So I did sleep training with little R previously, and it seemed to work. Then I took her off her reflux medicine as an experiment (to see if she still needed it), and she began to cry and cry when I put her in her crib at night, sounding as if she was in pain. So I put her back on it, which seemed to fix the problem. Then we went on our trip to Seattle, where she had a very irregular sleep schedule and I didn't bother with any kind of sleep training. She actually slept pretty well there, but only 10-6 (instead of 7-7), so I think she was quite exhausted once we got back.
She had a little bit of difficulty in re-acclimating the first night, but not too bad, and for the next two nights slept really really well. But yesterday and today her sleep problems returned, and she is now (three hours after going to bed) crying and screaming. :(
Little R actually doesn't have a problem either with going to bed or with naps. We have a consistent routine (bath, changing, feeding, rocking), and I usually put her to bed awake, after which she falls asleep within 5-10 minutes without crying/fussing. For naps, I always soothe her in the same way, for 5 minutes, and then put her down whether awake or asleep, and she then sleeps peacefully or falls asleep within 5 minutes, sleeping for 1-2 hours (very occasionally as long as 2.5-3 hours; I wake her up if she sleeps longer than that).
The problem is that she wakes up after going to bed for the night, after 30 minutes, an hour, two hours, or more frequently throughout the night. She then will cry and cry. Sometimes going in and giving her a pacifier is enough, and she falls right back asleep. Sometimes it doesn't help (today), and she continues to cry. She isn't hungry, as she has eaten recently; her diaper doesn't need changing; she isn't cold. She is just not able to sleep for an extended period.
I am not sure what to do about this. Usually I go in every 5-10 minutes, tell her it is OK, give her a pacifier if she wants it, pat her briefly, and depart. She will usually stop crying when I appear, and start again once I leave. According to my books, once she can fall asleep on her own, she is supposed to sleep through the night (at least for the most part). But this has not happened.
The pediatrician advised me to 1. only feed her once at night (instead of twice); 2. wait 10 minutes to respond to any night crying, using a timer (I have a really hard time doing this; usually I respond right away, since otherwise I lay there in the dark counting the seconds); and 3. keep doing the 10 minute checking without picking her up/playing with her. She also recommended I give little R a consistent bedtime (since now she goes to bed somewhere between 6-8, depending on how tired she is and when her last nap was). Perhaps I should take her advice: I didn't last night, and am now haunted by the thought that this is why little R is having such trouble today (Am I training her to sleep badly?).
I really want little R to sleep well (which leads her to feel more cheerful, happy, and comfortable). I guess I will try implementing the dr.'s recommendations, even though it is going to be uncomfortable for me (since I worry she is hungry/needs me/sad and needs a hug). If this doesn't work in the next couple of days, I will reassess.