I've gotten some great advice from you in the past, so I thought I'd give it another shot with our current Big Issue. I think that I need as much help on this issue with myself as I do with my daughter.
DD is 25 months old and has always had a difficult time with sleep, and particularly napping. I didn't have a lot of help when she was an infant, and did all of the night-time parenting. In my exhaustion from the nights, I started getting more and more frustrated with my inability to get her to nap during the day. I NEEDED it. I felt like I was truly on the brink of insanity, and had a number of intense days, breakdowns, fits of uncontrollable anger that I didn't recognize in myself... At times I felt like I hated being a mother, and I felt angry at my daughter for making me feel that way, too!! ALL of this intensity of feeling somehow manage to express itself through one issue: Napping. So, even now that I'm not quite so exhausted, I get hit by waves of powerful anger when my daughter fails to nap.
From about 19 - 24 months my daughter was generally taking one 40 minute nap a day. At 21 or so months, there started to be periods when I couldn't get her to nap every day. Now, at 25 months, it suddenly seems like I can't get her to nap at all. When she does nap, she goes to sleep fine at night, still waking 2 - 3 times on a good night, though fully night-weaned. When she doesn't nap, her night-time sleep becomes a complete shambles. Lately her nights have been 11.5 or so hours long with a 3 hour stretch of intermittent dozing and several other "hard" wake-ups. And HUGE resistance to any suggestion of napping. She has never "just fallen asleep," so no matter how tired she gets, this just does not happen, even in the car. She is beyond exhausted, and her behavior is disintegrating. I feel like I keep trying lots of different strategies to help her nap, but they all backfire, and eventually that anger of mine comes rushing back, and then I feel like I've sabotaged the whole effort.
This poor baby needs a nap so badly, and I have no idea how to provide it for her. I feel guilty, frustrated, and exhausted. I really need some advice.
Thank you so much in advance, and for being here to answer questions from bewildered moms!
P.S. If it helps, before things went haywire our sleep pattern was something like this:
6 - 6:30 a.m. wake-up
11:30 a.m. lunch
12:00 p.m. (or whenever lunch is done) diaper, read, bottle, and I would "pat" her to sleep in her bed*
12:30 - 1:30 40 minute nap somewhere within this
6:05 p.m. start bedtime routine (brush teeth, PJs, books, then lights out and bottle, then lying in her bed with me next to her)
7:00 p.m. usually asleep
* when she stopped falling asleep at nap time, I dropped this bottle, too; we're trying lying down together and listening to a book on tape instead....not working