In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) is used by hundreds of thousands of people in the U.S., but it’s something that’s rarely talked about. Now, a photo shared by a fertility clinic in Missouri has opened up the conversation in a big way.
The Sher Fertility Institute, a network of clinics that help couples with fertility issues, recently shared a photo they got from a patient who gave birth to a healthy baby. In it, the infant is sleeping surrounded by a heart made from hundreds of syringes and bottles typically used during fertility treatments. The caption reads, “Thank you to Sher Fertility St. Louis and Dr. Dayal patient Angela, who shows the true definition of love that went into making this gorgeous new baby girl.”
Since the image was posted, it’s been shared almost 4,000 times and hundreds of people have commented to recount their struggles with infertility, write messages of encouragement, or post photos of their healthy IVF miracle babies.
One woman posted a selfie letting everyone know that she is an IVF baby. Another wrote, “Didn’t even tell my husband what this was, I just handed him my phone. 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!”
It’s rare to see people discuss IVF so openly, and that’s a shame because more people than ever rely on it to successfully start their families. In 2013, researchers at a meeting of the International Federation of Fertility Societies revealed that five million U.S. babies have been born through IVF since 1978. A separate report showed 61, 740 U.S. babies were born via IVF in 2013 alone. That’s the highest number ever recorded in a single year, and current numbers have stayed on trend.
Much of the hesitation in talking about IVF is due to people coping with very painful or emotional fertility journeys or being afraid that others will judge their choices. Photos like this one help eliminate some of that stigma and show struggling couples that they aren’t alone in whatever part of the process they might be going through. Plus, they allow us to celebrate with people who’ve had success and give others hope that one day they too will have their miracle baby.
The physical and emotional strength of IVF patients is truly inspiring, and they deserve a space to share their stories and celebrate the very difficult road they’ve traveled. Hopefully this photo can help create more openness around infertility and IVF and give us a chance to see more of these beautiful babies.