Chandrika

PAR28-Chandrika

Name: Chandrika
Age at interview: 34
Gender: Female

Background: Chandrika and her husband have a daughter, aged 4, and are expecting their second child. They migrated to Australia from Sri Lanka in their daughter's first year and now live in a regional town. Chandrika is a full-time mother.

About Chandrika

Chandrika experienced a period of depression following her daughter's birth but wasn't diagnosed. Her mother visited and helped care for Chandrika's daughter. Chandrika struggled to care for her daughter alone after the family migrated to Australia and is thinking of sponsoring her parents to live here.

More about Chandrika

Chandrika grew up in Sri Lanka in a 'very close' family. When her husband took a job in another country, Chandrika said she quit her job as a university lecturer to go with him. She suffered three miscarriages while overseas and described this as a 'terrible time', made worse by her relatives 'asking why' they hadn't had a baby yet. Chandrika conceived again and returned to Sri Lanka, spending most of her pregnancy in bed, not moving. Her daughter was born via emergency caesarean after a 14 hour labour.

Having a baby was a shock. Her daughter's constant crying was distressing and Chandrika missed her previous 'free lifestyle'. She said she had 'baby blues' and felt 'very tired'. Chandrika was supported during this time by her mother and a servant as her husband had moved to Australia when their baby was one month to accept a PhD scholarship.

Six months later, Chandrika and her daughter joined her husband in Australia. This was a very difficult experience. Chandrika's husband's scholarship was limited and they found Australia 'very expensive'. Transport was a problem because they didn't have a car, and Chandrika had to learn to cook, clean, and care for their daughter. She described experiencing racism and people's assumptions that she had come to Australia by boat, and said she found the winter very cold.

Chandrika said although her husband was her 'only friend', he was focused on his studies and had little free time. Without the internet, calling Sri Lanka was expensive and Chandrika said she felt 'too lonely'. She said her early experience in Australia was 'the hardest life' she had experienced, compared with Sri Lanka, where 'everything came to my hand.'

Chandrika described feeling 'depressed' and said she struggled to cope with caring for her daughter. She did not seek help as she didn't 'know anything' about available services. After several months, Chandrika's mother came to visit and was shocked and distressed to see how difficult Chandrika was finding life and parenthood in Australia.

Things gradually started to improve. They bought a car and Chandrika's husband began working. Together with her mother's visit these changes helped relieve some of the pressure they had been experiencing.

Chandrika says that she is now settling into life here, but misses her family and is thinking of applying for visas for her parents to come and live with them. At times, she feels 'trapped' and feels that their lives would have been easier in Sri Lanka. She worries about bringing her daughter up in a different culture, and about education standards in Australia. Chandrika said she has thought about getting a job, but wants to be available for her daughter and is worried about her English skills.

Chandrika is expecting her second child and says she now has 'more confidence' in caring for a baby. She feels well supported by her mother and her husband this time. Chandrika said she can't imagine her life without her daughter, and feels 'stronger' for her experiences.