Was able to figure it out with LOTS of time and LOTS of trial and error. In case anyone else has this problem here are the resources I used and this is what worked for me.
Error codes that came up:
"The Ipod cannot be synced!The required disk cannot be found"
"iPod touch cannot be synced. The Required disk cannot be found"
Resources I used:
None of those things did anything for me (first link I only went back about three pages before I found the combination of actions that worked for me)
What worked for me- I did these things, in this order, and I'm not sure if leaving any of them out would work, but we'll see next time.
1. reboot computer with ipod usb UNPLUGGED from computer
2. open itunes
3. unattach usb that controls mouse- and leave unattached the entire time you're syncing
4. attach usb that controls ipod
It magically started syncing and only took a few minutes. I have almost 2300 songs and it was the first sync, so it was pretty fast I'd say.
ipod touch 4th gen
Win Vista desktop pc
I do also have the situation that a few of my songs won't transfer from the automatically added section- they keep getting dropped into a "not added" folder inside of it. Gonna work that out now, but it's nice to have my library imported now and know what works for me.
Before I was pretty much closing itunes in task manager, reopening it with the ipod unattached, taking the mouse out and putting it back in after attaching the ipod. I think leaving the mouse off entirely was the key. I'm not sure the reboot did much for it but it never hurts to reboot, especially if you're like me and rarely do so. I do notice my itunes freezes up a lot so killing it from processes is the only way to fix it.
Hope this helps someone! I know it was really frustrating for me!