'Parent carers are not valued,' says mum who gets four hours' sleep
An exhausted Meath mother who survives on just four hours' sleep has called for recognition in the next Budget for the roles of full-time parent carers.
Tracy Carroll, from Bohermeen, had no choice but to give up her job to care for her daughter Willow (2), who suffers from spastic quadriplegia cerebral palsy and epilepsy.
Willow was born on December 1, 2016, but was removed from life support two days later and not expected to live.
At just four days old, Tracy and her husband John took Willow home under palliative care but the little fighter clung on to life and survived.
However, her complex condition means Tracy survives on just four hours' sleep each night, drives her daughter to various health appointments and is entitled to just €73 a week because John is in full-time employment.
Tracy is also mum to Noah (5), who needs her love and attention. "No day is ever the same and we cannot plan forward or take anything for granted," said Tracy. "Willow is peg fed and due to her epilepsy and other complex issues is on seven different medications.
"With the peg feed and medications, free time is limited and so it can be hard to leave the house.
"I go to bed about midnight most days and must get up again at 3am when her peg feed is complete.
"Between dropping Noah off to school and bringing Willow to various medical and physio appointments in Cavan, Navan or Dublin, the days can be demanding and pressured."
Tracy finds it unfair and says the family are in a sense penalised by the State.
"We have been paying PAYE contributions in one way or another since we were both 16 years of age and now that we have a genuine need for support, the system is not in our favour," she added. "It's time the Government looked at the real value of parent carers and the thousands of euro that we are saving the State."
Tracy said she had been engaging with Meath Fine Gael TDs Regina Doherty and Helen McEntee who had been "hugely supportive".