Part four in a series of Kirsten Bublitz’ experience taking the Fifth Vital Sign classes through the Diocese of Phoenix Office of Natural Family Planning. Catch up on earlier articles. 

The other day I got excited after taking my temperature and noticing it had dropped from the previous day. It probably indicated that there’d been a drop of progesterone and that I’d be starting my cycle soon. I couldn’t help but smile, realizing that my body is becoming less of a mystery to me, thanks to the Fifth Vital Sign class I’ve been taking. This class is hitting me so hard because for so long, I didn’t understand my body.  

At the end of class four, we learned about signs of irregularities in the typical menstrual cycle. I related to so much: the painful periods, heavy bleeding, abnormally long cycles. During this section, Armida Escarcega, coordinator for the Office of Natural Family Planning, talked about how cycle irregularities affect other parts of our body. What really struck my heart was the relation between menstrual cycles and thyroid function. “Healthy weight and healthy menstrual cycles are dependent on thyroid function,” Escarcega said.  

For years I had a feeling that my under-active thyroid and my wacky menstrual cycle were related. Hearing this confirmation from Escarcega was the missing puzzle piece I didn’t know I needed.  

I have a love-hate relationship with my thyroid. It started in eighth grade when I suddenly gained an unusual amount of weight, even though my diet and exercise hadn’t changed. In the coming years, I visited multiple doctors, trying to figure out what was going on and wondering why no diet or exercise plan worked. I was eventually diagnosed with an autoimmune thyroid disorder and since then, have been on a journey to regulating my thyroid while also trying to find solutions to my abnormal periods, wondering if there was a connection. My thyroid and menstrual cycle have been in a good place the last year and a half, but that doesn’t magically wipe away all difficult years of trying to understand my body and feeling like it was failing me and it especially doesn’t wipe away the emotional turmoil of gaining weight when I was fourteen and struggling with loving my body ever since then.  

One thing I know for sure, is that the Lord has a plan for healing and restoration and taking the Fifth Vital Sign is a part of my healing journey. What I once thought was just a class to learn about Natural Family Planning has turned into something so much greater. It has turned into a place of encounter with the Lord’s goodness, where He’s shown me the beautiful signs my body gives me each day. All those years when I was frustratedly trying to understand my body, has made this class all the more powerful, because I know what it’s like to not know my body and to feel confused and hopeless. These classes have brought light into those dark places that still reside in my heart, where the Lord continues to heal.  

On this journey of healing, the Lord has recently invited me to envision fourteen-year-old Kirsten, the Kirsten who was heavier and confused and the Kirsten I often try to forget because of the shame I felt for how I looked back then. With taking this class, I have new language to tell old Kirsten when I visit her in prayer. Now, I can say to her, “Your body isn’t against you and although it appears broken, it’s trying to tell you something. For now, just know that your body is good even if you don’t understand it. Kirsten, one day you will start to learn the language of your body and that will be a glorious day.”  

The next series of Fifth Vital Sign classes will be 09/16, 09/30, 10/21, 11/18 and 12/02