“Don’t tell your daughter to marry a doctor or lawyer. Tell her to be one.”
That sums up how my mother raised me. I grew up being taught that it was important for a girl to be educated, independent and able to stand on her own two feet. My mother ensured that I always knew that I could succeed in any endeavour, if I put my mind to it. In her eyes, I was a clever, beautiful, and effervescent girl, for whom the sky was the limit. She taught me to believe in myself.
It wasn’t a hard choice between becoming a doctor or lawyer, as being in the legal profession runs in the family. My grandfather was a lawyer and then a High Court Judge, and my father is one of the leading litigators in the country. They taught my sister and I how to think critically and speak with clarity and precision from a young age. So, I completed Law school and went on proudly to practise in the firm founded by our grandfather many moons ago.
So how did I, 15 years later, come to be a paediatric sleep consultant?
The answer is simple. I became a mother. I had my first child in my mid-thirties, and by then I had heard enough from friends about the challenges of parenting to know that being a Mum is a full-time job. While I enjoyed being a lawyer, the hours at work were long, and I did not want to compromise the quality of my work or the service to my clients, nor did I want to feel unbearably guilty for not spending enough time with my kids. So, I resigned and dedicated myself full-time to nurturing my baby with every ounce of my being.
Our little boy was beautiful, healthy and a blessing. But he was a terrible sleeper. I breastfed him exclusively for 6 months, and for me this meant nursing him pretty much all day and all night. He would wake every hour or so during the night, needing to be nursed back to sleep. If I added up all the small pockets of sleep I got in the night, it would have added up to maybe 3 hours a night. And this went on for 8 and a half months.
Being woken multiple times a night was torture. And there was no one else who could truly relieve me for a night, because as mentioned our baby was breastfed.
Some people would tell me it’s okay and to just “nap when your baby naps”, which was a phrase which drove me up the wall. My baby’s naps were only about 20 minutes long at the most, so if I did fall asleep in that window, I would be jolted awake again in a few minutes - which was a joy I could do without.
I was sleep-deprived and emotional. But the worst part was that, although I had given all of myself and then some into nourishing and nurturing my baby, I still felt guilty. For not being a more fun and energetic Mum. For not being in a better mood around him. I also started feeling like our son was bonding more with other members of the household (who weren’t sleep-deprived and cranky), than he was with me. The extreme fatigue mixed with guilt was wearing me down, and I sank deeper into depression.
And then one of my dearest friends, sent me a screenshot of what someone had posted on Facebook about a sleep consultant having saved her life. I immediately got the consultant’s number, dialed it and never looked back.
Sleep training our son, with the compassionate, clear and timely guidance of a good and qualified consultant is hands-down the best choice my husband and I have ever made for our family.
It was hard work, but the rewards were tremendous. Our son slept through for 11.5 hours without interruption on the third night. I couldn’t believe it. My body had become so used to being forced awake every hour, that it took a while for me to adjust to sleeping through the night myself! Our son also started taking long naps in the day, and fell into a solid and healthy routine. I could finally plan outings with ease, and had a sense of control over the day.
Our lives were completely changed, and I was so happy. Our son was contented, developed beautifully, and I was able to truly enjoy him and motherhood. I was the happy and energetic mum I had dreamed of being, and the bond between my son and I deepened.
My husband and I, who were no longer sleep-deprived, felt ready for a second baby when our first was just a year old. So we had another, and having learning our lesson, fostered great sleep habits from early on, so the return of sleepless nights was short-lived.
Through all this, I became PASSIONATE about sleep. Knowing what it was like to be without it, made me love and appreciate it like I never had before I had kids. It became increasingly clear to me what I wanted to do. I wanted to help other desperate parents get their little ones sleeping well.
So I trained with the Sleep Sense Program, and became a certified paediatric sleep consultant.
Today, I am the proud founder of Our Little Chicks Sleep Solutions, an enterprise dedicated to successfully teaching babies and children around the world to become amazing sleepers.
Working with desperate and sleep-deprived mothers is not always easy, but I am rewarded when I see everyone getting the sleep they need. Every parent who has followed my guidance has walked away with a fabulous sleeper on their hands. I love knowing that I have made such positive and lasting impact on these families!