Just over a year has passed since snowboarder Alex "Chumpy" Pullin died in a spearfishing accident off the coast of Australia.
Since then, his partner, Ellidy Pullin, has become pregnant with their first child, a life milestone that she describes as a "dream" in an essay for Australia's Vogue. According to Ellidy, she was able to achieve this through sperm retrieval, a "rigorous" process in which sperm is harvested from a deceased person's body.
"It's only with the benefit of time, that I truly understand the enormous amount of effort my family, friends, lawyers, and doctors put in, in those critical hours after Chump passed away, to give me the opportunity to continue our dream of starting a family," she writes. "Even the fact that Chumpy's accident occurred on a weekday meant that the roll call of specialists I needed to make this possible were available; had it been a weekend, my future may have looked vastly different."
Ellidy shares that she and the 32-year-old Olympian were already in the process of trying to become pregnant when he died last August, but she needed time to grieve his death before going through IVF (in vitro fertilization).
"I knew the journey wouldn't be easy: being pregnant wasn't going to bring Chumpy back, nor tie a neat bow around my grief," she explains. "In fact, pregnancy, birth, and motherhood, would likely create secondary losses and fresh shoots of grief in the myriad 'I wish you were here' pangs that shoulder everything I do, and would be illuminated by a tiny human being."
By December, she began the process, but resolved not to "push this dream uphill," as she was aware of the financial and emotional limitations. But, by the second round of IVF, Ellidy recalls feeling that the embryo was "the one" that would become her and Alex's baby.
Now that she's preparing for motherhood on her own, Ellidy confesses to feeling mixed emotions. "Alongside the euphoria that comes with the imminent arrival of our baby, I feel a deep-seated sadness that Chumpy won't get the chance to play dad, a role that would have come so naturally to him," she shares. "Being pregnant is bittersweet; on one hand I feel overwhelmed with happiness thinking, 'Oh, my goodness, it's alive, it's really there,' while also knowing Chump's not here to share in it."
Though he's not physically present with her, Ellidy says she feels a "sense of calm" knowing that he's alive in the "endless clips" of him she can watch online. She remarks that their child won't feel Alex's touch, but knows "he or she will never be confused by where they came from."
Most important, Ellidy finds comfort in the fact that "a little piece of Chumpy will be back in my arms again."
On her Instagram, Ellidy admits that her story is in Vogue "for all the wrong reasons," adding, "Chump should be here, lying next to me, rubbing my belly."