Andrew

PAR15-Andrew

Name: Andrew
Age at interview: 39
Gender: Male

Background: Andrew and his wife have a twin son and daughter aged 4 and a daughter aged 2. Andrew also has a 12-year-old son from his first marriage. They live in a regional town. Andrew is a stay-at-home parent and is from an Anglo-Australian background.

About Andrew

Andrew experienced depression following separation from his first wife when their son was 2. Finding the role of stay-at-home-parent to three young children with his current wife enjoyable yet challenging, Andrew found counselling and lifestyle changes helpful.

More about Andrew

Andrew married and had his eldest son when he was 22. He described his son's birth as 'the best day' of his life. He and his ex-wife separated when their son was two. This was very distressing and Andrew sought help from his GP who diagnosed him with depression and prescribed antidepressants (fluoxetine (PROZAC)) for several months. Andrew then focussed on getting shared custody of his son.

Two years later, Andrew met his current wife and soon after marriage they began trying for a baby. After they did not conceive for 18 months a specialist found that Andrew's wife had a blocked fallopian tube and ovarian cysts. They were told that IVF was 'the only option', but Andrew described it as 'a little bit inhuman'. After several cycles of IVF, his wife underwent an operation that cleared her blocked fallopian tube. They decided to implant two embryos on the next cycle, which resulted in twins.

Andrew's wife suffered from extreme nausea throughout her pregnancy. Born at 32 weeks, their twins were in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) for seven weeks. During this time, Andrew was working long hours in a demanding job. His wife struggled with breastfeeding and severe sleep deprivation for six months before reaching a point where she 'wasn't rationally with it anymore'. Needing support, they contacted a Mother and Baby Unit.

Andrew's wife spent a month in hospital with one twin, while Andrew cared for the other at home. Around this time, they weaned the twins and started bottle-feeding. This was a difficult decision as Andrew's wife considered breastfeeding part of being 'a good parent' and felt 'a lot of pressure' to do so. But by bottle-feeding, Andrew could share the workload. Together with the hospital stay, this helped things to improve.

Two years later, Andrew and his wife learned they had conceived naturally. Unfortunately at 14 weeks they had a miscarriage. Andrew said they were 'heartbroken', but soon conceived their daughter.

After Andrew's wife returned to work, they decided Andrew would stay at home. Andrew's wife earned more, and Andrew had wanted to be a stay-at-home father after 'missing out' on his older son's early years because of working full-time and his marriage breakdown. He is enjoying being at home with his children, but believes paid work is easier. Andrew has missed adult company and time to himself, and has found balancing caring for his older son with his three younger children challenging at times.

A year ago, Andrew found himself frequently yelling at his children and 'self-medicating' with wine and coffee. He went to a psychologist and actively worked to improve his lifestyle and diet. Andrew now tries to accept that children are not always going to do what they're told, and will not always need as much attention as they do now.

Andrew's family have recently moved to the country where they find a stronger sense of community. He recommends that stay-at-home parents connect with other parents and join community groups. He also thinks it is important to do things for yourself and spend time with your partner.