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Tuesday, May 1, 2012

How Jude became Jude

I'd like to tell you a little bit about our son, Jude.

We introduced Jude, formally, to the public on the morning after his birth on March 1 and celebrated his two months this past Sunday.  Over the last eight weeks he has made such a difference in the lives of so many, raising awareness for people with visual impairments and benefiting the Children's Center for the Visually Impaired.

Although he has only been here for two small months, we have known him much longer.  As is typical in most pregnancies, the 20-week point is usually accompanied by an ultrasound at the doctor's office.  Joanna and I took Peter and Thomas to find out if they were going to have a sister and us a daughter or if we'd again have a son, and them, a new brother.

Well, the secret is out.  We had a third son.  But, the Jude who you know today was actually going to be Joseph the morning of the ultrasound.  During this routine ultrasound, the technician noticed a calcium buildup in one of the ventricles of Jude's heart.  Joanna's doctor told her that she would need to follow up with a specialist to get a more detailed ultrasound because this buildup can indicate chromosomal abnormalities, such as those found in Down's Syndrome.

We were sick to our stomachs that evening, worrying about our son and praying that he was okay.  The appointment would not come for another three weeks.  But, the next morning we woke up, and decided we would not be held hostage by this fear.  Neither Joanna nor I could last three weeks frozen by what we could not control.  We had to offer it up.

That afternoon, after work, I drove to a local Catholic bookstore.  We had recently bought Peter and Thomas small pewter statues of saints after whom they were named to place in their rooms.  I entered intending to purchase a similar statue of St. Joseph to place on our nightstand to remind us this situation is largely out of our hands.  They were out of St. Joseph statues.

Rather than leave empty handed, a statue caught my eye, one of St. Jude.  I picked it up, read the prayer of St. Jude and knew this would be our son's name.  For those who don't know, St. Jude is the patron saint of hopeless causes.  And although we know now and knew then that the situation was not quite a hopeless one, the prayer resounded in us and replaced the pockets of fear with rays of hope.

We eventually went to the specialist and he was able to largely rule out the initial concern of a chromosomal abnormality.  But, not before Joanna and I were forced to examine our role as Jude's parents and see Jude's needs as our child.  If God could lovingly create me, a man full of flaws and warts, there's no reason I could not fully embrace my precious son, no matter how he is formed.

It is true that we had no prior indication that Jude would be born blind.  This came as a total shock for us and our loved ones.  I look at the 20-week ultrasound and the calcium buildup, completely unrelated to his blindness, as a true moment of God preparing us for a different journey.  There's really nothing better than feeling as though you're peacefully resting in the palm of God's hand.

St. Jude: Pray for us.

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