back to the whole charting fertility. This time my arrogance is completely gone and I know I need help with our NFP plan. I was stubborn and full of excuses and did not seek help from a trained clinician. Instead, I turned to the internet. What everyone does when seeking the answers to all of life’s greatest mysteries. I read a couple of wonderful blogs, bought a few books, and found a device that would help monitor ovulation. Even after doing all that I felt as though I was grasping for straws. I was NOT confident I did not have a solid plan.

Planning the next baby

It was important that I postpone our next pregnancy because I was in graduate school and I had to work around clinical internships as well as working full time and raising my two children. It was never that I did not want to accept the gift of another child from our Heavenly Father but that I really felt overwhelmed and I was trying to figure out this phase of life.

It was at this point in time that my husband and I went to the darkest point in our marriage. I was feeling alone. I was feeling like the responsibility of my fertility was 100% on me. I was feeling objectified. I felt like I was depriving my husband at times. We started using alternative methods that are not in line with church teaching because of fear, confusion, and ignorance. With all of that comes extreme guilt for hurting God and not trusting him as well as the grave sin piling up on our souls. Yep, we hit the confessional many times. Looking back at this point in our marriage, I can see that we were arguing more, we were drifting apart, and we were generally headed down the fast track to an unhappy marriage.

JD goes to a men’s conference

Through the gift of the Holy Spirit, my husband heard about a men’s conference being offered in Wichita. He felt very compelled to go. When he told me about this he didn’t have to tell me what the topics of the conference were going to be I just quickly said: “Yes, please go!” I want to stop here to say, my husband is not a villain. He is an extremely good husband, father, friend and fellow Catholic. But he was figuring all of this out too.

So, a few weeks later, he and a friend of his made the trip out to Wichita for the Men’s Conference. When he returned home he was on fire! He kept talking about this “Deacon Harold” guy. I remember sitting in our living room and JD saying, “Deacon Harold laid it out for me. We are not doing this wrong anymore.” Uhh okay…now feelings of fear, pressure and anxiety were put on me. I felt like I was going to end up pregnant and have to postpone my education, and he’s going to just go about life like nothing has changed for him. I still hadn’t figured out that I was never meant to feel alone in the planning of OUR family. That this whole fertility thing was absolutely his responsibility too.

Husband and wife are an NFP team

Yes, it is my body that gives us the signs of fertility, but he is to work with me, to be loving, yet disciplined. God designed family formation so we would all have to work together – God, man and woman. After talking more with JD I learned that he was not leaving me alone with this responsibility. He returned from that conference as my teammate. I no longer felt alone. I no longer felt like it was just me. I truly felt like I had his full support. I know without a shadow of a doubt that the Holy Spirit spoke to my husband during that conference and gave me back the man God planned for me.

Two kids and three years later we were working together with God on building our family. The love between us grew stronger and everything about our relationship grew stronger and deeper. We got to a point where we could see so many problems in this world that revolved around objectifying one another, eliminating God from the equation, sins of the flesh. It was all around. We used to be part of it. We witnessed how damaging it was.

Now they are reaching out

Now that we have come full circle we want nothing more but to help those who might be in the same shoes we were in not too long ago. We are not perfect people and we do not have a perfect marriage but we have learned that we need to invite God into our lives and allow him to help give us the family he intended for us. Now that we were finally working as a team we decided to postpone our third pregnancy because of my work and college situation. When the timing was right we became pregnant with our third child. Our son was born this past fall. My heart had been changed and I decided that I would no longer continue to work but stay home with my children while finishing up my degree. I can truly say our family is happier now than we have ever been.

After having our third child, I felt that I needed some guidance to get me through breastfeeding and the stress of graduate school. I picked up the phone and called the diocese NFP department. I was put in contact with a clinician. We would be trained in the Creighton Model / FertilityCare System. Learning the Creighton Model has been wonderful! This is the model I feel fits our lifestyle the best. The Creighton Model is backed by science and is highly effective for postponing or achieving a pregnancy. Truly, science is used, and a miracle is achieved. God did not leave us alone. He made our bodies so that we could enjoy the gifts of married life, but we also have the privilege of being decision makers in his plan for building our families.

NFP has most definitely been a journey for my husband and myself. We have picked up a few miracles along the way; we call them our children. We look forward to the future children we have yet to meet. We feel a happiness now that we want for everyone! We have grown in our faith and our relationship with God. We hope by sharing our journey that we can help other couples find the joy we have found with the use of NFP. God bless you and your families!