Photo Of Baby Surrounded By 1,616 Syringes Highlights An Issue Many Parents Face

"We were all tearing up and emotional."

Many couples who have difficulty getting pregnant feel isolated in their fertility struggle. In recent years, however, more and more parents have used social media to open up about the obstacles they've overcome on their journeys to conceive. By sharing the realities of their struggles with fertility, these parents' posts inspire other couples to never give up on their dreams of having a family, whether that means in vitro fertilization (IVF), surrogacy, or adoption.

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One couple, Patricia and Kimberly O'Neill, were so inspired by other newborn photoshoots, they decided to create one of their own with the help of Arizona-based family photographer Samantha Packer. She photographed their 2-week-old daughter, London, surrounded by every syringe — all 1,616 — the couple used during their four-year effort to conceive. 

Swaddled in rainbow fabric (representing that she is a "rainbow baby," a child born after a miscarriage, stillborn, or neonatal death), London sleeps peacefully surrounded by two hearts. The first is made of the needles Patricia used for twice-daily blood thinning treatments, while the second consists of syringes she used for in vitro fertilization injections. 

"I decided to go with a heart to symbolize the love that went into creating this child," Samantha Packer told A Plus. 

Though the O'Neills originally intended the photo just for personal use, it quickly went viral after Packer posted it to her photography business's Facebook page on August 10. Since then, it has received more than 35,000 likes and 61,000 shares

"While I was taking this photo, we were all tearing up and emotional," Packer explained. "... I was very surprised it was going viral. I knew that it was very special to the family — and that's what was exciting to me — [but] I had no idea that it resonated with so many others!"

For the 6.1 million American women ages 15-44 (about 10 percent) who experience fertility struggles, the O'Neills story is a familiar one. The couple met six years ago and began trying to conceive in 2014, according to CNN. After deciding Patricia would carry the baby, they saw a fertility doctor for intrauterine insemination. The couple's first two attempts were unsuccessful, leading them to try IVF.

Two implantations and two miscarriages followed before the couple learned that Patricia has Factor V Leiden, a blood-clotting condition that can lead to pregnancy complications. Nonetheless, they continued to try, until their fourth embryo implantation resulted in a third miscarriage. 

The couple almost gave up on their dream of having a family, but their love for each other kept them going. "I was done and I couldn't do it anymore," Patricia O'Neill told the publication. "But my wife and I, we started this journey together, and we decided we would always be together in the hard decisions, and she wasn't done."

The couple then sought out a doctor specializing in Factor V Leiden and finally got what they'd spent so much time and effort working toward: a healthy pregnancy. On August 3, 2018, their daughter was born. "It has been so uplifting. Going through so many years of heartache, we love that we can see it's helping people and giving them hope through their journey," Patricia and Kimberly O'Neill told A Plus. "...No matter what it is you are trying to overcome in your personal life, push through and give it your all. We were blessed with a positive outcome, but it took determination." 

But their photo is more than just proof of the light at the end of the tunnel for couples struggling with fertility. It also shines a much-needed light on this common, but too often undiscussed, issue. The striking image shows other couples that no matter how many failures or successes they may have experienced on their journey to conceive, they're not alone.

A Plus has reached out to Patricia and Kimberly O'Neill. 

(H/T: TIME)

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