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Former Claire’s Employee Slams Store For Piercing Unwilling Kids

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A former employee of a fashion accessory store has revealed how she was pressured to pierce a child’s ears, even though the little girl was screaming in protest. Raylene Marks from Edmonton, Canada, has written an open letter to her former company, condemning them for making employees pierce the ears of unwilling children.

She revealed that management of her store and allegedly other locations agreed employees must go through with piercings even if it means physically restraining the child to get the job done. Marks said her job at Claire’s started to bother her the more she saw children resisting getting their ears pierced.

Now she is taking a stand against the company with an open letter that has since gone viral online after she was tasked with doing the job with another colleague.

It was what we call a ‘double‘, both ears at the same time, the seven-year-old had come into the shop, with her mother, to get the piercings but “the girl pleaded and sobbed for thirty minutes not to be pierced”.

As she explained in an open letter to her former employer on Facebook on April 7, Marks used to work at the Edmonton, Alberta, location of a Claire’s accessory store. The chain is somewhat known for doing on-site piercings, and to some it is a rite of passage to get your ears pierced at the kid-friendly locations.

But as an employee, Marks revealed that the reality of piercing children is different than one might imagine. She wrote that she never minded piercing kids who were excited to get their first pair of earrings and would try to put them at ease as best as she could, but it was the kids who clearly didn’t want to be there that struck a chord.

I had a couple ‘gray area’ piercings, though; piercings where the children resisted heavily, were pressured and intimidated by the parents into settling down, and the children weren’t happy with what had happened even after the earrings were in place and the standard lollipop had been dispensed.

I didn’t feel good about those, and I started to wonder at what point the piercer and the parent are actually violating a child’s personal boundaries. One alleged incident last week caused her to put in her two-week notice, after a 7-year-old cried and begged her mother not to get the piercing done.

The girl and her mother had come to Claire’s to get a “double” — meaning that two piercers would be piercing at the same time. “It’s reserved for nervous kids who might change their mind after the first earring goes in,” she wrote. But to the girl, it simply didn’t matter. She did not want to get her ears pierced.

Shop slammed for its policy of physically restraining children to have their ears pierced

The girl pleaded and sobbed for thirty minutes not to be pierced,” Marks wrote. “Despite Mom saying, ‘Honey, we can go home whenever you want,’ she was not letting her daughter go home.”She added that the mom was putting a great deal of pressure on her daughter to go through with the procedure, and the child was showing clear signs that she was uncomfortable.

This child was articulate, smart, and well aware of herself and her body. She expressed that she didn’t want us touching her, that we were standing too close, that she was feeling uncomfortable. She made it clear she no longer wanted to get her ears pierced. She begged, over and over again, for Mom to please, just take her home.

That child’s message was loud and clear to me: Do not touch my body, do not pierce my ears, I do not want to be here. Marks eventually told the other person piercing that she was assisting that she could not go through with it, and luckily the girl’s mother agreed that it was best that they go home. However Marks’s story didn’t end here.

The following day she was approached by a manager who was upset that she had refused to pierce the child. Marks offered an explanation to her manager that there was no way she could have pierced the girl, even if her mother had insisted that she do it, but she was met with alleged disapproval.

“I was firmly told, ‘You would have had no choice but to do it.'””So if a mother is physically restraining her daughter, holding her down and saying, ‘DO IT,’ while that little girl cries and asks me not to, do I do the piercing?'” Marks asked her manager. “My manager did not hesitate to respond, ‘Yes, you do the piercing.

“It’s a “company policy” that really rubbed Marks the wrong way. Marks said her manager also claimed that other managers in the district agreed with her about Claire’s piercing policy and even reached out to the district sales manager, who said that this policy was correct.

Children can be held down and pierced. Children do not have a voice in the piercing process. The associate doing the piercing has no right to refuse to shoot metal through the ears of a child who begs not to be touched,” Marks wrote. That made her decision about what to do next all the more clear. “I gave my notice that day.”

Now Marks is publicly taking the company to task for forcing employees to pierce unwilling kids. Forcing kids to get their ears pierced is wrong and “helps facilitate situations where children can be traumatized or otherwise subject to forms of intimidation and abuse in-store.”

Also if an employee refuses to go through with piercing a distressed child, that person gets pressured by the company via write-ups, verbal warnings, and even termination in some cases. “I believe in upholding a child’s right to bodily integrity at all costs, and I will not be an adult that commits an indignity to a child,” she wrote.

Kids who don’t want to endure the discomfort and pain of the procedure should not be forced to because a paying adult comes in, claims to be the legal guardian and insists upon the ear piercing.

I cannot be part of a company that teaches a child that their right to say, ‘NO,’ to invasive non-medical contact can be so easily overridden by an adult, and moreover, that they’re supposed to accept that,” she added.

If you are a company that cares about kids, I implore you to consider changing this policy that blatantly ignores every child who vocally protests, cries, shows obvious signs of distress or is physically restrained by their alleged guardian while they sob and beg to be released,” Marks wrote.

In an updated letter to her first post, Marks said a Claire’s representative has reached out to her and agreed that the policy needs to be tweaked.

In a post on Facebook on Thursday, Marks wrote that a representative of Claire’s did reach out to her and agreed that she had been acting in accordance with company policy.

The representative claims that Policy 509 is in place to allow employees to refuse to pierce, ‘distressed and resistant,’ children, and that revisions will be made to the policy so it can’t be misconstrued,” she explained. “I was told the policy might be changed to reflect a right to refuse a piercing if the child is, ‘distressed or resisting.

‘” But to Marks if a child is clearly in distress, then perhaps they are doing too little, too late. “I encouraged the representative to include language that allows the employee to refuse a piercing for a child who simply says, ‘No, I don’t want my ears pierced,'” she wrote.

“I don’t think it should have to get to the point where a child is emotionally distressed or physically resistant for their wishes to be respected.” She added that she has yet to hear from Claire’s since their conversation. “At this time, there is no legislation in place to protect a minor who does not consent to an ear piercing.

It is, to my knowledge, uncharted territory,” she wrote. That is why she still urged parents to put pressure on Claire’s to make some major reforms.

“I am grateful and pleased that Claire’s has responded to me and seems willing to amend policies to integrate child consent,” she wrote. “I hope for follow-through on these intentions to create change within the company, and will hold them to it. I hope you will, too.”

Shop slammed for its policy of physically restraining children to have their ears pierced

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66 Year Old Passenger Arrested For Throwing These Six Things At Plane Engine For Good Luck

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A superstitious passenger was flying Lucky Air, but that wasn’t enough for an elderly Chinese woman who tossed coins at the jet’s engine to wish for a safe flight, who was arrested by police.

The 66-year-old woman was taken off the flight by police, admitting she was responsible for throwing the pieces of money as she was boarding the aircraft at Hohhot Baita International Airport in Inner Mongolia, today.

General photo of Lucky Air flight on a tarmac. Photo: SCMP Pictures

Following the arrest, all 100 passengers were transferred onto a new plane and were allowed to carry on their journey, after a two-hour delay.

According to a statement released by Tianjin Airlines, security were informed about the incident at around 7.50 am after crew members spotted the woman throwing the coins from the stairs leading up to the plane.

It’s understood the woman was identified by the surname Yang and had admitted to police that she threw the coins as part of a good luck ritual to pray for a safe flight.

A spokesperson for the firm explained that staff were then sent out to look for the money and discovered several Yi Jiao coins – six of them, to be precise – lying on the tarmac near the plane.

The China Southern Airlines flight 380 from Shanghai Pudong Airport to Guangzhou was delayed after an elderly woman passenger was suspected of throwing coins in the plane's engine in June. Photo: Handout

The statement from the airline confirmed that she has now been detained by the authorities and is awaiting further investigation.

Last June, a superstitious 80-year-old woman delayed a China Southern Airlines flight at Shanghai’s Pudong International Airport for nearly six hours after she tossed nine coins at the engine from the tarmac while boarding, with one nestling inside.

The woman was detained but eventually spared prosecution because of her age, state media reported. Shanghai airport authorities said she was a devoted Buddhist and believed the act would ensure her safety on the flight to the southern city of Guangzhou.

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Woman Cracks Up Once She Discovers This About Her Engagement Ring

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It should be an exciting moment when you get engaged, it’s the first step to spending the rest of your life with someone you love. However imagine if you discovered your fiancé wasn’t so honest in his proposal?

For one bride to be this was exactly the case when she discovered the engagement ring he purchased her wasn’t a real diamond. He completely blew her off when she confronted and asked him about it. As a result she now wants to end the whole relationship over his deceit.

The bride-to-be explained in her anger that she realized her ring was fake once she went to get it insured prior to the wedding. The anonymous bride shared her mortification in a letter after the jeweler informed her the ring was made with a cubic zirconium.

I was truly embarrassed,” she wrote.”My fiancé had surprised me with the ring and I cannot believe that he did this,” she continued. “When I confronted him about it, he just shrugged it off, saying a real diamond ring that size would’ve cost him a small fortune and what’s the difference, anyway?“Then he told her that the ring looks real and if no one can tell the difference, her “girlfriends will never know.

“”I don’t think he understands why I’m upset,” she wrote. “I am upset because I feel lied to. I am ready to call the whole thing off. What do you think I should do?” Columinst Natalie Bencivenga agreed: This was a pretty awful thing for her fiancé to do.

“File this under ‘bride-to-be-worst-nightmare,’” Bencivenga wrote in her response. “Having your engagement ring turn out to be a fake is not exactly the way you want to start a life together.”Bencivenga argued that some might call the bride “shallow” or “materialistic,” but “the symbol of what this ring stands for is important.”

This is a symbol of your love and commitment to one another. To have it be a fake may make you feel as though your relationship is a fraud, too,” she wrote. “Now, there is nothing inherently wrong with a cubic zirconium. It’s the fact that he didn’t tell you that it wasn’t a diamond.“The columnist added that it was deceptive for the bride’s fiancé to allow her to believe the gem was real.

“I  wouldn’t want to start a life with someone who is so willing to lie to me to make things easier on himself. What else could he be lying to you about?” she wrote.“I would think long and hard where to go from here. Personally, I would be edging towards the door.”

But some people really disagreed with this advice. Many women wrote in that they would feel no shame rocking a cubic zirconium.
One person wrote that her ring has never been a problem. “My engagement ring has a CZ in it,” she wrote. “We always said we’d upgrade it, but we’re almost two decades in. Other things have been more important. We have a real marriage.

I don’t need a real expensive ring to prove it to anyone.”“Did he actually say it was a diamond, or did you just assume it was?” another person wrote. “Who cares what it is, they all look the same. All your friends might have CZ rings for all you know.” Someone else found this advice off-putting. “I don’t buy the whole “symbolism” (expletive). If your ring is a symbol of your commitment, then any stone will do. Or better yet, none at all.

You definitely sound high-maintenance,” the person commented. But other people thought her fiancé was to blame. He never should have tried to pass the ring off as real in the first place. Someone commented that although they believe that wedding rings are overpriced, “he should have told you and not shrugged it off as no big deal. Imagine how he would handle conflict and important matters in your marriage bigger than the ring.

Re-evaluate your relationship at this point.” another person agreed. “That he blew her off just makes you wonder,” she wrote. “Take your time and think about it. Tell him it isn’t just about the ring being a fake it is his deception. If he scoffs at you, tries & turn it on you or calls you any name then reconsider the relationship.

“”He was intentionally deceitful,” someone else wrote. “He even allowed you to go get the ring insured, fully knowing that you’d be embarrassed and he’d be ‘found out’ yet he didn’t fess up ahead of time. Lying by omission is still lying — and I’d really consider if that’s someone you want to spend the rest of your life with.”

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Cop Fines Mom Breastfeeding Her 3-Week-Old Daughter In Back Of Parked Car

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Driving kids around the hustle and bustle of Manhattan can be a little hectic. Especially for Guillermina Rodriguez of New York who has four children, including a 3-week-old baby girl.

Guillermina was stuck in a nasty traffic jam for almost an hour recently when her infant daughter started crying. She took the first opportunity to pull over and feed her as all she wanted to do was care for her child.

The frantic mom pulled into the first spot she could. Guillermina hopped into the back seat with her daughter and started nursing her, with her car safely parked in a metered parking space in a commercial zone.

A few moments later, Guillermina spotted a police officer and a tow truck outside her SUV. The officer hadn’t spotted her in the back seat and was seconds away from her vehicle being towed away.

Image result for tow truck

She blew the horn to get the officer’s attention and was relieved when he decided not to tow her car. However, she was surprised when he gave her a ticket.

Image result for Cop Sees Mom Breastfeeding Her 3-Week-Old Daughter In Back Of Parked Car—And Gives Her A Ticket

Guillermina showed the officer she was breastfeeding her baby as she was confused why he issued her with a ticket.

Take a look at the video below for more details on this story:

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Man pays dearly for his mistake when he attempts to mug MMA fighter

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It seems a day never goes by without hearing news of some assault occurring at night, or vulnerable people that fall prey to others who wish to cause them harm.

If you watch the news you will see exactly what I’m referring to. It can be risky being in certain places at certain times, its safer not to stray from busy streets that you’re familiar with.

However for one tough lady, Polyana Viana, life is a little different. This 27-year-old female if you encounter that you don’t really want to mess with.

Polyana is a Brazilian MMA fighter who is signed to the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship), she holds an impressive 10-2 record inside the cage.

A lot of her victories have come via submission, but she’s no stranger to throwing punches and kicks at people intent on hurting her. Basically she is far away from a pushover as you can imagine. On Saturday night, a would-be robber found that out the hard way.

When Polyana Viana was leaving her apartment around 8 pm on a Saturday night, a man tried to steal her phone, according Bleacher Report.

Viana explained she was outside her apartment in Rio De Janeiro waiting for an Uber when a man approached her wondering what was the time.
I guess the man thought that he had found an easy target when he spotted the small woman alone.

Alarm bells began to sound and soon after she realised that the man seemed to have other intentions rather than just enquiring about the time.

But he was greatly mistaken – Polyana was going to make him regret pulling out his ”gun” and trying to intimidate her. After a short while the alarm bells began to ring, and Polyana soon realized that the man had intentions other than simply finding out the time.

Viana said: “When he saw I saw him, he sat next to me,” He asked me the time, I said it, and I saw he wasn’t going to leave. So I already moved to put my cell phone in my waist. And then he said, ‘Give me the phone. Don’t try to react, because I’m armed.’ Then he put his hand over (a gun), but I realized it was too soft.He was really close to me.

So I thought, ‘If it’s a gun, he won’t have time to draw it.’ So I stood up. I threw two punches and a kick. He fell, then I caught him in a rear-naked choke. Then I sat him down in the same place we were before and said, ‘Now we’ll wait for the police

The situation was threatening but this robber was about to meet his match. Instead of leaving with her phone, he was going to get an unpleasant reminder of the big mistake he made assuming the small woman couldn’t defend or stand up for herself.

Polyana might be small and tiny, but now she was going to put her MMA training to use. “He was really close to me. So I thought, ‘If it’s a gun, he won’t have time to draw it.’ So I stood up,” Polyana recalled.

The robber was definitely taken by surprise, finding himself on the receiving end of a beating when he thought he had the upper hand. “I threw two punches and a kick. He fell, then I caught him in a rear-naked choke. Then, I sat him down in the same place we were before and said, ‘Now we’ll wait for the police.’”

Thankfully, Viana was strong enough to hold the man down until police arrived, that’s when she discovered the ‘gun’ wasn’t even real, but instead a cardboard cutout.

The MMA fighter knows that her area in Jacarepagua, a neighborhood in the West Zone of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, is dangerous, which is why she avoids wandering around alone. However, she thought she was safe, because Polyana the doormen was not far away.

Polyana used her own ability to stay calm and defend herself that ensured her own well being. The confrontation with robber and his cardboard “gun” left Polyana’s hands hurting a little, but it wasn’t anything compared to what her robber was feeling.

“I was fine,” she said. “I was fine because he didn’t even react after. Since he took the punches very quickly, I think he was scared. So, he didn’t react anymore. He told me to let him go, like, ‘I just asked for the time.’ I said, ‘Asked for the time my ass,’ because he saw I was very angry.

Apparently, this guy wasn’t the first to make that same mistake. Polyana was previously attacked while living in the city of Belem. That time, she was approached by two men on a motorcycle.

One charged at her, and just like the guy in Rio de Janeiro, he quickly came to regret it. ”He broke my umbrella and tried to take my phone,” Polyana recalled.

I said I wasn’t going to give it to him. He tried to take it from my hand, I punched him in the face, and he was scared. This time, I was scared. I don’t know if it was because there were two of them,” she furthered.”So, I was scared, but I think he was more scared than I was, so he jumped on the motorcycle and left.”

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Girls and referee freeze during soccer game as everyone hears unmistakable sound

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Recently a very interesting thing occurred during the Bison girls game on the Siebel Soccer Park in Great Falls, Montana. Due to its rather unusual nature this particular event gained attention from Internet users. The team usually play the majority of their home games on the Siebel Soccer Park in Great Falls, Montana.

Siebel Soccer park it like any other sports field but it has inspired a unique tradition, which makes the location rather peculiar. This unique practice was recorded by one of the spectators.

After a video emerged on social media it quickly gather a lot of attention. The Bison girls were hosting Butte in a Class AA playoff game when all of a sudden, a familiar sound was heard in the distance.

Immediately, in the middle of the 1-0 game, both teams froze and the head referee stopped the clock for a minute. Thankfully, one spectator recorded the incident, which was so simple yet so powerful a gesture.

The familiar sound that brought the game to a pause was actually the national anthem, which plays over the speakers at Malmstrom Air Force Base, directly across the street from the Siebel Soccer Park.

Each day at 4:30 p.m., the anthem plays as the United States flag is lowered from its perch overlooking the base and the city, Montana Sports reports.

As the girls knew what to do the head referee decided to stop the play clock as teams paid their respect to the flag. Some players also placed their hands over their hearts. The audience also followed suit. Usually the soccer teams stop to honor the flag when the anthem plays at practice.

The tradition began when CMR girls coach Willie Pyette took over the Rustler program and moved practice to the Siebel Soccer Park.

After becoming coach and moving the team’s activities to the park, Willie Pyette could not help but notice the daily tradition at the military base. After witnessing he decided to make it part of his team’s practice.

These girls knew what they were doing and they really amazed us.
when they stop practice, and face east with their hands over their heart. They stand at attention as the national anthem plays, paying their respect to the flag.

Only after the anthem is finished do activities resume. Pyette wants the tradition to be seen as a sign of respect to the service members at Malmstrom and beyond.

I have our team stop, stand at attention and honor the anthem. Then we go back to practice. We all stand and show respect”, ” Pyette said. He then added that this unique tradition will continue for as long as soccer games are played in the afternoon at Siebel Soccer Park.

Take a look at the video clip to see this peculiar tradition.

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5-year-old boy fights for life after being thrown off Mall of America balcony by stranger

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A 5-year-old boy is fighting for his life having been thrown by a stranger off a third-floor balcony at the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota.

Landen Hoffmann of Woodbury, Minnesota, was with his family at the mall when an assailant threw him from the third floor, which resulted in life-threatening injuries.

Apparently his family and the police are baffled by the attack, wondering what exactly prompted the perpetrator to commit such a random and violent crime.

The family of Landen Hoffman didn’t anticipate what would occur to their 5-year-old when they went to enjoy a trip to the mall. On Friday 12 April, police say that Landen was pushed or thrown off a third-floor balcony by a 24-year-old man.

A witness said that she could hear a woman screaming as her child was flung from the third-floor balcony near the southeast corner of the mall.“She was screaming ‘Everyone pray, everyone pray. Oh my God, my baby, someone threw him over the edge’,” Brian Johnson said

The suspect has been identified as 24-year-old Emmanuel Deshawn Aranda, they believe that he is not related to the victim or family in any way.

Aranda, who attempted to flee the mall after the incident, was chased down and apprehended near the light rail station. At the moment he is being held on suspected attempted homicide. A family friend of the Hoffmanns has set up a GoFundMe page to help the family cover the escalating costs of Landen’s treatment.

The campaign page reads: “This is Landen, he is the sweetest kindest 5 year old you will ever meet. His soul is soft and gentle and instantly brings a smile to everybody he meets. He is full of energy and life and enjoys soccer, playing with friends and family and playing hockey with his brother and sister. He was enjoying a day at the Mall of America with his mom and friend on Friday morning when a stranger maliciously grabbed him and threw him over the 3rd-floor balcony for no apparent reason.”

The page has surpassed its goal of $500,000, with over $660,000 having been raised at the time of writing, since being established on April 13.

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Identical Twins Spotted ‘Fighting’ Inside The Womb During Ultrasound

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Twins bring twice the happiness or twice the headache to their parents. Sibling rivalries are nothing new, but generally kids wait until they’re born to start fighting each other. However that wasn’t the case for one set of twins who were caught kicking off with one another during an ultrasound scan in China.

A clip has gone viral, showing the two foetuses apparently hit each other inside their mother’s womb. Their father, Mr Tao, filmed the video during an antenatal check late last year in the city of Yinchuan.

Since the clip was shared online, the cheeky pair have been born and were given the nicknames ‘Cherry’ and ‘Strawberry’. The clip has rover 2.5 million likes and 80,000 comments since it was published on China Daily.

The 28-year-old thought it was hilarious to see his unborn daughters ‘boxing with each other for a few rounds’, but never thought his children were going ‘to be internet stars before being born‘.

One viewer wrote: “Whoever wins [the fight] can be the elder one when they are born,” while a second person added: “They fight in their mother’s belly, but will lover each other when they are born”

Mr Tao said he spotted the twins hugging each other during another visit to the doctors, earlier this year. Their father said one was hugging the other while his wife was undergoing an amniotic fluid test.

He said: “We were so touched. The babies were so small and they knew how to look after each other. I believe they will live with each other in harmony when they grow up.”

The pair shared the same amniotic sac and placenta while inside the womb. This types of pregnancy is rare and scientifically known as monochorionic monoamniotic twins – or ‘mo-mo twins’ which occurs once in every 35,000 to 60,000 per year.

When both children have their own umbilical cords there is more risk as they could become tangled and prevent proper blood flow. It’s one of the highest risk twin pregnancies possible.

There is only a 50 percent chance that the babies will survive after 26 weeks. Thankfully both ‘Cherry’ and ‘Strawberry’ were born on 8 April delivered by caesarean section.

Deputy director from the hospital He Lin said: “The babies have been born safe and sound. It’s their parents’ fortune as well as my fortune. They are the first pair of Mo-Mo twins our hospital has successfully delivered.”

Take a look at the video below to see the ultrasound:

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Young Woman Didn’t Realise She Was Pregnant Until The Baby’s Head Popped Out

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A young woman who had no idea she was pregnant was shocked to see a baby’s head when investigating stomach pain.

Charlotte Dubard, from London, gained almost a stone form her sugar cravings but it was only when she began suffering severe stomach cramps that she decided to check what was going on.

She used her phone to take a video of her vagina and was stunned to see her baby’s hair sprouting out. The brave 24-year-old gave birth to a healthy baby boy, Elias, and says boyfriend Miguel Angel couldn’t believe it.

She said: “When Miguel came home, he screamed ‘Oh my god you found a baby in the street’!” “I started bawling and said ‘This is ours’.”

Charlotte and Elias were brought to the hospital and put in intensive care to make sure they were both ok.

She said: “It was only once we got to the hospital that I really registered what had happened. “I was so traumatised from the birth I had barely registered Elias at all.

“But then when we were waiting for the doctor, Miguel said ‘Look he has your nose’ and that’s when I suddenly realised he was ours.”

The young woman feels incredibly lucky to have such a healthy baby despite smoking, drinking and working 14 hour days throughout her mystery pregnancy.

Charlotte had cravings for sugar all of a sudden and gained roughly a stone not even realising she was pregnant. She continued to take the contraceptive pill while pregnant and claims during the pregnancy her periods remained normal.

“I call him my miracle baby because he is so healthy after all I put him through. “Also, so many things could have gone wrong with me giving birth alone but it all went remarkably smoothly.

Nurses at the hospital said it could have ended very badly for Charlotte and Elias at home.

Charlotte added: “The midwives even asked me how I knew where to cut the umbilical cord because if I had done it wrong it could have been so dangerous.

Charlotte gave birth to Elias in her bath. “I have no idea how I knew exactly what to do, I guess instinct took over.”Charlotte says she didn’t even tell her mum straight away.

She said: “I actually didn’t tell my mum right away because she was working and I knew she wouldn’t be able to finish her shift if I told her. I waited until the next day and she was so shocked.But my family have been so supportive. They’re very strict Catholics and they see Elias as a miracle. My grandmother says he is a little angel.”

The couple were planning to relocate to the United States but since the pregnancy they have decided to remain at home.

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This is why you shouldn’t crack your neck – woman paralysed due to ‘bad habit’

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A paramedic who suffered a stroke after ‘cracking her neck’ has warned others about the risks associated with what’s commonly considered a  bad habit.

Natalie Kunicki, who works for London Ambulance Service (LAS), was watching films in bed with her friend after a night out on 4 March when she stretched her neck and heard a loud ‘crack’.The young paramedic went to sleep, but when she woke up just 15 minutes later unable to move her left leg and fell to the floor once she tried to walk.

In the early hours of the following morning, Natalie was rushed to hospital where a CT scan confirmed she had suffered a stroke. Natalie’s vertebral artery – a major artery in the neck – had burst, causing a blood clot to form in her brain and triggering a stroke, after she cracked her neck.

Natalie, whose left side was almost completely paralysed by the stroke, said the diagnosis was such a shock that she became ‘emotionless’ for days. Doing daily exercise helped Natalie recover where she regained enough movement in her leg, arm and hand. She was then discharged to her parents’ home in Harrow, London.

Now she is speaking out to warn people of the risks when cracking joints, and to make them aware that strokes can affect you no matter what your age.

Natalie, who moved from Canberra, Australia, to join the LAS in December 2017, said: “People need to know that even if you’re young, something this simple can cause a stroke. I wasn’t even trying to crack my neck. I just moved and it happened.

“I’m a paramedic and I didn’t ring 999 for 10 minutes because I thought it was too unlikely it would be a stroke when I should have known much better. Every minute more of your brain cells are dying, so don’t ever discount a stroke just because someone is young.

“People need to be more mindful when doing any chiropractic exercises or strenuous gym weights. I was in bed watching stuff with a friend when it happened.

I stretched my neck and I could just hear this ‘crack, crack, crack’. My friend asked ‘was that your neck?’ but all my joints crack quite a bit so I didn’t think anything of it. I just laughed.

“I fell asleep and when I woke up about 15 minutes later. I wanted to go to the bathroom but I could feel this leg in the bed and I was asking my friend if he could move his leg.

“He told me it was my leg but I was a bit tipsy so I wasn’t taking anything seriously and just thought ‘that’s a bit weird’. I got up and tried to walk to the bathroom and I was swaying everywhere. I looked down and realised I wasn’t moving my left leg at all – then I fell to the floor.”

However when Natalie was told it was in fact a stroke, she was floored by the diagnosis. She explained: “When the consultant told me I’d had a stroke I was in shock.

The doctors told me later that just that stretching of my neck had caused my vertebral artery to rupture. It was just spontaneous and there’s a one in a million chance of it happening.

“I don’t smoke, I don’t really drink, I don’t have any family history of strokes so it’s quite strange it happened to me when I was just moving in bed.

“I was in shock for about three days in ICU. I was a bit of a wet blanket. I didn’t really say much and I wasn’t engaging with anyone. I had no sense of humour.

“I was just completely shut off, trying to compute what had happened. People said I was a bit like a robot and didn’t show much emotion.

“But a couple of my friends from the ambulance service told me, ‘You have a week from the day of your stroke to snap out of this or we will snap you out of it. I was able to have my little pity party for a week but that’s it. They told me, ‘What’s done is done now – just work and do all the exercises.’

“They were fantastic and they would come in and do all the exercises with me. I think if I didn’t have them I would have been in my pity party quite a bit longer but instead I smashed through all the therapy goals.

“I just love my job and I want to get back to it. I’m so used to being busy and now I feel like I’m climbing the walls a bit. I definitely want to get back to work as soon as I can.”

Natalie continued: “I was trying to call 999 but I was dithering about it. There was a high chance the crew who turned up would be my friends and I didn’t want them to see me tipsy. I tried to go back to sleep but I couldn’t, so I called 999 and I didn’t recognise the crew who turned up.

“I think they did look at me at first like they thought I was just a classic drunk 23-year-old but I told them I was a paramedic and I knew something was wrong.

“They took my blood pressure and heart rate and they were both sky high. Then they did this test where they hold their finger in the air and you have to touch your nose then their finger. My hand went all over the place and I was thinking ‘oh no’. I knew something was going down.”

Natalie underwent three-hour surgery where doctors discovered her burst artery. While surgeons were able to repair Natalie’s artery with a stent, they couldn’t clear the clot in her brain which they feel will dissolve over time.

Natalie said: “I expected to wake up from this miracle surgery and everything would be fixed but my mobility was worse and they couldn’t clear the clot. At the start I couldn’t move my thumb and forefinger. I could kind of move my wrist up and down. I couldn’t lift my arm. I could bend my left leg but I couldn’t wiggle my toes.

“The doctors would do tests – I had to close my eyes and they would touch my left side but I couldn’t tell where they were touching. It was like when you have really bad sunburn and your skin is sizzling. I felt that all down my left side.

“I think I scared my consultant because after I woke up, she came in to ask how I was going – but I told her, ‘You should have killed me.‘ Depression is really common after a stroke because you lose so much of your independence and your dignity.

I had to have a nurse help me shower in a wheelchair. What 23-year-old needs someone to help them shower and wash their hair? It was just a bit surreal.”

Now she has recovered some movement and sensation, Natalie is hoping to be back to work for ‘light duty’ in six to 12 months.

Natalie said: “I was scared at first about being discharged, because my parents’ home has lots of stairs and I didn’t know how I was going to manage, but it’s gone well. I’ve recovered movement in my left side. I can walk but not for more than five minutes. I’m really clumsy. I can’t do up buttons, I find it too difficult. I can feel hot and cold now but I still feel a bit numb.

Being discharged and at my parents’ is definitely helping with my recovery because I had to do things for myself. I have to get dressed, make the bed and I can go to make a cup of tea. I’m definitely doing something right but it’s slow going.

It has been strange being on the other side but the ambulance crew who came out to me were amazing. They did a perfect job. They even stayed with me to hold my hand while I waited for my parents and blue-lighted me to the other hospital for my surgery, even though their shift had ended.”

As well as her determination to rejoin the LAS, Natalie is also committed to raising more awareness of strokes in young people.

Natalie said: “I have been called out to so many people having strokes and they’re always in their 70s or 80s. I have never been to a young person having a stroke. Mine was one in a million but a ruptured vertebral artery is actually quite a common cause of strokes in young people.

“They will be in the gym or doing something quite physical and it happens. Strokes are also quite common in kids. It was a shock for me. I thought as a professional I would have an idea but even I didn’t know. Normally if you’re called out to a young person, you wouldn’t do a test for a stroke.”

Natalie has been living with her parents Peter, 65, and Anne, 62, but they are due to move back to Australia in July.

Natalie said: “When I woke up from surgery my brother told me he’d set up a fundraising page and all my friends and colleagues have been sharing it. Eighty percent of the donations are from people I work with which means so much. It’s going to be so helpful.

“I really want to get back in my own flat and I really don’t want to have to move back to Australia. I love my work too much and I don’t want to leave them.”

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