Aaron and Erin Ruskamp were supposed to celebrate the news that they were expecting their third child. The parents of two active boys, they were excited to learn they would be blessed with a third.
But joy turned to sorrow when an ultrasound showed their third child suffered from anencephaly and would die shortly after birth.
“I read terrible posts calling these babies — my baby — monster babies and grossly mutated babies. I logged off and sobbed in my pillow all night, woke up several times not being able to breathe. Wanting to carry my baby but so scared of what he would look like,” Erin wrote in her blog.
Such a diagnosis naturally left the couple with many tearful and sleepless nights — until they decided to turn sorrow back into joy.
The Ruskamps decided to start 100 Miles for Jude — a Facebook group to celebrate little unborn baby Jude’s life he won’t be able to live.
From the story about what they’re doing:
For the latter, they have had baby-blue T-shirts printed. People from everywhere are encouraged to walk, bike, run or skate in the name of Jude, logging miles along the way.
She rides, too — giving Jude his first bike ride. She treats him to ice cream and fried pickles. She sees every moment, as a first for Jude — and so she savors it.
The couple sat down with Kyson and Gavin, and explained that “Jude is not strong enough to live outside of mommy’s tummy.” Eager to share their brotherly love, the boys recorded messages to Jude and had the recordings placed inside stuffed animals they made for him. Kyson made Jude a gift at school. Each night before he goes to sleep, Gavin gives his little brother a kiss through his mommy’s tummy.
Kyson’s T-ball team has the insignia “Playing for Jude” on its T-shirt sleeve.
Most times, joy and love overpower the grief of what happens in September, when Jude is due.
“We will talk about him,” Erin said. “I don’t want anyone to forget him or think he was any less than our other children.
“My son is not a birth defect. He is Jude Ruskamp.”