83. Wholeness, Fertility Awareness, and Reverencing Our Bodies — with Bridget Busacker

Bridget Busacker, seen here with her daughter Felicity, is the founder of Managing Your Fertility.

About the episode | Listen to the episode | Meet Bridget Busacker | Episode transcript

About the episode

"This is going beyond just knowing our cycles and loving our bodies, but loving who we are as persons and recognizing the person in front of us." When Bridget Busacker got engaged, she and her now-husband started looking for a natural family planning method to start them off. But the research process showed that this wasn't as simple as they thought. Wanting to take action in the fertility awareness space, she co-founded Managing Your Fertility, a one-stop shop for women to learn more about and compare different NFP methods. Her hope is to build out the space and make an impact in women's health, not only for herself, but for her daughters and future generations.

In this episode, Bridget and I talk about how she became interested in charting and fertility awareness, how she started Managing Your Fertility, and how becoming a mother empowered her to jump head first into this work full-time.

Listen to the episode

Meet Bridget Busacker

Bridget Busacker is founder of Managing Your Fertility, an online, one-stop shop of fertility awareness resources for women and couples. She has her master’s degree in Health Communication from the University of Minnesota, is a Certified Professional Project Manager (CPPM) through the University of St. Thomas, and graduate of the Archbishop Flynn Catechetical Institute of The Seminaries of St. Paul. Bridget is on a mission to fuse the science of Fertility Awareness Based Methods (FABMs) and Theology of the Body (TOB) into the everyday practice of NFP. She is passionate about women’s health and sex education that promotes the dignity of the human person by integrating a holistic approach to self-knowledge of the body. Bridget's favorite work of all is being wife to David and mama to one little girl and another on the way!


Website: managingyourfertility.com

Instagram: @managingyourfertility

Facebook: /managingyourfertility

Managing Your Fertility on Apple Podcasts and Spotify

Episode transcript

00:00 MUSIC

00:10 RACHEL WONG: This is The Feminine Genius Podcast, a podcast that celebrates all women of God and their unique genius. I'm your host, Rachel Wong.

00:20 MUSIC

00:30 RACHEL: When Bridget Busacker got engaged, she and her now-husband started looking for a natural family planning method to start them off. But the research process showed that this wasn't as simple as they thought. Wanting to take action in the fertility awareness space, she co-founded Managing Your Fertility, a one-stop shop for women to learn more about and compare different NFP methods. Her hope is to build out the space and make an impact in women's health, not only for herself, but for her daughters and future generations.

In this episode, Bridget and I talk about how she became interested in charting and fertility awareness, how she started Managing Your Fertility, and how becoming a mother empowered her to jump head first into this work full-time.

01:18 MUSIC

01:28 RACHEL: Hi Bridget!

01:29 BRIDGET BUSACKER: Hi, Rachel. Good to be with you.

01:31 RACHEL: Good to be with you as well! Thanks for joining me on The Feminine Genius Podcast. I'm so excited to chat with you. I know that we chatted, not too long ago, from the time that we're recording this, so it's just great to be with you today. Maybe for those listeners who are tuning in who may not know you, I was wondering for you to introduce yourself and share a little bit about what you do right now.

01:51 BRIDGET: Absolutely. My name is Bridget Busacker. I'm founder of Managing Your Fertility. It's an online one-stop shop with fertility awareness resources for women and couples. So I actually left my other part-time job to focus solely on Managing Your Fertility, and it's been a real joy just in walking with women and helping them understand how their bodies work, encouraging them to chart, and just being able to expand the conversations around fertility awareness and natural family planning. And then my favourite and most important job is wife to David and mama to Felicity, and we actually have another little girl on the way, which we're really excited about! So that's just been a joy to be in a space of work from home and stay-at-home mom. It's a, it's a juggle, there are days that are challenging but it's a serious gift to be able to do both!

02:35 RACHEL: Absolutely, and I can imagine that, you know, the work that you do right now with charting and NFP and Manage Your Fertility, which... Managing Your Fertility, excuse me! I know that probably those really go hand in hand, just because it takes a lot to get to that place where you can start your family, it's a journey that starts probably right at the moment that you get engaged, and maybe even before then, so I can't wait to dive into that with you, and I am so excited to hear about your growing family! That's so beautiful!

03:05 BRIDGET: Thank you, thank you!

03:07 RACHEL: Awesome, okay. So, Bridget, I'd love to hear your personal faith journey, and thinking about how you've come to know Christ in the way that you do now, just because I'm noting that, you know, you do this business, and obviously you're a wife, you're a mother, but you also have this Catholic side to you, of course. So yeah, anything that you'd like to share about that. 03:30 BRIDGET: I love this question because it really helps me to reflect and see, okay, where has God been living in my life, and He's moved quite a bit. I think, if I had to summarize the journey, and it's not done! [laughs] But it's a journey to wholeness. I think that's something that I've desired for a long time.

I was raised Catholic, cradle Catholic, oldest of four kids. My parents were very involved in our church, we actually lived across the street from our church growing up. And one of the highlights when we had moved when I was nine was that I could see the priests' dining room and they waved to me when we first moved in and they were eating dinner and I couldn't believe it! And so I think they were, my parents are so good about just involving us in community life, church life. But high school was a really hard time for me, and just that transition of really trying to figure out if my faith is my own or not. And I know that story is something that many have struggled with. I had two really great friends who were, and are, very strong Baptist-Protestants, and their faith was really what, I think, helped me hold on to mine because I was really struggling with, is this my own? Is this my family's? What does it really mean to give my life to God or not? And I think I just had a lot of fear around it at that time, and I really didn't know if it would mean I would lose friends, if I would be popular or not, I think that was always kind of on my heart, is I want to be popular. And I didn't really vocalize that until, I think you know, in the past couple of years realizing, wow, I had this sense of wanting to belong, so deeply. And I really wanted it to fit in with my face and have friends when we were all striving towards the same goal of sanctity, of sainthood, and challenging each other.

So in college, I found out that my housing had fallen through, my high school boyfriend have broken up with me. Some of my friends we just create a distance just in choices they were making, they weren't choices that I wanted to make. And I remember just this intense feeling of loneliness, but also a sense of rebuilding. That this was an opportunity that I could give it one more shot, or I could walk away. And I had a really intense experience and confession and I went and I was like, "I feel like a mess. And I really need help in this space, Lord, and so I'm going to give you one last shot and I need you to do something, otherwise like this is it. I'm not going to do this anymore." And thank God I didn't realize the power of that prayer because it was such a bold prayer and I'm so grateful that, for whatever reason, that was the prayer that just like brought me to my knees, because He moved, and it was really a space where I think I was finally in a position of receptivity.

And so, I ended up starting a young adults group at my church, because I was living at home, I still lived across the street from my church. I was a 10 minute ride from campus, I was actually really close. I ended up building really good relationships with my siblings and joined St Paul's Outreach, which is a ministry in college, and ended up living with women my senior year. And it was such a gift all across the board, I mean it was just like friendships are growing, I was in small groups. It was still hard, I mean there were moments of like, "What the heck am I doing, and where is this going?" and just the challenges of what does it look like to really choose God. But I think in that space, I started dating my now husband. We were friends in high school and we started dating in college. He was Protestant, and so I was like, "Okay, Lord, I just said I was going to give you a shot at the Catholic Church again. I don't know if this really makes sense!" So we broke up, and for whatever reason I really felt like the Lord saying, you know, "It's okay to like date, it's okay to be together." And so we decided we were going to give it a shot and I was like, this doesn't make any sense, because I thought I was just going to be doing like Catholic only, what's going on? [laughs]

And in that process, I learned so much from David. I learned so much in his journey of questions and and discovery and he was on a journey of really trying to find truth, of really trying to find religion and God in a way that it harmonize in his life. And in that space, he started going to adoration, he started going to Mass, I didn't really know it, and that I think now I look back, I'm like, "That's so weird we're dating. How did I not know?" But it was a blessing, because it really became his own, and it challenged me to think, "Wow, what am I doing? Like, am I growing? What am I choosing? And he ended up joining the Catholic Church, we got engaged a couple months later, and in that process we joined a lay movement in the Twin Cities, we're from Minnesota, and joined a phenomenal Parish and really just jumped both feet in and said, "Okay, we got to keep running because otherwise I think we could really become complacent." We knew this is important to us, and so it's really just been amazing to see God work when I've had to go through hard places where I just didn't know the answer, you know? It's like I was looking at the map, but I didn't have all the answers and it's like, "I can try to drive, or I can try to give this to God."

And so I think in the space of marriage and just how much it's really challenged me to grow in my faith and grow in my feminine genius and growing in what it looks like to really be a woman, in receptivity and generosity. So it's just been incredible and now being a mom, I mean, it's just been like this continual unearthing and seeing where God is leading and calling me out and calling me out of my selfishness, and calling me out of my fears of wanting to control. And if I'm not controlling, will He be there? And it takes me to just look back at my story and be like, He's been there! He's been there the entire time like, can I take that gratitude forward and say, "Thank you, God!" because I know You'll be there today and I know You're gonna be there tomorrow. So it's just, I love this question, because it really helps me get centered again when I'm starting to feel scattered and it's like, He's here. He's here.

09:01 RACHEL: Oh, Bridget that's so beautiful, and the line that you led off with, like this journey to wholeness and to bookend that with what you ended off with this, you know, continual unearthing. But just being able to look back and see those little moments like—I was listening to Father Mike Schmitz this morning actually, and he was just talking about little fingerprints that God leaves on our lives. I was like, "That is such a beautiful image!" And so, you know, hearing you share your story of how He has been with you all throughout. And, you know, you become more and more yourself and it's not even like there's a max limit to who you become. But as you journey with Him, you as a individual but also with your husband and your family, it continues to overflow. And I find that to be so powerful, with how God moves in our lives, and it just goes to show that He is like infinite. And we might think it's like, "Wow like life can't get any better than this!" And God's like, "Uh, uh, uh! I've got so much more for you." So, I'm just so grateful that you shared all that and just what a beautiful story, so thank you.

10:07 BRIDGET: Oh thank you, it's a gift. I love what you said just the fingerprints of God all over our lives. I think it's just so true, when we take that breath, and we just look around, it's like He is everywhere, you know? It's... I think it's for me, it's working on like it's not luck, it's not coincidence, it's an even if I find a parking space that's close and it's like, Lord, that's what I really wanted!

10:25 RACHEL: Yes!

10:25 BRIDGET: And I know it's a stupid and simple sounding, but it's like He cares about the parking space, and He'll find the parking space for me, like, why would I think He's gonna find me the time that I need for my business or the help that I need or, you know, the right therapist or the better doctor, you know? Just like even bigger, like the house that we'd love to have or in the big family we desire. It's like He's in at all it just, I have to be open to the creative ways He responds to the dreams.

10:52 RACHEL: Absolutely. Even that parking space example, absolutely! I love that so, so much because He cares even in the most like minute details. So, of course, like if He will care about that, why wouldn't He care about our biggest dreams and desires?

So, speaking of which, speaking of biggest desires, biggest dreams. As I was preparing for this interview I was reading through your website, reading through your bio. And I know that just before we hit record I was sharing with you how I saw that you've got a wide breadth of education behind you and one of the things that I was very curious to hear more about was that you mentioned in your bio that you became an advocate of charting in college. Now, I'm going to be honest, I am horrible when it comes to keeping track of literally anything. But for something as important as you know our bodies, our cycles, I feel like that should be the number one thing that I should be focusing on and yet, I can't even keep up with that. So I was curious to hear more about, you know, your own relationship to charting and how you got into that, and what, I guess, was the pivot or the turning point for you to become not just interested but an advocate for it.

12:03 BRIDGET: That's a great question. So my mom is a huge advocate of charting, and I think, you know, that word sometimes thrown around a lot but I seriously mean 'advocate' because she was so outspoken in a way that we were always having conversations. And so, when my period came and I had questions, she was always open to having those conversations and I think it really stemmed from her own comfort with her own body and using natural family planning in her own life. She used the Creighton model, and so my mom was really good about creating space for the conversations that my body wasn't icky, that my fertility wasn't gross and that, if I have questions about cervical mucus or wondering if something was normal, she was always willing to chat about it and answer those questions. And I think that really set me up, in a sense, for success in charting but also it was a good wiring for, I think, my brain and thinking, okay this is a good thing. My body is good and it's good to learn, it's good to love my body and respect my body, and this is a way I can respect my body.

So when I started college, FemTech was really booming. Kindara and Clue were probably the two biggest apps that were being talked about, and my mom thought it was like so cool, and so did I. So we were both nerding out, like, "This is so great, like it's on your phone!" And she's like, "Oh my gosh, you don't have to use paper charts! That's so neat, you should try it" So just, I think, to have that person in my life saying, "This is so cool! You should try it like, that's awesome! You get to know how your body's working!"

And I had a few other friends, one was graphic design, one was going for nursing, another was going for theater and performance. So it was like, it wasn't that we were all in like the healthcare world or interest but really just, I encouraged my friends to join me because I didn't want to do it alone! And we started talking about it, and I think through those conversations it really created a sense of vulnerability for us and a space that we could talk about what was going on with our bodies that went beyond our periods. It was like, "Wow I get really emotional before my period." And, "Actually, I realized like I'm really having a hard time in this area of my life" or "I'm really struggling because I'm dating these people but I don't really like," you know? It just started to open up these doors for really vulnerable, beautiful conversations together and I think in that I was like, this is so powerful. This is like going beyond just knowing our cycles and loving our bodies, but like loving who we are as a persons and recognizing the person in front of us and saying, "Wow, like, all of my emotions and my hormones are a part of my cycle, and my cycle's a part of the rest of me, and this isn't something so separate." And I think it was really a lightbulb moment for me.

I've always been passionate about the pro-life movement, but I really didn't necessarily see myself outside the clinics or working as an advocate or nurse or super hands-on, I guess you could say. I was much more interested in marketing, public relations, so I thought I was going to do a degree in more like arts management. Like I thought, "Okay I'm doing public relations, minor in public health, maybe I'll do like arts management." I loved theater, I did a lot of theater [in] high school and college, and then I got working with the Guiding Star Project, and I started doing some marketing work for them, and was like, "This is awesome. This is all about building holistic care for women." And it was so rooted in, obviously the pro-life movement, but then there's women's health and preventative care and just seeing... I didn't realize how many avenues there were and how many needs there were in the spaces for education. And that really, just a light bulb went on. It was like "Okay, I actually think I'm going to go for this new master's program for health communication at the University of Minnesota." And it was just an incredible experience. There were four of us in our cohort, and I went right after my undergrad, and it was really... it was all God. It seriously was, because I never thought I would be someone to get a master's. I'm not like A student, loving tests and all those... tests are always really hard! [laughs] When are they not? But really I just, I hated test taking. I liked learning, it was fun, I loved being around people more! [laughs] But I think, you know, God really equipped me and putting me in this position, and so I tailored a lot of my coursework to women's health.

So I really got to see, you know, what is the current conversation going on in a lot of these courses? Like, what are women talking about? What are women concerned about? Where are we seeing health care focusing or not focusing? And there was little to no discussion around fertility awareness, and just the understanding of integration with reproductive health, which was just so fascinating to me. And so, in that process, I really started to think about, "Okay, where do I fit into this space? Like how can I solve these needs where I'm seeing these gaps where we could have more integration?" And I think, again, it comes back to that wholeness and like my own journey of desiring wholeness. I also desired wholeness of body, mind, soul for others. And seeing those gaps in women's health was really making me re-think, you know, what could I do? How can I serve? And so I really focused on more of the communications and strategy, while also having some background in understanding how to read research and what would that look like to build out research if I wanted to do something like that. And so, just having that experience was just such a gift to be able to do that.

17:03 RACHEL: Yeah, there's just so many things that I want to dig into there, but it just goes to show the power of being open with these kinds of things and how the environment that you're in can really set yourself up for success, or on the other end, it can also set you up for failure. So the fact that you and your mom had built this connection —first off, I found that to be really cute! I find it's like it's so cute and so beautiful that mother-daughter relationship. But also just how she was able to, you know, share and open up her own comfortability, as well as like her own knowledge and education, and just like set you up for success. And, you know, I don't know if she would have thought that all those years ago as you were starting to talk about it that here you would be out doing this for, not just yourself and maybe not just your friends, but also other women all over the place, because one of the things that I've really come to reflect upon, like as I talk to more women like yourself who are in this area of fertility awareness and education around that, is that there seems to be like two sides it. On the one hand there are no women or groups that are very, very keen and ready to kind of spread that gospel about, you know, like our bodies are good—and they are!—like our bodies are good, we were made good. And every part of it, no matter how foreign or strange it might be, is still good and it's still part of who we are and our reproductive process and cycle.

But on the other hand, there are a lot of people who may be, understandably so, are uncomfortable, and they don't want to talk about these things or they find it weird or taboo and they don't want to speak out. And I guess that's not really a question but it was just a reflection that I was having as I was hearing you just share your experiences with that and how that's led you to pursue more schooling and just more knowledge, and then being this advocate for other women so that they too can really enter into these conversations.

19:02 BRIDGET: I think you're so right about the discomfort and not knowing what to do with it, and I think that is something that the more conversations I have with women, it takes it's that first initial conversation, it's like, "Oh, girl, what are we talking about?" You know? And a lot of times when I have women coming to me they're already at that place of like "Okay, I want to know more. I may be uncomfortable with my body or uncomfortable with my period, but I want to know more." But I think, in the general sense, if someone asked me, "So what do you do?" or, you know, just even with my mother-in-law or my husband's cousins and they're like, "So what do you do?" You know? There's this sense of, "Oh no, what is she gonna talk about at dinner?"

And I think, you know, there's obviously, you know, place and time, the reverence that we need for our bodies. But I think just scratching the surface, starting those conversations, just getting someone to think about their health in a different way, in a more integrative way. In the same sense that I think, you know, when I initially was starting charting in college, some of my friends were like, "What? You're going to track your period?" And then in the process of journeying together it was like, "Wait, this is actually so awesome!" But it takes time! And I think sometimes, it can be easy for me to forget as well, like, it's a process. It's a journey. And, you know, if you're struggling with thinking that 'my period's gross' or 'my fertility feels like a burden,' it's okay to start there. That's not shameful, you don't have to be ashamed of it, because it's just, it's where you are! And I think sometimes we can forget that and we think that we just have to be in a space of like, "I'm totally comfortable with my body. There's no problem, I can wear whatever, I can do whatever." It's like... and even that in some ways is a perversion of that understanding of the rest of our bodies because it's like these extremes, "I hate it" or "I love it so much, it doesn't matter what I do." And it does! And so how do we find that that middle, that space where we're meeting both and saying, "Okay, yes. I am comfortable my body, but I also reference my body."

20:51 RACHEL: Yeah, very Theology of the Body. I love that so much, just because for obvious reasons, John Paul II is our guy around here with this podcast! At some point, you had all this knowledge and this ambition and desire, really, to help women with this, and at some point you had started Managing Your Fertility. And I know that you also were our participants as part of the GIVEN Forum, so I'd love to hear what that journey was like, just because I think many times, especially as women, like we have dreams we have ambitions, and we can be very wary— like I know that I was with this podcast—we can be so wary to take that next step or, you know, use the analogy of looking at the roadmap earlier and just being like, "Where to go?" or "What to do next? What is the next turn that I have to take?" So taking that first step is really hard, but I would love to hear how you came to have this wonderful ambition, and then how that ended up as Managing Your Fertility.

21:49 BRIDGET: So I, with all my charting in college, I wasn't specific with a particular method, I hadn't worked with a practitioner, so I was really just charting data for myself just to have better awareness. And so, when David and I became engaged, I was in my first year of grad school, and we were taking...well, before we even started taking NFP classes, we started looking. And we're like, "Okay well, there's just got to be one site we go to and it'll have all the list of things, and it should be pretty easy!" And I thought, okay, how hard can it be? You know, I have some data, this will be great. And we ended up [laughs] scheduling in our calendars like a 45-minute time block, we'll pick a method that, you know, that sounds good to us and then we'll sign up for classes, so we make sure we're doing that, because our archdiocese requires that as part of marriage prep.

So we sat down—I remember being at David's family's house on their deck—and we started looking and we're like, "Oh my gosh, there isn't one place to get... like, there's some websites that list it, some archdioceses list different methods." And we're like, "Well, are some not okay and some okay?" So we're going into USCCB website, we started finding blogs. And it was about three hours later, and we were both had tons of tabs open, trying to figure out... we just wanted to be able to compare and contrast, and that was the biggest thing. I just want to be able to shop for a method, compare and contrast and say, "You know what? This gives me a good overview, I think we want hormonal-only." Or like, "Yeah, I think mucus-only, like, that sounds like a good fit for both of us and for me if we're tracking everything."

And so, in that space I remember feeling this frustration like, what the heck? Where is there one place I could go to? And I kept digging, I had reached out to different individuals who I knew were much more in the space of Theology the Body, women's health, because it was like, "You know what? We probably missed it. There was probably something really obvious, we just weren't paying attention." And through the conversations I had, I wasn't really coming up with anything, and I had no one was really saying, "Oh yes, this one website has a good database, or this is intended for, really, for laypeople," because there was—there is the FACTS website and that's really targeted towards medical professionals. So while it was helpful, it was too overwhelming for me being someone entering into the space of fertility awareness methods.

So, I was really just like, "Okay Lord, I really feel like you're calling me to do this. This seems crazy, but, you know, this ties in with women's health, but I, like, I don't know if I do anything out of it without, you know, outside of a ministry, you know? Or just something I do pro bono or it just maybe I just have pay for a website have it live there and I'll just update it!" I had no plans beyond that, but I knew somehow it was tying in with everything. I just had that feeling, but I had no vision for what that might even entail, but I saw the GIVEN Project pop up because it was shared by Jenna Guizar Blessed is She Facebook group. And it was like, the deadline was the next night and I was like, "Okay, I think this could be it. I think we should do it." So—and by we, I texted my best friend—and I said, "Hey, you've been charting with me. Why don't we just apply together and see what happens and we could do this, we could build out the site?" And she was like, "Well, um, sure! Okay, let's do it!" So we applied, we got our applications in like the night it was due, like, 11:59 PM! And we waited and we thought like, "Oh my gosh, I don't even know, lik