By Anne Marie Stroud, originally published in Family Foundations Magazine
With all of the changes surrounding new life, a woman’s postpartum cycle can often be overlooked and misunderstood, leading to confusion and frustration. Rose MacKenzie shares with us why she’s passionate about helping postpartum couples regain confidence on their Natural Family Planning journey.
Anne Marie: Tell us about your backstory and how you came to be a Couple to Couple League instructor and FSI Coach.
Rose: I’m the youngest of nine so I was exposed to and witnessed my parents and my older siblings living out authentic Catholic marriages. Conversations about God’s plan for marriages and families and how that is beautifully displayed in our bodies made NFP a normal part of growing up. Two of my brothers were NFP (CCL) instructors so I was exposed to conversations about mucus, breastfeeding, and childbirth.
I became a nurse because I wanted to combine my amazement with God’s beautiful design of the human body with wanting to help people. I thought empowering couples to understand their fertility and live out God’s plan for their sexuality would be a great way to give back. Since my husband is an amazing teacher, it seemed logical to combine his teaching ability and humor with my passion for helping, so we became a teaching couple through Couple to Couple League in 2015.
Anne Marie: When did you get involved and start using Marquette? and why?
Rose: After my third baby, I had a friend who was also postpartum learning Marquette and contemplating becoming an instructor and I was interested to learn more. I incorporated tracking my hormones using the Marquette method until my cycles returned. Once back in regular cycles, I continued tracking mucus and temperature with the addition of LH test strips to confirm my mucus peak. I view becoming a dual trained instructor as a great way to help more couples, who may, for various reasons, want to begin tracking their hormones directly with urine samples.
Anne Marie: What are you most passionate about, within the realm of your teaching?
Rose: Helping couples navigate uncertainty and giving them the confidence to know what is happening with their bodies. Postpartum women often have times of uncertainty because at first there are no landmarks to track and then as their cycles return they may be different than before baby. Helping couples understand the role of estrogen before their first cycle and what to expect during their first couple of transition cycles gives many couples peace of mind that what they are experiencing is normal.
I love the “aha!” moment when the man has a whole new appreciation for the woman’s body and what it’s capable of and how it works so well without us really doing anything to have it do that! It’s beautiful to see the love of the husband. Men I’ve worked with ask all the time, “How can I be involved?” It’s like breastfeeding – the man can’t do it but he definitely can be that supporter and how involved he is makes all the difference. Having couples feel confident in what is going on in a new season of life – that’s what I love.
Anne Marie: In your passion for working with postpartum couples, how have you seen changes in lives and marriages?
Rose: I have seen couples bond together to work through difficult times, couples empowered to seek additional help, and new found confidence continuing to use NFP while postpartum.
Anne Marie: As a nurse you probably encounter people who question your choice to teach NFP. How do you explain NFP?
Rose: It is effective, it does not disrupt your hormones, and it doesn’t affect your milk supply, removing the worry about hormones being excreted in your breast milk. By tracking your hormones you can see when your fertility is starting to come back, giving you a lot more information than if you just were to take birth control, which covers up the fertile signs – then you have no idea when your fertility is returning or if it’s returning.
NFP is a team sport and Dads can get involved. Husbands can participate taking and/or registering temperatures. They can also transfer data from monitors to charts. Some even get results from urine test strips and add them to chart data.
Anne Marie: How has teaching and coaching NFP with CCL impacted you personally?
Rose: I have learned that everyone has their own NFP cross or struggle living out God’s perfect design for sexuality. That cross might be the one of being, as we like to call it, hyper-fertile, where you feel like you get pregnant easily, all the way to the other extreme, where the couple can’t get pregnant for years and years. We all know stories of those women that have taken ten or twelve years to get pregnant and then everybody in between – those couples that have two kids and they can’t get pregnant again, or the couple that has recurrent miscarriages over and over again…so I have come to know I need to meet people where they are at, because I have no idea what might be a struggle for them. My goal is getting to know what they need, meeting them where they’re at.
Anne Marie: What would you say to the couple who is really struggling postpartum?
Rose: Seek out additional support and resources! Don’t just keep struggling with what you have been doing! It’s never too late to get resources and help! I love empowering couples with knowledge and giving resources. I encourage couples to check out CCL and FSI’s Postpartum Place, NFP or postpartum support groups, contact a lactation consultant, consider marriage counseling, and read Theology of the Body books such as Holy Sex by Dr. Popcak. In the end, a couple may need more than a NFP instructor and they should seek additional resources.
Rose received her nursing degree from Saginaw Valley State University in 2011. She has been a certified CCL STM teacher since 2015 and also received her certification in Marquette University NFP Method and in Standard Day Method of NFP in 2020. Rose lives in Michigan with her husband and her three beautiful children.