An Arizona photographer turned one couple’s fertility struggle into an arresting piece of art that’s going viral.
Patricia and Kimberly O’Neill, a couple from Sun City, Ariz., approached family photographer Samantha Packer with an idea. Inspired by other newborn shoots they’d seen, they wanted to photograph their new daughter, London, surrounded by every syringe — all 1,616 — they’d used during their four-year effort to conceive, CNN reports.
The image Packer created shows 2-week-old London swaddled in rainbow fabric and surrounded by two hearts: one made up of the needles Patricia used for twice-daily blood thinning treatments, and one made up of syringes she used for in vitro fertilization injections.
The couple originally commissioned the photo for personal use, but it’s gone viral since Packer posted it on Facebook on August 10 — serving as a poignant reminder of how grueling the struggle to conceive can be.
“I knew it was special when I took it because we were all tearing up,” Packer told TIME. “I didn’t, however, realize how strongly it would resonate with others.”
The O’Neills met while working at a daycare about six years ago and married in 2017; they began trying to conceive in 2014, CNN reports. They decided that Patricia would carry the child, and initially saw a fertility doctor for intrauterine insemination, according to CNN. Two attempts failed, leading the couple to try IVF.
After two implantations and two miscarriages, the couple learned that Patricia has a blood-clotting condition called Factor V Leiden, which can lead to complications during pregnancy. They decided to keep trying, but were nearly derailed when their fourth embryo implantation led to yet another miscarriage, this one at 11 weeks.
“I was done and I couldn’t do it anymore,” Patricia O’Neill told CNN. “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.”
Finally, after seeking out a doctor who specializes in Factor V Leiden, the couple got the result they’d hoped for: a healthy pregnancy. They welcomed their daughter on August 3.
The photo of London currently going viral is meant to capture the heartache and joy that went into the O’Neills’ conception journey, Packer told CNN. (Her rainbow swaddle marks her as a “rainbow baby,” or a child born after a mother suffers a miscarriage, stillbirth or infant death.)
“I hope that there’s a couple out there that’s going through what we are that can see that there’s hope at the end of the tunnel,” Patricia O’Neill told CNN. “There’s a light and you just have to get there.”
It seems that O’Neill’s wish is coming true: As of Saturday afternoon, the photo had been shared on Facebook over 56,000 times.
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