The Miner's Girl

The best of both worlds. Life as a fly-in, fly-out girlfriend.

Category: Fly-in, Fly-out

My heart has been split in two, but I couldn’t be happier

I know, I know, it’s been a while since I have posted on here, and for that I seriously apologise – but I have a good reason, I promise.

I would like to announce that Mr Miner and I are expecting our first baby!! And although we are both incredibly excited and happy about this, it has taken me a few months (ok, six!) to work out exactly how I wanted to say this.

Let me say from the start that I feel incredibly, enormously, ridiculously lucky right now, as this is something we have both wanted for a long time, but that doesn’t stop a lot of other feelings coming into play and the last six months have definitely seen some mixed emotions.

Loneliness (with a dash of fear)

Copyright Minersgirl.com

Copyright Minersgirl.com

Early on I got a serious reality check that, at points, this will be a journey I am taking on my own (yes, I probably should’ve worked that one out before!).

From the moment I found out I was pregnant when I was home alone (expecting a negative test again), to experiencing terrifying cramps in my first trimester, to lying on the couch feeling sick as a dog, just wishing that the magic cheese-on-toast-making fairies would come and save me, it slowly dawned on me that it wasn’t all going to be easy and there were times it would be hard and I would be alone. The thought ‘what have I got myself into?’, dashed through my mind more than once.

Luckily the midwives have been generally understanding of the DIDO situation and awkward scheduling. Much better than the GP I went to after 12 months of trying to conceive, who asked when Mr Miner would be home. When I explained he worked week on, week off, she replied, ‘And when is he going to be home for good?’ Gah! Although I am still being asked whether a family member could help out… yep, I’ll just get them to nip over from England for that appointment then…

Worry (with extra fear)

Due to the cramps early on we decided not to tell anyone before 12 weeks, but I also needed that time to get my head around it all. I am usually a pretty well person and not known to take sick days, so the first trimester came as a shock, both physically and emotionally. I was not prepared for constant, incessant tiredness and nausea, but less still was I prepared for the overwhelming fear that accompanied it.

After trying for nearly two years and having attended our initial appointment with a fertility specialist, it’s fair to say that I was astonished when I fell pregnant naturally. As I suffer from Polycystic Ovary Sydnrome (PCOS), which meant my cycle was in no way regular, and Mr Miner is away 50% of the time, statistically and logically the odds were never in our favour.

When I found out I was pregnant, not only did I find it hard to believe, but also I couldn’t get past the feeling that someone was going to come along and say ‘only joking’, and take it away from me. I didn’t want to do anything to ‘jinx’ it, whether that be telling people, reading too much about it or thinking too far forward.

Despite my boobs swelling to ridiculous proportions (you know they have the fruit and veg scale for the baby’s growth? I could’ve had that for my breasts!), I wouldn’t even allow myself to buy new bras until after the 12 week scan in case,  just by making myself more comfortable, something bad would happen. I was overjoyed, excited, but constantly terrified.

Guilt (with some anxiety)

Obviously you can’t live in a terrified state constantly (although even writing that is making me anxious!) and by the time I started to feel better and my tummy had started to swell, my parents had arrived in Oz and we could start telling people (as I wanted to tell them first), but here come the mixed emotions again….

The reason this is not a Facebook post is because I know what it’s like to see lots of pregnancy and baby announcements when you’re facing constant disappointment, and I was aware that I had friends in the same position.

The more you try and the more disappointment you face, the more you find that other people are going through the same thing. Lots of women, whose partners are also in mining, reached out with stories of how they were trying or tried to get pregnant (including some hilarious stories of conjugal visits and turkey basters!), but also other people in my life who, whether due to fertility issues, timing issues, or those altogether more complicated issues for my friends in same sex relationships, were in exactly the same position as us. This was so comforting when we were trying too, but I suddenly became acutely aware that I had crossed over to the other side and become ‘one of them’ – the gleeful fertile, so shiny and happy, and for this I felt incredibly guilty.

Thankfully my friends are an absolutely stellar bunch (which is probably why I keep them around!) and once I began to tell people they were all supremely happy for us, and brave faces or not, I knew they were truly excited.

And then came the really hard bit, the moment I knew my heart had been split in two forever….

Sadness and joy all rolled into one (with a tiny bit of terror)

The joy of reaching the ‘home straight’ of semester three arrived hand-in-hand with Christmas, which should also be a joyful time, but when you live 17,000km from ‘home’, it is also always a reminder that you have loved ones elsewhere and it’ll never quite be the same without them. Not helped by the fact our family Christmas is the best ever (FACT) and everyone else is doing it wrong (I know you want to hit me right now).

And with Christmas also came the realisation that until now I had been free to come and go as I please. I had always been lucky enough to have the time and funds to be able to go home whenever I wanted, but it suddenly dawned on me that financial implications and responsibilities will mean I can’t be as free as that once we have a new family member, someone else to consider and no longer a full double income! (seriously, you think I would’ve considered at least some of this beforehand).

Despite thinking I had accepted that I was probably here for good a long time ago, because as long as I was with Mr Miner it makes more sense as a couple, it’s more financially viable, (plus he said from the very start that he never wanted to live in England again!), it has all become very, very real. Having an Aussie baby means saying goodbye to my traveller life, goodbye to fantasies of home and fully admitting to myself that I am definitely here forever (gosh, that’s a big word!).

There is a quote, which I think is by the author Miriam Adeney, but let’s face it – I saw it on Facebook! Anyway, I think it sums up what I am trying to say here:

Quote by Miriam Adeney, via Pinterest

– Miriam Adeney, via Pinterest

“You will never be completely at home again, because a piece of your heart will always be elsewhere. That is the price you pay for the richness of knowing and loving people in more than one place.”

I know the year ahead is going to be another year of mixed emotions. This is going to be a year of ups and downs, absurd highs, but also lows (I know I will have to say hi and bye to my Mum already). There will certainly be rewards and challenges. But most of all it is a time to be positive, because through it all, I vow to remember that I am incredibly lucky to be able to feel any of this.

Ten things I’ve learnt over five years as a Miner’s girl

I’ve had a bit of a hiatus recently due to a combination of things, one of which has been moving house. We only moved from one side of the city to the other, so not a huge upheaval, but as our last move three years ago was only around the corner (quite literally) and it caused arguments, tears and threats of deportation, I approached this move with some trepidation.

But, in fact it was pretty easy. Of course there were late nights, pulled muscles and we were still packing the kitchen when the movers not only arrived, but had packed the van and gone, but there were no threats of abandonment or cars crashed into moving trucks (yes, I may have reversed Mr Miner’s car into a moving truck on a previous occasion!).

In fact, when our friends brought emergency coffee supplies the morning after the move, we were all cheery, smug and smiley, so pleased with ourselves and our effortless moving style. Obviously we hadn’t unpacked any boxes or braved Ikea at this stage, but still, I was very proud of what we had achieved. And, yes I do count not killing each other on moving day a serious achievement.

The other thing that happened during my Miner’s Girl hiatus is the five year anniversary of us meeting. Now, let’s be honest, I obviously mean five years since a drunken hook-up that neither of us thought was going anywhere (sorry Mum), but there’s no simple word for that. Anyway, the coinciding of the big moving day achievement and our ‘anniversary’ got me thinking about the things I have learnt over the last five years that have helped us go the distance (FIFO pun intended).

1. Communication is key…

 mindy mindreader
 Source: redcrosschat.org

Hints don’t work, be upfront and get on the same page.

2. …But do it your way

 Source: Giphy.com

Contrary to popular belief t’s actually ok not to be on the phone everyday.

3. Get a life!

 Source: Giphy.com

Waiting around for your other half to come home is no way to spend your time. I have joined gyms and bookclubs, I’ve volunteered and I’ve forced myself on new friends, but at least I’m not bored!

4. Give him a break

 Source: Giphy.com

Don’t feel rejected! do you really want to do the kind of things he gets up to with his idiot mates?

5. Sundays are lonely

 Source: Giphy.com

Remember though, every cloud has a silver lining; when he’s home Sunday’s will be appreciated all the more. And when he’s not? You won’t hate Mondays quite as much as everyone else does!

6. Get some help

 Source: Giphy.com

Pay for movers, pay for cleaners. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it.

7. Know your love language

 cuddling-rabbits
 Source: imgur.com

We all demonstrate love differently. How do you show yours? I love cuddles and Mr Miner apparently shows his love by leaving socks all over the house…

8. Some people won’t get it

 Source: Giphy.com

Sometimes T. Swizzle just says it best! As long as you are making each other happy, it doesn’t matter how they feel about it.

9. A little help goes a long way

 Source: Giphy.com

In this lifestyle the small things make a difference, so help each other out when you can.

10. A ‘routine’ sex life isn’t a bad thing.

 Source: Giphy.com

Just like Ryan Gosling topless, Fly-in night sex. Never. Gets. Boring!

The hardest part is saying goodbye

‘I don’t want to say goodbye’, he said.
‘I know’, I said, ‘but it’s only for now, you’ll feel better later.’
‘But the longer we’re together, the harder it is to say goodbye’, he said.
‘I know’, I said, ‘but it’ll get easier.
‘But I just love having a beard’, he said.

At which point I gave a long sigh of exasperation and told him that it was totally up to him whether or not he decided to shave his beard off.

We have been doing this for five years (the lifestyle, not the beard conversation) and in that time I have learnt that this DIDO/FIFO thing is much easier if you don’t actually have to say goodbye.

The beardI am lucky that due to his 7/7 roster he always leaves on a Wednesday after I’ve gone to work, so I just give him a kiss goodbye as I leave for work at 7am, usually while he’s still asleep and then I come home on a Wednesday evening and he’s not there. I return home and it feels a little too empty, things abandoned where he left them (slightly annoying), but usually with little gestures that make my heart swell (washing up done, dinner in the fridge, a haphazard attempt at last minute tidying) and although he’s gone, I know he’ll be back soon.

I wonder whether missing someone has something to do with being left behind. When we lived in Orange and I used to travel back to Sydney for the week to work, he always used to seem to take it harder too. I would get on a train and end up in Sydney with my friends and work and busy social life and he would be left behind with not much to do.

Similarly now, although he has a long drive ahead of him, he has something to do and somewhere to be, which is enough to keep him busy. As with many situations in this lifestyle, boredom is loneliness’s evil companion and staying busy is often the key to beating it.

So usually we manage not to say goodbye and just carry on our routine as normal, actually quite enjoying the time we have apart to do our own thing.

But this week, not only did Mr Miner go back to work a day early for training, but I decided to work from home to get some projects completed, which brings me back to where I started…

I am working in my office when he comes in to disturb me with ridiculous beard questions! In defence of my flippancy, he has been growing the beard for over a year and I had already suggested that maybe as he is not, a) a hipster, b) a bikie or c) homeless, that maybe it was time to say goodbye to the beard (also he sheds like a cat!).

I stood and watched (read laughed and took pictures) as he shaved it off just before he left to go back to work and as a face emerged that I hadn’t seen for over a year, I was struck by a sudden wave of sadness.

Maybe it was the funny fuzzy face that made me laugh, maybe it was the handsome stubbly face that reminded me of when we first met, or maybe it’s just that I’m not used to doing this anymore, but whichever it was, I suddenly didn’t want to say goodbye.

I did the dutiful girlfriend thing and walked him to the car, kissed him goodbye and waved him off from the front step and when I walked back inside our flat it felt to quiet, too cold and too empty, slightly abandoned and again I felt a little sad. And just as I was thinking how long a week apart could feel I walked back into the bathroom to see the sink covered in beard hair.

Saying goodbye is hard, but there’s always something to remind me he’ll definitely back. And probably sooner than it takes me to stop finding beard hair all over the place!

Help! Our phones are stopping us communicating!

Ask anyone in a long distance relationship, be that DIDO, FIFO or any other kind, and they will tell you that one of the keys to making it work is communication. The trouble with working FIFO is that often, due to internet connection, time differences and shift work, it can mean  a lot of this communication is via text rather than talking.

Of course we are lucky that there are so many ways to communicate now (we’ve come a long way since patchy satellite phone calls) and for the most part texting is fine. A quick message to say, ‘What are you doing?’ or ‘How was your day?’ is easy enough, but it’s not exactly the best way to convey emotion.

I usually like to think that Mr Miner and I have got it all figured out when it comes to communication.

We know our schedules and what time to call, we give each other space when we’re too tired to talk, we don’t put too much pressure on having to have a conversation if we don’t have much to say and we always try to have one good, long catch up call during a swing. But this last week we’ve had a major communication failure.

I’m sure everyone at some point has received a text where they’ve been confused by (or worse still, misunderstood) the emotion behind it. Are they really angry with me or are they joking? Is that a sarcastic smiley emoji or do they really think that dress looks nice?! Sometimes you just wish you could read their facial expression, or even just hear their tone of voice so that you could know exactly what they’re thinking.

There are some times when text just isn’t the right medium for communication, and then there are times when technology fails completely… which is what happened to us this weekend.

It all started with a simple conversation about whether we want to move house or not. I wrote what I thought was a simple enough text and he responded with a one word reply, ‘What?’

I will say now that Mr Miner has many strengths but written communication is not one of them. Have you ever written a text when you’ve had a few drinks, realised that not all the words are quite right, then decided rewriting it properly is just too hard with your wine-goggles on, and sent it anyway? Well it feels like Mr Miner texts like that at all times!

His seeming allergy to punctuation and unwillingness to either read or use it does get the grammar-Nazi in me fired up. It can also lead to some interesting interpretations and sometimes I think I may have an easier time deciphering semaphore than one of his messages.

So, needless to say, when I received this response I didn’t have much patience, thinking he was just reading it wrongly.

‘What, what?’, I replied.
‘What are you talking about?’ I received in return.

As he was at work this conversation took place over several hours, with each of us getting more frustrated with every response. Shouty capitals and offensive emojis were thrown around like grenades over the treches, phones were slammed onto sofas in exasperation (don’t you miss the slam of a landline?) and crankiness took over. Until finally one of us cracked:

‘I’m done talking’, he said.
‘Sounds about right’, I lobbed back in response.
And then radio silence, both of us raging…

Until, ‘beep, beep’, I offered my phone an angry sideways glare, only to see a screenshot from Mr Miner. This should be good, I thought (of course knowing I was right the whole time). But when I compared his version of the message to mine, it all became clear. Our phones are trying to split us up!

Text confusion

And then I cracked up laughing, because what else can you do with something so ridiculous? I replied with the version from my phone and then we are all ok again, a united front against our terrorising technology.

No matter how far we’ve come since the patchy satellite phone, it just goes to show that sometimes it really is good to talk!

Absence makes the heart grow fonder…. or maybe just a little forgetful

MG Friday

This weekend was our first Friday night at home together since December 5th. Our first Friday night at home together for eight weeks, that’s nearly two months!

And I don’t mean our first Friday night at home because we’ve both had plans, or been out for dinner together, or had after-work drinks, or because our lives are just so wildly exciting and sociable. No, I mean it’s the first time we have both been in the same city on a Friday night for eight whole weeks!

I am shocked, not just because it’s been such a long time, but also because I didn’t notice. I’m not trying to seem cool and aloof, believe me (I am so not hipster enough to pull that off). I could talk about how hard it’s been and how much I’ve missed him and how lonely it’s been, but quite frankly, that just wouldn’t be true.

In all honesty I didn’t even realise until I was driving home from work that afternoon. I had that niggling feeling like I was forgetting something, was I supposed to be going somewhere after work? Had I forgotten my keys?… Nope, just momentarily forgotten I had a boyfriend at home!

Mr Miner had been at work and I had been away for Christmas, then he had been back at work again and there had been weekends away in between, then all of a sudden you realise just how little you’ve seen each other, it just creeps up without you even realising.

Obviously I would like to spend all (ok, let’s not push it, maybe 70 per cent of) our Friday night’s together in an ideal world, but the fact is that the longer you live this lifestyle, the easier time apart becomes.

I think in some ways we have been lucky that we have never known anything different. Since we met Mr Miner has worked away and so we have never been able to get into a routine of being together 24/7, relying on that security.

Have you ever watched that show ‘Don’t Tell the Bride’? Well, they have to spend three weeks apart while they plan the wedding and there are always tears. They cry about how much they miss each other and then when they’re reunited they always say ‘Let’s never, ever spend that long apart again’, and I can’t help but roll my eyes and think, seriously?

Am I a totally cynical bitch? I love Mr Miner, we have built a solid life together over the last five years, but I can’t imagine being so upset about being apart for three weeks. Three weeks apart is often standard practice for us.
And then I think back to when we first lived together and he left me in our new house to go to work and I was suddenly very alone. That feeling of anxiety set in, like a dead weight in my stomach and I cried when we said goodbye, gutted that I wasn’t going to see him… for four days!

And suddenly I realise how easy it is to take what we have now for granted.

If you are just starting out in this way of life, then I will be honest and admit that yes, it can be difficult to start off with. The hardest thing is learning to be by yourself.

It’s so important early on to plan your time apart and choose things that you want to do. I love watching a girly movie, having drinks with my friends, cooking the food I like and not having to share the remote or the bed (or the bathroom for that matter). And now I look forward to my ‘me’ time. I long for my guilt-free nights where I don’t have to think of anyone but myself and I don’t tend to get lonely or upset, in fact I have a pretty great time!

As for this weekend, as well as making me realise that I have got pretty good at doing this FIFO thing, I have also realised that I shouldn’t take finding it easy for granted. As much as I’m ok with being apart, there are some nights (especially after eight weeks) when you just can’t beat being together.

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