After much discussion, S and I are changing the sleep plan and our expectations, for now. Maybe we will try again in the future, but for now, we are abandoning the "cry it out until she falls asleep at all costs" portion of the sleep plan. Its just not working. She will cry for 3+ hours and still not sleep. Or, fall asleep standing up because she won't even lay down. She is SO stubborn.
So, we have made some slight changes to our plan:
- Strict wake-up time of 8:00 every morning. -- No change.
- First nap 2.5 hours after she wakes up. -- First nap (attempt) 60-90 minutes after she wakes up. [Note: she has not napped in 13 days, other than last weekend when she fell asleep in the car while we were driving to visit my friend.]
- Nurse her before her nap. Then, put her down for her nap awake and do not return for 60 minutes. If she is still awake after 60 minutes, the "nap" is over, and we try again at her next scheduled nap time. -- No change.
- Repeat same routine for her afternoon nap at 2:00 p.m. -- No change, although sometimes we bump it up to 1:00 p.m. if she is extremely grouchy. But she always goes down between 1:00-2:00. p.m. (Not that it matters, since she doesn't sleep anyway!)
- Regular bedtime routine and have her in bed by 8:00 p.m. I will nurse her before bedtime, but we will put her down awake. At night, we can go in to reassure her/soothe her as often as needed, but we cannot pick her up until 60 minutes pass. After 60 minutes, we can pick her up and rock her, etc., but must put her back down awake. -- No change, however, now, after 60 minutes, we go in, physically lay her down, and soothe her to sleep (either by patting/stroking her chest, or just sitting next to her without touching until she falls asleep). It literally only takes 2-3 minutes and is a compromise we are willing to make, in order for all of us to get some sleep.
- Only allowing her to nurse twice per night. Since she is used to nursing all night long, I hate to just cut her off cold-turkey, so we decided to cut her back gradually. For the first week, I will let her nurse once after midnight and once after 4:00 a.m. Next week (assuming she is still waking multiple times...) she will only be allowed to nurse once, and only after 2:00 a.m. Each time she nurses, she must be put back down awake. -- No change.
- NO SLEEPING IN OUR BED NO MATTER WHAT. -- No change.
We've been doing this plan the past several nights and it is working much better for us. E has been sleeping from 9:00ish p.m. until 7:00ish a.m. and only waking 2-3 times, which is better than before. Also, when she wakes up at night, she is quickly soothed back to sleep by me or S patting/stroking her chest. Of course I wish she would sleep all night without waking, but this is still SO much better than before! And, perhaps most importantly, she has not slept in our bed once since we started all of this. Hooray!
So, for now, that's the new plan. Who knows, maybe the original plan would have worked for us eventually, but we just couldn't take it any more. We are hoping that by giving E an hour to soothe herself before intervening, she will eventually figure it out and just go to sleep on her own. Until then, though, we are happy to step in for a few minutes if that's what she needs.
Anyway, that's where we are at with the sleep training. I know others might not "give up" so easily, but for now, this is working for us, and that's all I can ask for at this point. :-)