Ingrid Santana is the mama to five beautiful children, three boys and two girls. Her second child, Leilani Lynn, was tragically stillborn at 36-weeks due to pre-eclampsia and a complete placenta abruption. Since Leilani’s death, Ingrid has had three pregnancies after loss, and each has been a roller coaster of emotions. She is a fierce mama, who loves deeply and documents her pregnancies after loss through photographs.

Leela Violet Santana, her fifth child, was born on September 28, 2020. While this was Ingrid’s third pregnancy after loss, she says it was her first pregnancy after loss in a pandemic and by far the hardest of her pregnancies. She was so fearful, wondering if this was the right time to bring another baby into the world.

Pregnant woman with sunflowers - Clinging to Faith and Love during Pregnancy After Loss: Ingrid's Story

Through it all, though, she clung to faith and love, documenting her pregnancy through photographs, incorporating sunflowers into her photos. She wrote, “Sunflowers symbolize unwavering faith and unconditional love. This is exactly what I feel. Pregnancy after loss may not always be sunshine and rainbows but my love for you is.”

Pregnant woman with sunflowers - Clinging to Faith and Love during Pregnancy After Loss: Ingrid's Story

Ingrid knew this was her last pregnancy, and having it during a pandemic made it insanely hard. She was so lonely, and her anxiety level was high all the time. Every single time she had to go to an appointment, she was afraid that she’d contract COVID-19. She didn’t have a baby shower and felt unable to share such a beautiful moment with anyone. She was afraid to announce, so afraid that something would happen.

Pregnant woman with sunflowers - Clinging to Faith and Love during Pregnancy After Loss: Ingrid's Story

Ingrid also found hope and support through Pregnancy After Loss Support during the pandemic. She said, “The beautiful posts inspired me to announce online and just GO with it. They reminded me that I can do all things and that I am not alone. Knowing you aren’t alone is so so healing and motivating.”

Leela was born at 36-weeks after Ingrid developed pre-eclampsia. She came early, but ALIVE! Ingrid told us, “She is pure magic. I never thought I’d get another chance to have another child, let alone another girl. So amazing.”

And, we agree that this little one seems like pure magic.

Rainbow newborn photo

Ingrid’s husband surprised her with a special photoshoot of Leela, where he photographed her in a sunflower, connecting to that beautiful symbol Ingrid clung to during her pregnancy after loss.

Sunflower newborn photo

No, pregnancy after loss is definitely not all sunshine and rainbows, especially during a pandemic. But, clinging to faith and love can help you through.

As the holidays approach and the pandemic continues, Ingrid is thinking about her daughter, Leilani.

Leilani's ornament

She was here for a short time, but the impact she made Ingrid’s life is by far the biggest she’s ever had. Leilani would’ve been the big six this year, and Ingrid thinks she would have gotten a beautiful purple bicycle. During the holidays it can be extra hard without her, but Ingrid tries her best to incorporate Leilani in their family’s traditions. She lights a candle for her and adds an ornament on the tree that represents her.

Ingrid's family

Ingrid wants to tell other mamas pregnant after loss during the pandemic, “ENJOY YOUR PREGNANCY AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE. It’s not a normal time, BUT it is your time. Enjoy it. Take the pictures. Create those memories that’ll make you smile when you look back to them. Read articles right here on PALS for support and inspiration and to remind you that you aren’t alone. It’s okay to be afraid, but just remember, “Different pregnancy, different outcome!”

And, she wants those who love someone who is pregnant after loss in a pandemic to know, “It is so lonely! I can’t begin to explain how lonely it is. People are so busy dealing with everything else that you won’t want to burden them with your feelings. People are so used to seeing all the pregnancy announcements going on that they really don’t know how hard of a time it really is to be pregnant. They just think it’s another pregnancy, but that’s not the case at all. This is life-changing and scary and takes heart and soul to get through it…support is so needed. Check on your pregnancy after loss during a pandemic friends. THEY need it, even if they don’t say it.”

We asked Ingrid, “Why do you give back to PALS?” She told us, “Because PALS lets me know that I am not alone. That pregnancy after loss is hard and that’s okay. We support and build each other up. PALS gives us the freedom to want to announce and to enjoy it. To cry if we have to. To FEEL what we have to feel no matter what without GUILT. That it is okay to love or even hate the journey, grieve, and survive it.”

Thank you so much to Ingrid for sharing her story with us as part of our #WhatWouldIGive Holiday Campaign and for the gorgeous photos taken by her husband, Argenis Santana.

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Help PALS continue to support mamas who are pregnant after loss during the pandemic by giving to our What Would I Give Holiday Fundraising Campaign. Set up a recurrent monthly donation of $9 (for the nine months of pregnancy after loss), or make a one-time donation of $40 (for the 40 weeks of pregnancy after loss). Donate now.

Are you pregnant after loss during the pandemic and need extra support or resources? Join one of our Facebook peer-to-peer support groups and see these articles:

Are you parenting after loss during the pandemic and need extra support or resources? Join our Parenting after Loss Facebook peer-to-peer support group and see these articles:

Are you supporting a loved one who is pregnant or parenting after loss during the pandemic? Here are some ways you can help:

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