I may owe my life to the Couple to Couple League. If not my own life, then at least the lives of a few of my siblings, and I would gladly trade my life for theirs.
I grew up knowing that my parents desired a large family. I remember my father being was asked about family size and answering with a straight face that he “hoped to have a large family someday.” Considering my place in the birth order, he would have had at least 9 children by the time I could remember such conversations.
But I also knew that my parents had not planned most of the pregnancies, and that at least a few of us were conceived at times when they were avoiding conception.
As a teenager I was quite frustrated with my mother because I thought that there was no option for family planning (or lack thereof) that met her standards. She thought it unwise for couples to simply have as many children as possible/natural for a very fertile woman. She also thought that hormonal birth control was evil, that condoms were highly questionable in many ways, and that NFP did not work especially well.
A few years later my mother came with me to hear Toni Weschler speak. As part of her presentation Weschler mentioned that in the case of highly fertile cervical fluid sperm can survive for 6-7 days. Afterwards my mother told me that this made all the difference. In the old Couple to Couple League materials they had underestimated sperm survival. This may have been fine for less fertile women, but it did not work for my mother. Years after giving birth to her last child my mother was finally convinced that NFP could work, provided that couples were given correct information.
Sperm carrying an X chromosome not only produce females, they are also tougher than Y chromosome sperm. They are better able to survive smoking, and extreme conditions. They are also able to live longer, given a highly fertile environment. And there are twice as many girls as boys in my family, including the one sibling whom I know for certain was a huge surprise.
I am not certain whether the Couple to Couple League has revised their information on sperm life for their new materials. It seems quite likely given the fact that there have been several revisions, both by the Kippleys and current directors of the organization. But I also know that some NFP groups believe that it is best to give the general life of a sperm in fertile cervical fluid (4-5 days) rather than the possible but unusual (6-7 days) because they want as many happy users as possible, and more couples are likely to struggle with additional abstinence than are likely to conceive from underestimating sperm life.
A few days ago I saw CCL’s workbook in a bookstore and was thrilled with what I saw in a quick flip-through. It helped solidify for me the fact that things have changed since the big book that I viewed (and hated) as the standard for Catholic NFP. As far as I can tell the Couple to Couple League has not yet changed enough for me to want to be involved directly. But I am quite happy that they are able to be what so many people need at this point, and I am optimistic that they will continue to change to better serve even more Catholics who really need to know about natural family planning.