in the family way

I was minutes away from escaping the camp with my secret still intact.

And then she said it.

“Before you leave, I’ve been wanting to ask you something.”

“Sure.” (Oh, great. Here we go.)

“You said you don’t chart or anything, so what method of family planning do you use?”


I smiled and took a deep breath. “Here’s where I reveal my deep, dark secret.”

“You had your tubes tied?” Not a hint of condemnation in her voice.

“No, but my husband had a vasectomy six years ago. He traded a website for it.”

They were completely loving and accepting and understanding. I’m not “like” them, but I’m one of them, because they’ve graciously welcomed me into their tribe.

And they’re waiting with open arms for YOU. In a completely non-freaky sort of way.

CFPN. Christian Family Planning Network. I want to share these gals with you, because I think they’re right smack up some of y’all’s alley.

How did I get hooked up with them? Well, it’s one of those long internet-trail stories, but long to short, they invited me to speak at their 5-year reunion in Wisconsin this past weekend. 12 CFPN’ers and me. It was awesome.

I got to talk about non-denominational motherhood and give a pep talk on sex and share my right-now story and talk about pursuing your passions no matter what stage of life you’re in. We were joined by 5 nursing babies (all of whom suckled happily during my talks, to the soothing sound of my voice) and 2 adorable toddlers.

The members of CFPN promote the Fertility Awareness Method (FAM) of birth control. They all have their reasons–some religious, some health-related, some personal–but they’ve chosen to plan/space their kiddos without hormonal birth control (pills, etc) or surgical procedures. They take their temperature, do some other stuff, chart it all, and work the lovemaking around it.

It’s easier than it sounds.

FAM is all about becoming aware of your body and its natural cycle, not putting anything in it or on it, avoiding pregnancy when you’re not ready for children, making love at the right time when you are, doing what’s best for you and your husband, your family and your life.

(The women who actually use FAM could–and do–describe it way better than I can.)

These women come from all walks of life, all kinds of situations, sharing a common value: celebrating life and family and supporting each other in accepting, encouraging, knowledgeable community. I got to meet 12 women from 8 9 states (IL, WA, CO, FL, MI, WI, IA, OH, NY), and CFPN has close to 200 members from almost every state and several foreign countries.

Some of them met years ago online and have been together through infertility and pregnancy and loss and childbirth and so much more. Several of them were meeting in real life for the very first time this weekend, and I got to be a part of it. Right up my alley.

I got to spend time talking with almost all of them one on one (or one on two), and it was really, really cool. They’re a great group of women who sincerely care about others. And they have a huge heart for reaching out to women like YOU, who may or may not have ever considered alternative methods of birth control.

They’re helpful and smart, but not pushy. Confident, but not dogmatic. Accepting, empathetic, just really, really great.

And they’re liberal and conservative, mostly Protestant, some Catholic, a few that would probably consider themselves none of the above, not even sure what they believe about God. Some are engaged, most married, some neither, many pregnant, lots hoping to be soon, some infertile, lots trying to avoid pregnancy for the time being, some adopting.

And one of my favorite stories out of the group is the couple who struggled with infertility and then went through the big, long, so-worth-it procedure of embryo adoption. Their sweet baby girl (who I got to hold and cuddle) was saved from inevitable destruction and given a chance at life. Unbelievable. And so beautiful.

These gals have some great discussions about breastfeeding and homeschooling and sex and ovulation and potty-training and cloth diapers and circumcision and postpartum depression and adoption and everything in between.

Need an answer? You’ll find it.

In the mood for a friendly debate? Sure thing.

Want some friends who are going through the same things you are? Check.

It’s super-easy (and FREE) to register with CFPN, and then you can explore the forum and go from there. You’ll have the option of joining different buddy groups, and the admins will help direct you wherever you want to go. I joined the TTA (trying to avoid pregnancy) group.

They’re also offering an online course on the Fertility Awareness Method for 25% off TODAY ONLY (it’s $30 today, $39.99 regularly).

Even if you’re not sure FAM is for you, you can still join the network. These women are a GREAT resource for any kind of woman/mom concerns/questions you might have about pretty much anything.

If you have any questions, feel free to ask them in the comments below. I’m sure I can round up some of the CFPN gals to get you some answers right quick. And if your question’s more personal, e-mail me.

So, tell me:

1. What appeals to you about a group like this?

2. What questions do you have about CFPN (and there’s no such thing as a dumb question)?

43 thoughts on “in the family way

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  2. Joanna

    Love the article Marla! but I have to correct you on one thing…we actually came from 9 states as I hail from IL 😉

    I’ve been part of CFPN since…before it was actually the CFPN and I can tell you that it is an AMAZING group of women! I have been thru a lot of junk the past 4 years and these ladies have supported me through it all! I <3 the CFPN!

    1. Marla Taviano

      I will fix that right away, Joanna!! I knew you were from IL. Can’t believe I left you out. I’ve thought of you and your girlies lots since last weekend, and the memories always make me smile.

  3. Tarah

    Hmm….sounds like us! Didn’t know there was an acronym and group for it! I got the raised eyebrow from each and every medical provider along the way from my pre-wedding appt to my OB/GYN when I told them I didn’t want to use hormonal BC. But using FAM/NFP and the occasional barrier has worked fine for us. And we are first try = pregnancy fertile…..all 4 times. And, because my cycle is so regular, I never had to take temps. When I told my OB/GYN after our first was born what method we use, he said, “Well you know what they call folks who use NFP?” No, but I’m sure you’ll tell me. “Parents”. Har har…..I bet you all have heard that one before. 🙂

  4. Joy

    After all this I don’t think there is any doubt that it works, but thought I would add my 2 cents anyway. We have been married 2 1/2 years and are now entering the baby making stage of life. We successfully used the NFP method for the entire time! I would strongly encourage anyone with questions to order Toni’s book. Finally ordered it last month and she answers so many questions on women’s health.
    Go CFPN!

  5. Katie

    I read Toni Weschler’s book, Taking Charge of Your Fertility, about 5 years ago and it makes a TON of sense. Love it. I feel like I learned so many things that I wish I’d known before I got married and went on the pill.

    1. Stephanie

      I’ll second “Taking Charge of Your Fertility”. The CFPN actually got its start on, which is the companion forum to TCOYF. It’s a great book!

  6. Sharon

    Will def check them out. We use natural family planning. Kinda felt like the other options out there weren’t really options for us for various reasons. ie birth control pills caused my Mom to have high blood pressure. I already have bp issues, so didn’t want to aggravate that.

    And I LOVE that your hubs had a vasectomy! (And esp how it was paid for!!) I kid you not, I had a professor in college, he taught biology, and he flat out told us that it is so much easier for a man to get a vasectomy than for a woman to get her tubes tied. So that’s my plan, when the time comes.

  7. Brooke

    love that you say they are non-judgmental. i’m intrigued by this method because i’m smarter than your average bear when it comes to BC pills and the like (my friend conceived via IVF and I got to go along for the information ride as she googled EVERYTHING).

    honestly this is where my theology/beliefs don’t pass the test. i love the *idea* of this, but am far too terrified of having a child to actually put it in practice.

    1. Melissa

      I would really encourage you to check it out! I know exactly what it’s like to be terrified of getting pregnant, but one of the wonderful things about CFPN is that there are ladies there of all different walks. Some of the women there have been successfully avoiding pregnancy for years and can walk you through the beginning stages.

      Also, it’s important to keep in perspective that not even BC pills or anything else are foolproof. It was a lot easier to go with NFP/FAM for me after I realized that you can still get pregnant on the pill too.

      Anyways, all that to say, come on over. We’ll gladly answer all your questions.

      1. Brooke

        thanks for your thoughtful response. i suppose i had already tried (and proven-ish) the pill to be an effective method of BC before I realized it wasn’t always effective.

    2. Marla Taviano

      Loving the idea is a good place to start. You really can check it all out and make a decision slowly from there. No pressure!

      And like Melissa mentioned below, lots of people get pregnant on the pill too. I need at least 2 hands to count all my real-life friends it’s happened to.

      1. Brooke

        only because i love and trust do, am i joining. because most often, in my experience, Christian women consider me a miserable failure of a woman because I don’t want kids. now or ever.

        1. Melissa

          Not wanting kids does not make you a failure of a woman by any stretch of the imagination! You won’t find judgment about that at CFPN, trust me. After my first kid, I decided that I did not want to have any more kids and have not found anyone at CFPN who judged me for that. We have had women in the past who didn’t want children and nobody judged them either. Everyone is different and it is a large, loving community.

    3. Stephanie

      If you’re that nervous about having a child, I would strongly encourage you to take our online course! One of our instructors will walk you through the steps of charting, and answer all your questions, and you’ll get a very firm grounding on the “How-To’s” of charting!

  8. Ali

    Very cool . . . I’m intrigued . . . especially considering my current circus is more than I can handle (it is Jesus alone that keeps us afloat.)

    1. Marla Taviano

      You should totally join, friend. You can participate as much or as little as you’d like. I should’ve whisked you and Greta away to Wisconsin with me last weekend. Love you!

      1. Ali

        Yes, from now on please take me to any and every event that involves family planning. The husband’s guide to getting lucky proved to be a bit too successful in this household.

  9. Ruth

    Thanks for sharing about this website, Marla! I wish I would’ve known about it 8 years ago when I first got married. I was on HBC for the first few months of our marriage and then TTC & had no idea how to chart, etc. We got pregnant fairly quickly for not knowing what I was doing, and after my first was born in June 2006, I was on a low dosage of HBC for less than a month/cycle before I realized what I was doing to my body (and possibly a potential baby) that I stopped mid-cycle. I’ve been using NFP ever since, to both avoid & achieve pregnancy. I wish I knew about this group back then, like I said. It would’ve really been a great support. A group like this appeals to me because it seems to be a non-judgmental place to not only learn about FAM, but it also seems to be a place of encouragement for whatever stage you are in. I am currently 35 weeks pregnant with my 8th pregnancy (4th living), & this may be our last biological (although that makes me sad…). I am so grateful for this method & cannot imagine any other way. Once again, thanks for sharing about this, especially for other women who may not already know and/or who need the support.

  10. Danae

    Marla, thanks so much for your kind words and for stepping right in and being apart of our Reunion celebration! It was so fun to have you there and helpful to be encouraged by a mom who is a bit ahead of me on the parenting journey.

    (oh, and just for the record, there are a few of us CFPN-ers who are planning to use your method of family planning someday down the road, so you aren’t alone there! 😉 )

    1. Marla Taviano

      Oh, sure! NOW you tell me!! 😉 It was wonderful meeting you too, Danae. I enjoyed our homeschooling chat in the back of the van, practically sitting on your lap five seconds after I met you. And that Judah is TO DIE FOR.

      1. Stephanie

        Oh yes! I definitely agree with Danae! Just because we don’t use hormonal methods, doesn’t mean that we’re opposed to permanent methods at some point in the future. But most of us aren’t quite there yet. 🙂

  11. Nadine

    Hi…*waves* I am a member of CFPN (have been for over 3 years) and I missed the reunion and meeting you Marla. Which Im so disappointed about now, after reading this post and buying one of your e-books.

    CFPN is truly a safe place to talk about relationships, faith and of course non-hormonal birth control..or even for those who are using HBC and want to know more about FAM.

    I encourage anyone who is curious to pop on over!

  12. Kate

    I cannot wipe away the smile from my face nor the tears from my eyes. I am SO SO glad you came to speak to us, I am so lucky to of met you. THANK YOU for your article!!!

      1. Kate

        Hehehehehehe…. yeah what almost came out of my mouth was “Don’t worry we’ll still look you in the eye” but sometimes people don’t really get my sense of humor so I didn’t say it, although now that I know you a bit better I totally should have!

  13. Stephanie

    I’ll be back in the morning (it’s 9pm here in the CFPN office!) but just wanted to throw my hat into the ring right off the bat and say I’m more than happy to answer questions about the CFPN, and y’all can e-mail me at stephanie at christianfamilyplanning dot net.

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