Ascension Illinois Foundation
Kenny and Julie Mueller Williams (front row, center), shown above with their daughters and Ascension Resurrection staff, donated a CuddleCot to the hospital as a way to honor their late son, Dominic, and to help other families grieving the loss of an infant.
Less than 22 weeks into his mother’s pregnancy, Dominic Patrick Williams was stillborn on August 8, 2019. His mom, Julie Mueller Williams, said she had eight hours with Dominic at Ascension Resurrection, and she would have spent more time with him if she could have.
“The nurses were amazing. They’re everything you could possibly need in such a terrible, devastating time,” Julie said. “I was never rushed to give Dominic back. Nothing was ever downplayed. They held my hands. They cried with me.”
And yet all the time in the world would not have been enough, and Julie moved forward from that day searching for a way to honor the memory of her beloved son.
A Gift to Help Families with Infant Loss
The pandemic was just starting when Julie became pregnant again. She and her baby were healthy during the pregnancy, but it was still a hard and lonely time. Every week of her pregnancy, the loss of Dominic still fresh, Julie went alone to her OB/GYN’s office for appointments and check-ups. Every week she grieved her loss of Dominic, and her desire intensified to do something to honor him and help other parents who suffered through the devastating loss of an infant.
“I wanted Dominic’s life to mean something,” she said. “I needed to do something and tell his story. I had to give his life more purpose than what he has in my family so that his name was being spoken other places.”
During her pregnancy, Julie heard of CuddleCot, a special, temperature-controlled baby bed that helps preserve the bodies of deceased babies so that parents have more time to bond with them and say goodbye. Julie and her husband decided to donate a CuddleCot to Ascension Resurrection. In addition, they made a gift to provide bereavement training to hospital nurses and staff members to ensure that all families who suffer a loss like theirs receive the same kind of compassion, understanding and support.
A Reason to Keep Saying Dominic’s Name
In December 2021, Julie and her husband, along with their firstborn child and their rainbow baby — Dominic’s older and younger sisters — came to Ascension Resurrection for a small dedication and memorial service for Dominic. The hospital chaplain blessed the CuddleCot. Hospital leaders thanked the family and shared personal stories of loss. Nurses prayed with the family and unveiled a small plaque on the cot bearing Dominic’s name.
Their family’s generosity is changing the way Ascension Resurrection staff members handle pediatric bereavement and is comforting other families who are suffering through infant loss.
“It’s helped just being able to talk about Dominic and know the nurses are talking about him,” said Julie. “It’s helped me heal.”
Julie thanked everyone who continues to say Dominic’s name and remember him.