If you are an IVF mum, the photo in this article will make you cry...
It's poignant, it's powerful and it opens up a very important discussion on a topic many don't talk about....
In-vitro fertilisation, or IVF, is a procedure you wouldn't wish on your worst enemy. I know this because I've been through three rounds of (unsuccessful) IVF*. Three rounds of hormone injections, egg collection and embryo transfers traumatised my body. The agonising wait until I could take a pregnancy test, traumatised my mind. And the absolute heartache when I got my period each time, traumatised my heart and soul.
Needless to say, when IVF doesn't work, the pain strikes at both physical and emotional levels. But when it does work, the joy is euphoric.
Because I know this, the image that you see below brought tears to my eyes because it's such a powerful symbol of what a woman undergoing IVF treatment experiences in order to finally hold her little angel in her arms.
A very powerful image
This photograph first appeared on Sher Institute's Facebook page and, "shows the true definition of love that went into making this baby girl."
The picture shows a baby girl surrounded by hundreds of syringes arranged in the shape of a heart. The needles are symbolic of all the blood draws and injections the little girl's mum, Angela, had to use over the year and a half it took her to conceive.
In an ABC News report, Angela's doctor Molina Dayal said the number of syringes in the image are actually less than the amount that had to be used over the time it took Angela to become pregnant.
Angela, meanwhile, told ABC News: "The needles were the easy part. It was the emotional struggle, the ups and downs, that really took a toll. I'm single and waited a long time for a husband to come. And then by that time it was difficult to get pregnant."
Opening up a conversation about infertility and IVF
Couples struggling with infertility often travel along a long, lonely and emotion-filled road in their bid to have a child. Sometimes the journey ends successfully, but other times it doesn't. Regardless, there is plenty of heartache along the way.
In my own case, I didn't tell anyone -- not even my closest friends -- about my IVF experience while I was in the thick of it. But now, looking back, I wish I had opened up about it as I feel it would have helped me immensely from an emotional point-of-view
This is why I appreciate Angela's powerful picture. What it has done is open up the communication lines around a topic that isn't discussed enough, somewhat like miscarriage or stillbirth.
Lisa Stark, who is the director of communications at Sher Fertility Institute told ABC News that "we have never seen a photo create such a stir in the infertility world."
The image has been seen by millions since it was shared and encouraged many to talk about their own infertility journeys.
As one Facebook user says regarding the picture, "Every blood draw, every shot, every moment so worth it." And for those whose IVF journeys have not ended in success, just know that we understand how you feel.
theAsianparent mum community is here for you, always.
*Three rounds of IVF were unsuccessful but now I am blessed with two gorgeous children, having conceived naturally after treatment for endometriosis.
Let's get a conversation going -- share your own IVF/ infertility stories with us by posting a comment below.