A baby surrounded by a heart of syringes? If that doesn’t exactly sound sane, don’t judge.
Even though you might not instantly associate an adorable teeny tiny infant with hypodermic needles, a pic of this exact scene isn’t kooky, crazy or in any way odd.
What is it? It’s a statement on the journey that many mums take to have a child.
When St. Louis mum Angela tried to conceive, it didn’t happen right away – or naturally for that matter. For a year and a half Angela endured treatments galore as part of the IVF process. Her doctor, Dr. Molina Dayal, told ABC News that Angela had been through multiple IVF cycles. After getting pregnant and having her baby, she agreed to this very telling photo. Posed on a white sheet, her baby is surrounded by hundreds of needles and vials. Why? They represent just some of the treatments that she went through on her way to having her baby.
The US-based fertility clinic Sher Institutes shared the photo on Facebook, showing the world what IVF requires (and means) for many women. With thousands of likes and shares, it’s clear that this pic is more than just pretty. Along with the accolades, readers commented on the post by adding their own IVF stories. Comment after comment features photos of other IVF babies, many of them who are now older children. The smiling faces of twins, triplets and single children put the successes of IVF on display.
Facebook users felt the joy, hope and trials of this mum all through the photo. One mum added her husband’s reaction to seeing the photo, “I saw tears form in his eyes as he probably also went through the memories of countless nights, over our four year journey, that he gave me shots. We finally were successful with twin boys and I’ve never been happier!”
Another mum commented, “When I look at this photo, I see a badge like an invisible tattoo that women carry who have been through the process both success and fails.”
The heartfelt photo brings to light a very common issue that faces women across the world. According to The Fertility Society of Australia, one in six couples in Australia and New Zealand struggles with fertility issues. Assistive reproductive technology (also known as ART) is a set of processes that help infertile couples to reach their baby dreams. In 2013 alone there were more than 71,000 ART treatment cycles in Australia and New Zealand, according to UNSW Australia. IVF is one form of ART. If you’re not familiar with the intricacies of IVF, it includes creating an embryo outside of the woman’s body and then inserting it back in. Sounds easy enough, right? Go in, get the egg out, mix in a little sperm and there you go – a baby that’s ready to go! Not quite.
Before a doctor can get in there and harvest the eggs, the mum-to-be needs to undergo some serious ovarian stimulation. The more eggs, the better the chances of conception. Instead of getting one egg each month and having procedure after procedure, most women take fertility drugs to increase egg production. After the eggs are harvested, there’s no guarantee that the rest if the process will result in a baby. One IVF cycle typically takes between four and six weeks. If the first time doesn’t take, there are more cycles to contend with. That’s where the hundreds of needles seen in the St. Louis fertility clinic’s picture come in to play. Even though there are plenty of women who get pregnant the first go around, having to take shot after shot for months, or years, is a possibility.
If all of that sounds depressing, it can be. That said, the photo speaks to the uplifting part of it all. It highlights the idea that the struggle, pain and loss of infertility and IVF is all worth it. The end result (i.e., the baby) trumps the stream of shots and other procedures.