Sunday, February 3, 2013

Snip Snip!

Hey gang!  I'm still recovering from my surgery last week, so I'm posting another guest post by my husband, Mike, instead of my usual What I Wore Sunday post.  If you like reading Mike's posts, he tries his best to post every Monday.  Give him some comment love for taking a stand against the big V and embracing NFP!!!


After my son Griffin was born I heard things like,

 "Hey Mike, you getting that taken care of now?" 

"You don't need any more because your family is perfect with your girl and boy." 

"Trust me, two kids is enough."

  "Are you done?"

We had a tough time with Griffin when he was born as he was the loudest kid ever (affirmed by the hospital staff), kept us up all hours of the night (not out of the ordinary for a baby), and was all together a giant handful (and he still is).  Vasectomy was a hot topic of conversation in our house at the time, and I kept trying to get my beautiful bride to agree to it. 

Kate:  No. 
Me:  Kate, I'll only be out of commission for a few days and back to normal. 
Kate:  No.  Mike, I don't want the door to be closed. 
Me:  Kate, I do!  I feel exhausted, and I'm done.
Kate:  I think you should go to confession.
Me:  What are they going to say to me?  It's not like they're going to pay for all of our kids!

You get the idea...

A little background is in order.

I can clearly remember the last conversation my father started regarding the Catholic Church's stance on contraception.  It was at my son Paul's the vestibule of the church.  I overheard my father say, "So we're sitting there in pre-cana, and the priest was through speaking about how bad contraception is.  So I said, 'Hey Father, if I have 10 kids is the church going to pay to have them all educated and cared for?"  He started this conversation with the Pro-Life director for the Knights of Columbus at our parish...who had 8 kids.

This was a speech I had heard at least 10 times while growing up.  As I grew older,  I understood the logic behind it, and, having been a cafeteria Catholic at the time, it sounded fine to me.  Contraception to me was normal and what normal and smart people used. 

After we were married, my beautiful bride wanted to use NFP.  Being an educated and normal person, my answer was unequivocally NO!  I used the same response that my father used to the priest when he was in pre-cana, and that was that. 

Most people I knew growing up were Catholic because they were born Catholic, not necessarily raised Catholic.  I went through all of the sacraments growing up and attended CCD every Saturday, but I really had no understanding of what was actually going on.  Going to church on Sunday was a chore (I thought), and i had no idea why I had to go.  I was so bored that I became an altar boy because if I had to be there, I might as well make the time go faster.  For the people I grew up with, I think this was a pretty similar sentiment.  Additionally, the last time I received reconciliation before I was the age of 31 was right before my confirmation..when I was 14.  Again, being a cafeteria Catholic, I wondered what a celibate priest, with no kids, was going to say to me.

In my teens and twenties, I definitely subscribed to the relativist theory of religion.  You know, God knows what I've done, and I'm okay with it because I'm doing my best, or He knows I'm a good person, or my favorite,  I believe in God, and that's good enough, so I don't have to believe/understand/follow what the church says.  At the end of the day, I was right, and I was wrong.  Being a libertarian, I would never force my will on anyone, and therefore, if people believe in moral relativity, good for them.  However, the church is absolutely a way to sanctification, and a real good one at that.

Hopefully I've shown why I might have been pushing for the big V.  Many of the men I knew had a vasectomy, and it seemed like the natural order in modern life.  Our son had us at our wits end, and I had grown up with the belief/knowledge that God would understand. 

During this time, I found myself asking some friends their opinions of vasectomy, and as a result,  I was growing conflicted.  One of my favorites was, "Mike, my mom goes to church EVERY DAY, and she said that God definitely wouldn't want you to have kids you couldn't take care of, so it's totally cool to get one."  That one in particular didn't sit right for me, but I wasn't sure why.

Right around the time my son was born I became a Knight of Columbus.  One of the first issues of the periodical for members discussed NFP and how one father wanted to have a vasectomy right after his second child was born.  The reason was because he was concerned about being able to provide for his family.  In the picture of him, his wife, and 4 children, there looked to be a real sense of peace.  Obviously, being a Catholic periodical, he didn't get the vasectomy.  Additionally, he spoke about how he and his wife had grown closer because of the use of NFP. 

Over the course of a few months, I had become more involved with the Knights and became their program director.  One of the men that came into my life was the man I spoke about earlier who my father had started the conversation with in the vestibule.  I became intrigued how a man in his 70's could be so full of life and not absolutely exhausted from having all of those kids and grand kids   One day he enlightened me, "Mike, they're not really yours; they're God's.  If He doesn't want you to have them, you won't.  If He does, you will, and you won't be able to stop it.  One way or another, He will either put children into your life or He won't."

Some of my previous posts have spoken about how simple suggestions can have a profound impact.  This was definitely one of those times.  Quite honestly, the word vasectomy from that time on made me cringe.  In fact, it now brings about a feeling of sorrow for those that have had it.  I almost feel like this is the continued emasculation of society, i.e. being fully a man is bad.  My son, Paul, would not have been born if I had gone through with it, and I can't imagine my life without him.  He was planned using NFP, and I now believe wholeheartedly in it.

Mike & Paul at the zoo

So in answers to my first questions:

"Hey Mike, you getting that taken care of now?"
What my fertility? NO!

"You don't need any more because your family is perfect with your girl and boy."
It's perfect now with more, and it might be even more perfect in the future.

"Trust me, two kids is enough."
I'm sure it is for your family.  We're not so sure; we might even go for four!

"Are you done?"
By the way, nothing infuriates me more than this question, like it's anyone else's (insert expletive) business.  NO, I think we're going to try and have a football team!!!

I'm going to close with two more things friends of ours said to me in regards to NFP and fertility-- 

"Mike, I really don't understand.  Fertility is this wonderful gift that we're given, and people treat it like it's some kind of disease that needs to be cured!"

"Mike, when God sends a baby, He also sends a loaf of bread.  Your baby will be taken care of, just put him in His hands."

our family


  1. Thank you for sharing this! I love reading the perspective and experiences of good, Catholic men. God bless you and your family.

  2. I am bookmarking this page to save for the day that I need to start the conversation that covers all of the things you talked about. Thank you!

  3. My wife and I didn't have your courage. Every one of our three kids was born prematurely, the second spent ten days in the NICU due to some difficulties with his respiratory tract (guess which one is the "Energizer Bunny" of the family now). My wife felt we were only playing a game of "baby roulette", just heading for an inevitable late term miscarriage or death shortly after birth. I'd already gone the latter route with a previous wife, it ain't fun. I told her that since I was returning to the Church I couldn't get the "big V", disapproved of voluntary sterilization for either of us. But I also mentioned I couldn't stop her doing what she'd choose.

    So the better half had her tubes tied after baby number 3. The wife converted to Catholicism about a year later. To tell the truth, there have been times she's mentioned missing taking care of a newborn. I'm still ambivalent, our two oldest are autistic (high functioning, mainstreamed into their classes) so life is fairly exciting in ways most folks don't get to enjoy. But whats done is done. Glad it's turned out so well for you and your family.

  4. Nice post Mike! I agree that it is highly irritating to hear comments like "are you done" It is no one's business, and I find it insulting.
    While I have never practiced NFP, the wiser mother in me now hopes that it will be more popular down the road. I pay extra $$ for hormone free meat and organic veggies..why would I want to be putting that crap in my body?? Hard to really embrace that at 20 when the alternative is earth shattering :)

    Rich was snipped last year, so we are done for the time being. However, I would applaud you and Kate for adding on..I hear once you've survived 3 you might as well have a 4th to even them out :)

    Much love,
    Kelly Taylor

  5. I love this post. Seeing families living out God's call to hope rather than fear is so uplifting!

  6. I think a lot of the debate about whether or not to have more kids centers around fear and our mistrust of God rather than around real problems. That is not to say it is the case for everyone...but I believe it is for most. Fear that you won't be able to provide...fear that you can't handle one more...fear that the baby will be born with disabilities....fear that there will be yet another miscarriage...etc etc. If we give ourselves fully to the Divine Will we would be more open to life as a society. God might understand where we our coming from....but that doesn't mean it will be pleasing to Him. Kids are tough to handle, no question. But the joy they give are truly priceless- and speaking for myself, that includes the price of a parent's self-sacrifice. :-)

  7. A British medical journal (Lancet) published an article indicating the possiblity of significantly higher prostate cancer risk for men who have had a vasectomy.

    How many men are told that by their doctors?

  8. Such a great input! We are a young Catholic family pregnant with baby number five. It is so nice to know people are out there who see family as a blessing not a curse. It is frustrating meeting people who view your family as a circus! Thanks again!

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  10. Our experience is the opposite.

    Growing up, I knew my mother and her now ex-husband used condoms, so I assumed that's how responsible people prevented pregnancy. (I know now the actual situation was much more complicated, thus the EX-husband.) I thought NFP was a great idea when I first heard about it, because you knew when you didn't need to use anything. Sterilization always seemed a bit drastic to me, because then you can't change your mind.

    She, however, was taught that women need contraception and sterilization to have control over their bodies, or they will constantly be barefoot and pregnant. She hated condoms. She hated the idea of NFP because it meant that she would be giving up that control and would be at the mercy of her body. She believed that Catholic Church's insistence on linking sex and procreation was anti-sex and anti-woman.

    What changed her mind was realizing that her birth control was harming her health. We had one of the biggest fights in our marriage over this. Approaching NFP from a secular feminist/women's health perspective allowed her to see that it really was good for women and it really could prevent pregnancy.

    We haven't had any more children, but she's gained a new appreciation for her body and feels so much better. Our love life has improved, too, which was the biggest surprise.

    I think too much talk about the spiritual side of NFP scares a lot of people away from it. People think it's only a "Catholic thing", and it isn't. It really is a highly effective, healthy method of family planning that can stand on its own merits. It can help a marriage, no matter how many children you have.