34-year-old Kristen Tripson was pregnant. It was six months after she had lost her husband, Sam Tripson, on September 15, 2016, to stage IV lymphoma. This remarkable couple who were deeply in love was not going to let cancer take away everything they had hoped for.
Kristen and Sam had made plans for a third child, regardless of what might happen.
It blows my mind how much life can change in a year. This was us, exactly one year ago today. So hopeful. So excited. Many of you following me are on your own #ivf journey, and you know how hard the 2 week wait is after a transfer. I made it 5 days before I tested at home and got a faint positive. I will never forget that morning. The kids busted through the bathroom door. Alice Ann totting around in her diaper and Jack very suspicious and inquisitive about the stick I was holding up to the light by the bathroom window. And Sam's face when I looked at him with huge eyes as he stood in the doorway, taking it all in. He broke into the biggest smile and said "Well, alright. Let's do this." Though I wouldn't be pregnant for very long, I treasure the memory of that morning and getting to see Sam's absolute joy and delight at the thought of another baby. We'd find out 3 weeks later of his relapse. And you all know the rest. Thank you God, for pairing some of life's worst bitter with a bit of sweet. Some days, it's the only thing keeping me afloat. #lifeafterloss
The couple had planned the IVF pregnancy using frozen embryos that they had harvested in 2012, just after Sam’s first bone marrow transplant. They were already parents to two children: 5-year-old Jack and 2-year-old Alice Ann.
Kristen shared the news on Instagram.
Well. I'm pregnant. And, yes. It's Sam's. To make a very long story sort of short… In order to have more biological children after cancer treatment, Sam and I had to go through IVF. It was wildly emotional, physically taxing and truly a post for another day. But it left us with 4 frozen embryos. Alice Ann was our first. We tried again this past summer with another, but I lost it very early. Two weeks after that, Sam relapsed and three weeks after that, he was gone. Though we never talked much about "the end", we did talk about our embryos. I know it's a very personal, private subject, but to us, they were our potential children. On ice. It was always our plan, regardless of what happened, that they would have a chance at life. Over the past 6 months, there has never been a doubt as to what I was going to do. Even in the ICU during his final hours, I knew what I was going to do. After he was gone, I laid next to him for a long time. I prayed for the strength I would need to get up and leave the hospital and eventually, when I was ready, to move forward with our plans. It took months of prep work and evaluation. Both physically and mentally. My doctor didn't take this lightly, but he also knew us very well and wasn't surprised by my decision. So on February 9th, with both my mom and Sam's mom next to me, I had our final two embryos transferred. There were a lot of tears and so much love in that room. I found out a few weeks later that I was carrying one strong baby. And that's ok. The way I see it, I get one and Sam gets one. Of course, it's bittersweet. And yes, a bit unconventional. But it was our decision and what I consider to be one of life's most beautiful blessings. So I'm beyond happy and excited to announce our new addition is due in October. Jack claims he wants a sister. We'll see. Like with my previous pregnancies, I'll find out what it is in the delivery room. Or as Sam used to call it, "The Original Gender Reveal". ❤️ #MovingForwardNotMovingOn #ivf #ivfflorida
On April 2, 2016, she decided to go public with her pregnancy by posting a heartfelt explanation on Instagram. It had been six months since she had lost her husband.
“Well. I’m pregnant,” she wrote. “And, yes. It’s Sam’s.”
She wanted to do her best in explaining how she and Sam had come to their decision.
“Though we never talked much about ‘the end,’ we did talk about our embryos,” she wrote. “I know it’s a very personal, private subject, but to us, they were our potential children. On ice. It was always our plan, regardless of what happened, that they would have a chance at life.
“Over the past 6 months, there has never been a doubt as to what I was going to do. Even in ICU during his final hours, I knew what I was going to do. After he was gone, I laid next to him for a long time. I prayed for the strength I would need to get up and leave the hospital and eventually, when I was ready, to move forward with our plans.”
Excitement about their unborn child brought healing and anticipation.
It's a strange thing, being single on your anniversary. I still wear my wedding rings. Because I still very much feel married. But I know technically, I'm not. Seven years ago we stood under the gorgeous oaks of Oak Alley Plantation and said our vows. One day I might wrap my head around all of it. But not today. Today I will be thankful for the six short but sweet years that I had the honor of being Sam's wife. There's a link to the video that played after I spoke at Sam's service in my profile. I think @hollyaudreywilliams says it best. "If you ever slip out of my hands, I could say I held, I could say I knew, I could say I loved a good man."
When Kristen was 17 weeks pregnant, she reflected on the decision she and her husband had made.
“I know this isn’t going to be easy,” she said in an interview with Us Weekly. “I’m not scared. I’m so excited to meet this little person.”
Kristen, who lives in Vero Beach, Florida, said that it was a difficult process to go through, but also gave her something very special to look forward to. Tripson was due on October 28, 2016, and at the time admitted she was “a little uptight” over the whole thing. But those thoughts were quickly overshadowed by memories of Sam.
“He was so funny and so silly … and I love it when I see that in my children now, because I worry, oh my goodness, I don’t want these kids to be exactly like me. But it’s amazing how his qualities are in them.… I get little reminders of Sam every day.”
And then along came Lillie Belle…
On October 23, 2016, Lillie Belle was born: a happy, healthy little girl to add to their family and the legacy completed by the powerful love between her parents.
“It’s hard to process, but just having a chance to meet another one of Sam’s children, it just blows my mind,” she said.