So I have begun promoting my fertility group around town. And boy have I learned a lot.
For one, Catholic Churches spook very easily when I put “Natural Family Planning” and “support group” in the same sentence. There’s a myriad of explanations for why this is. I understand the fear of “bad theology”. I think also, they feel they might be overstepping boundaries. NFP is known in the back of nearly every Catholic’s mind. But the church doesn’t like to talk about it, or especially host support groups about it. It’s like “Oh hey, you’re technically supposed to do this, but who really knows if you don’t?” Wink wink. (Thankfully for them, I created the group to be at our public library – so no religious approval needed.)
Secondly, I am scandalous. I am young. And although I am engaged, I am not married. They shudder in their offices, shaking their heads going “She wants to put a poster up that says what? Cervical fluid? No no. We can’t have any of that.” (Ok the posters didn’t say anything about cervical fluid. But they do say something about “getting to know your cycle”.) I’ve been told “Why would an unmarried woman need to know their fertile window?” (Because an unmarried woman couldn’t possibly have any interest in their health and well being.) and “Anyone who has interest in Natural Family Planning can go through Pre-cana.” (Because everyone who has interest in fertility charting will go through pre-cana. People that are already married? No good to us.)
Basically, in simpler terms – I am stirring a pot that they DO NOT want stirred. And I’m beginning to think I’m having MUCH better luck outside the church community. Which is good for me, because I specifically did not want this group to be exclusive to Catholics.
Sexual Health and Reproductive Clinics:
This truly blew me away. In a good way. We have a clinic in town that is basically Planned Parenthood. (I don’t know if there’s a professional affiliation or not but they don’t go by that name. They go by something else. And to my knowledge, they don’t perform abortions.) They are very pro-birth control. Pro pill, pro shot, pro ring, pro IUD. AND guess what? They’re also pro-FAM. And I jumped with glee when I discovered this.
I got a hold of the director and she was thrilled to hear about my project. She invited me to a staff meeting so I could meet with the providers and give them more info. They welcomed me warmly and seemed very intrigued. One of the older women told me she’d been teaching FAM since 1975. (And I’m thinking WHY AM I JUST MEETING YOU??) They promoted on their website, facebook, and in the clinic. So far, they have been the most supportive and helpful. They’ve shared info on social media, endorsed flyers, and been welcoming to my ideas.
Call me dumbfounded. The places I have gotten support (a Natural Baby Store, 2 Midwife Centers, our local clinics, a fertility specialist) are all people I expected to snub me away.
And then there is, of course, the “other”. I find a couple places that repeatedly take my flyers down. I had one woman tell me “the picture of the belly with the hands is too risque”. (Because the half naked woman next to it advertising the next show at the Zebra Cocktail Lounge is totally G-rated.)
I had an, admittedly, slightly scandalous flyer that the co-op simply would not have:
Someone at the business told me, “You can’t pretend to be a pharmaceutical company. It is highly dangerous to give people reason to stop their birth control without professional consultation.”
Which I get. I understand. But it got me thinking – people don’t trust themselves to plan their families because our culture has trained us to think so. Family planning = Big Pharma’s job. Not for us joe shmo’s.
I have learned a lot about the community’s outlook on fertility. In general, there’s just a lot of fear surrounding the word “fertility”. I wonder if maybe we knew more about it, we wouldn’t be so scared? Maybe we as a society wouldn’t be so fixated on controlling our fertility if we had a firm grasp on understanding it?
It’s just kinda funny – isn’t it? People love talking about sex. Safe sex. STD testing. Birth control options.
But fertility? That’s just off limits.