Tag Archive | Family

Let’s Talk About Fertility

Roses and Rainbows

New Donegal group raising awareness about the importance of providing local support for people facing fertility challenges.

This month a new Facebook group was created entitled “Roses and Rainbows” it started with a post about one Donegal couples experience of going through IVF and their recent loss through miscarriage. As part of this month’s Women’s Lives, Women’s Voices, the founder of the group shares her voice and lived experience around the issue of fertility.

 


Myself and my partner have been trying to conceive for the past three and a half years, we went through a number of tests which resulted in us being referred for In vitro fertilisation (IVF) in the form of ICSI, which we have been doing for the past few years.

 

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This month on the 6th August 2019, after our second frozen embryo transfer, we suffered a miscarriage. Our heartbreak and loss moved us to tell our story and set up the group “Rose’s and Rainbows” both as a way of helping us heal and deal with what we have been through but to also help others who may be going through similar fertility challenges and experiences.

 

The issue of infertility is still a very sensitive subject and I believe we are very under educated as a society about how to deal with fertility issues and miscarriage, it is still very much the elephant in the room. We need to change this.

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The Rose’s and Rainbows name came about as we both have a love of Rose’s and I guess we are looking for the rainbow in our storm, as are many. The page itself is a personal blog of what we have been through so far and continue to deal with, this includes our highs and lows, the financial cost of IVF, the emotional side of infertility and the heart break of a miscarriage.

 

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Followers are free to message in privately with their stories if they feel they would like to share them with us, and if they would like we can publish them in the hope of helping others. (this of course would be done privately with no names attached to the stories).

Since setting up we have received offers by some amazing professions who will be writing blogs on fitness and health tailored towards fertility and during and after IVF and miscarriage.

Our experience over these past few years has highlighted that there is a lack of a local support network here in Letterkenny and Donegal on infertility, IVF journeys and miscarriage.

As Roses and Rainbows we are delighted to say we have now set up a monthly met-up, the first one on Sunday 25th August with a meditation session also taking place on Monday 7th October, 7-8.30pm. We believe in respecting the privacy of individuals who are going through this sensitive matter and recognise that some people would like to keep their private life’s private, as such all locations for these meetings will be given by private message)

Our motto is “you are not alone even if you decide to go through any of these journeys without telling your family or friends, because there is a local network of support in place to listen and help”.

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Supports Going Forward

We would love to see annual information events held here in the North West from the likes of the miscarriage association of Ireland etc. While it would also be amazing if a fertility clinic and counselling service that were linked were based here in the North West.

It is hugely important that the promised funding from government is soon put into places, because at the moment all couples receive is tax back. The financial struggles going through treatment is very stressful added on top of everything else.

 


A Human Rights Issue

The right to a family life is a Human Right, yet in Ireland the right to this basic human right comes at a high price if you are a person experiencing fertility issues.

The cost of fertility treatment is high, IVF treats cost from around €4,600 upwards and this does not include other related treatments and medical supports  involved in the process. People do not receive funding supports, their only opinions is to claim tax back. Which is the last thing the State should except a person/s going through this experience in the hope of building their family to have to do. In 2018 the government announced that €1m would go to IVF treatment for couples unable to conceive, yet a year on this funding has not been released.[1]

 


National Support Advise

For more information on IVF Treatments and the process please visit here. National support advise services can also be found with the following organisations

We thank the founder of the Roses and Rainbow group for sharing with us her story and ongoing journey. You can find and LIKE the group on Facebook here.

 

[1] Reported in the Irish Examiner, https://amp.irishexaminer.com/breakingnews/ireland/concern-as-ivf-funding-still-not-in-place-922418.html


NCCWN Donegal are always looking for women to share their stories and looking for women to write features on topics of their choice which we will profile as part of our Women’s Lives, Women’s Voices’ series.

How to Introduce Eco-Friendly Changes

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This feature is part of the NCCWN Donegal Women’s Network, ‘Women’s Lives, Women’s Voices’ series. Written by Mary Lane to raise awareness to the global movement and campaign ‘Plastic Free July’. This is the first in a two part feature by Mary who reflects on her experience of becoming aware of the concept of Zero Waste and how she has managed to bring a zero waste lifestyle into her family home.


This month, July 2019, we have decided to try Plastic Free July. We knew from the get go that we would never achieve 100% plastic free but we definitely knew we could use it as an incentive to at least make conscious decisions about what plastic we did use, and where we could actually skip it.

It has been a very eye opening experience. Food is definitely a hurdle to get the head around. Shopping at supermarkets has its challenges, especially when it comes to fruits and vegetables. While there are plastic free options, the cost is often more expensive.

Plastic-v-no-plastic

For example, a twin pack of courgettes can be bought pre packed in a plastic tray and wrapper for around 90c for 500g weight. Loose courgettes are €3.29 per kilo, meaning a single courgettes set me back €1.14. Apples and oranges can be bought in a multipack plastic bag for less than a euro, yet the loose ones are 40-60c each, or 5 for €2. A 1kg bag of carrots containing at least a dozen pieces can cost under one euro, yet opting for 4 loose carrots cost over 50c.

On a friend’s suggestion however, I visited a vegetable market that’s less than 5 minutes from my house. I bought a whole stack of food – sweet potatoes, mushrooms, carrots, broccoli, oranges, and a bottle of lemonade in a returnable glass bottle, all for only €6.


Other swaps we have made this month are:

  • Bringing my own containers to the butchers rather than using their plastic bags.

  • Choosing a toothpaste in a recyclable metal tube.

  • I’ve ordered bamboo toothbrushes online, so we will be swapping out our plastic ones. These are fully biodegradable and can just go in the household compost.

  • I bought some glass storage jars to keep my homemade cookies, popcorn and other snacks in.

  • I stopped buying hummus and falafel – foods we love – and I made them myself at home from tinned chickpeas and they were delicious.

  • We often bought a lot of tortilla wraps, but I tried my hand at making an easy alternative – Indian chapatis. While they’re not a direct comparison, they did the job perfectly well and were very tasty. And no nasty extra ingredients!

  • I’ve been taking a stainless steel water bottle everywhere and actually using it! I’d previously been guilty of buying reusable bottles and not using them more than two or three times, and also buying plastic bottles of drinks when out and about. With an exception on one very hot day, I’ve gone without these extra purchases.

  • I picked up a set of stainless steel straws for us to use when out and about so we can skip the plastic ones as much as possible.

 

Plastic Free Swaps

 I’ve baked instead of buying biscuits and treats. 

I’ve switched as much as possible to jars, glass bottles and tins. So ketchup, mayonnaise, relish, etc in plastic bottles are all being replaced by glass contained alternatives as they finish. 

We have replaced some of our bread consumption with package free bread from the bakery, or French sticks bought in a paper wrapper. 

I’ve popped our own popcorn for snacks, instead of individual portion bags or crisps. While the kernels come in a plastic bag, the amount of plastic is much smaller than the alternative.

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 We had been buying eggs in plastic cartons, but have switched to traditional cardboard ones.

We needed new food storage as most of our plastic Tupperware had gone walkies along the way. I chose a set of glass tubs with plastic and silicone lids. Again, not totally plastic free but certainly less plastic. Also, the glass containers can be used to reheat food in the oven and microwave, and don’t pose any risk of leaking harmful BPAs into the food. 

My son loves ice lollies. And many days it almost the only hydration I can get into him. I’ve been making them just with water or juice in a mould at home and he loves them. Where possible, we have chosen ice cream in cones when out and about rather than in tubs or pops in plastic wrappers. 

I’ve brought cloth bags when buying loose fruit, vegetables, baked goods, etc. I made these myself from old T-shirts that were going to be donated.


Realistically, I think that for my family Zero Waste and Plastic Free isn’t achievable, BUT I think we have definitely benefited and will continue to benefit from having these “extreme” concepts to the front of our minds when buying things, or making decisions that might have unnecessary wasteful impacts.

 

Given that pretty much all plastic products and disposable resources have only been around for the past 60 years or so, and increasing at a disastrous rate over the last couple of decades, it’s really awful to see the impact on our environment and more worryingly is the thought that it is irreversible. But now really is the time to get a handle on it and it does start in each of our homes. Small changes mount up and each waste reduction does matter.

 

In our home, we are really making changed with the Reduce, Reuse, Recycle mantra, but also adding into it the ideas of repair, rebuild, refurbish, refinish, resell and rot (compost). Anything after that should be restricted, redesigned or removed from production.

 

We need to be showing our children that consumerism and the need for everything to come in its own wrapper is not actually the best thing for our world, and that disposable is not always good. We need to set examples to our friends, family, co-workers, etc. that introducing small eco-friendly changes are not to be feared or ridiculed.

I’m pretty sure many people just want a “simple life”. Why not start by making life simple?


Plastic Free July is a global movement that helps millions of people be part of the solution to plastic pollution – so we can have cleaner streets, oceans, and beautiful communities. Will you be part of Plastic Free July by choosing to refuse single-use plastics? To find out more about this global movement check out the https://www.plasticfreejuly.org/ website

 

NCCWN Donegal are always looking for women to share their stories and looking for women to write features on topics of their choice which we will profile as part of our Women’s Lives, Women’s Voices’ series.

Keeping Women’s Equality on the Agenda

a women's place is in the world-365

By Finola Brennen, NCCWN Donegal Women’s Network Coordinator  

The Irish Government has made many commitments, drawn up many strategies and signed many obligations towards achieving women’s equality. Without a doubt some progress has been made but when you listen to women experiencing disadvantage and who find themselves marginalised, we know why the vital work of The National Collective of Community-based Women’s Network  (NCCWN) is needed.

In 2010 when local Government was been reformed 17 individual women’s networks successfully lobbied Minister Carey for our autonomy and holding our focus on working with and advocating for women experiencing disadvantage and marginalisation.

The NCCWN is managed on a voluntary basis by women who have been empowered within their own communities. Last year they managed a budget of 1.3 million, directly employed a staff of 44 and indirectly employed 156 women.

While each of the 17 networks may work in different ways, what we all have in common is a shared set of values that informs WHAT we do, HOW we do it and WHY we do it. Our vision is for a just and equal society for women and underpinning our work are feminist principles.

My work has been based in Donegal a very beautiful place but alongside that beauty and ruggedness is the reality of isolation and economic deprivation which impacts hugely on the everyday lives of ordinary women.

donegal_mapDonegal is

  • Predominately rural
  • The majority of lone-parents, homemakers and carers are women
  • It has the highest level of unemployment of all constituencies
  • Highs level of emigration
  • And has a very high age dependency ratio

Everyone wants to do the best for their children and their loved ones but for women who have a low income, who have a disability, are from the Traveller community, are full-time carers, or who for whatever reason have no economic independence these women know the reality of poverty and the effect this has on their health and the quality of their lives and that of their families.

Employment and Welfare

Once employment gave security and a quality of life but we now have 16% of those working, living in poverty. Women in particular are vulnerable to low wages and precarious employment with 50% of women earning €20,000 or less.

It is a fact that one parent families tend to have the lowest disposable income out of all the households in the state.  In Donegal 93.5% of lone parents are women. So what is their reality?

For women living only on social welfare benefits, the week in week out drudge of living on such a low income greatly adds to their stress levels and ultimately impacts negatively on their physical and mental health.

For some women managing means no heat while the children are at school, buying everything second hand for themselves and their children, including the school uniforms.  I know a number of women who cut their own hair as going to the hair dresser is a luxury they cannot afford and the word holiday is not even in their vocabulary. In rural areas it maybe the monthly trip to do the essential shopping that is their day out.

Incorporate into this picture childhood illnesses, or having a child with a disability and the consequences are unimaginable. The extra costs of attending the GP when a taxi is their only option of transport, or having to attend the hospital which could be over 40 miles away may leave the woman having to get into debt.

Lack of accessible affordable childcare especially in rural area compounds the poverty trap for lone parents with many women unable to access training or to find work.

Some women with no family support, no money for social occasions or interaction develop low self –esteem which compounds their struggle to stay healthy, for their greatest fear is, ‘What happens to my children, if I am sick?’

Domestic violence

For women who find themselves in a domestic abusive relationship, lack of economic independence can often be the main reason why she stays.  When a woman leaves the home and we know that this is the most dangerous time for women, in rural areas where transport is so difficult, it increases their risk of danger.

Ironically, it is the woman experiencing an abusive relationship that becomes homeless and dependent on the support of the frontline services as a safe haven. Legal support and advice is available through legal aid for women who cannot afford independent advice but there is an initial consultation fee of €130.00. Where does a woman with no income find this?

Disability

Cuts to home helps and people with disabilities is having a particular harrowing effect on the most vulnerable in our society.  Many women find themselves alone and afraid in their homes, especially in rural areas where you may not even see the light of your neighbour’s house.

What is now been put in place as care is a time managed operation that takes away that person’s independence because it is easier to do an action than afford the less abled person the dignity and respect of doing it for themselves.  There is little time to give value who they are, to chat about what is important to them. Those who are providing this service do their very best but they themselves are constrained by the system that governs.

Most women with disabilities or older women are reliant are state support and can afford to pay the transport costs for ‘getting out’ the money is kept for the trip to the Doctor or the chiropodist. In the case where wheelchair accessible transport is required this may have to come from an urban area and will be more expensive because of its exclusivity.

Childcare

Lack of accessible affordable childcare is huge barrier for women seeking some economic independence. According to a major economic report commissioned by the Donegal County Childcare Committee in 2013, the annual cost of full-time childcare for a two-child family is €16, 500. Among lower income groups 56% indicated that the cost of childcare prevented them from looking for a job. Within the childcare sector over 25,000 receive less than € 11 an hour women it is just another example of the value given caring roles which predominately are women.

A different future 

blog headerAll the above is unacceptable and needs to be addressed by the implantation of the Irish government’s policy’s, strategies and legal commitments locally, nationally and internationally.

The work and vision of the 5050 Group which seeks to bring a gender balance to politics in Ireland and NCCWN continued work in supporting and empowering women in our community’s is therefore critical in achieving social justice and equality in Ireland.