from users of the Sympto-Thermal Method taught by Serena:
Bill and Grace - Ontario:
When we were engaged, my future husband suggested we check out Serena method of natural family planning. I was impressed with both my future husband and the method. It was in “tune” with our faith, it was natural and didn't rely on pills or chemicals, and it wasn't just the female’s “problem”. It also promoted a courtship honeymoon relationship that coincided with every month’s cycle.
I found that it was great to know my body and the relationship between the cycle and my emotions. Our teacher couple was very supportive while we were learning about the method and was able to answer many questions from us. After we were married, and had used the method for about a year, we were asked to consider becoming a teacher couple. We were open to do so, and took the training and the exam to become a certified teacher couple. We were grateful for the extra knowledge and also the fellowship with, and the support from, other teacher couples.
We’re also grateful to Serena for the organizational support they provide at both the provincial and national levels. As well, Serena also has a tremendous amount of medical knowledge that serves as the foundation for the method.
Natural family planning through Serena has been very beneficial to our marriage as a way of life and by helping us avoid as well as achieve pregnancies, assisting us through breastfeeding periods, and through pre-menopause. We highly recommend it to anyone seeking a natural way to plan their family.
Mary and Wesley - BC:
My husband and I have been using the Sympto-Thermal method taught to us by Serena B.C for almost three years now. We've found it helpful and effective for so many things. I have very irregular periods, with the Sympto-Thermal method I finally know when my periods are going to be ahead of time so I'm prepared. For two years we used this method as birth control before deciding to have our daughter. Since we knew when I ovulated thanks to the charts provided by Serena we knew exactly when she was conceived which helped us determine an accurate due date for her. This made it easy to fill out paper work for the doctor when I was pregnant. She was born only two days before the due date we determined using her conception date. The charts provided by Serena B.C were easy to use and follow. For myself I find it incredibly empowering to know what my body is telling me, to be able to take charge of my fertility and periods without relying on something artificial or hormonal. My husband and I both like that it is a natural, effective way to plan our family without any possible unwanted side effects. We both have and would recommend this method to other couples.
Jean and Janelle - Manitoba:
A few months before our wedding date, we took Serena’ s course on Natural Family Planning (or NFP for short). Our wedding day was May 3rd, 2003; from that day on, we used NFP as a couple to both avoid and achieve pregnancies. During the first two years of our marriage we avoided a pregnancy in order to allow Janelle the opportunity to complete her college degree. Then, when the time came to expand our family, we used this same fertility knowledge to determine the best time to try to conceive. Thanks to help from Serena’s method of NFP, we have four wonderful children, Jérémie (eight years old), Charité (six years old), Thomas (five years old), and our newest addition, Sophia, who will soon be turning one year old.
Our initial decision to use NFP was straight forward. Both of us were versed in our church’s teachings on love, family, and our sexual nature. But prior to marriage, most of this information was theoretical. In our years of marriage, we’ve experienced firsthand the beauty and the richness of these theoretical teachings in the practical application of NFP to our married life. We’ve discovered that NFP is not just a technical reproductive planning tool; using NFP actually engenders a whole sexual “way of life” and presents a fresh perspective on human fertility. As a couple, we stand in reverent awe of the powerful gift of fertility that has been granted to us. This way of life has taught us to have deep respect for both the joy of our sexual relationship and the fertility of our bodies.
For couples who are not trying to conceive, using NFP requires a time of sexual abstinence every cycle. At the beginning of our marriage, dealing with this was challenging, but we soon learned to use these times of abstinence to diversify our expressions of love and make them more creative. For example, we make more time for walks and bike ridges together, as well as movie nights, game nights, and quiet “talk-time”. The sacrifices required in using NFP have increased our ability to be self-giving, loving, and caring people. Our sacrifices end up being rewarded at the end of that time of abstinence, when we get to experience a new “honeymoon” as we come together again in that sexual relationship.
The past few years have been an ongoing education for us, as we have delved deeper into theoretical and practical documents about marriage, family, love, and sex. Also, we have become involved as volunteers with Serena. Since 2009, we have been teaching Serena’s course on NFP every second month at Winnipeg’s Misericordia hospital. We serve as members on Serena Manitoba’s board of directors, and we have had the privilege these past two four years of serving as the president couple for the national organization, Serena Canada. We hope to continue to be involved with this worthwhile effort for many years to come.
Roy and Dianne - BC:
Roy & I were married in 1963 and planned to have 10 children. Our first son David, was born in November 1964. Our second son Robbie was born in November 1965. In November 1966, our third son Michael was born and died at about the 20th week of pregnancy – looking so beautiful and the image of his brothers.
It was then I decided that I probably needed to regain some strength before having more babies. We decided that it was a good time to adopt a baby and at that time, Vancouver Catholic Charities was looking for adoptive parents for Native Children. We adopted our newborn son Paul, in June 1967.
I had trained as a registered nurse before we were married, and was aware of a page in my obstetrics book that advised women who were wanting to become pregnant, to take their temperature to determine the time of ovulation. In the brief, two or so paragraphs on the method, it mentioned that they might notice a mucus discharge at the time of ovulation. So, I reasoned that if I added the length of the sperm life and the egg life together, and added a couple of days, I would be able to calculate the infertile period of a cycle.
To my delight, it worked very well. Roy was quite agreeable to the method, as we both wanted to live according to the Teachings of the Church. When I told the doctor what we were doing he said “It’s the Rhythm Method, Russian Roulette – It won’t work!” I just smiled.
In 1968, we were asked to be group home parents for a home run by Catholic Charities in Vancouver. So, we took our 3 kids (under 4 years old) and moved into a group home with 5 teenage boys. This was a 24 hour a day, 7 days a week and 30 days a month job with no breaks, unless we hired somebody to relieve us. Roy worked at his regular job, so it was very demanding, and after several months we took two of the teenage boys with us and moved into our own house again.
All this time, my method of NFP was working very well.
In 1969, we decided we needed a baby girl. So, after informing relatives and friends, who were becoming quite alarmed at the rate of growth of our family, that we wanted to have another baby, I got pregnant with Marie who was born in February 1970.
When anyone would ask me about family planning, I would explain about taking your temperature, but add, “I’m lucky, I have this mucus discharge and I can go by that.”
We moved to Prince George BC in 1970, and our friend there, Bishop O’Grady, was very interested in what I knew about NFP. He told me about Serena and sent me to meet Marie-Paul Doyle from Serena, who was giving a presentation in the Archdiocese of Vancouver. Bishop O’Grady also sent me to California to learn about the Billings Method.
Roy & I became a teacher couple for Serena and Bishop O’Grady had us give talks to all the priests in the Diocese and asked us to go to most of the towns from Prince Rupert to Fort St. John to give talks in the parishes. Bishop O’Grady asked us to talk to students in his high school, (Prince George College, later named O’Grady Catholic High School) and also at the teen camps at Camp Morice. We trained several teacher couples. One couple, Richard & Vicki Braun has been very involved with the Couple to Couple League in the US for many years.
In 1971, we thought that Marie was a bit outnumbered with 3 big brothers and 2 even bigger teenage brothers and needed a sister. So, after announcing to everyone our plan, son Tommy was born in 1972.
Still hoping for a girl, I miscarried a baby in 1975. It was then that we decided that if we were to have another girl, we probably should adopt one. Teresa came to us at 11 months old in 1977. She was deaf and we were told she would never hear anything softer than loud drum beats. After a week, I was sure she could hear, and after having her tested found that she could indeed hear. Her hearing disability resulted from an allergy to cow’s milk – we were living on an acreage and were drinking goat’s milk!
By this time, our foster sons had moved out, and we thought our family of six children was complete. Surprise! Surprise! Teresa at 6 years old decided that she needed a baby sister. Being over 40 years old, I told her “Teresa! You are my baby!” But, every day, beginning in July, she would try to convince me that we should have a baby sister for her. My answer was always the same. I thought this was very strange, because she had never before told me she wanted a sister, and now, it was every day without fail.
By December, especially after visiting a family who had just had their 12th baby, I was beginning to think that maybe it would be a good idea to have another baby.
Early in January, we had a phone call from a very sheepish social worker saying that she didn’t really know how to ask me, but we had an adopted child whose mother had just had a baby. (Teresa must have somehow known she had a sister on the way!) Since they try to keep siblings together, the social worker wanted to know if we would adopt the baby. She didn’t know if it was a boy or a girl. It was a Friday night, and the social worker needed to know by Monday if we would take the baby. I hung up the phone and called Roy. “Would you like a glass of wine?”
We adopted Catherine in January 1983, and she added a whole new dimension to our lives. Her birth mother had been using drugs and alcohol while she was pregnant for which Catherine has paid a terrible price. We have shared her suffering and learned so much from her! I don’t know what we would have done without our Catherine!
We have now been married 50 years. We used NFP for all our fertile married years without any unplanned pregnancies. While teaching about the other methods of contraception, I was always so grateful that we didn’t have to use any of them, ever. How blessed we have been!