Jude Mark Gudenkauf
“Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them; For the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” - Luke 18:16
We learned we were going to be first-time parents in the summer of 2012. It was such an exciting time for us after moving to a new house in which we hoped to raise our family. We chose to wait to find out the gender of our baby and called him our little sock monkey because of the sonogram we saw of him at 8 weeks. The pregnancy was off to a great start except for the usual morning sickness.
In October, being 22 weeks pregnant, we took a weekend trip to Wichita from Kansas City to attend my cousin’s wedding on a Friday night. The following day, we met up with some friends to watch a Kansas State Football game on TV. I had even made a K-State t-shirt with little footprints that said “Kick-Off In Progress” to show off my growing bump.
That evening, we were celebrating my mom’s birthday, where aunts, uncles, and cousins were suggesting baby names and guessing how much he/she would weigh. Around 10 pm, I started to have stomach pains. Not knowing any different, we decided to end our evening early and head back to our hotel. On our way to the hotel I started to notice that the cramping would ease in, getting stronger and stronger before easing back out. I was wondering if I was having the “Braxton Hicks” contractions that my friends had warned me about. I asked Jared to help me time them. Realizing these contractions were only about a minute apart, Jared called my doctor in Kansas City and I was told to go to the Labor and Delivery Unit immediately.
Like a scene from a movie, we raced to Wesley Medical Center ER. It was now around 11 pm and I was in immense pain. We called my parents who also rushed to Wesley. After an examination and a sonogram, we were told I was in full labor and already dilated to a 4. The nurse leaned in and told me that we were going to have our baby that evening and that he or she was not going to make it. My mind went numb. With tears streaming down his face, Jared held my hand and never left my side the entire night. They wheeled me to my delivery room and I remember seeing the scared looks on my parents’ faces as we went by. When my water finally broke about midnight there was a huge relief of pressure. My dad called the Catholic priest to come for spiritual support.
With the presence of Father Patrick Reilley, our room seemed to change from panicked to peaceful. Fr. Reilley gave me the sacrament of Anointing of the Sick and offered prayers for Jared who was inconsolable. Fr. Reilley wondered if we had chosen a name for our baby. Jared asked whose feast day it was and Father told us it was the feast of Saint Jude, patron saint of hopeless cases. We knew this would be the perfect name for our child. Not knowing how many more hours until delivery, Father explained that the baptism should occur as soon as possible after birth and the person performing the baptism does not have to be a priest. He taught Jared how to perform the sacrament with water and the Sign of the Cross. Then he told us to call when our baby was born and he would come back to give him/her the sacrament of Confirmation.
Three agonizing hours passed as we tried to make sense of what was happening. It seemed so surreal, like a bad dream. Finally the contractions began again. At 3:37 in the morning on Sunday, October 28th, our precious baby was born. Jared proudly announced to the room, “It’s a boy!” He immediately helped cut the umbilical cord and baptized Jude Mark as the nurses checked his vitals.
The nurses swaddled Jude in a “So Loved” blanket and handed him to me. I remember how wonderfully warm he was. His eyes were closed. His voice was silent. Jude had long fingers and toes just like his daddy’s. He was handsome with little eyelashes and eyebrows. He was a perfect miracle. Jude had a strong heartbeat that would fade over the coming hours. I was so nervous to touch his bright red skin. My mom came over and kissed his tiny face, showing me that it was okay to love on him. We felt blessed that God chose us to be Jude’s mommy and daddy. Our tiny hospital room was bursting with LOVE! Jude’s lips parted once as if to say, “I love you too.”
On Oct 31, we held a small visitation and burial in Kansas City at Resurrection Catholic Cemetery. We purchased St. Jude medals for every person in our family to be blessed at the Rite of Christian Burial. Jared chose matching medals for he and Jude that we pinned to the yellow blanket his mother brought from his childhood. All of our family members came to hold Jude and wrote special notes to be placed in his casket. Included with these letters of love was a favorite stuffed bunny from his 3 year-old cousin, Lily. Jared and I spent the last few moments alone with our sweet little boy. Knowing our sinless baby was already a little saint in Heaven, we asked him to PRAY FOR US! We asked Jude to send us signs and bless us with more children. With open hearts, we received both!!!
We still find St. Jude statues in random places or hear the song “Hey Jude” by the Beatles, each time knowing it is a “hello” from our little guy. We thank him for strengthening our marriage and our faith, but most of all, we thank Jude for the gift of his little brother, Theodore Robert, who arrived January 7, 2014.
“Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward.” - Psalm 127: 3
Written by Natalie Gudenkauf, Jude's Mommy