Photographer Captures Heart-Rending Photos of Baby Twins Days Before One Passed Away
Losing a child, no matter how young, is a different kind of pain that words can’t ever quantify. Children are precious gifts from above and they deserve to stay, see the world, and learn to thrive in it. Sadly, it’s not always under the parents’ control.
In 2017, a grieving couple in Ohio decided to share the beautiful, heartbreaking photos of the last moments their newborn twins spent together. Lyndsay and Matthew Brentlinger had been trying for many years to conceive, and it was the most amazing blessing of their lives when they found out they were expecting twins.
However, complications arose during the pregnancy and the doctors told them one of the twins would most likely be stillborn due to heart abnormalities. The heartbroken parents visited a heart specialist who said that there was a possibility that the twin would make it out alive, but he would only live for a very short time.
“It was one of the worst days of my life when we found out that we would lose our son with months still left in my pregnancy, but because of that time we were able to prepare ourselves,” said Lyndsay Brentlinger. “My husband and I both have a strong faith in God and through prayer, felt His love, peace, and support.”
Memories for a lifetime
On December 17, 2016, the Brentlingers welcomed their fraternal twins, William, a boy, and Regan, a girl. Thankfully, William miraculously made it out alive, looking so healthy and peaceful, but the couple knew they had to make the best of the short time they had with him.
“I was so happy they were finally here and that Will was stable,” Lyndsay told HuffPost.  “But I was also scared of when I would lose him. We snuggled him, loved him, read to him, and in general just enjoyed him.“
The parents’ wanted the twin girl to know that she had been born with a companion, someone who was supposed to be hers for a lifetime. Sadly, they were not going to get to know each other, so the parents decided to create wonderful memories for Reagan to hold onto.
The next day, a family friend of the Brentlingers, Mandy Edwards, reached out to a local photographer she follows on social media, Lindsey Brown. Edwards explained the urgency of the situation to the kind-hearted woman who immediately accepted her offer. They were going to help this beautiful family make the best of the little time they had together. Since it was Christmas, Brown was booked solid with gigs due to the holidays, but on December 20, she cleared her schedule to be with the family.
“I knew immediately I had to do this for them,” Brown told HuffPost. “How could anyone with a heart say no to that? These two parents are two of the strongest people I’ve ever met. They treated both babies like nothing was wrong whatsoever. That was touching to see.”
According to Brown, the babies were the perfect little bundles of joy. When they were both snoozing peacefully, she captured them swaddled like medieval babies, in different lightings, and with their parents. She couldn’t hold back the tears when it was time to leave. The entire experience had been deeply humbling for her.
“You never would have known anything was wrong with William, which makes the story that much harder,” Brown said. “I will say we noticed he was quite alert, and calm. Just staring around the room, gazing, like he was trying to take it all in. Little Reagan just snoozed the entire time!”
Forever in their hearts
The Brentlinger family held onto William the whole Christmas. They drank in the sight of him and let him share precious moments with his sister. Eleven days after he was born, on December 28, his little soul went up to eternal bliss.
Speaking to Today, Lyndsay said, “The days with both of our babies at home together were amazing. We tried our best to focus on enjoying the time together and creating memories. We were able to do this and felt like God blessed us with the time to get to know our son.” 
Lyndsay has stored away the photos, her “most treasured possessions,” in a locket given to her by her husband. She plans to always show them to Reagan, who is three and a half years now, so she’ll always remember her brother who is “her angel in heaven.”
A congenital heart defect is an abnormality with the structure of the heart that is present at birth. Nearly one in 100 babies around the world are born with a form of CHD. These defects usually become evident during pregnancy, soon after birth, or in the first few months of their lives. Some CHDs are mild and may not require treatment. Others are more complex and would require a series of surgeries for the child to live a normal life. Some of the most critical CHDs may not be treatable and the babies would not be expected to be born alive. If they eventually make it, their hearts may not hold out for more than a few days. One in 4 babies who are born with a CHD have a critical defect.  
CHDs are best detected during pregnancy, and it’s important for parents to regularly visit a standard hospital to have their unborn babies examined. Learning about the child’s congenital heart defect helps to understand the condition and know what to can expect in the coming months and years.
- “Family Pays Tribute To Newborn Twin’s Short Life With Stunning Photos.” Huff Post. Elyse Wanshel. January 12, 2017
- “Precious photos help family remember twin who died after 11 days.” Today. Ronnie Koenig. January 13, 2017
- “Congenital Heart Defects.” Medline Plus.
- “Living with a Congenital Heart Defect.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. November 12, 2019.