Weaning, redux

So, I was on domperidone for like, a million months.  Okay, about 9 months.  About 750 little white pills. That’s a lot of time, and a lot of little white pills.  That’s, particularly, a lot of time on an anti nausea drug that interferes with your dopamine receptors.

The first few days totally off the pills sucked.  I didn’t throw up during my pregnancy* but 36  hours after my last pill I found myself puking up the pain pills I’d taken for the splitting headache I had again woken with.  So nauseous.  And headachy.  And ragey!  Yikes.  It took days to feel better.  I read somewhere on the internet that the drug’s halflife is 70 hours, and it takes 6 halflives to be out of the system.  It’s been a little over a week, so I’m halfway through the detox and really am feeling better.

I am still nursing in the morning though – for increasinly short times, as my milk dries up.  I’m surprised that it didn’t just vanish overnight without the pills, as I was expecting.  I’ve decided that J’s month-a-birthday next week is the last time I’ll nurse the baby – “I nursed for 15 months” has a nice even ring to it, as opposed to a more wordy “I nursed for 14 months and some extra weeks” that the pedantic in me would probably use.  (Er, provided that there’s still milk there in a week.)  It’s funny the way we tell stories to ourselves.

I didn’t intend to nurse for so long.  The year of mat leave and a month of transition was as long as I’d planned, once I was in to the thick of it.  But before I had a kid?  I was very much pro breastfeeding, but when they fed the baby formula while I was still knocked out cold from the c-section, I wasn’t overly concerned.  When I had to supliment with formula for a week after J was born until the “too complicated for the hospital to fix” tongue tie was resolve, I just did it.  The whole routine just about killed me: every three hours I had to feed the baby a bottle of breast milk, then nurse, then feed the baby formula, and then pump.  8 times a day.  But the formula part just … was, emotionally, not a big deal.  I was happy when she weaned off the formula herself – it smelled really gross – but I was never truly opposed to using it.  I mean, after the birth plan fails pretty catastrophically, supplementing with formula for a few days was no big thing in comparison.

But was that birth failure WHY I put myself through 9 months of brain-chemistry-altering pills?  I mean, I did it without a thought, really.  “Kid’s starving, take drugs, skim over 10 page warning pamphlet, feed kid, sleep through the night again.”  The logic was so clearly there, but why the extra time?  How much of my willingness to fuck with my body chemistry was because I wasn’t going to fail at breastfeeding too, goddammit?

I mean.  For a long time I felt like I had failed at birth.  The PPD certainly made me feel like I failed in the first months as a mother.  I felt like I failed when my milk dried up, despite exclusive breastfeeding on demand – something I didn’t even know was physically possible.  Going back to work (as generally pro-me-not-staying-home as I am) and enjoying it makes me feel a bit like I’m a failure compared to the “naturally great at it SAHMs” who surround me  and are able to actively engage their toddlers every day, instead of like, taking J to the mall on my Fridays off as I do.  I felt like I failed at bonding with the baby for quite a while.  I certainly felt I failed, and flailed, during the various weight crashes.

But, dammit, I could NURSE THIS CHILD.  There was something.  Medically assisted or not, I could offer the baby a nipple and she would eat and I would know, KNOW, that I wasn’t failing her at this one thing.

And I guess, as I work this out on my computer screen, that’s not nothing, if that’s the route of why I have nursed for so long.  That in the rough seas of early motherhood, I found myself a touchstone that I could say, with confidence, that Yes I Can Do This.

It’s funny.  I also cloth diaper and made like 98% of the baby’s food, but that doesn’t feel the same to me, despite how the three are often grouped together in  “parenting philosophy”.  I CD because it’s cheap, and cute, and since the introduction of flushable wipes, surprisingly not messy.  I made all her baby food because it was cheap, and easy, and I could make 3 weeks worth of food in an afternoon, and my kitchen produced infinitely more interesting varieties of food than the store, and I like cooking.  I have no ego tied up in them – it’s just, you know, what I did, because I could, and wanted to.

But breastfeeding?  I have ego involved in that, which I’m only realizing now in the final days of my nursing relationship with J.  That’s interesting to me.  I wonder what other choices I’ll look back on later and see more complex reasoning for, tucked behind the stories I tell myself?

*except for that one night of stomach flu, but that wasn’t pregnancy related, so it doesn’t count.

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Active little peanut

All children develop at their own speed – we all know this intellectually, yes?  But it’s pretty fascinating to watch it play out in real time.

Baby J is all about physical activity.  (Everyone who told me it’s easier to have girls because they are calmer and aren’t as physical can fuck off, because what a lie.)  She’s bold and fearless and yes, sometimes covered in bruises.  She’s a squirmy little monkey who at 14 months can walk forwards, backwards and sideways, can pull up, stand up, climb up and now down a flight of stairs, connect mega blocks, walk while carrying the half-her-size duplo box, dismount properly off the couch, rock chairs (even non rocking chairs – yikes), climb through tunnels, use a bumbo seat as an obstacle course, climb in to the dishwasher (just that one time when my back was turned, I swear), turn almost anything in to a walking push toy, pull up on a handle and get her feet off the ground, scale the back of the couch on to the desk, self feed, help undress, flip through books, takes apart duplo, pat herself on the chest when she coughs, and so on.  She’s so, so physical.

She doesn’t talk.

Like, at all.  Well.  Okay, she says a few words: no, oh oh, oh no, hi, and a two syllable inquisitive noise that means “what’s that?” Mama and dada, but we haven’t quite figured out what she’s talking about yet – it’s certainly not us.  For a while, we were pretty sure she thought her name was dada…  She listens, she understands words and requests and is again sleeping thought the night, this time after the doctor told her that she wasn’t going to be fed at night anymore.  She’ll bring you items on request and knows that when we say NO we mean it.  (Which sometimes starts this hilarious little temper tantrum I work very hard at not laughing at.)  She babbles noises and sounds.  I’ve had her hearing tested twice, and all signs point to fulling functioning ears.  She just … doesn’t have anything to say yet, or something.

I’m not worried.  She’s an effective communicator, for a baby, and makes it very clear what she does and doesn’t want.  (Not that, obviously, she always gets her way.)  She has a sense of humour. She likes to blow raspberries on my belly and play the Squish With Love game (she crawls, I chase after her, and when I catch her, I cover her in kisses until she collapses on the floor giggling.)

When my friends post videos of their similar age kids talking I can simply marvel at their babies without feeling doubt.  My kid will get there.  My kid is fine.  No, my kid is more than fine.  My kid is an active little peanut who is too busy with all the places to go and things to see to be bothered talking about it.  She’ll get there, and it will be adorable, and until then, I’ll just focus on trying to keep her from using the toilet as a water toy and teaching her how to properly dismount furniture taller than she is.

Places to go, things to see

Places to go, things to see

On weaning

Oh, man.  I knew that weaning can be tough.  But I have been SUPER WANTING TO DO so for more than a month, and last night was the first night IN THE BABY’S ENTIRE LIFE that I didn’t nurse her at bed time.  She settled down decently, and went to sleep, and happily nursed this morning.  And I?  Am a weepy, frustrated mess.  Sure, some of that is work related (all jobs, no matter how overall lovely, have less lovely weeks), and some due to a cold I picked up in Toronto.  But not all of it, I’m sure.  I hate times where I have to fuck around with my hormones, which is why I refuse to go on the pill and will only use a hormone free IUD.  (Which I owe you a story about eventually.)  The domperidone pills mess not only mess with my cycle, but also suppresses dopamine.  You know, dopamine, which according to our good friend wikipedia, “has many functions in the brain, including important roles in behavior and cognition, voluntary movement, motivation, punishment and reward, inhibition of prolactin production (involved in lactation and sexual gratification), sleep, dreaming, mood, attention, working memory, and learning.”  So, you know, everything.  And I’ve been on them for like 9 months.

I’ve gone from 8 pills a day in the beginning, then down to 4, and recently been dropping it down to 2, and yesterday I just took 1.

And I’m weepy and sore and my sinuses hurt and I didn’t take a pill this morning so my breasts are empty and I know that without the drugs, there is no milk, and without the milk, there is no nursing, and 2 weeks ago that sounded like a blessing and today that just makes me sad.  No more little monkey lapbaby cuddles while she eats.  No more easy nutrition.  No more easily filling in any gaps in her diet.  (That one is a huge, huge thing.)  No more quiet easy intimacy and bonding – the kind I personally only really found in nursing.  (Not that there’s not all kinds of other bonding and cuddles and loving!  They’re just so much more active.  Baby’s not a huge cuddle-er right now – too much to see and do.)

I’ve breast fed for 14 months.  I’ve required medical assistance for 9 of them.  The baby’s back on track for weight and growth.  I’ve done fine, this is fine. The next step is a good thing, not a bad thing.  I know these things, I keep telling myself these things.  I’m just, you know, hormonal as fuck in the mean time.

Dallas

Dallas is pretty

Dallas is pretty

Oh, hey, I went to Dallas a while ago.  I think I forgot to mention that.

We got to walk on the field during out personal tour

We got to walk on the field during out personal tour

It was lovely.  A very, very relaxed week, where we had many naps and saw a bunch of things and mainly just enjoyed hanging out together, 24/10.  We had a nice hotel suite with a separate bedroom and living room, so David and I could hang out and drink and talk and play games and watch shows after J went to bed.  We went to: the zoo, the aquarium, the JFK site, the Sixth Floor Museum, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, the Doctor Pepper museum, a mammoth burial site, the Cowboys stadium, the Rangers field, a Stars-Flames game, an outlet mall, and the awesome Perot Museum of Nature and Science.  Which sounds like a lot, but that was spread over 10 days.  We also ate a bunch of good food, and had a long chatty lunch with Alyssa.  We enjoyed the hell out of the fact that you can buy booze in grocery stores and that fancy gastropubs have high chairs.  We also had many naps.  It was great.  (We’ll overlook the norovirus and subsequent puking in the parking lot of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing.)  But all in all, a great relaxing trip.

JFK Memorial is lame

JFK Memorial is lame

PENGUINS!

PENGUINS!

SHARKS!

SHARKS!

There was an entire room of old Dr Pepper vending machines - surprisingly interesting

There was an entire room of old Dr Pepper vending machines – surprisingly interesting

Drinking Dr Pepper made by a soda jerk

Drinking Dr Pepper made by a soda jerk

Baby's first NHL game

Baby’s first NHL game

Baby lost interest in the 3rd period

Baby lost interest in the 3rd period

Cowboys Stadium is freaking massive

Cowboys Stadium is freaking massive

Happy baby loves barbeque

Happy baby loves barbeque

Mammoth burial site!  Nerdcation.

Mammoth burial site! We like to take nerd-cations.

Dinosaurs, oh my!

Dinosaurs, oh my!