By NEESEY PAYNE
A tiny being held in a mother’s womb suddenly enters the world and an overwhelming feeling of emotion rattles the soul. This little person, whose identity was based on ultrasounds and belly kicks, has life. At that moment, all a parent wants is the world for their tiny being with little fingers and little toes to be perfect. What happens when that perfection is taken so soon? For Josh and Heather Freeman you pray and call on others to pray, too.
Just one week before Thanksgiving, the Freeman’s baby girl, Anniston, was admitted to the hospital for vomiting, diarrhea and her inability to tolerate feedings and medicines. After six days of being in the hospital, Anniston began responding to fluid treatments and was able to take a bottle again. Because of her positive response, she was able to return home two days before Thanksgiving.
At the time, Josh and Heather assumed it was a stomach bug that had been going around in the community, but time would prove that assumption to be wrong.
On Dec. 14, Anniston was admitted to Roanoke Memorial Hospital. She was suffering from dehydration and her weight was plummeting to dangerous levels. After 11 days in the hospital filled with numerous tests and procedures, doctors concluded that her condition was a mystery. Anniston was put on a feeding tube and Total Parenteral Nutrition (TPN)—a way of supplying the body’s nutritional needs by bypassing the digestive system through dripping a nutrient solution directly into a vein. Just when things seemed to be looking up, Anniston became sick again on Christmas Day with vomiting and a nosebleed.
Determined to get some answers, the Freemans traveled to Brenner Children’s Hospital at Wake Forest.
“Although we don’t have any answers, we are keeping our heads up as best we can. The doctors have done a series of tests but haven’t found anything. They put in a transpyloric feeding tube and are trying to isolate her feedings to better figure out where the problem is,” Heather stated on a Facebook post.
Between numerous trips back and forth to hospitals, many late nights, early mornings, signs of hope and spans of disappointment, the Freemans have been on what can only be described as an emotional roller coaster.
“It’s so hard to stay positive when you feel like your world is falling apart, but I will gladly fight that battle so that my angel Anniston thinks that everything is normal and nothing is wrong. That’s what being a parent is all about. Inside I’m a wreck, and outside I’m the rock my family needs,” Josh stated in a Facebook post.
Since Anniston’s illness began, family, friends, community members and strangers have been following the story of this “angel baby” through Facebook. Anniston’s strength has touched the lives of many.
Scroll through either of the Freeman’s pages and you’ll find prayers and words of encouragement and strength.
“Keep this in mind! I know it seems impossible but He has it in His hands!” said Nicole Ward.
“Sorry guys, I can’t imagine what y’all are going through. Just know that a lot of people are praying for her. I believe prayer is a powerful thing and I’m declaring healing for that precious little baby girl,” stated Conrad Hughes.
With bills piling up, an online fund has been set up for the Freemans to offset Anniston’s medical costs. Within two days of establishing the fund, over $1,700 was donated — a testament to the outpouring of love and support the family has received.
A stranger from North Carolina wrote to the Freemans, “I just made a $50 donation and I’m sharing your page on my (Facebook). Where do you live? Is there anything else I can do to help? I have a 14-month old baby girl and I will pray to God in a huge way tonight to grace Anniston with His healing power. BELIEVE that He will perform a miracle…”
On Jan. 5, Heather wrote on her Facebook, “I went out to run a few errands this afternoon and had four stops to make. At all four places I had someone ask about Anniston; two of those people I had never met before! It touched my heart in an indescribable, powerful way! I am overwhelmed and so grateful for everyone that has thought about and prayed for our sweet girl. The support our family has received is incredibly humbling.”
Anniston’s illness has now been narrowed down to a complication with her upper gastrointestinal tract. Heather expressed in a recent Facebook post that prayers are being answered and healing is taking place.
She stated, “Two weeks ago at church Anniston was anointed and then prayed over by the entire congregation. It was so beautiful and powerful; there was no denying the presence of the Holy Spirit. I know that He has had a plan throughout this entire journey, but ever since that moment I have had this overwhelming feeling that God was really moving and was about to show up in a big way.”
Heather said she had gotten a call one night at work that Anniston had pulled out her feeding tube but could only think that it was a “blessing in disguise.” She said after a discussion with her doctor, they decided to try feeding her a bottle for a couple of days to see how she would respond. She said Anniston had taken 14 ounces by mouth with only vomiting once, which was very little.
She continued to say, “In my heart, I truly believe that God is moving through Anniston in a HUGE way right now and making a testimony out of her and her story. I cannot wait to see the miracles that He is going to perform in our baby girl in the upcoming weeks!”
In an interview, Heather said Anniston is doing “pretty well.”
“We have had a few episodes but are praying they are isolated and not a sign that things are going downhill again,” she said. Heather explained that no more testing can be done until Anniston is 6 months old, which they will have done at Brenner Children’s Hospital.
Aside Oceans will be performing their kickoff tour Thursday, Jan. 24, at AMVETS Post 50, 1018 E. Main St., Pulaski. They’ve turned the show into a benefit fundraiser to help baby Anniston.
“Come hang out, enjoy music, and help us raise funds for someone that needs us. Positive energy and positive motives can make a difference. Pay it forward, y’all,” said the group.
The show starts at 6 p.m., doors open at 5. General admission is $8, members get in for $2. Those attending must be 18 and older with a valid ID.
Donations can still be made to the family by visiting http://www.gofundme.com/angelanniston.
“All we can say is that faith and the incredible outpouring of love and support from our friends, family and community are what have helped us to pull through this,” Heather said.