A CORK midwife highlighting childcare difficulties faced by frontline workers said there were weeks that she had to stay awake for 36 hours at a time due to childcare difficulties presented by the pandemic.
Sadbh Creed, a midwife at Cork University Maternity Hospital, said her situation is by no means unique among healthcare staff on the frontline of the Covid-19 fight.
The mum of two had to work opposite shifts to her children’s dad in order for daughter Fleur (eight) and son Louis (four) to be looked after.
While the parents were previously able to receive assistance from grandparents and relatives on both sides, Sadbh explained this was no longer a safe option.
This led to times that she had to go 36 hours without sleep due to restricted childcare options.
“As a single parent it’s been very difficult even though their dad has been great,” she said.
“It’s been very difficult for him as he has to try and manage the kids while working from home.
“In some ways, if you’re working out of the house you have the better deal because it’s hard to get anything productive done with kids. We had two sets of grandparents who supported us with the children.
“They say it takes a village to raise a child. When that village is taken away it makes life very difficult. It was down to the two of us and we had to work opposites shifts as much as possible for the kids to be looked after.
“I couldn’t compromise my job in any way. If anything, your conscience wouldn’t let you.”
She said that this has been the reality for many frontline workers.
“If you don’t have anyone to mind the kids then 36 hours without sleep is a reality for a lot of people,” she said.
“When there is no school and no childcare then that is the reality for a lot of people. It’s been challenging trying to balance it all.
“I wasn’t the only person at work who had to do this. When the schools closed, initially we thought this was going to be something short-term.
“Work is very accommodating but when there are 60 people who are all in the same boat you can’t give everyone what they are asking for.”
Ms Creed acknowledged the huge sacrifices made by colleagues facing similar challenges.
“No matter what their childminding situation was, there wasn’t one person who didn’t take overtime.
“You kind of do it for each other because you don’t want anyone else to feel under pressure.”
Sadbh said that while not having the children’s grandparents around was tough, it was a necessary safety precaution.
“When level 5 returned I knew we couldn’t take any chances,” she said.
“Since I work in a hospital I have to be a lot more careful than other people.
“I would rather have to put up with this for another couple of months than have the responsibility on my shoulders for making someone in my family sick.”
The mum of two, whose children returned to school this week, said it can be disheartening to hear of people still opposed to wearing masks.
“In a situation where you are caring for people who can’t have their families around them you would wear a mask forever and a day and now have a problem with it.
“However, there are some out there who are finding it harder to make peace with this than others.”