I found sleep consultant Lauren Diaz while looking for answers online, and I admit at first I thought she was an oasis in the sleep-deprived desert of parenting.
What she offered sounded too good to be true. This sleep trainer would actually go through the overnight hell with you and then try to solve it.
Next thing, the qualified night and maternity nanny was in my house offering my partner and I a date night – on a Friday night – along with all night care.
Diaz is a new sleep consultant on the block, but she has over 15 years’ experience. Her Sleep and Nurture business is run with a tender approach and a gentle philosophy that “gets results”.
“My techniques are gentle, effective and do not involve controlled crying or comforting…Leaving you with beautiful, long lasting memories without the sleep-deprived haze,” her website states.
Diaz is warm, kind and easy to invite into the ugly hours of your home-life.
In those wee hours, that are often filled with baby tears, she has solutions and they help families that are at “breaking point”.
Diaz's eldest child sound asleep. Image supplied.
"Some mums do cry. I often walk in the door and the mum is in need of a big hug. They are just so overwhelmed and so grateful that you’re there to help them," says Diaz.
The 33-year-old's gentle method doesn't incorporate controlled crying because she finds it heartbreaking - but she's serious about achieving realistic goals.
"It takes 21 days to create change so if you’re doing the same thing for 21 days then you’ve pretty much locked in that change.
"Some families have created that change a lot earlier than that, and others have taken 28 days. But it’s all very well for me to give them the tools, but it’s up to you guys to follow through," she said.
Diaz stayed in my home for three nights and got a front row seat to my most difficult hours. She sat with me and got a plan in place and now I know what to do, and it’s working.
The Sydney sleep consultant has helped my 23 month-old-son Charlie sleep through the night – in his own bed - for the first time in months. He even slept past 5.30am. I've had almost two years of sleep deprivation and I couldn't be happier.
We’ve flipped the order of things and the parents are back in charge. My baby’s not running the night-shift anymore and I feel like we all know that this is a better arrangement.
Charlie hasn’t been distressed, the change has been a calm and gentle one and it’s surprised me how easy it’s been. So far.
On night one Charlie slept through the night - which never happens. I think Diaz managed to inject an atmosphere of calm that put everyone in the house to sleep.
By the second night I had thrown out his bottles, purchased new pyjamas and a sleeping bag with legs. I made some big changes with my evening routine and re-arranged some things in his room.
There were some wake-ups but Charlie stayed in his own bed after nearly a year of co-sleeping.
This is how I normally sleep. Image supplied.
"There can be an element of crying because we are implementing something different. Often, it’s not what they normally do or are used to, to go to sleep but at no stage am I going to let your child cry it out or leave them to self-settle with an escalated cry. You will support them with your gentle presence," she said.
I thought Charlie would kick-off. I thought he'd be beyond help. But by night two we had taken his bottle away, he was no longer allowed to come and jump in my bed and he was so responsive. He played ball.
“Charlie’s such a good candidate for this. This is not going to take much at all,” she told me the next night.
I'd been afraid to get help although I desperately needed it. I thought it would be some kind of "tough love" torture but the 33-year-old just set out some simple steps that made sense.
"I’m never coming in to fix the child, I’m fixing the parents. It’s you guys that have created these not so great sleep associations and I’m coming in to teach you guys," said Diaz.
The mother of two assesses everything in the home in order to make "positive changes" - she says it's a better approach than sleep schools because it's tailored to your home environment.
"I see a lot of families that have been to sleep schools and it’s just not quite working when they come home," she said.
"I take an overall look at everything related to your child. I want to look at your child’s sleep associations, their food intake and their sleep environment and make those important changes where needed.
"All of this will help the families make a permanent change, not a temporary change."
The Sydneysider spent three nights camped in my lounge room. The mum of two is probably suffering from lack of sleep herself and with back to back night shifts this week, she says the business is like her newborn.
Broken sleep for a newborn is normal but after almost two years of interrupted sleep, I am fed up. It seems I'm not alone. So far, the majority of her clients are 12-month-old boys with dummy habits.
"You have to be really realistic about your goals. A six-month-old physiologically is capable of sleeping through, as long as they are tracking along the percentiles and they have started on their solids. But in saying that, it is really difficult.
"It is my preference to get babies sleeping through before the nine-month mark because they just progress and advance so much after nine months."
Charlie asleep at 6.30am. Shock horror. Image supplied.
Her fee - which she's trying to keep affordable - includes 21 days of support.
Parting with the money has been an additional incentive for me - especially as my lovely father gifted it to me.
The sleep trainer says she has faith that I will be one of the parents that can follow through.
On the last morning, Diaz - who now feels like a friend - gives me a big hug before she leaves at 6am.
Charlie is still asleep and I am already dressed for work. I have make-up on and can can have a quiet cup of tea.
I've finally come up for air. I feel strong. I will sleep again.