Tuesday, June 17, 2008

All weaning! All the time!

I'm feeling blue today. I'm hoping I'll pull out of it in a little bit. My kids have only been awake for 45 minutes and I've already turned the TV on. Maybe blogging it out will help.

My baby weaned himself last week, cold turkey--which is also known as the "Ow ow ow ow OW! Method". I was really surprised. Last Wednesday he woke up from his afternoon nap and instead of snuggling up and gazing at me with dreamy eyes, he pushed and writhed and bit me. When he drew blood I gave up. I figured he wasn't hungry and I'd try again later. Well, even at his usual nighttime feedings he still refused. He'd wake up but he wouldn't nurse. After he drew blood three or four times and emphatically told me "All done!" (his only words besides Mama and Dada) I gave up. Actually, I said, "You bet you're done. As in FOREVER!" I was little peeved.

Since last Wednesday I've pretty much been talking and thinking about it nonstop. (All weaning! All the time! Sorry friends!)My OB is pretty convinced that the nursing hormones have something to do with my PPD. Which is one reason I'm supposed to stay on my antidepressant for the whole first year of my baby's life. We are waiting for my milk to dry up and my menses to return so that the antidepressant can smooth out those hormonal transitions since I take them so hard. I wondered what abrupt weaning was going to do to my hormones, so I googled it. There seems to be a consensus. Even Dr. Sears says abrupt weaning can cause depressives episodes.

Most doctors/researchers seem to believe that it is the sudden drop in oxytocin levels that brings on sadness when weaning. Oxytocin, which plays a role in bonding and feelings of love (think of that glow after sex), contributes to overall wellbeing and is familiar to most people. Interestingly enough, though, there is another hormone that that has do with nursing and depression. Prolactin is the hormone that regulates milk production. It is the hormone that makes a pregnant woman's breasts grow (it enlarges her mammary glands) and it is the hormone that produces the milk after the baby is born. The thing that is surprising about prolactin is that it inhibits dopamine production--an important "happy hormone" in the brain. It would seem that pregnant and lactating women swap one kind of happy hormone for another. The other thing that struck me as I read about prolactin was that antidepressants slight raise prolactin levels in the body, ostensibly lowering levels of dopamine. Anyway, I don't have any real conclusions to draw from all this. I'm not a doctor or psychiatrist (I know you all are surprised by that admission.), but it has convinced me that what is going on in my body is complicated so it's okay to give myself a break. If the kids watch a little extra TV, well, at least it PBSkids so it's "educational", right? TV is definitely preferable to me yelling at them.

I think the other reason I'm taking this so hard, besides the pain and the mess (yesterday was the first day since Wednesday that I didn't have to change my shirt due to milk leakage), is that I'm feeling pretty rejected. I know Number 3 didn't mean it that way. He is almost a year old so this was to be expected, but I just feel like he was telling me he didn't need me anymore or that I wasn't meeting his needs well enough. I sort of feel like I failed. Now, cognitively I know that those things aren't true but it is how I feel. It's just hard to see him giving those loving looks to a sippy cup instead of me. Oh well, at least he still likes to cuddle when I put him down for sleep.

Things just change so fast these days. A lot of the time I feel like I can't keep up with it. Every time I get a handle on where my kids are and what they need, they change. Sometimes I doubt my ability to adapt. It just takes so much energy! The truth of motherhood, though, is that the work never stops. Regardless of my abilities I have to keep trying because there is no other choice. It doesn't matter how many times I fail (or succeed) new opportunities constantly present themselves. I think it was Yoda who said, "There is no try. Only do." (My hubby is fond of that one.) Or as God said, "Unto whom much is given, much is required" (D&C 82:3). Use the force, Laura!


Lura said...

Hang in there, Laura!
I am all about TV if it staves off yelling at kids (which it does for me regurlarly).
Weaning can be tough. Even though Marcus didn't want to wean, and I finally forced him to at 16 months, I was still a little sad about it. It's hard to lose that bond.
I hear you about kids changing as soon as you get them figured out . . . that can be hard. "Change is the only thing that remains the same." I think that's how it goes. I guess we just have to adapt the best we can.

Maryam said...

Yeah, I hear ya. Nursing is such a tender thing- it makes you feel so close to your child. Plus it is a "forced" time that you have to sit and chill for a sec. But then again if junior is going to be drawing blood, then I guess that takes care of that! If I get pregnant in the near future I will definitely be looking up your past posting to help me through!

Elizabeth-W said...

Ohhh! I'm so sorry!
Several years ago I was really sick and in the hospital for 12 days. I was being fed via IV, and heavily medicated. My baby was a year old, and my mom knew I wanted to nurse her until she was probably 2 or 3, so she tried to help us do it, but I just had no milk after a few days (and I was so dopey that I really slept and wasn't aware what was going on).
I became a basket case within days. It was awful! I was crying all the time. It never occurred to me that it was hormonally-based until a nurse friend said that might be going on. I was in major oxytocin withdrawal :) Luckily it passed in about a week. Here's hoping for a smooth transition...Best of luck!

Jer said...

Thanks for posting all that interesting info on all the hormonal changes that happen when you're nursing. It makes me wonder just how it affects my moods, with my first and now currently. Hopefully I can remember this post when my baby weans to keep the perspective a little. I think you're doing a great job and you're a great mom!

Nurse Heidi said...

Rachel weaned cold turkey on me while I was on a trip with her and she was 3 months old. Oh the sore boobies!! Fond memories. Hang in there - I find that once I get a couple of weeks past nursing that life seems ok again.

Laura said...

Thanks for the support guys! Things are looking up. It's been a week now and my milk still comes in occasionally . . .hopefully it will dry up soon!

Heathie said...

That sounds rough! Hope things get settled soon!
I must be backwards... I always look forward to weaning (well, if I can do it gradually so it doesn't hurt). I seem to get the blooey blues more when I'm nursing. I mean the actual sitting down and feeding my baby. I would sit there feeling like I wanted to cry. Hormones are weird...