I'm trying very hard not to tell myself I've screwed it up, but... I'm wondering if I've (we've) screwed it up. Please help.
My 20 month old son is sleeping poorly. It's a major regression - he's never been a great sleeper, but we'd reached the point where he was often only waking once a night, and we'd even made great progress having him sleep in his own bed, either a toddler bed in our room, or his own twin bed downstairs. During the best time, a couple of months ago, he would nurse to sleep in his bed downstairs, I would get up after perhaps ten minutes, and he would sleep there on his own until somewhere between 3 and 6 in the morning, then wake and cry. We'd go pick him up, put him back to sleep, either by nursing or bouncing on a yoga ball, and he'd sleep in our bed for the rest of the night. When he did wake, he'd work hard to put himself back to sleep, often succeeding - he'd roll around, trying different positions, and giving himself time to lay still. When he didn't succeed, it was usually because he was trying to hard - switching positions too fast when it didn't work immediately, and getting frustrated. Still, we were feeling pretty good, since he was developing self-soothing techniques, sleeping independently, and occasionally even sleeping through the night.
Now? He's awake every hour on the hour, a lot of nights, waking writhing and uncomfortable. When it's particularly bad we give him acetominaphen, but often even that doesn't allow him to sleep peacefully. He nurses, but rarely goes back to sleep after nursing, requiring bouncing anyway. He'll wake and immediately ask for "Pick up" or "Daddy please", sobbing if we give him space or try to soothe him in other ways. Gentle stroking on the back (petting) used to help, now it just makes him more upset. This phase started when he began teething for his final set of molars, and of course we blamed the teeth, but although the teeth haven't shown, he's not showing teething signs at the moment, and his sleep's still a disaster. A good night means we get a couple of three hour stretches. I pray that eventually the molars will come and that will be the end, but I fear it's not all teeth at all.
The irony is that he naps beautifully, most of the time, nursing quickly to sleep often after asking for a nap, and staying asleep alone in his own twin bed for 1.5-3 hours. He'll shift position without waking, or if he is wakened by a disturbing noise, he'll usually close his eyes and drift back to sleep. He wakes up cheerful and alert.
The one saving grace of our difficult nights is that he doesn't wake up and want to stay awake - he definitely, definitely wants to be sleeping. In fact, he's so angry and frustrated by the fact that he's not asleep, and he makes it very plain. So why can't he? Are we making him too reliant on our assistance to go back to sleep? Is this a phase, and his regression will pass? Are we doomed? I can't imagine having another child, just at the moment, when the one we have can't sleep!
Help! Words of wisdom? Encouragement? Gently mocking pity?