When I began my training to become a FertilityCare Practitioner, I was immediately drawn to learning the varied motivations behind why women and couples were coming to me to learn the Creighton Model, a system of true family planning and authentic women’s healthcare. The Creighton Model empowers women and couples to learn their times of fertility and infertility by observing biomarkers so to achieve and postpone pregnancy and monitor health. I found the reasons to be as diverse as the people came to me for instruction.
There are eager, devout engaged couples who come with a lot of enthusiasm and excitement for this step in their journey to the altar. There are women who are frustrated by the side effects from their contraception: excruciating headaches, copper poisoning, heavy bleeding, low libido, and others, and looking for something else to help them to avoid pregnancy temporarily or indefinitely- some married, some engaged, and some only dating. There are middle-aged couples whose families are complete, who welcomed children into their home earlier in life and are hopeful that their days of childbearing are coming to a close. There are others seeking help becoming pregnant as they desire to become parents for the first, third, or fifth time. There are single women learning to chart, still in the midst of discerning their vocations, and who are able to be helped by their doctors who are diagnosing and treating hormonal imbalances, PMS, and pelvic pain.
The truth about the human body, revolutionary freedom, and authentic love is a universal message which I have the privilege of sharing with each person regardless of religion, marital status, economic status, ethnicity, or profession. Although much of the research and scientific study of fertility awareness has been conducted by Catholics for natural methods of fertility regulation, the information is meant to aid all humanity. St. John Paul II’s Theology of the Body (TOB) is attractive and profound because it gives an honest account of how we were made, what happened in salvation history, and our eternal destination. Our deepest hopes for fulfillment are echoed in these teachings. I am humbled to help those I work with discover more about what their desires, dreams, and fears indicate about their relationship with their significant other and with God. Teaching the science, psychology, and theology of our bodies and reproduction is a skill that I know God has entrusted me with, not to keep just for myself and my marriage, but to spread to everyone who wants to “taste and see”.
One client I have had the privilege of working with this year is a married woman named Lily* who has two living children and who experienced a late first trimester miscarriage under a year ago. Lilly and her husband are not Catholic, but they are believers who can see God’s hand at work in all things. She is learning how to chart and also working with a local NaPro Technology doctor in hopes that this will help them to be able to conceive again and have a healthy pregnancy in the future. She has experienced a profound grace of finding a sense of peace with the possibility that another child right now may not be the plan of God, and we have had some deep conversations about the various doors being opened and closed in their life. When I reflect on my interactions with Lily, I feel so much more the recipient than the giver as my life has been enriched by knowing her.
The ways I can support my clients include by praying with and for them, by helping them discern God’s will in their lives, and by offering hope and healing through the tools of fertility awareness, NaPro Technology, and TOB. This process upholds their dignity and the dignity of all children conceived during this journey. Ovaries are not Catholic, and people across many faiths and no faith at all are coming for instruction. They are hopeful that what I have to teach them might be the answer to a prayer, but sometimes the answer they discover is far better than why they came in the first place: a strengthened marriage, a better knowledge of self, a discernment of adoption, or an increase in faith. I am blessed to have such grateful clients, and I can smile when thanked for what I do, sheepishly point to God who has been the true miracle worker by allowing me, His humble servant, to assist him in this work so that families can, as St. John Paul II urged, “Become what you are”.
Liz Escoffery, FCP is a FertilityCare Practitioner and founder of Indy FertilityCare. She attended the Theology of the Body Institute Head & Heart I with Bill Donaghy in June 2012. She has been working with women and couples wanting to learn the Creighton Model of FertilityCare locally and long-distance for the past 2 ½ years. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the University of St. Thomas in 2011 and is currently pursuing a Master of Arts degree in Theology at St. Meinrad. She, her husband, and toddler son live in beautiful Indianapolis where she enjoys gourmet cooking and crafting in her free time.