A newborn photo that celebrates new life after a long struggle with infertility has gone viral.
Earlier this month, Samantha Packer of Packer Family Photography shared a powerful photo of Patricia and Kimberly O’Neill’s newborn daughter, London, who was swaddled in rainbow-colored fabric and surrounded by the 1,616 IVF needles her parents used over the course of their four-year fertility journey.
“This is the first time I have been asked to do a photo like this! I was honored and wanted to create something special!” the photographer wrote in the caption. “Mom said, ‘4 years, 7 attempts, 3 miscarriages and 1,616 shots.’”
The photo has received more than 85,000 likes and 64,000 shares on Facebook.
The parents asked Packer to incorporate their IVF needles into the photo and gave her the freedom to arrange them however she wanted, she told HuffPost.
“I didn’t know the whole story, but I knew that they had already lost a baby because they had contacted me the year previously with a different pregnancy,” Packer explained. “So I chose the heart to show the love through the pain of the journey that got them to the sweet baby girl.”
What the O’Neills thought would be a simple process at a fertility clinic turned out to be a journey spanning almost half a decade. Patricia suffered two miscarriages in 2016 and one in 2017.
After the first two miscarriages, the couple learned that Patricia had a blood-clotting condition that can affect pregnancies, so a fertility doctor prescribed two daily shots of blood-thinning medicine in addition to the standard IVF shots. Over the years, Kimberly had saved every needle Patricia injected, along with the caps and plastic seals.
When the two mothers saw baby London’s newborn photo setup, their eyes filled with tears.
“It was amazing to see them all laid out. To look at them all and go, ‘Man, I was able to do that. I was able to get through that,’” Patricia told People.
“It’s a good representation of our journey. It’s inspiring to hear other women sharing their stories on a topic that’s kind of taboo,” she added. “It’s been great to see some women that are like, ‘You’re giving us hope to get through this.’ Because you truly need that.”
Packer told HuffPost it took her more than an hour to arrange the needles. “When I got to the outer layers of the heart, I still had five bags left, so I poured those along the outside. The mom had assured me I didn’t need to use all of them if I couldn’t, but I just felt like every one needed to be in there to be true to their journey,” she said.
Like the parents, Packer was touched by the overwhelming response to her photo.
“This response has been amazing and truly touching to hear all of these women saying that it gives them hope on their IVF journeys,” said the photographer. “I hope that when people see the photo they have hope if it’s their struggle, and that they have some compassion and more understanding if it’s not their struggle.”