Having a child isn’t always easy. Some people become pregnant within a few months of trying and some become pregnant on accident. For many others, however, conceiving a child is an expensive, time-consuming, and tiring process.
Kimberly and Patricia O’Neill spent more than four years trying to get pregnant, enduring three miscarriages and thousands of in vitro fertilization shots — 1,616 to be exact — before Patricia gave birth to a healthy baby girl named London.
She admitted that there were a lot more needles than she could’ve ever imagined:
I never anticipated there would be so many needles.
The couple did something amazing to celebrate their daughter and the process behind it.
Samantha Packer, of Packer Family Photography based in Arizona, photographed London at a mere two weeks. She took a bunch of photos one would expect from a typical newborn photoshoot.
Some included eager and excited new mothers Patricia and Kimberly:
But the photo that stood apart from the rest was one that depicted the path the new parents took to get to London.
Patricia said that from the get-go, there was an idea for a non-traditional, powerful photo.
Kimberly decided as soon as I started shots that she would save the needles and that we would do a photo at the end of our journey.
Packer planned on a simple photo, a neat row of IVF needles. Once she realized the number of needles the couple went through to conceive their child, she knew she’d have to get creative with the photo:
My initial idea was a very neat, single row of needles pointing inward to create the heart. However, when [the O’Neills] showed up with two huge boxes, my plan had to change a bit.
She played around with different concepts until she decided on this one:
I kept the heart and the pointing inward concept, but then had to keep layering in layering and layering until finally I just dumped the rest on the outside of the heart so they could all be in the picture.
The photo has since gone viral, because look at it!
Packer wasn’t afraid to give a glimpse into the raw, emotional, and real process that this couple took to get pregnant.
She showed all the love that went into conceiving this child:
I knew I wanted to do a heart to symbolize the love, even though I was using something painful about their journey to create it.
People are praising the photographer and the parents for shining a spotlight on an important and emotional topic that is often overlooked in the grand scheme of becoming pregnant and having children:
Patricia hopes this photo will provide hope to those who are going through the same struggles:
We want it to bring hope for women that are hopeless in this journey and a voice for women that are afraid to speak of it.
— Joshua temitope (@adetope2002) August 26, 2018
This is profound and humbling!
— Keisha Osborne (@Keisha_Louise) August 26, 2018
Wow! So touching. ☹️☹️☹️
— Mr Hameed HMD (@HameedHMD1) August 26, 2018
Being a family photographer, Packer is honored that so many people trust her to capture such important photographs of their newborns.
She said this particular photo shoot was even more special:
I feel honoured that all of my clients trust me with their brand new baby, to capture these memories that they will never be able to capture again. I was particularly honoured with this family as this was their miracle baby. I photograph rainbow babies—babies that are born after infant loss or miscarriage—a lot.
Studies have shown that more than 213,000 treatment cycles were given to women in 2015 alone. Yet this resulted in just 68,000 healthy newborn babies, giving IVF a success rate of about 32%. Many women, like Patricia, undergo an extensive and expensive process to get there.
Some are using this shoot as a reminder not to pester women about pregnancy:
Samantha Packer shot a couple's newborn surrounded by the 1600+ IVF needles they've gone through in order to conceive.
The road is often long and hard.
Stop asking women:
1. When are you gonna have a baby?
2. Why aren't you pregnant yet?
3. Don't you want a baby? pic.twitter.com/Xt2Vaw55UG
— Darnell Lamont Walker (@writer_heathen) August 25, 2018
THIS IS SO TRUE!!! Not everyone is public about their challenges or the devastation of losses! Everyone needs to STOP assuming every woman is on a public journey to motherhood!
— ✨Star✨ (@angelstar2) August 26, 2018
Twitter is emotional over the image. Can’t blame them though, now can we?
Pass the tissues, please…
— josh beck (@josh_2beck) August 27, 2018
That is amazing
— Laura Kennedy (@lauraakenn) August 27, 2018
oh my heart :’) welcome to the world beautiful tiny rainbow girl
— reagz (@reagxnn) August 28, 2018
Patricia encourages families who are also struggling to conceive not to give up.
She also reminds them that being emotional is a normal, and even important, part of the process:
Cry when they need to, laugh when they can. Sometimes, it’s hard enough to even smile, let alone laugh, but you need to find an outlet.
Congratulations to Patricia, Kimberly, and, of course, little baby London!