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Kristina Ripatti gives birth to son

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By Brent Hopkins Staff Writer

The doctors and nurses gathered around Kristina Ripatti, waiting and hoping for a miracle.

The retired Los Angeles police officer had spent plenty of time in hospitals in the past year and a half, recovering from a bullet to the spine suffered in the line of duty.

But this was different. She could feel nothing below her chest, and her once powerful body was limp.

“Push!” the doctor growled.

He had a scalpel and a suction machine at the ready in case something went wrong.

Ripatti bore down with all the force she could in her abdomen. Long dormant muscles began to work. A tiny head appeared.

At 4:37 p.m. Wednesday, the paralyzed ex-cop from Redondo Beach gave birth to a blue-eyed, black-haired, 5-pound, 8-ounce, 19-inch, healthy baby boy. Nurses swabbed and swaddled him, and the family went back up to her private room at the Little Company of Mary Hospital in Torrance.

“What’s his name?” grandmother Jean Pearce asked.

“Lucas Braeden,” Ripatti breathed.

“A baby!” cheered 2-year-old Jordan Pearce, a big sister for the first time.

Nearly 10 hours earlier, a red pickup slid into the handicapped space in front of the hospital with Ripatti in the passenger seat.

LAPD Officer Tim Pearce stepped from the cab, strode around to the other side of the truck and lifted out his wife. She settled into her wheelchair and readied herself.

She’d faced down gangsters, gave chase into crack houses and felt bullets chew into her skin. She’d lost her career, struggled to adjust to life in a wheelchair and life in the public eye. But now Ripatti was nervous.”He keeps saying, `Just relax,”‘ she said. “Oh yeah, I’m not doing anything here. Just having a baby.”

She cranked her arms and rolled into the hospital under her own power. Eight months pregnant, due to give birth in a few hours, she wanted no help as she checked herself into the maternity ward.

“Wow, is she that cop from `Extreme (Home) Makeover?”‘ a cleaning woman asked as Ripatti rolled past, referring to the reality show that featured the Redondo Beach home of Ripatti and her husband in the fall of 2006. “I love her.”

Sgt. Deana Stark, her best friend, and Detective Joe Meyer, her partner, and her family accompanied her inside. With assistance out of the chair, she settled into bed and a nurse hooked her up to monitors.

The baby’s heart began thumping softly, the beat filling the room.

Ripatti nervously chewed a fingernail.

“Even though we already had one, it’s like starting all over again,” she said, eyeing the monitor. “Looks like I just had a contraction.”

The long wait began. The hours ticked by. A doctor administered an epidural and Ripatti settled in, unfeeling but still uncomfortable.

She talked sports, police work and baby names.

“We had all this time to think about it, and what does Tim do?” she said. “At 1 a.m., he asks me, `What do you think of this one?”‘

They cycled through the options, male and female. Still nothing final. Jaden for a girl? Braeden for a boy? The crowd tossed out middle names. The conversation shifted to what point it will be OK for everyone to cry as her friends rubbed her feet and offered encouragement.

Speculation ran 10-to-1 it would be a boy.

Midafternoon, her water broke. By 4:15 p.m., she was ready to go. The family suited up in scrubs and wheeled her to the operating room.

“We’re having a baby,” she hummed on her way out the door.

And, half an hour later, she did. The family rejoiced as nurses wheeled her back into her room. Siblings, parents, grandparents and friends leaned in to see the latest addition to the huge extended family.

“Look, it’s your brother, Lucas,” Ripatti told Jordan, her eyes filled with tears as her daughter stroked the baby’s face.

Then her fellow cops leaned in, one by one, quietly offering congratulations and kisses. The baby had fine hands for a future police officer, they agreed, or perhaps a football player.

“Now I can say it,” she said, softly. “I wanted a boy.”

Pearce stood proudly at her side, beaming as he looked down at his newborn son. He leaned down and kissed his wife’s forehead, then stepped aside to let the nurses go back to work.

“I could see it in her eyes,” he said. “This made her whole again.

“When she had this baby, she took back her life.”



  1. thebronze says:

    This story has made my month!

    I’ve followed her story ever since the shooting. That episode of EM:HE was one of the best.

    Congrats Tina and Tim!

  2. Rebecca says:

    I’ve followed it from the beginning, too, but I forgot she was pregnant again.

    I have to admit, though, that I was really surprised she was able to have a baby naturally. I thought for sure she’d have to have a C Section.

  3. Sharon says:

    I saw the Extreme Makeover show for the second time yesterday. I wanted to see if their was news about this family. Thank you so much for publishing this information.It great to know good things are happening for the Rapatti – Pearce family 🙂

  4. Marlo Ortiz says:

    Kristina and Tim,
    May God continue to bless you and your family always. Faith Runs like a river that doesn’t run dry, into the ocean it flows, where the heat of the beaming sun uses it, it evaporates and becomes rain. Then the rain brings forth beautiful grass,green trees and flowers. As life, faith adds parables to us.
    Thank you for your encouragement and stength.

  5. Hugo Vela says:

    Congrat´s Kristina, i´m mexican, and saw the Extreme Makeover, Home Edition for you´re home, and cry by your condition, for the situation, you´re a hero.
    I´m so happy to know that had another baby; i want to know if you´re better condition.
    I don´t know so much english, but i try to make better.
    From Empalme, Sonora, México.
    Hugo Vela Rivera
    Physical education teacher.

  6. Queridos Kristina y Tim, esta semana hemos visto aqui en Argentina Extreme Makeover con vuestra historia, todas son bellas y emotivas, pero la tuya Kristina me emocionò muchisimo, serà porque tu nombre es igual al mio. Te felicito por tu fuerza y corage, y ahora con sorpresa veo que has tenido otro bebè que bendiciòn de Dios!!! te lo mereces porque sos una luchadora. Me gustarìa saber si estas mejor, no dudo que lo lograràs, no se inglès, me encantarìa escribirte, pero desde el corazòn me entenderàs igual. Sos un ejemplo de mujer, madre y esposa.
    Cristina de Mar del Plata Argentina

  7. Fiona says:

    You truly are an inspirational family. Keep going. x

  8. April Cook says:

    i have watched this show in the uk now for years and its always results in me reaching for the box of tissues but never have i reached out for the reponce of writing a reply,this truly couragerous lady has affected my life i was feeling dispontant and depressed with life and this is the biggest pick me up any one could hope for it feels like a big weight has gone im thinking my god what she has gone though get a life, my heart felt wishes are with her and her family god bless, and congrats on the baby keep up the good work
    love and best wishes April x NUNEATON UK

  9. Gordy says:

    I just found this website to leave comments, and hopefully Tina will read. Tina, I have followed news about you since the shooting, actually, Dave told me about it and I reached out to Brady and Holly, and your parents when it happened. I watched to home makeover…… Congrats on your achievements since then, and I wish you, Tim, and your family the very best that life has to offer. Gordy

  10. othniel says:

    bonjour ^^
    je suis français et j’ai l’occasion de voir votre histoire délicate sur une émission Extreme Makeover Home Edition diffuser en france et depuis j’ai garder une énorme petite pensé pour vous 🙂 et espérant que vous n’avez pas perdu l’espoir de remarcher si ce n’est pas le cas persisté!! et maintenant que vous avez un nouveau née ^^ cela devrez vous motiver encore plus 😀

    cordialement Othniel Mora ^^

  11. Carol says:

    Hi Tim and Kristina,may God bless you and your family.You are inspiring to others.

  12. Susan williamson says:

    just saw ur story on extreme makeover, here in South Africa. im happy to c u r still living life 2 the fullest. You are an inspiration. Thank you!

  13. Janet says:

    Was so moved by your story on Extreme Home Makeover so just had to look up your name on the web. Congratulations on the birth of your son – what a miracle you have been blessed with. I wish you all the best!

  14. Cindy Maddison says:

    Hello Kristina & Tim

    The episode of E.M. was only aired in South Africa on Tuesday night, 28th July 2009, and “wow”, are you an inspiration to both my hubby and I! We were totally moved by your journey and are both totally awed by your courage and faith that you both follow. What a gorgeous little girl you have as well. And may we say how blessed you both are to have such a wonderful mother.

    Our love and best wishes go to you both and we wish you all the love and strength you may need to carry on building your family as you are. Many congratulations on the birth of your little boy. May he bring you many, many hours of joy and happiness.

    Peace, Love and Happiness
    Cindy & Tony Maddison
    Port Alfred, Eastern Cape, South Africa

  15. terry says:

    Dear Kristina and Tim, wow is all I can say, I love the love between the two of you,(now 4 of you! and your awesome mom make 5 of you!). I just watched Extreme Makeover as millions have but I have to say this one touched me as well like none other and I knew I had to record it. I did record it and totally enjoyed watching it today, thank you for you! All the best always, Terry

  16. Maryori Ordoñez says:

    Hi Kristina, God bless her for strength and your family.

    I belong to a church if you want to see some materioal about healing visit.


    Saludos y Besos.

  17. Richard Greninger says:

    Kristi and Tim,

    We your public fans deserve some info on your mobility progress!
    We are thinking, Kristi, you are the kind of girl that should walk again!

  18. PositiveLeo says:

    Kristina does have a Facebook page, Richard, you might want to try to comment there and see if you get a response:).

  19. […] in a Race Across America event in June. Even more amazing, almost two years after the accident, she gave birth to a baby boy (natural child birth, too). His name is Lucas, and he’s joined in the family by big sister […]

  20. linda Wampamba Kironde says:

    I leave in Uganda and i have just been watching extreme makeover home edition featuring Kristina. I just love you. Inspite of all your problems you are very positive.
    Kristina you are an inspiration to all of us.
    May God bless you and your family

  21. Roy Anderson says:

    Kristina you are an inspiration to us all!

  22. Pam Manning says:

    Wow Kristina this is amazing that you could birth naturally! Once again you are inpsiring people in different ways. So happy you had a son. A pigeon pair. God Bless you all xx Pam Manning South Africa

  23. Pam Manning says:

    Wow Kristina this is amazing that you could give birth naturally! Once again you are inpsiring people in different ways. So happy you had a son. A pigeon pair. God Bless you all xx Pam Manning South Africa

  24. Kayla Flickinger says:

    I just got done watching this families story on Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, and I bawled my eyes out. Right when the episode ended I opened up my laptop to see if there was any news on the family. It’s so crazy and amazing that she had another baby. I’m still looking for more information cause I wanna find out if she has learned to walk again. Such an amazing story either way though. ❤

  25. annemarie says:

    just watched extreme makeover and did the same as Kayla came online googled the family and i am over the moon to read u had a baby boy so happy for this family i guess i was checking to see if ur able to walk again but hey better miracles like a baby boy is fantastic health and long life to all of the family

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