Q. Before we learn about your family and how you came to be an NFP-only physician, let’s hear about your family’s decision to take a year to sail on a catamaran!
A: Well that was all God! My husband was in a bad car accident in 2015 and it really made us re-evaluate our busy lives and how much time we spent working and away from our kids. We asked God for guidance and my husband had a crazy dream to “Boat School” for a year to spend quality time with the kids and focus on classical and experiential learning. I couldn’t believe it when during my devotion time over the last two years, I kept reading verses about “come follow me”, “sell your possessions”, “give to the poor”. I remember throwing my bible on one occasion after resisting these messages for so long. We lived in a beautiful home and had a wonderful community of family and friends. I loved my work at Hackley Community Care, so I was no doubt resistant, but had to admit, it sounded really exciting too! We wondered and prayed how God could use us for His glory during our sabbatical and Kyle heard “NFP by Sea”. We were already Billings Ovulation Method teachers and were teaching couples through our church and online. Fertility awareness and human dignity are game-changing ideas we are passionate about and want to share.
Q. Where are you now, what’s the next stop and how can we follow your adventures?
A. We are currently in Grenada, a small island in the southern Caribbean. We purchased a damaged boat here and have been fixing it up. As soon as we get the boat seaworthy (early 2020) we plan to head north through the Caribbean on our way to the US. While working on the boat we have been teaching the Billings Method to our local parish and even held a workshop for local women at the Missionaries of Charity. You can follow our adventure on our blog at nfpbysea.com and Facebook at NFP by Sea."
Q. Tell us about your family.
A. Kyle and I have been married 15 years. We have six beautiful children, Kyla 13, Charlie 10, Emily 8, Peter 5, Thomas 2, and we’re expecting a little girl in February who will likely be born right here on the boat in Grenada. Our midwife, Laura Slater, has agreed to come for the delivery.
Q. When did you first start thinking about becoming a doctor? How did you decide on being a Doctor of Osteopathy and what is your specialty?
A: This started after I became pregnant as a teenager and God lead me to release for open adoption my beautiful daughter, Alyssa Danielle. While I am her birth mother, her mother, Pam, mentored me during college and encouraged me to seek a career in medicine. I felt I could help prevent teen pregnancy and help other low-income mothers realize God’s love for them and plan for their children.
I was planning on attending a medical school near Kyle, but I decided on osteopathy after having a great experience with my chiropractor who encouraged me to seek a career as a doctor of osteopathy (D.O.) to get the additional manual medicine training.
My medical specialty is family medicine and obstetrics. I have a special interest in restorative reproductive medicine which I credit to my training that started in the Billings Extension Course and then continued with my training with Pilar Vigil, MD (OB/GYN and Reproductive Endocrinologist) and her Reproductive Health Research Institute.
Q. What transpired to cause you to practice medicine without the use of contraception.
A: As a new doctor, I truly believed the way to help teens prevent pregnancy was to encourage them in chastity but to also provide birth control to help them prevent pregnancy if they failed in that virtue. With an unplanned pregnancy I would then encourage adoption as I had been so blessed by this life-giving option. However, if they wanted to parent or “choose abortion” I would refer them for whatever their choice was. Wow was I shocked to see the harm I was causing. The side effects and poor efficacy of the birth control methods I prescribed was disheartening. I went into medicine to “first do no harm” and to help people and was particularly passionate about women’s health. Why were so many women having awful side effects from their chosen method of contraception? Why were they so broken from the abortions that were supposed to “help them” in their desperate situation? I felt as though God stopped me in my tracks as He did for St. Paul on the road to Damascus. We learned a sympto-thermal method when we got married. I didn't know about Billings until I was in my Creighton training.
Q. How did you come to be one of our Billings teachers?
A: Because I worked in the underserved population of Muskegon, MI, I needed an easy, simple and effective method of Natural Family Planning that I could reasonably teach in an office visit. God lead me to one of my dear friends, Cynthia DeKuiper, who said, “you should teach the Billings Method”. So, my first step was to learn it myself. It was the best and most simple method I had ever seen! It had worked great for us … no side effects, no unplanned pregnancies. It was something we did together, it strengthened our marriage. Why wasn’t I sharing the beauty of this knowledge of our bodies with my patients?
Cynthia also mentioned that Mother Teresa had taught this to over 16,000 woman and couples in Calcutta, India when the government was forcing sterilizations. Due to its effectiveness, the Indian government agreed that if they learned this method they would not be sterilized against their will. The amazing Christy and Paul Brown, D.O. were the ones who taught us and their passion was contagious. Christy is now a fellow board member.
Q. As a board member, you will play a role in moving us forward. Tell us what you think we have to offer that is unique and how can we spread the word more effectively?
A: The Billings Ovulation Method (BOM) is the most simple, effective method of NFP in my opinion. It is highly effective in preventing pregnancy and in achieving pregnancy, particularly for couples struggling with infertility. It can be learned within one hour and implemented immediately. Busy women and couples love the ease of Billings. And, the data on its effectiveness and continuation rates speak for itself! It can be used throughout a woman’s reproductive lifetime and, my favorite, it helps women monitor their reproductive health.
As a board member, I would like to join forces with FACTS (an organization that specializes in reaching medical professionals about all Natural Family Planning methods) and I will encourage all national NFP organizations to get the CDC (Centers for Disease control) website updated to reflect the current research differentiating calendar/rhythm method from Billings Ovulation Method and others that are highly effective methods of Fertility Awareness. Then the woman and couples will come to us!
As BOMA-USA teachers, I encourage you to visit local doctors in your area to share the research on BOM and present it as the best option for avoiding or achieving pregnancy and inform them that you are available for referrals. Also, you should consider offering to teach engaged couples at local churches, Catholic and Protestant.
Q. Part of our outreach in a lot of ways involves an app that many of our teachers utilize when working with couples remotely. Is that something you have added to your practice, particularly now that you are planning to be sailing?
Yes! NFPcharting.com has been a great help to me in working with patients remotely. I would love to collaborate on ways to improve the app in order to help with interpretations. Then, I can see developing a referral system, so the women go back to their medical provider when issues are recognized on the chart. Many couples are finding free apps on the internet which are not Billings-specific. While an option for a free app could help promote learning and keep us competitive with other methods, I am very thankful that the developer of NFPCharting, Lawson Culver, is a very generous, faithful monthly donor to BOMA. He also gives Billings teachers free access to the charting software. So, I would not want to get in the way of our unique partnership.
Q. What advice do you have for Billings people when they promote what we have to offer to medical people?
A: My favorite feature as a physician is that Billings helps in diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions such as neuroendocrine disruptions like thyroid disease, PCOS, heavy and/or painful periods, infertility, endometriosis, and much more. My vision is that ALL women will learn Fertility Awareness when they first start their cycles as adolescents and then trained medical professionals will use their chart in the diagnosis and treatment, getting to the root cause of the problem instead of using the poor Band-Aid solutions of hormonal contraception, that many times cause more harm than good.
As teachers we can promote Billings as science-based, natural (no drugs), better for the environment, and morally acceptable in all cultures.
BOMA-USA provides education and training for The Billings Ovulation Method® which is a natural method of fertility management that teaches you to recognize the body's natural signs of fertility.