Dad Gets to Do Skin-to-Skin With His Rainbow Twins in Stunningly Powerful Photos

Newborn twins skin-to-skin
Erin Fortney Photography

Before the birth of his twin boys, there was one thing that Brennan Brackbill knew he wanted: to have skin-to-skin time with his newborns as soon as they came into this world. After the unexpected loss of his firstborn, Tori, this dad from Pennsylvania  was ready to cherish every moment he has with his boys -- from the very start -- and was determined to make it work in the operating room

  • Brackbill was clear before his wife's C-section how important the post-birth time was to him.

    "Brennan made it known to everyone that he encountered that skin-to-skin with the twins was so incredibly important to him from the very first moment that he stepped inside the hospital doors the morning of their birth," photographer Erin Fortney tells CafeMom.

  • Advertisement
  • Although this is something that some reserve for moms, Brackbill couldn't wait for his moment to connect after their loss.

    "When you're in the OR waiting to hear those first, sweet cries time seems to stand still. A minute feels like an hour...and this particular birth had everyone especially anxious and excited with the loss of Tori, at just 20-months-old, time seemed to tick by even slower than normal," she says. "Finally, hearing those first little cries was indescribable."

  • But the hospital staff didn't know if it would be possible at first.

    When Brackbill first expressed that he wanted to do skin-to-skin with the twins, he wasn't immediately given the green light due to the operating room setting and fact that he was having multiples. "The staff didn't object, but there were some concerns about my capability to do so. I said, 'Look, I don't wanna be pushy. It's your OR. However, this is very important to us because of our daughter. I got a big wing span and I'll go shirtless under my OR garb if I have to,'" he tells CafeMom. "They quickly agreed that it would work." 

    Since Brackbill didn't have a button-up shirt to change into, he did end up tossing his T-shirt across the room and going into the OR with nothing on under his scrubs in order to have easy access to his chest. 

    "As soon as both boys were welcomed in to the world and declared healthy and stable, Brennan reminded nurse Janna of his desire for skin-to-skin," Fortney recalls. "She voiced his wishes to the entire OR, was sure to get the 'OK' from all staff members, and quickly helped situate sweet Isaiah on to dad's chest. An overwhelming flood of emotions and happy tears quickly filled the
  • It was a bittersweet reminder that this wasn't his first time doing skin-to-skin.

    It was hospital staff who first encouraged Brackbill to do skin-to-skin when Tori was born and he's forever grateful that they did. "When Tori was delivered via C-section and after they cleaned her up, I got to do skin-to-skin with her first for about an hour. I still tear up a bit here and there about how amazing that experience was!" he says. "She was so calm the entire time as I sang and talked to her. Right then I decided that if we had anymore kids, skin-to-skin was a MUST!! No questions asked because it's so good for the babies and parents." 

  • In the end, he was able to enjoy quality time with each of his sons in the OR.

    Isaiah was born first and Brackbill craddled him as soon as nurses cleaned him up. "I unzipped my gown to my waist and was given my very unhappy boy, LOL, but he immediately calmed down as I talked to him," he says. "I scooted closer to Lesa so she could see him to. I only had him for about ten minutes this time because it was Caleb's turn as they looked over Isaiah some more."

    It turns out that Caleb reacted the same way as his brother, mad until he was handed to daddy and then calmed right down before it was mom's turn. "We were able to lay each one of our boys on Lesa's upper chest for a short time and they seemed to want to eat, good sign!" he says.    

  • Naturally, the experience was just as incredible as he remembered.

    "No one really said if I was the first dad to ever insist on doing this, however just about everyone in the OR, around 23 people, said it was one of the sweetest and greatest things they've ever seen!" he says. "Doing skin-to-skin this time around was only different in that there were obviously two of them and it was a shorter time right after birth, because trust me, we did A LOT of skin-to-skin when we got back to our room." 

  • And the moment turned out to be just as emotional for everyone around them. 

    "Seeing Brennan's wish fulfilled and watching Lesa looking over to see her boys safe, healthy, and happy in their dad's arms after so many years of pain and loss was an unforgettable, beautiful, and heartwarming moment," Fortney says. "We are all so grateful that the staff at Penn State Hershey Medical Center was so kind and accommodating throughout the boys' birthday and that they allowed me into OR to capture such precious moments for the family to look back upon for years to come."  

  • But through their joy, these parents will never forget what they went through with their precious baby girl.

    "This whole experience has just reiterated the fact about how important newborn screenings at birth are. Everything seemed perfect with Tori and then, BANG, at six months she was given a death sentence with something that could have been treated if it was caught," Brackbill says. 

    Tori died of Krabbe disease, a severe neurological disorder, when she was just shy of her second birthday. Now, her parents are fighting for widespread access to newborn screenings they believe could have helped their baby, and would allow other parents to have happy memories with their little ones long beyond skin-to-skin. 

    "Krabbe is a horrible disease that turns seemingly perfect babies into sufferers of a disease in which very little can be done to even comfort them. No baby and no parent deserves that!" he says. "I urge states, mainly their departments of health, to start seriously consider expanding newborn screenings to add diseases like Krabbe. If it's a money issue, would you not do everything in your power to find the money if it was your child? Every child deserves a chance to live a full life."