My daughter stopped breastfeeding and my body feels useless | Momspiration story

Alanna on first day of life at UnityPoint Health Pekin.

Alanna on first day of life at UnityPoint Health Pekin.

I never thought I would be the mom that missed breastfeeding. I didn’t get it at the time. I never loved it while it was happening. From October 2013 to January 2017, I have either been pregnant or breastfeeding a baby. I felt over touched, overly needed and especially after the rough beginning I had with my second child in establishing great nursing behaviors, I told myself every day… only so many more days until she is one. And it’s only been about six weeks since that relationship ended. I. Am. A. Mess.

When it started to set in, I blamed my high levels of anxiety and almost depression like symptoms on a recent brand change in my birth control. I am especially susceptible to depression and anxiety it seems. I struggled significantly with both in the last five or six years. So I didn’t think twice about it. Everyone knows depression and anxiety are common birth control side effects. But recently, it’s gotten so much worse. I walk around the house and I can’t seem to figure out what I am trying to do. I feel lost. I feel purposeless. And I again thought… this must be my medication.

Last week I actually woke up in the middle of the night and searched the house for my two year old, convinced he was cutting his hair somewhere. Turns out, after searching most of the house, he was still fast asleep in his bed and the sound I heard was actually my CAT scratching herself.

But every so often  the sinking realization settles in that this is what it feels like to not have babies anymore. And I am not coping well with it.

Turns out, there are two main hormones that are associated with breastfeeding: prolactin and oxytocin. Prolactin is mainly responsible for creating more milk, while oxytocin triggers the let down or milk-ejection reflex. Prolactin brings feelings of well-being and calmness while oxytocin is also known as the “cuddle hormone” or “love hormone”. When we cuddle and kiss on our babies, oxytocin is released in varying amounts that helps us as parents (moms and dads alike) feel the love we have for our children. Breastfeeding mothers experience this release every time they nurse. What’s even more interesting about oxytocin and prolactin… it’s one of the ways our bodies naturally combat depression and anxiety as mothers.

So what happens when you go from having regular releases of this feel good hormone several times a day to cold turkey stop? Well, you live the existence I am living right now. Alanna just woke up one day a few weeks after her first birthday and outright refused the breast. She was pushing me away and crying when I tried to offer. I thought the first time it was just because she was overly tired. So I tried again a few hours later. No luck. Another refusal. This went on for three days before I finally realized this was the end. Done. Finito. No more breastfeeding. I thought I was going to be thrilled for that day and I tried to tell myself that I was, but the feeling of sadness and emptiness had already started creeping in.

It’s not unusual to feel tearful, sad or mildly depressed after weaning; some mothers also experience irritability, anxiety, or mood swings. These feelings are usually short-term and should go away in a few weeks, but some mothers experience more severe symptoms ...The faster the weaning process the more abrupt the shift in hormone levels, and the more likely that you will experience adverse effects. Dropping no more than one feeding per week is gentler on both mother and baby. Mothers who are forced to wean before they are ready (or for reasons beyond their control) and mothers with a history of depression are also more likely to experience depression after weaning.
— KellyMom

Thanks KellyMom. Too bad I didn’t know that when I was in the midst of a fast-weaning baby. I probably would have attempted to pump a few times a day to ease into the transition. I was just not as prepared for this as I thought I was.

My daughter stopped breastfeeding and my body feels useless.

There’s no more acute way to describe that feeling. I was a life force as the creator of my children. I was the life force as the sole source of nutrition for my developing babies. I don’t know how to be this version of a mother. I know I will figure it out. I know it’s all going to be alright. I know I am still going to go and talk with my obgyn next week about switching medications because I do feel that it isn’t helping. But this is harder than I anticipated.

To the moms out there feeling like an empty-nester with a baby still to hold… I feel you ladies and you’re in my thoughts as I make this transition into the next phase of motherhood.

 


Special thanks to my sister Sabrina Mullins for capturing my mom and baby portrait in hospital with Alanna. <3