Creating a new life is the greatest miracle, proof that love is the strongest power in the universe. A child is the biggest joy in life, the reason to overcome all obstacles, be brave to fight, and enjoy every single moment of the day.
However, when parents are not blessed to conceive in a normal way, they either accept the reality or decide to change it by adopting a child or trying alternatives such as in vitro fertilization (IVF).
Patricia and Kimberly O’Neill chose the last, but weren’t fully aware of the struggle that awaited.
They married in 2017 and had been trying to conceive since 2014. However, after seeing a fertility doctor for intrauterine insemination and having two failed attempts, they turned to IVF.
After four miscarriages and the diagnosis of Factor V Leiden, a blood-clotting condition, they didn’t know if they should keep trying but eventually decided to do so. They worked with a doctor who specializes in Factor V Leiden and welcomed a healthy baby, London, on August 3, 2018.
However, what other people saw in the girl was a cutie, without seeing the four years before her birth, three miscarriages, and 1,616 IVF shots.
The O’Neills hired Samantha Packer of Packer Family Photography to take baby and family photos, bit didn’t know that one of those shots would be inspiring to numerous people around the world.
“Kimberly decided as soon as I started shots that she would save the needs and that we would do a photo at the end of our journey. I never expected there would be so many needles.”
In the photo, two-week-old baby London lies in the middle of two hearts created from the hundreds of in vitro fertilization (IVF) needles the O’Neills used to conceive her. London was tightly swaddled, a good distance away from the needles, and each needle was securely covered.
Packer shared the moving picture on Facebook, captioned it with the couple’s heartbreaking words:
“Four years, seven attempts, three miscarriages, and 1,616 shots.”
This photo of London reflects on the long and hard-fought journey her parents had in a new light – a light of strength, hope, perseverance, and love.
“We want [London’s photo] to bring hope for women that are hopeless in this journey and a voice for women that are afraid to speak of it… We both were amazed and teared up when we saw the set-up. We were overwhelmed with joy looking at the miraculous completion of our journey in the photo.”
Patricia said that she hopes the photo also serves as a reminder for people trying to start a family to “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.”
“It’s really easy to let this journey overcome your life, but you can’t let it. Find someone to talk to that’s been through it. There’s strength in that.”
The American Pregnancy Association (APA), IVF is a form of ART… assisted reproductive technology. In the process, a woman’s egg is extracted and manually fertilized with sperm in a laboratory dish. Afterward, doctors transfer the embryo(s) into the woman’s uterus.
In 2015, the U.S. Society of Assisted Reproductive Technology stated that “the chance of having a full-term, normal birth weight and singleton live birth per ART cycle using fresh embryos from nondonor eggs is 21.3 percent for women younger than 35.”
Clearly, numerous factors could affect the chances of a successful IVF treatment.
The APA divides the actual live birth rates using IVF into four groups:
- Women under age 35… 41-43%
- Women ages 35 to 37… 33-36%
- Women ages 38 to 40… 23-27%
- Women over age 40… 13-18%
For most people exploring the option, IVF can be extremely costly, with the numbers ranging, on average, anywhere from $10,000 to $20,000, without the extra medicines, and the fact that, according to FertilityIQ, the average patient undergoes 2.3 to 2.7 IVF cycles in total.
Despite the high cost, the IFV process depends on numerous factors, and involves a lot of potential health risks, such as miscarriage, multiple births, birth defects, stress, premature delivery and low birth rate, ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (from injectable fertility drugs), egg-retrieval procedure complications, ectopic pregnancy, and ovarian cancer.
At the end of the day, the decision is ultimately of the couple. What we suggest is that in case someone you know chooses to undergo this procedure, make sure you provide full support, love, empathy, and patience. It will surely help them on their journey to create a new life.