When photographer Samantha Packer, of Packer Family Photography in Arizona, was approached by Patricia and Kimberly O’Neill, to shoot their newborn baby, she had no idea the scale of what she was agreeing to.
The parents wanted a photograph of their baby, London (who was conceived via the IVF process), with the injections her mother had to endure over countless cycles to bring her to life.
Thinking it was a wonderful, original idea, Packer of course said yes. But it turned out to be a much larger project than she was expecting.
“I had no idea that it would be so many!! I started lining them up and just had to layer and layer,” Packer told Mamamia.
The arrangement of the needles surrounding the sleeping and snugly bundled baby was shared in a post, which has now gone viral. With 78,000 likes, 5000 comments and 60,000 shares, it’s easy to see why the powerful image has been applauded.
Packer posted the photo to her Facebook page on August 11, with the caption:
“This is the first time I have been asked to do a photo like this! I was honored and wanted to create something special!
Mom said, “4 years, 7 attempts, 3 miscarriages and 1,616 shots”.”
It was Packer’s idea to shape the needles into a heart surrounding the infant, to symbolise the love which the child was brought into the world with.
And of course, the effort. Speaking with Mamamia, parents Patricia and Kimberly O’Neill explained the arduous journey they took to bring little London into the world.
“Patricia and I met in February 2013 and started dating a couple months later. After almost a year we decided we wanted to grow our blended family by one more,” Kimberly said.
Assuming it would be “pretty easy” to select a donor and conceive, the couple was told by their fertility doctor that they would need some assistance.
The journey saw the doctors try less invasive techniques before IVF, a change in doctors, failed egg retrieval, two heartbreaking miscarriages, the discovery of a blood clotting disorder in Patricia and a third miscarriage.
“We went in at eight weeks and saw his tiny heartbeat and his little arms wiggling. We were overjoyed! We went in at 11 weeks to find his heart had stopped” Kimberly said.
“We were done. Crushed. Confused. Heartbroken. We took a break from it all and almost [threw] in the towel.”
About to give up, the couple decided to try again with their last embryo.
“If we didn’t try it we would have to discard it and there was no way we could do that.”
They found a third doctor with a specialty in Patricia’s disorder, and commenced an aggressive regiment of medications to assist fertility. The couple was terrified, but determined to give their everything.
“This was it. No more chances. We found out a week later we were pregnant for a fourth time!”
Telling Mamamia that they soon after went to Disney Land with their children, Patricia and Kimberly were nervous the entire holiday.
“The day we came back we went in for another ultrasound and there it was our baby girls perfect little heartbeat! We like to say she’s a true Disney baby since that’s where her heart started beating.”
Kimberly explained that the last pregnancy was one of their most difficult, with Patricia being unwell the entire time. Finally on August 3, 2018 little London was born.
“Seeing her little face and hearing her cry was the best feeling in the world!”
The challenges that the parents faced made them all the more determined to create an extra special shot to celebrate the much-anticipated addition to their family.
“We had planned from the beginning to do a picture with all the shots, although we had no idea there would be so many, but we wanted to document a journey that was very personal to us,” Kimberly said.
The couple took the saved syringes to Packer at her studio, and let her create an image which symbolised all their love, hope, agony and dreams. They were overwhlemed when they arrived for the shoot and saw what Packer had imagined.
“When we showed up for the shoot and saw them all on the carpet we were blown away. Watching her take the picture was super emotional,” Kimberly said.
Explaining why she chose a heart shape, Packer said, “I knew I wanted a heart to symbolize the love with-in the pain of the journey.”
It couldn’t have been a more perfect idea, and London’s parents are overjoyed with the result.
“We love that our image can bring hope to so many in similar situations. It’s a rough journey but hope and faith are the only things that can bring you through it.”