Some abortion advocates are quick to dehumanize babies with anencephaly, calling them less than human and saying they should be aborted because their quality of life is supposedly too low.
But one family in Nebraska disagreed. Today, people across the Midwestern state and elsewhere are wearing t-shirts to support baby Jude to remember the brief but inspiring life of Jude James Aaron Ruskamp.
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.
Jude was born two weeks early and the Lincoln Journal Star newspaper has more on this moving story:
Jude Ruskamp arrived two weeks ahead of Erin’s scheduled cesarean section. Born at 3:03 p.m. Aug. 19, weighing 5 pounds, 15 ounces, and measuring 16-inches long.
Erin was with her nurse practitioner when her water broke.
You’re having a baby today, the woman told her.
Erin burst into tears: “I’m not ready. I’m not ready to say goodbye.”
But Jude was ready.
“He definitely chose when to come,” Erin said. “He took it into his hands.”
Despite his prematurity, his anencephaly and a recently discovered life-threatening heart defect — Jude breathed on his own.
In their hospital room, Erin and Aaron savored the moments with their son — ignoring the ticking clock, but always all-too-aware of the passing time.
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In an adjacent room, Saint Elizabeth Regional Hospital staff invited family and friends to gather. Happy birthday banners hung from the walls. Party hats were made available.
They sang Happy Birthday at the first hour, and the 23 three that followed.
At 9:38 a.m. Monday, Aug. 26 — one week after his arrival — Jude took his last breath. He died in his mother’s arms, his father’s arms encircling the both of them.
Honestly, there was was a lot of anxiety those seven days, Erin admitted.
“I think he was waiting for us to be OK with him,” Erin said.
Added Aaron, “Everybody is here for a purpose and a reason, Jude was hanging on for that purpose.”