How to Survive Having a Newborn as an Oilfield Wife 

I grew up Alberta Proud, in an oilfield town. My mother was a stay at home mom, and my dad has worked in the oilfield my entire life.

When I was 20, I fell in love with an oilfield man. I considered myself lucky, though he worked long hours on a 12 days on, 2 days off schedule, he came home every night.

Yet, when I was expecting, I could not have been more ill-prepared for what life would be like when he returned to work.

Lee went back to work 3 days after our son was born. I thought that I could handle everything. After all, I was a single parent before I met him, and taking care of two kids should be a piece of cake.  

Boy, was I wrong!

Life fell apart rather quickly. My perfectly cared for house was in shambles, my toddler ate whatever was the quickest thing to make at that moment, and having time to shower was non-existent.

Life was harder than I ever could have ever imagined.

He was home every night, but he was gone before the kids woke up, and got home after they were asleep.

There were times where I wished could go back to how things were before… how things were when I was a single parent. It made me feel guilty because all I wanted then was to stay home and care for my daughter. Yet, I wished I could stop being a stay at home mom.

My children are now 6 and 8, and though Lee and I are done having kids, we often discuss how we would do things differently if another little being was brought into our world.

Here are the top points that we come back to.

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1) Food

Food was one of the hardest things to manage. So hard in fact, that the first thing that Lee would ask when he got home at night is, “Have you eaten today?”

There is a lot of things you can do to prepare for the first six weeks home. Creating a postpartum meal plan that includes a grocery list is a great starting point. Stocking up on gift cards to places that deliver, booking a session at Simply Supper (link http://www.simplysupper.ca/) for quick meal prep, and having a week or two worth of freezer meals or mason jar meals are some ways to reduce your stress when it comes to eating quick and healthy meals.

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2) Cleaning

When I was a single mom, my house looked immaculate. Even with working a full-time job and having a toddler running around, everything was always in the place. When I had my son, everything changed. My house was a questionable mess.

It is nice to think that our partners can help with the housework when they get home, but when they work in the oilfield, their hours are long and hard. Some work away for weeks at a time and others work from before 6 am to after 8 pm. They need a good night’s sleep to ensure that they can be safe on their hazardous work days.

During the first six weeks home, newborns eat often, sleep sporadically, and tend to want lots of cuddles. Spending 30 minutes washing dishes or cleaning the bathroom is next to impossible.

Break it up.

3) Sleeping While dishes and laundry need to happen often, spending 5 to 10 minutes every hour cleaning is often easier. As for other chores, splitting them up into a schedule can help to keep on top of things. For example, on Monday clean the bathroom, on Tuesday clean the living room, on Wednesday clean the kitchen ect.

While dishes and laundry need to happen often, spending 5 to 10 minutes every hour cleaning is often easier. As for other chores, splitting them up into a schedule can help to keep on top of things. For example, on Monday clean the bathroom, on Tuesday clean the living room, on Wednesday clean the kitchen ect.

Another option is hiring help. Having a housekeeper come and do the more time-consuming tasks, or a postpartum and infant care doula to do small tasks while you feed your baby are both viable options.

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Whoever coined the term ‘sleep when the baby sleeps’ must have had a whole houseful of help during the postpartum period.

As an oilfield wife, if I slept when baby slept, my house would have been a larger disarray than it already was. I was used to doing everything by myself, and I wasn’t prepared to ask for or accept help when I needed it. Not to mention, I had a 2-year old who didn’t always nap while my newborn was sleeping.

When your partner works over 12 hours a day, they may not be able to take over the nighttime feeding schedule.

To maximize the amount of sleep that you sleep at night, prepare your house so nighttime diaper changes and feeds can be done quickly and easily. If you are breastfeeding, have a dull night light in the room the baby is sleeping in, and have diapers accessible. Keep it as dark as possible so your baby will fall back to sleep after they are changed and fed. Avoid using your phone or screen during the night to so you can fall asleep quickly. If you are formula feeding, having a Baby Brezza or preparing your bottles the night before and storing them in the fridge can decrease the amount of time you need to be out of bed

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4) Community

As a new mother, it is an unreachable expectation that you will be able to do everything you did before and take care of your baby. Building a strong community can be a game changer.

Reach out to local friends and family. Have them come over to have some baby cuddles while you catch a nap, ask if they can throw in a load of laundry or help with dishes, or enjoy some adult conversation while having a coffee and catching up.

Find a local moms/dads group to join. Having a reason to leave the house for an hour to hang out with a bunch of people who are experiencing the same things as you are is a crucial part of finding sanity in parenthood.

Joining a parenting community on social media that has the same parenting philosophies as you can also be a life saver.

If you are looking for extra support in creating a routine, learning newborn cues, or getting more sleep, you may consider hiring a postpartum and infant care doula. They can be the perfect addition to families whose partner works long hours during those first few months home.  

Having a strong community around you, whether it is organically created or paid for, is a crucial puzzle piece of raising a child.

Having a partner who works in the trades, the oilfield, or other careers where the hours are long provides a unique set of difficulties. There will be moments which drive you crazy, where you don’t know what you are doing or why you are doing it. Just when you don’t think you can go on, something will happen which fills your heart with hope and determination.

Parenthood is full of landmark moments. Share yours with the world.

Terra is the owner of Landmark Doulas. Terra and her team provide professional prenatal classes, labour support services,  placenta encapsulation, ) as well as postpartum and infant care services to families from Edmonton to Drayton Valley and beyond. You can find Terra and her team on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram & Pinterest.

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