Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Hormone Junkie

Hello, my name is Annie, and I am a prolactin addict.

Four years of being pregnant and/or nursing ended for me at the beginning of February. I was two months pregnant with Jay when Miss E eventually weaned, so I have not had any 'break' from pregnancy or nursing in this time.

At the time, having weaned Jay was a bit of a non event. He was ready and so was I. It was a gradual process that I really didn't realize had finally happened until I took stock one day and realized it had been a few days since he'd nursed. He was done and that was that - life went on as normal.

Except it wasn't. Normal.

I have felt progressively gloomy over the last couple of months. To the point of asking myself 'what the hell is wrong with me?'. Constant tiredness, lack of motivation for the simplest things. Doing the bare minimum to keep my kids fed (and not very nutritiously so!), poor appetite, headaches, not sleeping great, and the crying, a lot of crying.

About a month ago I did briefly let the thought wander around my mind, 'what if this is the start of depression?' Not knowing what depression is like, and certainly never thinking this could happen to me, I dismissed it after a short while and told myself to 'shake it off'. This happens to all mothers.

Except, I can't shake it off.

I have worried my poor husband, who knows that I am down in the dumps, but can't understand why. When he asks me 'what's wrong?', I talk in circles, and I can't explain why because I didn't understand it, either.

I would never win any housekeeping awards, and I am totally okay with that - we keep the house pleasantly 'lived in' - it's clean but rarely tidy - and I may have periodic laundry backlogs - but nothing that couldn't be fixed catching up one morning. Now? My house is trashed - and last minute laundry is my specialty.

I've spent a few weeks mentally chastising myself for being lazy. I have had to force myself to stay off the computer realizing that time spent here was time away from my kids - and that made me a bad mommy. So I backed away from my blog, and sat on the couch - pleading with my kids to entertain themselves because 'mommy has a sore head', 'mommy's tired', 'just let mommy watch something that isn't animated and full of music - just for once, PLEASE?!'

My self confidence has nosedived. My skin is breaking out like an unfortunate teenager - and since I never was that unfortunate teenager, this is the first time in my life that I have felt self conscious about my skin.

I compare myself unfavourably to others and let myself feel inferior to them. I know nobody can make me feel this way - only if I let them! I know the theory of not letting people make me feel a certain way - yet putting that into practice is a different ball game.

This all came to something of a head last weekend when after a wedding on Friday where I felt so out of place compared to all the 'beautiful people' in attendance - I cried with my husband about how bad I felt. Once those floodgates opened, I spent the most of Saturday in tears and he patiently and supportively listened while I talked in more circles and tried desperately to make sense of this.

Then the penny dropped and I figured that I could pretty much pin the start of this downward spiral to the time that Jay was finally, and completely weaned. I struggled to understand if this meant anything in terms of how I felt and dismissed any sense of loss at the end of the nursing relationship. As I said - I was ready for him to wean (at last!) and so was he. But maybe I shouldn't be so hasty to dismiss the weaning as an emotional issue. I've spent four solid years nurturing a child - be it as they grew inside me, or as I breastfed them. These were done by me - all me. These are confidence boosters - it's amazing to think that I had that capability and I executed it beautifully. And now it's over.

More than this though - I think the hormonal adjustments that my body is undergoing is what is really messing with me. Prolactin has been coursing through my veins at varying levels for four years - and now its presence has significantly dropped. That feel good, 'happy hormone' was giving me a maternal high, and I'm going through withdrawal, I'm sure of it!

I have been reaching out to various individuals over the last couple of days. Seeking validation that my suspicions are correct - and looking for advice on what to do about it. I have had amazing feedback from La Leche League - and from friends.

I have received great advice on steps I can take to help me get out of this 'funk' and I'm working on them already - exercise being the top of my 'feel better' priority list. Maintaining the motivation to keep at it though is going to be my challenge, as it always is where exercise is concerned.

Ironically - at a time when I had taken a step back from blogging - several people advised journaling as a positive outlet and something that could help me feel better. I have always felt cathartic benefits from writing through certain things on this blog - but I struggled lately to articulate anything about what I was feeling, and figured it would be too depressing to read so I stayed clear of discussing any of this before. But writing through it may be just the thing I need to do - and if I can carve in time to do it before the kids get up, and after running on the treadmill - I will do just that.

A La Leche League leader, who also happens to be a therapist, spoke to me at length this morning and I feel so much better after speaking to her since she not only agreed that a hormonal shift is definitely involved in how I feel right now but she also suggested looking into herbal supplements - Kava Kava, and 5 HTP - so - now I'm reaching out to any of you who understand these, or have used them? I've never heard of them and what I'm reading online is mixed - any feedback you have would be appreciated.

Also - if you have weaned, particularly after nursing for an extended period - did you go through this weirdness? And, how did you get yourself out of it?

I feel better today than I have in the last couple of months, better for knowing that there is a reason for me feeling this way and that I'm not just quietly going nuts here.

I don't expect to feel better overnight - but I will do whatever I can to help myself and make myself feel happier - for me, and for my family. I don't want to feel this way - and I don't want to have Miss E frequently ask 'Why you sad Mommy?'.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

I am all out of blog steam

I started this blog almost a year ago and in that time I have really enjoyed the sense of community, the interaction and the cathartic benefits it has given me. I've also enjoyed the opportunity to weigh in on important topics relating to parenthood, or life in general.

However, I see so much about blogging that I haven't taken the time to understand. All the social networking sites, the stumbling, the diggs, and then there's the infamous Twitter, which, despite reading many blog posts on the subject - still confuses me - and I'm not sure I get, at all, what the point of it is.

I could get to the bottom of all these things - but that would require more time and energy than I'm prepared to devote to it - and so I feel like I'm being left behind in the dust of all the 'proper' bloggers. The more I resist getting into these blogging practices, the further behind I feel and catching up seems pointless to me - why would I try? To be like everyone else? (never a path I chose to follow), to be popular? To gain more readers? ( might be nice since the ones I had seem to have disappeared). Unless I see my blog as a shoe in to a means to make money in some way - which currently I'm not seeking - I won't try to 'catch up'

I have no enthusiasm for something that becomes like a chore - this blog is in danger of becoming exactly that. I have resisted posting about our recent (and maybe not all that recent) parenting challenges when dealing with what is essentially a strong willed child in Miss E because, to do so will sound whiney and who wants to read that? Everyone has their own issues. I've refrained from posting about our small successes in improving our overall experiences with said strong willed child because I feel like we're covering some pretty basic parenting ground, that has just taken us a little longer than most to figure out. Or, maybe it's that I'm so darned tired trying to meet these challenges and do right by Miss E, that I don't have the energy to articulate these issues in a coherent or interesting way. The result is I've posted a bunch of drivel in the few times that I've posted at all recently.

So, I think I'm jumping on the 'blogging break' bandwagon. I do feel all out of blogging steam, or maybe the novelty has just worn off.

All I know - is that I am a better mommy when I'm not spending time at this keyboard. And that at the end of the day is what I need to be - a better mommy.