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‘I couldn’t help but feel so angry with the world – our little babies were gone’

Niamh Holleran-McGing describes the harrowing outcome of a first round of IVF

In her book, The Journey To You – A Love Story Through Infertility, Niamh Holleran-McGing, from Clonbur, Co Galway, charts her and her husband Tommy’s journey through infertility and four rounds of IVF. This is an excerpt describing the outcome of the first round of IVF.


Mam and I went to my sister Joyce’s house in Glencorrib the next day as Mam was babysitting… I was going to sit with her and help. When I got over there Joyce gave me a beautiful card and mother’s book for me, it was lovely and for a few moments, I was a real mammy.

After a cup of tea, a few tears, and a chat she asked me to come with her into Ballinrobe; that she was only going to be gone a short while. I wasn’t sure about it as I had been feeling a little off that day, but the clinic and Mam said that was normal, so I went.

When we were on our way into town, I was thinking I wanted to get Tommy something special for Christmas, to mark the occasion. He had always talked about how he wanted to get a particular watch which was in Galway, a good watch which he would pass onto his child one day… a lovely thought. As we drove in, I could feel my eyes start to well up and so I went with my gut and rang the jewellers. The assistant was very nice, and they had the actual watch that he loved – the only one left and it was there. Perfect.


We were in the town a while when I got a phone call from the assistant in the jewellers – she was putting the watch aside for collection the following week. I was delighted and emotional, I guess that’s why I didn’t think anything of the discomfort and nauseous feeling I was having all morning. As we walked around town, I began to feel a little worse. With that, I started to get nervous too, something didn’t feel right.

I went into the toilet… I can still feel my heart starting to race and panic filling my body. I had started to spot and all I wanted was my Mam… I wanted to go home.

I rang my Mam, and she said not to panic, that spotting was normal and then I rang the clinic and they said to contact them if I started to bleed heavily.

Through it all I would have sold my soul, at that second, just so I could be small again, full of hope and dreams. All I could think of was why?

My sister was feeling bad as the drive home was quiet with me upset and frightened and nothing that she said or could say would have made me feel any better. I felt rotten.

We got back to my sister’s house shortly after, I lay down and fell asleep for a while… I felt much better after I woke up but that soon vanished as I examined my underwear in the toilet; I was still spotting. All I could think of was how happy we were a few hours ago and how awfully wrong everything seemed to be going now.

Mam and I left once I got up and instead of going up to my own house I stayed with Mam and Dad. Looking back, Mam didn’t want me to be on my own, in case anything happened, and she was right.

I spent the evening on the couch sleeping on and off. While I was asleep, Tommy rang and Mam filled him in on the situation but reassured him that there was nothing to worry about and explained to him that I had rung the clinic. Every time I woke, I had forgotten about it and was almost sick once I realised. I wanted Tommy so bad, just to hold me.

When he arrived home, he was pale and, I suppose, frightened for me and mad that he wasn’t here. We went home then, and I went to bed, almost afraid to close my eyes… I felt we were losing what we only just managed to get. Life can be so cruel.


The following morning, I got up and was relieved to find that I had not spotted during the night. I felt more content but still afraid of what was going on. I phoned the clinic again and updated them and they said that it may be one of the embryos coming away from the lining. Although that upset me a little, I was hoping that the other embryo would have the strength to hold on.

The day continued like it did the day previous – I started to spot again. Tommy took the day off work and we spent the day in bed saying our prayers. It’s amazing the bargaining you’ll do when you feel you’re losing everything.

The morning after that, two days after our trip to Galway, will always stay with me and continues to break my heart when I think back on what we had to go through.

It was about 8am and I woke up feeling like I had to go to the toilet. I felt an unusual feeling inside me and, as I sat down onto the toilet, I felt a heavy discharge leaving my body… I know it sounds graphic, but I didn’t for a second think that anything bad had happened until I stood up and saw a large clot with some kind of membrane in the toilet. My heart stopped beating and I felt faint. I knew I had just lost the embryos. I called Tommy who came running in when he heard me cry out. I remember he was only half-awake and he was a little disorientated. When I lifted the clot up out of the toilet he started to cry. I was shaking and he just stood there with his arms around me, crying bitterly. I was in shock I guess and couldn’t help but feel so angry with the world – our little babies were gone.

Hoping for a child

I rang the clinic and the nurse told me that it didn’t sound good. She said to retake the pregnancy test once the bleeding had subsided. I rang Mam straight away and she came up to us. Tommy met her at the door and when she saw him, she started to get upset too. She came upstairs to me. I was lying on the bed, just staring at the ceiling with silent tears rolling down my face. Hurting doesn’t seem like a strong enough word to describe how we were feeling. She sat beside me, rubbing my face and hair as I cried bitterly. She stayed there with me, crying and comforting me through the silent pain. I was so hurt and angry. Through it all I would have sold my soul, at that second, just so I could be small again, full of hope and dreams. All I could think of was why?

We knew we were very young; we were only 27 years old, and the whole world was waiting for us

Mam was upset. I’m sure it was particularly difficult for her. She began to sob and started to talk about when she had her pregnancies. It was 30 years ago and, back then, it wasn’t something that was talked about. So, I suppose it brought everything back for her and I can only imagine what it must have been like to have lost as much as she has and not be given the chance to grieve.

Round and round the thoughts seemed to fly in my mind as I tried so desperately not to close my eyes. Every time I did, I could see what we didn’t have, or what we had and what was ripped out from my heart. I knew as I lay there that there were a lot of other people who were dying today, but for the first time in my life I didn’t care about what was going on around me, I just didn’t care.

As we lay on the bed, Tommy, and I, we cried a little and slept a little, all the while he never let go of me, telling me over and over that he loved me and that we would get through this together. Through all the tears and feelings of hurt that darted through my heart I knew how lucky I was to be lying there in his arms. I never wanted to leave.

We talked about the positives, which I must admit was difficult but that’s why I have the perfect hubby. We knew we were very young; we were only 27 years old, and the whole world was waiting for us. The perfect world then would send a perfect little baby… into my arms, crying, and with those tears he or she will release all the waiting, all the hurt and all the longing. With one breath, in one scream of innocence our world would change; it would be complete.

There and then I could only imagine what that must feel like and I prayed to God that one day we would find out.

  • The Journey To You – A Love Story Through Infertility, by Niamh Holleran-McGing, is published by Mayo Books Press. It is available from bookshops and online from