I went to the NICU today for a visit. When we left there for the last time after Jillian died, I said I was never stepping foot in there again (if I could help it, of course). Over the past few months, I have found myself wanting to go there. It’s where our sweet girl spent her entire life, so the thought of going in there became a soothing one. Dave did not want to go with me, and just the thought of me going in there upset him, but he was obviously supportive of my choice. I went with my grief counselor.
I had been feeling a little nervous about it, but by last night, I was so excited to go that I had trouble falling asleep. Once I did fall asleep, I had a dream that I walked up to what was Jillian’s isolette and found her in there. It was heartbreaking to wake up and realize it was only a dream. It made me nervous that going back there was a bad idea, but I knew I needed to do it.
We went up to the floor and Jillian’s primary nurse came out to greet us. I was so thrilled to see her and we hugged and hugged. She took me back to Jillian’s nursery and straight to where Jillian’s isolette was. There is not a baby currently in that spot, so I was able to stand there for quite a while as we talked. She urged me to put my hands inside the isolette, which was nice, but like I told her, it’s not as much fun without Jillian there. That said, it was strangely comforting. We spent so many hours with our hands in there, and it was so warm that sweat would drip down my back, but it didn’t matter. I would have stood in a fire if that’s what it took to be able to touch her.
We were able to share some laughs, and her memory of everything about us and our families was amazing. I don’t remember talking to her as much as I clearly did, and it was obvious that she was truly listening as she did whatever she could to help our baby.
At one point, I took a peek at the baby in the isolette next to Jillian’s, and I was floored by how much she looked like Jillian. She looked like she was exactly her size, and she had the same tiny, perfect features and a head full of dark hair. A few minutes later, the nurse said it would be okay if I wanted to see another 24-weeker, and when I said yes, she pointed to that baby next to us. She was exactly Jillian’s length and weight. I told her to hang in there and just kept thinking that I hope her parents don’t have to face the same outcome. I can’t stop thinking about her and sending all the good thoughts for her that I can.
We went back to the room where Jillian passed away. I thought that it would be a lovely moment of feeling connected to Jillian and remembering how peaceful it was, but it wasn’t. The room was bright and full of unused isolettes, so it didn’t even seem like the same room. While we stood there, I mentioned to the nurse how Jillian dying was the most peaceful thing I’ve ever experienced, and even though no parent should ever have to lose a child, it was such a gift and honor to be able to have her in my arms as she died.
We then went out to a garden on the floor that was built in memory of another baby who passed away. I didn’t even know it existed, and it’s such a nice spot. The nurse made me promise that I would call her when I have another baby so she can come visit us in the regular maternity ward and see our giant baby. We hugged goodbye, and I thanked her for everything she did for Jillian. She said she wished she could have done more, but we both know that there was nothing more that could have been done. She is an amazing nurse, and I hope we never need her again, but I’m so glad that Jillian was under her care.
As difficult as the visit was, it was wonderful. That nurse was one of two people who really knew Jillian, aside from Dave and me. It was clear when we were in the hospital that she truly cared, but today affirmed that Jillian was more than just a patient for her, and I am so thankful for everything she does.