As a friend said, “This evening was an unqualified success.” It really was. I laughed and told someone that you know the Holy Spirit is in charge when you can get nine doctors together on the same evening! It’s hard enough to get ONE to come someplace, but NINE? Come Holy Spirit! There were 20 of us total for the evening, a beautiful mixture of medical professionals (doctors, nurses, physician assistants, fertility care practitioners, etc) in a variety of fields (Family Medicine, OBGYN, Orthopedic Surgery, Pharmacy), with varying years of experience (from 20+ years in the field to others in their first year of residency), and we were about a 50/50 split between those who were already affiliated with Creighton Model NFP and NaPro Technology and those that were either interested in learning more so they could become affiliated, or those who were open to learning about what Creighton and NaPro were all about. We got together around 7:30pm and had about 45 minutes of social time with drinks and desserts before heading into the presentation portion of the evening. Dr. Parker, my NaPro OBGYN from Ohio was in town and had agreed to present Creighton/NaPro and his personal journey and we were so blessed that he did. It was a powerful and very moving story of his journey to an NFP only practice. It was certainly an evening of hope. Presenting medically sound, scientifically-supported authentic women’s health care that has incredible documented results not only in the areas of postponing pregnancy (99.5% effective..the same or better than the pill) but also in the area of achieving pregnancy. Especially in the areas of infertility, the results are amazing (pregnancy rates that are 30-40% greater than IVF treatments...and a fraction of the cost). It was wonderful to hear Dr. Parker share the information from an OBGYNs perspective, and relate to his medical colleges the history of where he had been, why he decided to look into Creighton/NaPro, and what brought about his conversion to a Natural Family Planning Only practice.
Following his presentation, we had some questions and conversations as a group and I really appreciated the courage of the medical professionals present to ask the questions that were most on their minds. I cannot tell you how much I appreciate their willingness to come to the event, to be open to learning more and to asking the questions which are most pressing in their minds. It was a beautiful evening! I think we were done around 9:45, but the last guests left the house at 11:45pm!!! They just kept conversing, swapping business cards and networking! People just didn’t seem to want to leave! I think that we could all sense that something special was happening.
There were so many aspects of the evening that struck me, I’ll list just a few:
· The opportunity to network. The Creighton docs supporting those interested in learning more, and especially those in residency...that they would have contacts who have “gone before them” and can help give them a hand a long the way. The doctors who had been “in the business” for awhile, reaching out to the residents to encourage and support them.
· Hearing one of the young residents talk about how they wanted to have an NFP-only practice when they were done with residency. It was so exciting to know that there is fresh blood coming in to the NFP-only medical community!!!
· Dr. Parker talking about his family and six children saying, “We have to get past the mentality that I have six children because the Creighton Method failed [in preventing pregnancy]. I have six children because the method worked.” And this is a huge point when talking to those that do not respect large families. They can’t imagine why anyone would want more than one or two children...so clearly the youngest four children in the Parker family must have been accidents where the Creighton method failed. On the contrary he said. He has six children because each one was wanted and the method helped he and his wife to conceive them. This really is a huge point.
· Dr. Parker talking about how he had resisted making the decision to no longer prescribe birth control and do sterilizations, (and thus move to an NFP-only practice) because he didn’t want to force his morality on his patients….Then one day he realized, why was he allowing his patients to force their morality on him? He was allowing them to dictate what he did. If they still wanted birth control or something else, they could always go find it somewhere else...he had to make the choice to be faithful to what he knew to be true.
· Dr. Holly, a Family Medicine Doctor/Creighton Medical Consultant from Fort Wayne connecting with Dr. Parker. Previously, Dr. Holly had referred his patients to Omaha to Pope Paul VI Institute to see Dr. Hilgers. But now that he’s met Dr. Parker, perhaps he will be able to refer some of his patients to them? It’s a lot closer and the wait time for surgery is about half that of what it is to get into Omaha! These are the types of connections that were awesome to watch Friday night.
· Dr. Parker talked about how it was the prompting and encouragement of his patients that lead him to look into Creighton/NaPro. He said that patients would come bring him information about Creighton/NaPro and he would put it in his white coat pocket, and then later dump it on his desk, of course never reading it. Finally he agreed to go to Omaha and look into it all further. At the end of the first night, he was moved to tears and the conversion had begun. What struck me about this was that it was the encouragement, prompting and insistence of the patients that really made the difference for him. Why is this important to me? Because I think those of us who are in the Creighton/NaPro family really do owe it to our medical professionals to encourage them to look into this. Why don’t more doctors know about this? Because no one has told them. Creighton/NaPro certainly isn’t being taught in medical school (why? I have no idea.), and thus, we have to stand in that gap. We need to host events like this, help make introductions, and foster a community. If you are interested in hosting an event similar to ours in your community, let me know and I’ll help you set it up!
· I was struck by pressures that doctors face when they decide to stop prescribing birth control and go to an NFP only practice. Instead of understanding that doctors are doing this to promote better health in their patients (see Dr. Parker’s letter to patients), many look at them as if they are somehow denying care to the women they see. How contrary that is to the truth. If every woman knew about birth control what she deserved to know (see What a Woman Should Know about Birth Control), I don’t think many would be on it anymore. And I say this not from a moral or religious or ethical point of view, but merely from a health point of view. If women could truly see that Creighton Model NFP is JUST AS or MORE SO effective than the pill (Creighton is 99.5% effective), that it costs a fraction of the cost (I pay $2.00 for six months of charting supplies), that it is HEALTHY for them, and that using Creighton would actually strengthen their marriages!!!! … if women truly grasped this, it would change our world forever! But yet somehow, there is this cloud and fog over the concept of NFP. I think many mistakenly view it as old fashioned, scientifically-lacking and confuse it with the Calendar Method or the Rhythm Method which were not effective at all. Creighton is different. There is a reason they talk about it “Unleashing the Power of a Woman’s Cycle.” It deserves to be looked into by doctors and patients alike. And for those of us who already understand the power, beauty and truth of NFP, we must pray that others will be open to learning more and to understanding, and especially for our doctors...that they would have the courage to be faithful to the truth and to their calling as instruments of God’s healing! Especially close to my heart are those married couples who are both doctors...when one is ready to embrace NFP-only and the other is still resisting...we must continue to pray for them in a special way.
· Dr. Parker sharing that I was the 9th woman he had done this surgery on, and that 6 of the nine were already pregnant...he shared his hopes that I would be the 7th shortly. Me too. :)
The evening really was incredible. Those are just a few of the highlights and I probably could keep on going! Doctors came from Fort Wayne and Michigan (driving 2+ hours to get here), the Co-Directors for the Office of Family Life came as well to encourage learn and support….it really was an amazing evening. As we were wrapping up the evening, numerous guests thanked me profusely for hosting the evening and said, “we have to do this again.” Don’t worry folks...another is already in the planning! :) My prayer is to do something similar to this every 3 months, to keep networking, to keep learning, to keep encouraging, to keep supporting, to keep growing together in truth.
Thank you to all of you who prayed for this evening and for those that would come. The real work is now beginning as the medical professionals return to their practices and consider how they will respond to all that they heard and experienced! My prayer is that we will soon have a NaPro Center for Women’s Health here in South Bend. You think I’m crazy? Why not? With God all things are possible! :)
"For human beings this is impossible, but for God all things are possible."