Okay, blog friends, we are going on Night 11 and things are smoothing out. Thanks for all of your encouragement to see it through. Tonight we had 5-6 minutes of mild fussing, with both boys asleep within 20 minutes. The boys are even settling very easily, with no crying, after both of their night feedings. They're getting up later (7:15am), smiling and ready for the day. And hey, there are smiling, relatively well-rested parents there to greet them.
Sleep training is the right choice for our family.
But what the heck. All the books (and even our pediatrician!) assured me it would take 3-5 nights of crying to get to zero...and that at the most we could expect 20-30 minutes. Ha! Meet my twin screamers! At Night 8, we were at 33 minutes of crying, which was a huge improvement but still a lot to take, so I broke down and talked to a sleep consultant. Part of me felt lame for needing help with something so basic, but why? I help people all the time so I should ask for it when I need it.
It was money well spent. When you're sleep deprived and have new-parent guilt to boot, you need someone to spell things out for you. Turns out I may have a couple of "spirited" children on my hands. I don't feel totally comfortable with labels, but the consultant did offer a range of expectations that seemed more realistic for my guys - including an adjustment period of 10-14 days for major changes (like sleep training). I no longer feel like it's all my fault that the boys never fell asleep on their own when I put them down "awake but drowsy."
She also helped me formulate a plan moving forward, including how to get the boys to fall asleep in their bed for naps. Currently I'm walking or nursing them to sleep for every nap. Yes, that means 2-4 times per day, I pack them up in car seats, schlep down 2 flights of stairs (oh yes, and carry them back up 2-4 times), and prowl the neighborhood, hunting for the Sand Man. Okay that makes me sound a little "Night of the Living Dead," but I do get a bit zombie-like on limited sleep and this strict fitness regimen the boys have me on. They are quite the taskmasters :o)
On the bright side, I'm back in pre-pregnancy jeans and becoming a real fixture in the community.
I'm sleeping again! I can see a bright side!