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Photographer captures newborn's final moments
00:52 - Source: CNN

Story highlights

Wiliam and Reagan Brentlinger were born on December 17th

A photographer shuffled a busy holiday schedule to capture William's final days

CNN  — 

On December 17th, 2016, Lyndsay and Matthew Brentlinger welcomed twins into the world. That alone was a minor miracle, because doctors had told the Ohio couple one of their twins, the boy, would be stillborn.

Instead, William and Reagan Brentlinger were born wide-eyed, tiny and perfect, just a few days before Christmas.

Sadly, the Brentlingers knew William suffered from heart abnormalities. Even though he looked healthy and alert, he was dying.

A once-in-a-lifetime session

The couple’s friend Mandy Edwards knew the family’s time together was going to be short, so she reached out to a local photographer for an unforgettable – and deeply bittersweet – Christmas gift.

Lindsey Brown of Lindsey Brown Photography was feeling the holiday crush, but she stopped short when she heard the Brentlinger’s story.

“Being only a few days before Christmas and not being previously booked well in advance, she was hoping due to the circumstances, I’d make an exception,” Brown told CNN. Two days later, Brown met the Brentlinger twins, camera in hand. Time was of the essence, because no one knew how long William would last.

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“I could not believe how perfect they both looked,” Brown told CNN . “They were both in the five pound range when I photographed them. William was extremely alert, as if he was trying to take it all in, while little Reagan slept and barely opened her eyes.”

“It was extremely bittersweet the entire time I was there,” she said. “They acted and looked perfect. You would literally NEVER have known something was wrong with sweet Will.”

A few days after their photo shoot, William passed away. He was only 11 days old.

A family forever

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Matthew Brentlinger, the twins’ father, told CNN affiliate WTVG that their days together with William were “the happiest 11 days of [his] life.” And thanks to Brown’s photographs, the moments will always be there to recall: Of William and his shining, bottomless eyes, and his parents beaming over him; a family of four, if only for a few days.

Brown says she feelings a connection to the Brentlingers now.

“Knowing they’ll be able to look back on [these photos] for the rest of their lives, and to one day show them to Reagan when she’s older, warms my heart more than I can put into words.”