By KELLI LOVELL
NATURAL FAMILY PLANNING
As members of Holy Redeemer Parish, you are likely to see Heath and Emily Hamilton and their children at Mass, parish events, volunteering with the high school youth ministry, faith formation or at the men’s morning study group. Heath works as a Wildlife Refuge Specialist at Patoka River National Wildlife Refuge. Emily is able to stay at home with their children while working with the Schools of Education at the University of Evansville and the University of Southern Indiana mentoring student teachers.
Emily volunteers at the local Catholic high schools by sharing her personal journey at HFCL’s “Truth about NFP” program. She is very candid with the students about life before and after her use of hormonal contraception.
The Hamiltons’ early exposure to NFP was typical. Emily said, “We are both ‘cradle’ Catholics and felt committed to preparing for the sacrament of marriage.” While Emily and Heath do remember NFP being mentioned, it felt more like an elective than the vital discussion of the one acceptable option for Catholics to use to postpone or space children. Heath said, “That was the extent of talking about NFP; ’here’s a CD; listen if you have time.’”
“Since we tend to be ‘rule followers,’ we likely would have used NFP from the start if we had been given the how with the why from the beginning,” Emily said. That’s why I feel so called to participate in the high school presentations. Making informed decisions is crucial to exercising the free will God has given us!”
Heath and Emily embarked on their sacramental life together without full knowledge of NFP. In their early conversations and dreams about their future family, Heath initially feared the idea of multiple children. He’d been raised as an only child and had been convinced by society that children presented unwanted burdens. Heath said, “When we were first married we believed we were committed to the faith because, by comparison to the world, we made weekend mass a priority, occasionally attended daily mass, and we prayed together. We had checked off all of the boxes the world sees as a natural progression into adulthood: undergraduate and graduate degrees, moving away for a career, establishing ourselves in those careers, and starting a family. We didn't begin to truly live the faith until that checklist was fulfilled but we were left feeling very unfulfilled.”
These feelings led Emily, eventually followed by Heath, to seek, find and truly embrace the teaching of NFP. Emily said, “We both began to realize the urgency to live out two things: (1) marriage is truly about making saints of each other and (2) that the children we are blessed with are entrusted to us by God because they are His children”.
Emily’s study of St. Pope John Paul II’s “Theology of the Body” began their journey from contraception to NFP. “I began a women's study group at church and it was like I was feeding this unknown hunger that could satisfy me while leaving me starving for more at the same time,” Emily said.
Emily had been struggling with significant mental health issues including depression and anxiety that eventually affected her enough to seek medical help. Emily soon realized that her mental health struggles went away when she stopped hormonal contraception. At this time, they had switched to barrier methods, not sure where to seek accurate information about NFP in a world where no one else they knew was practicing it either. Unfortunately, the couple ended up using the antiquated, poorly effective rhythm method to avoid pregnancy. After only a few months, the couple learned that they were expecting a baby despite their use of a method they thought was reliable. They eventually found Creighton’s FertilityCare™ Model of NFP and received instruction from Janet Dilger, a trained practitioner of the method. This resulted in the effective use of a scientific method of NFP with an over 98% effectiveness rate at postponing pregnancy when used appropriately. The marital relationship that Heath and Emily described as incredibly healthy and connected while using contraception evolved to an even deeper, more indescribable intimacy that couples often discover when switching to NFP.
If you would like to learn more about NFP services available through the HFCL, please contact us at (812) 421-2030 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kelli Lovell is a member of St. John the Evangelist Parish in Daylight. She works as a clinical staff pharmacist at Deaconess Hospital. She is a certified instructor of the Creighton and the Marquette models of NFP and helps to present the “Truth about NFP” presentations in the Diocese of Evansville.