The True Story Behind the Viral Photo of Baby Girl Surrounded by 1,161 IVF Needles
“We feel so blessed to have her.”
Patricia and Kimberly O’Neill had been trying to have a baby for more than four years before welcoming their daughter London O’Neill earlier this month. Now, a stunning photo of their baby surrounded by the hundreds of needles used in their fertility treatments is sweeping across the Internet, proving to be the perfect end to their emotional, years-long journey.
“We feel so blessed to have her,” Patricia, 30, tells PEOPLE of her wife Kimberly, 37, and their 2-week-old daughter London. “She’s calm at most times, and a little feisty when she’s hungry. I don’t have the words to express it, she’s just so amazing.”
On Aug. 10, Samantha Packer of Packer Family Photography shared the sweet photo of London fast asleep in a rainbow-colored wrap, surrounded by the 1,616 needles Patricia used during her fertility treatments over the years. In the caption, Packer gave a simple glimpse into the parents’ journey, writing: “4 years, 7 attempts, 3 miscarriages and 1,616 shots.”
The photo has amassed more than 84,000 “likes” and 63,000 shares on Facebook, with supporters leaving comments and reactions.
“It’s a good representation of our journey,” Patricia tells PEOPLE of the photo. “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.
“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.”
Shortly after London’s birth on Aug. 3, the O’Neills, of Sun City, Arizona, contacted Packer and asked if she could incorporate the needles into the newborn photo shoot. They gave the photographer creative control over the photo and Packer says she knew just what to do, layering the needles around the baby.
“It was amazing to see them all laid out. To look at them all and go, ‘Man, I was able to do that. I was able to get through that,’ ” Patricia says, recalling the moment she first saw the display during the photo shoot. “My wife and I looked at them and we started tearing up.”
Packer says seeing the women’s reactions to the display warmed her heart.
“It was really special because when they walked into the room and saw it all laid out, they got really emotional,” she tells PEOPLE. “And that’s what I love to do as a photographer is create something special for my clients that they really are gonna treasure.”
The photo marked the end of a journey that began more than four years ago, when Patricia and Kimberly — who both have one child each from previous relationships — decided they wanted to complete their family with one more little one.
The couple decided that Patricia would give birth to the infant but the couple soon learned that a pair of blood conditions would make it difficult for Patricia to carry a child to term.
Patricia underwent several fertility treatments and in vitro fertilization (IVF). However, in 2016, she suffered two miscarriages.
“We were taken back. It’s what you expect,” Patricia tells PEOPLE of her and Kimberly’s reactions to the first miscarriage. “The doctor encouraged us to keep going because it was our goal to have a baby.”
Then, in 2017, Patricia suffered a third miscarriage. At that point, Patricia says, she was ready to give up.
“I was done. I was done poking and prodding myself. I was done with all the doctors visits. I was throwing in the towel,” she says. “My wife and my mom, they pushed me to do it.”
And she did. Doctors transferred the couple’s last embryo and Patricia became pregnant, but says that neither she nor Kimberly could allow themselves to get too excited, telling PEOPLE, “We held our breath. It was very scary. Throughout the pregnancy, we were always on the edge of our seat.”
With that, the O’Neills were filled with joy when they welcomed London via a C-section.
“When we heard her cry, we both looked at each other and started crying,” Patricia recalls. “I was shaking and crying so hard. It was an overwhelming feeling of relief. She’s here. It was a lot of emotions for us all at once. It’s still unreal to me that we finally have our baby. We actually made it here.”