Hi Beauty, I am so excited to have you here.
My name is Renee Sciulli and I am the founder of Sweet Dreams Baby. I am incredibly passionate about the work that I do as a baby sleep consultant. I have done this work for the past 7 years.
As a Certified Sleep Consultant, families reach out to me to help them get more sleep.
However, helping families get more sleep, and hearing words like ‘you saved my marriage’ or ‘I could not have done this without you’ are only part of the reason I do what I do.
Yes there are even more reasons to do this amazing work. And that’s why I’ve started this blog. I truly want to help as many people as I can learn from my experience.
Becoming a First Time Mum
My journey into becoming a Certified Maternity and Child Sleep Consultant began the day my daughter was born back in February 2011- I just didn’t realise it at the time. My earliest memories of becoming a mother are not filled with a whole lot of happiness and overwhelmed joy. I do however get a sense of overwhelm while I sit here writing this as my mind wanders back to her delivery and the weeks and months that followed.
It began with a call to the delivery suite at 8:30am only to hear the words from the midwife on the other end say “if you are in labour, try and have something to eat now because it will be a long day” and finishing off with stirrups, a ventouse and a 3C tear. I will leave my birth story for another day!
I spent 6 nights in the hospital with a very unsettled baby, and by unsettled I mean, cried unless she was attached to my bleeding nipples unsettled. I was no expert, but I was sure she was hungry and trying to get my milk to come in. The books I had read were all starting to come back to me! But this was 5 days on, and still NOTHING.
I asked one midwife for a 20ml formula top up and she answered swiftly back with a ‘No, if you can just keep offering her your breast this will help it come in faster”. Again beauties, I was no expert, I had only been a mother for 5 days at this point, but I can tell you one thing, I had a hungry baby, her and I had had no more than about 25 hours sleep in 5 days, I had chronic migraines, passed out one morning in the shower, cracked bleeding nipples, had to sit on a donut cushion, was eating laxatives like there were going out of fashion and I had no clue how to help calm my baby.
When Two Became Three
When we finally arrived home, it took us a little while to find our groove as a family of three! My husband Cory, our daughter Amalia and I all slept in the same room. On advice from a breastfeeding class I attended in the hospital, I had an alarm set on my phone to wake her every 2 hours to feed. I would wake at each alarm overnight, change her nappy to try waking her, only to have her suck for 3 minutes and fall straight back asleep.
This routine went on for a couple weeks and all of a sudden I found I no longer had to set alarms to feed as she was sleeping for no longer than 40-60 minute stretches overnight. Somewhere in all of this we had introduced a dummy, changed her from a bassinet to a cot and the only settling tool I had in my tool kit was to breastfeed her.
So Many Changes and So Little Sleep
By now we had been parents for 6 months. We had moved house, she had a cot in her own room, still had a dummy, had graduated from swaddle to arms out sleeping bag, had blockout curtains, we had tried white noise, the radio, night lights, co-sleeping, prams, carriers, the car, and quite possibly other thing’s too (I’m not sure there is much left) and our little darling just REALLY didn’t think much of sleep.
My husband is a night owl and can function well with little sleep, however this Mumma loves her sleep and I kept trying to tell my baby girl that sleep is GREAT. She would really like it if she gave it a try. I clearly remember sitting beside her cot patting her back thinking, it must be when she is 12 months that the magic penny will drop and she will learn how to sleep. It hadn’t dropped at 6 months, which, when she was 4 months I had convinced myself was going to happen.
Twelve months of being a mummy to this beautiful little girl came around and guess what? Still NOTHING! No magic penny moment, and NO SLEEP.
When I Hit Rock Bottom
It Was Bittersweet
Honestly, I don’t have a lot I can tell you about the first 12 months of being a mum. I don’t remember most of it. What I do remember is the emptiness. The isolation. The sadness. The shell that was my outer body turning up to places and being present but not being present at all. The sleep deprivation. The resentment. Sadly I let these feelings go on controlling me for too long. When we found out I was pregnant with our son I knew it was time to seek some help. I wanted to be around to watch our children grow.
Being diagnosed with post-natal depression and anxiety was bitter sweet. I was angry. I had been such a strong independent women who could handle most things. Then I became a mother and had no clue what I was doing. I felt like a complete failure. All areas of my life were coming unstuck and now I would have another little person to be completely responsible for in just a few months.
Hearing the words post-natal depression and anxiety was like the final blow to my soul. I stopped breathing for a split second and then cried hard. The tears were happy tears! A weight had been lifted from my shoulders, because everything I had been feeling finally HAD A NAME. I could breathe again!
Sleep Obsession Was Born
So Was Oliver
Having a toddler that didn’t sleep well and a baby on the way, it was time to get serious about this baby sleep stuff.
I began reading every article, book, sleep study I could get my hands on. I completed 4 courses, some with a newborn! Yes, our son Oliver arrived amid all this and I am sure you guessed it, he loves sleep! I will save his sleep journey for another day.
I had reached out for help to 3 different sources and found advice was all relevant, but no-one had really got to know me or my child. What I have come to realise after all these years of working directly with parents is this:
- every child is unique,
- every parent has their own parenting style,
- the personality of the parent and child matters, and will help decide the way we work together,
- if the problem is not big enough to dig in and do the work to change it, then you won’t.
Sleep is the icing on the cake. If some of your key ingredients are missing, the proveribial cake won’t rise.
Kindness, Professionalism and Support
My passion for supporting families by offering professional advice on my area of expertise runs deep.
Self-confessed best cheerleader you can find, survivor of Post Natal Depression and Anxiety, believes whole heartedly in love and kindness solving most things. I’m an avid supporter of all women, especially Mums, and I will always be in your corner rooting for you to be successful.
As a baby sleep trainer, I will never get sick of receiving messages from my sleep consultant clients wanting to share their successful resettle or nap success or the first time ever of SLEEPING THROUGH THE NIGHT!
Where to From Here?
If you would like some help with how to settle a newborn you might be interested in this article.
If you are worried about your own mental health and wellbeing or that of someone you know, head over to the Beyond Blue website.