Miracle Baby’s First Birthday Honors Mom Who Was Killed While 8 Months Pregnant With Her

 Miracle Baby’s First Birthday Honors Mom Who Was Killed While 8 Months Pregnant With Her

(X&Y Photography)

When his daughter’s first birthday started approaching, James Alvarez knew just who to call. The California dad had previously entrusted Grisel Leyva of X&V Photography with his daughter’s newborn photo shoot and believed she was just the right person to capture her entrance into toddlerhood.

Sadly, though, one person would be noticeably absent on the big day: James’ wife and Adalyn’s mother, Yesenia Alvarez. The 23-year-old mom-to-be was killed by a drunken driver in 2020 when she was eight months pregnant with Adalyn. Luckily, Leyva was able to incorporate Yesenia’s beautiful portrait into the photos as a way of ensuring that her loving memory lives on.

It happened around 7:30 p.m. on August 11, 2020, as the couple made their way down a residential street in Anaheim, California. At the time, they were anxiously awaiting the arrival of their little girl, who was due to be born on September 20. But in the blink of an eye, their dreams were shattered.

A Jeep driven by 40-year-old Courtney Pandolfi suddenly lost control and jumped the curb. Before they knew it, the SUV was on the sidewalk — headed directly toward them.

According to police, the young mother was rushed to UC Irvine Medical Center, where doctors performed an emergency C-section to deliver her baby, named Adalyn Rose. Sadly, Yesenia’s injuries were far too severe, and the mother was pronounced dead soon afterward.

In the wake of Yesenia’s death, it was revealed that Pandolfi had been under the influence at the time of the accident and had multiple DUI arrests on her record. She was ultimately charged with felony counts of murder in connection with Yesenia’s death, though she entered a plea of not guilty.

Pandolfi was given the maximum sentence of 15 years to life on April 12, 2024, because of her three prior DUI convictions. The first-time father was seen encouraging his little girl to grow stronger by the day and to defy the odds that had suddenly stacked against her, according to an NBC Los Angeles interview at the time.

“Come on, you can do it, you’re almost there,” Alvarez reportedly told Adalyn as she recovered in the neonatal intensive care unit or NICU. “I want my daughter to have the best life. And anything I can do to fulfill that, I’m going to do it.” Albarez stayed by his daughter’s bedside throughout her hospital stay and was overjoyed when she was finally cleared to come home in late August 2020. According to reports, he’s remained a devoted, single dad ever since.

It took place on September 23, 2020, just three days after the little girl’s original due date. And the reason James specifically chose Leyva as the photographer? Turns out she had photographed Yesenia for a maternity shoot just one month before her death. It was for that reason that baby Adalyn could be seen holding a photo of her late mother in a flowing maternity dress — an image that quickly went viral after Leyva shared it on her Facebook page.

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