I think we have the same child! I could have exactly written this post and I totally commiserate. My baby is nearly 10 months and things are kinda, albeit slowly, getting better. Months 0-4 were heavenly, and since then they've been rough. I also had the same breakdown at around the 8 month mark.
Initially my baby would only have 20 minute naps. These finally have extended to 45 minutes. I'm not sure if it was an age thing, or if it was because I worked for a week on not getting her awake at the 20 minute mark. I would sit there with her, or hold her in my lap, armed with a soother and my boobs to quickly soothe her back into a deeper sleep when she started to stir. Now, we have a 45 minute - 1 hour long nap at 9:00 am and a 1.5-2 hour nap around 1:30 pm. I often still have to soothe her back to sleep 1/2 way through the nap. Bedtime is at 7:00 pm for the baby (we tried making it earlier/later, but it didn't seem to improve anything).
At the height of my crisis which was between Christmas and into the first weeks of January, we instituted a sleep plan. We wanted to help the baby make positive sleep associations because she was waking up every hour between when she went to bed and when we did, and then was nursing all.night.long. Not nursing for food, but for comfort. We also wanted her to sleep in her own bed in our room for the first part of the night before we went to bed.
It worked so well for the first few nights. They were hard. I wrote about it over on the queer parenting forum, so I'll just paste that for you here -
We've reset her sleep associations and changed it up on her. After Christmas we consistently made sure she was taking her 2 daily naps in the pack n' play. One day, I had fed her 30 minutes before her nap and put her down without nursing. I would lay her on her side, sing a lullaby to her, and let her play with my fingers. She was out with me singing the song twice! (I really wish I had been more thoughtful in choosing a lullaby 9 months ago cause I sick of the mockingbird song). Then at night I was also able to put her to sleep without nursing (she'd nurse and when she popped off awake I'd transfer her over) and repeat the routine above, adding in a dark room only lit with a nightlight and a fan for white noise. Then at night we committed to not picking her up or nursing her back to sleep for 3 or 4 hours. We'd just sing, let her play with our hands, give her the binky and rub her back until she fell asleep. She would fuss and cry a little mostly because I wouldn't pick her up (when we had tried something similar at 6 months and 8, it was only twice, she screamed bloody murder for an hour and then I gave up). Since I was consciously timing her feeds, I could correctly guess whether she was hungry or just needed some help getting back to sleep.
The first night went well, but we had lots of waking up and two periods where it took 1-1.5 hours to get her back to sleep. The second night, she only woke up 5 or so times, and was only difficult to soothe back to sleep once, and last night she woke up a grand total of 3 times! Two times to eat and once where it took me less than one lullaby to get her back to sleep. The best part was that the hourly waking in the first part of the night seems to be over now. I'm hoping to get her to do a dream feed at 10:30 or 11:00 pm before we turn in for the night and move her from her pack n' play to our bed and then another feed around 3:00 - 4:00 am and then up for the day at 7:00 am. There's that elusive sleeping through the night (a glorious 5 hours) that maybe we'll one day try to achieve, but we're nowhere near that yet!
- so where did it all fall apart? The baby had an allergic reaction to eggplant which ruined one night of sleep and the next night she dove out of her pack n' play (she's okay) and was scared to death to go back in it.
What I realize is that we're trying to make too many changes, too quickly. I so desperately want to find something that works and want it to work instantaneously. Well, my kid is like me, she's very stubborn and knows what she wants, and it's just not going to be that easy. She's also in a pretty big separation anxiety phase. She clearly wants to sleep with her mommies and is the kind of kid who can't be sleep trained.
After I somehow got some sleep and began to think rationally again, we're trying to get her to sleep on her own Montessori style mattress on our floor for naps and the first part of the evening. I no longer nurse her to sleep. We nurse, then I put her on her bed (or on our bed beside me) while she cuddles with a toy, her blanket and sometimes her soother. I'll sing to her and rub her back. And she goes to sleep. Sometimes with some minor fussing. Sometimes with none at all.
Once I get some energy again, I'll stay with her in our room and prevent her from fully waking every hour and hopefully she'll soon teach herself how to go back to sleep and maybe I'll get one of those 2-3 hour periods of sleep that other parents talk about. And maybe one day I'll get one of those 5-hour stretches.
I hope in all of this that there's something that may help. If not, you and I can start our own ranting thread!