Q&A: How will I keep my identity when our baby comes along?
By psychologist Angie Willcocks
A: Firstly, congratulations on your pregnancy.
It sounds like you and your partner have a long standing and unresolved issue around him working away. This disagreement is always bound to raise its head around big life events like births, deaths, illnesses and moving house. The FIFO lifestyle definitely works best for couples and families when there is agreement about working away, and agreement about why working away is a good idea. Setting some shared goals (like saving for a holiday or a deposit on a house) can help couples feel like they’re working as a team. It’s extra hard to put up with all the stress related to the FIFO lifestyle if you’re not clear on why you’re doing it. I have to say then, that my first piece of advice is for you and your partner to re-evaluate him working away and see if it is still the best option for you two as a couple and as a growing family.
If you two do decide that your partner working away is the best option when baby comes along, it’s vital that you enlist some practical and emotional support to help you. If you have friends and family around then please ask them to help you out so that you can get out and about and still do the things that make you feel like ‘you’. If you don’t live close to family or friends then it’s worth considering moving closer to them if that’s feasible.
If you don’t have anyone around to help then it will be important to pay for some practical help, in the form of a cleaner, gardener or child minder. Family Day Care is something you could look into. This is when a registered child minder looks after your baby in their own home. I think this is a good option for families who don’t have their own extended family around. You could also contact your local nanny agency and find out more about booking a nanny to help out with looking after the baby while you go play sport. I know none of this might seem ideal to you at this point, because it’s not what you had in mind, but they are all things that people with newborns do to cope when their partner works away.
Finally, while it’s really normal to feel anxious and becoming a mum, and have moments of worrying about how you’ll cope, a lot of anxiety in pregnancy can contribute to problems coping after the birth. If your fears and worries continue to grow throughout the pregnancy, or you find that your sleep and appetite is affected by anxiety, then it’s really important to get some psychological help before the baby comes along. Have a look at www.beyondblue.org.au for tips and ideas on coping in pregnancy and with a new baby.
All the best!
To talk with a trained volunteer telephone counsellor at any time of the day or night, call Lifeline on 13 11 14. To contact the info line at beyondblue: national depression initiative, phone 1300 22 4636.
To read other columns written by Angie Willcocks during her six years with Mining Family Matters, please click here. And remember that we offer a free email Q&A service with our psychologists, so just click here to ask a question about relationships, parenting or your career. All advice on Mining Family Matters is for general information only and should never be regarded as a substitute for professional health services or crisis services. To talk with a trained volunteer telephone counsellor at any time of the day or night, call Lifeline on 13 11 14. To contact the info line at beyondblue: national depression initiative, phone 1300 22 4636.