I'm weaning her.
After 17 months, it is time. I've got nearly nothing left, and she varies from barely nursing at all for days to sucking on me with such ferocity that I feel like my boobs have been drawn through a keyhole with a crochet hook. She doesn't need it anymore, physically. She gets plenty of nourishment from all the things she eats, and we're learning her likes and dislikes more and more as she gets older. Likes: fruit (especially pomegranate, which she calls "apple"), kidney beans, chocolate, anything we're eating that she can't have, black coffee and diet Coke. Dislikes: meat (except ham), little things like rice that are hard to pick up, tomato sauce (but not ketchup--that she loves). Can't eat: dairy, apparently. But a little cheese just yields a few farts so we let that go sometimes.
The past few days have been hard. Her dad's been on duty, going to her in the middle of the night and laying her down for sleep. He's cuddled her at 3 AM, brought her bottles of warmed soymilk, and soothed her tears while I laid in the other room feeling like I repeatedly got hit in the chest with a sack of old boots. At first, there were many tantrums when she'd ask, "Nuh? Nuh?" and I'd have to say no and try to distract her. It took a few days, but the requests come less frequently, and she gives up more easily when I say no.
Today, she woke at 5:30 and no Dad-soothing was good enough. She joined me in the big bed, draping her body over me, tucking her head against my cheek, with a shudder and a gulp. I laid there, relishing the snuggles, missing the closeness. She fell asleep, and I waited until I knew she was really down before gliding her off into the crook of my arm, closing my eyes, and letting go. We slept together like that until 8. On the way down the stairs, she clung to me, hugging me tight.
Today, she's reclaimed me. Not the same, but still all hers. Most of the day has been spent sitting in my lap, pointing to the laptop screen, flipping through magazines, reading books, watching "Gabba!", eating my food, trying to steal my diet Coke, kissing, hugging, poking, and loving. Standing between me and the kitchen counter, pushing me away and then demanding "up!" Dancing. Trying to climb me and startling with surprise when I scream "OW!" as she hits Mommy's ouch bags. Begging for a bite of my pickle. And finally collapsing against me when she's just too exhausted to move. After trying to nap with her, I finally had to do tough love and let her scream until she passed out. She just couldn't let me go.
She's still my baby, my little girl.