A picture of a two-week-old newborn that manages to capture both the painful struggle and boundless joy of conceiving a baby has gone viral.
Taken by Arizona-based photographer Samantha Packer, the image sees two-week-old London O’Neill, wrapped in a rainbow swaddler and surrounded by the 1,616 In vitro fertilisation (IVF) needles that mothers Patricia and Kimberley O’Neill have used since deciding to have their first child together four-and-a-half years ago.
In that time, the couple has had to endure four failed attempts and three miscarriages—heartbreak that Packer didn’t necessarily want to shy away from, as she was keen to stay truthful to the O’Neill’s journey as well as raise awareness about infertility.
“I knew I wanted to do a heart to symbolise the love, even though I was using something painful about their journey to create it,” she tells PinkNews.
“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.
“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,” said Packer.
“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.”
Considering how many babies she photographs, you’d suspect that Packer would be use to dealing with a tantrum or two but, fortunately, she had no trouble with little London, who “slept like a rock during her session.”
“[She was] very easy to work with,” Packer said.
“When I was actually taking the photo, we were all getting emotional [because] we knew that we created something special to us but we didn’t realize the whole world would think it was special!”
Since uploading the image on her business’ Facebook page, it has racked up over 65,000 shares and around 88,000 reactions.
According to Packer, it’s been viewed more than two million times and it has also received 5,622 comments, in which people described it as “beautiful” and “perfect.”
One individual declared both baby and photograph “a masterpiece,” saying: “You hit this out of the studio (park). This speaks volumes. Love it. Thank you for sharing and being so creative.”
When asked about the impact Packer’s photo of her daughter London has had online, Patricia O’Neill told People that “it’s inspiring to hear other women sharing their stories on a topic that’s kind of taboo.”
“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,” added the proud mother.
“Sometimes when you’re at it alone, you need to know that someone’s been able to get there, and they’ve had struggles too. You’ve gotta persevere through them.”