Anniebell hears the wail first.
She can’t see the young mother making her way down the hall just yet, but she can hear the abject fear in her cries. Anniebell is a patient care tech who often works at the hospital unit coordinator station in the neonatal intensive care unit, welcoming families into the unit, and helping them to adjust.
What this new mother needs in this moment is a friend.
Her newborn, Noble, was not breathing when he was born. There were respiratory issues, and then seizures. He had brain bleeds. A family’s joy had been abruptly replaced with dread.
Without missing a beat, Anniebell reaches into a box she keeps nearby, takes a small object into her hand, and heads straight for the distraught mother. She offers a comforting touch and looks into her eyes.
With the soft island accent of her Bahamian heritage, Anniebell begins to speak words of strength and support: “OK, momma, now you have to get it together. I know this is hard, but you need to be a warrior for your son. It is momma bear time for you. You can do this.”
Anniebell takes the bright object she has brought and slips it into the hands of the mother. It is a delicate beaded angel, smaller than the size of her palm. With prayerful pose and perfect angel wings.
“You keep this, and when you are at your baby’s bedside, know that you are not alone in this.”
This has become part of Anniebell’s mission. To watch for parents who may need extra support, and to bring comfort where she can.
“It felt so good to have an outsider’s love at that moment, it felt so loving,” says Noble’s mom, Morgan. "When you’re so scared, it was a reminder that there’s still good in this world.”
Baby Noble gets better and leaves the hospital. Buoyed by love and support – and tiny angel wings.