Clair shared a few photos and snippets of her work with Benjamin and his family on her Facebook page over the course of a few days before his death.
Princess Charlotte Never Wears Pants Because Of This Royal Rule
Please enter a valid email address Thank you for signing up! You should receive an email to confirm your subscription shortly. There was a problem processing your signup; please try again later
After the doctors removed Benjamin’s breathing tube, he surprised his family and medical staff by breathing on his own. His family took him home later that day, where he passed away on July 2.
By this time months had passed. The baby was no longer in any danger, and it was clear that he hadn’t contracted any sort of infectious disease from Mary or her son. But he could have. The current vaccine schedule protects against 14 serious illnesses, including measles, mumps, and whooping cough, that can lead to lifelong disability or even death. My son could have carried some of the immunity I passed along through my breastmilk (and had received his hepatitis B shot after birth), but babies don’t begin to receive most routine vaccines (and the vital protection they provide) until they’re two months old.
The current vaccine schedule protects against 14 serious illnesses that can lead to lifelong disability or even death, but babies don’t begin to receive most routine vaccines until they’re two months old.
It’s clear from Mary’s comments that she doesn’t believe that she puts others in danger by not being vaccinated. And so, giving her the benefit of the doubt, one could say she didn’t intend to do any harm. Very luckily, no harm was done.
While babies curled in baskets or posing propped up on their wobbly little elbows are certainly cute, I knew our early life as a family of four would be much louder and messier, and I wanted photos to match. After some Facebook sleuthing, I found Mary,* and she got it. I could tell from the helter-skelter images in her portfolio that she didn’t shy away from a mom’s postpartum body, or pumping routine, or the kind of toddler chase scenes I knew all too well.
Baby Photos: These Poses Are Actually Dangerous To Try At Home
Benjamin’s parents plan to use the photos to celebrate and reflect on his life.
Where To Live In Canada: MoneySense Choose Oakville As Best City For 2018
Ontario’s Basic Income Program Is Helping This Family Business Thrive
I messaged Mary though Facebook, and then we spoke on the phone. She was warm and professional and talked at length about the joy she found in capturing special images for new families. I hung up feeling excited that I had managed to book a photographer who so clearly shared my vision, and then got back to the business of being pregnant. A few weeks later when we had the baby, I texted Mary and set up a time for her to come over. And that’s when things kind of went sideways.
“Because of the photos I feel like I’m not grieving alone,” Egli says. “Everyone close to me has met Benjamin up close through the images we’ve been able to share.”
When you think of newborn photographers, you may think of someone behind the lens, capturing the first few days of a baby’s life. But Rebecca Clair was tasked with capturing not the first, but the last few hours of Benjamin Levi’s life.
“At the end of June, I had the profound privilege of spending a couple hours in the NICU with my friends and their newborn son Benjamin,” Clair writes. “Benjamin was born alive but unresponsive after suffering a severe brain injury in utero.”
Your daily dose of the latest in fashion, beauty, and entertainment — delivered straight to your inbox.
Essentially, the photos are an important part of helping the family heal.
When she sent us our pictures, I was totally blown away. The images were sweet and simple and somehow fully captured the chaos and beauty of life with a toddler and a newborn. It wasn’t until several months later that I realized her photos came with an invisible risk that I hadn’t understood at the time.
But the fact is, no matter what she personally chooses to believe, there was a risk. Many vaccine-preventable illnesses are contagious before symptoms appear, so her toddler could’ve been carrying something while presenting as perfectly healthy.
Subscription ServicesContact GlamourReprints/PermissionsNewsletter SignupSite MapRSSAdvertise With UsMastheadAccessibility HelpGlamourUKGreeceFranceHungaryGermanyPolandSpainSweden RussiaNetherlandsMexico and Latin AmericaSouth Africa
Get the Magazine6 months for only $5 plus a free gift!Subscribe
Parents love to take photos of their newborns in adorable poses. And thanks to Pinterest, there’s no shortage of ideas. However, many new moms and dads don’t realize some snapshots should only be taken by a professional photographer who knows how to safely position your baby. In fact, many poses are only possible with Photoshop!
As I read her comments, and remembered her child being mere inches from my newborn son, I was angry that this woman had endangered my brand-new baby (at the height of flu season, no less) and was frustrated that I had seen her as a professional and had made assumptions about the precautions she would take. But I also felt guilty. I had literally placed my newborn in someone’s hands without even considering the questions I should have asked first.
Mary began by snapping some pictures while I finished nursing my son and kept shooting as we changed and dressed him. She asked my older son to show her his favorite toys, clicking away as he rolled one of his toy cars across the newborn’s chest and down his leg. Mary mostly wore her son on her back using a woven strap. When he became a little fussy, she paused and took him out to cuddle for a moment before placing him back in the carrier. She then picked up my newborn and placed him on a soft blanket near the window to get a few closeups of his parted lips and tiny ears. After about an hour, all of the children were starting to become restless, so we wrapped it up.
When Mary arrived, her own toddler was with her. I’m a working mom myself, and I understand that sometimes child care falls through. And she seemed more than able to get the job done with her kid in tow, but it was curious that she hadn’t given me a heads-up before arriving with him. Not everyone is cool with exposing their newborns to day-care-aged toddlers (wee, walking petri dishes that they are). Some people don’t let anyone come around until the baby’s gotten started on their vaccine schedule. (Side note: If you have friends with a four-week-old baby who you haven’t been invited to meet yet, this could be why. Give them another month.)
It was in a small local Facebook group about natural childbirth that I saw her name pop up. A pregnant woman posted a question about what vaccines she could expect her baby to receive at birth, and there was Mary, flying afoul of medical fact. In her response to the woman, she detailed her opposition to vaccines and shared that she and her son were proudly vaccine-free. (Yes, the son she had held and cuddled and put down just to pick up my as-yet-unprotected infant.)
“Because even in the midst of the heartbreak, those two hours in that NICU room were full of more beauty and peace than I could have ever imagined,” Clair writes. “And so each click of the shutter as I witnessed these moments of beauty became a thank you. A thank you for the preciousness and purpose of Benjamin’s little life, even in such a short amount of time. And a thank you for the privilege of witnessing this little bit of his story.”
WATCH: Dog Survives Greece Wildfires By Hiding In Outdoor Oven
The Kansas City, Missouri, photographer shared the experience on her blog earlier this week.
Ontario Minister Admits PCs Broke Election Vow By Scrapping Basic Income
Ontario Man Pranks CRA Scammers With Facts, Cats And Celine Dion
“I was a little nervous to enter this space with them, because I had never photographed anything like this before and it would be an understatement to say that the moment felt weighty,” she continues. “But at the same time, I had never felt the value of photography as deeply as I did in that room.”
I had literally placed my newborn in someone’s hands without even considering the questions I should have asked first.
Worthy Canadians To Host ‘Jeopardy!’ When Alex Trebek Steps Down
Get top stories and blog posts emailed to me each day. Newsletters may offer personalized content or advertisements. Learn more
“As a mother, there was also no way of knowing what had happened to him in the womb,” Egli says. “In fact, I went to a midwife appointment the morning prior to his birth and, because his heart was beating at a healthy pace and I was measuring normal, I had an uneventful appointment with no reason for concern.”
Though I never confronted Mary about this incident, it scared me enough to change my behavior. I called my son’s pediatrician to confirm that they don’t see unvaccinated kids. I started checking in with playdates and babysitters about their vaccine status. And my newfound carefulness extends beyond routine health care too.
Benjamin lived for eight days after his birth. On the day that his family planned to remove Benjamin’s breathing tube, Clair was asked to come to the hospital and photograph the family as they snuggled him.
When I became pregnant with my second son, I was excited that his due date fell just a few weeks before my first son would turn three. My kids would be close in age and both winter babies—which meant all of my toddler’s hand-me-downs, diligently organized in labeled tubs, would be a seasonal match for the new baby. With precious little we’d need to buy this time around, my husband and I looked for a few “for fun” purchases we didn’t have the cash for as new parents.
Prince Harry, Meghan Markle’s Future Kids Will Likely Have This Last Name
Below we’ve rounded up nine common baby photo poses that are actually dangerous to try at home. It’s best to leave these to the pros!
“Their skin-to-skin times with Benjamin are some of the precious memories they hold onto from his time in the NICU,” Clair writes in her blog.
When we enter a new home, I’ll ask if anyone in the family owns a gun (and whether it’s stored, locked, and unloaded). Anyone who’ll be driving my son anywhere can expect a quick conversation about their commitment to proper car seat usage. These are base-level safety precautions that exist for a reason, and so are immunizations—a miracle of modern medicine, really—that can prevent and even eradicate deadly diseases. I wouldn’t trust someone who’d opt out of that. I’d urge them to “do their research,” and then hire someone else for their job.
“It’s been two weeks since Benjamin’s passing and we already have them on our mantle,” Egli says. “I ordered three canvas prints that will go in our bedroom, a safe place where I can reflect and cry if I need to. We’re also making a photo book so I can tell Eliette, 18 months, about her baby brother as she gets older.”
We Tried the Top-Rated Foot Peels, and These Are Our Honest Thoughts
Ivanka Trump Calls Family Separations a ‘Low Point,’ but Twitter Wonders Why She Didn’t Speak up Sooner
Don’t Wash Raw Chicken And Other Food Safety Rules To Remember
WellnessParentingA Photographer Brought Her Unvaccinated Toddler to My Newborn Shoot
A set of fancy swaddling blankets and a dedicated “coming home” outfit later, we decided that our final splurge would be an in-home newborn photography session.
Kim Kardashian Thanks Sisters For Calling Her ‘Anorexic,’ Sparks Outrage
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urges anyone who comes in contact with newborns to be up to date with their vaccines. This photographer made a decision to disregard the guidance of the American Academy of Pediatrics, the CDC, and the World Health Organization, and then she took the choice away from me by not disclosing their status before coming near (and touching) my baby. This was irresponsible on her part, as a person who may encounter newborns or immunocompromised people any day, anywhere. It was unprofessional to not let me know she needed to bring her child to my home. And most of all, from one parent to another, it was just wrong.
Within her post she urged the expectant mother to “do her research” or risk her child ending up “vaccine-injured.” (The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services defines vaccine injury as a kind of allergic reaction, which it says is incredibly rare—right after proclaiming that vaccines save lives.) She said she was disappointed that routine vaccination is the norm and hoped more people would opt out.
Benjamin suffered from Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy (HIE), a type of brain damage that occurs when an infant’s brain doesn’t receive enough oxygen and blood. “It could have been a stroke, a moment in time when the umbilical cord was pinched, or a metabolic disorder,” Katie Egli, Benjamin’s mom, tells The Bump. “The truth is we may never know how or why Benjamin suddenly wasn’t receiving oxygen.”
My husband and I do think about having another baby someday, and if the hand-me-downs lottery keeps holding strong, we’d hire another photographer too. When the time comes, in addition to asking about their pricing, style, and process, we’ll also be asking whether they’re up to date on their vaccines. It may not be a popular line of questioning in my natural-childbirth Facebook group, but it’s part of how I keep my kids out of harm’s way—and there’s nothing more natural than that.
On July 10, after receiving permission from Benjamin’s family to share his story, Clair published her blog post. The essay highlights the “beauty of his short life.”
Unfortunately, Benjamin’s injury took place a day or more before he was delivered. Egli was taken into the hospital for an emergency c-section, but there were no treatments or interventions the doctors could perform.