Dropped engagement ring video goes viral

Seth Dixon wanted to make a splash when he decided to pop the question to long-time girlfriend Ruth Salas. Unfortunately, the Kansas City man didn’t quite make the splash he had hoped, according to KMBC.

Dixon brought Salas to their favorite spot in Kansas City’s Loose Park to pop the question. As he presented the engagement ring, it slipped away and into the water below.

Friend Staci Dabney was recording the moment, which has now gone viral.

“And of course I looked over the bridge and I’m like it really did fall. I heard the plop of the ring and I’m like, oh no,” Salas said.

Dabney said 30 friends from their church convened at the bridge the next morning to look for the ring, to no avail.

Although she’s currently ringless, Salas remains confident in the proposal.

“I mean, we really didn’t finish the proposal so, I mean, I hope he would propose again.”

Dabney has set up a GoFundMe page for a new engagement ring. It has already raised more than $200.

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2 babies born at Hialeah Hospital during Hurricane Irma

While Hurricane Irma brought heavy rain and intense winds to South Florida, the day wasn’t all negative for two South Florida families.

Two babies were born Sunday at Hialeah Hospital.

R’Mir Demetri Peavy was born at 2:52 p.m. weighing 7 pounds, 14 ounces as Hurricane Irma was inching closer to South Florida.

Then at 3:32 p.m., Yuliet Martinez Vega, weighing 6 pounds 10 ounces, was born.

“Congratulations to the families and special thanks to our team of employees and physicians who are caring for all of our patients during this storm,” the hospital said in a statement. “We know this is a day our new moms and dads and staff will never forget.”

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Formerly conjoined McDonald twins’ amazing journey home

Nicole and Christian McDonald entered their boys’ hospital room for a final time.

In a corner room of Blythedale Children’s Hospital in Valhalla, New York, Jadon and Anias had recovered for the past nine months of extensive rehabilitation after the surgery to separate the formerly conjoined twins.

The two boys captivated millions around the world when they underwent a 27-hour separation surgery in October. The twins, who were 13 months old at the time, had shared 5 centimeters by 7 centimeters of brain tissue, making the complicated surgery that much more difficult.

Jadon and Anias had known the world only from lying on their backs, and the surgery set them back to infancy in terms of speech and gross motor skills. In recovery, they learned how to use muscles they never knew they had. Just sitting up was a monumental task.

Doctors feared that Anias might never be able to use his right side. Yet in rehab, he’s begun using his right hand almost as much as his left.

Their final day at Blythedale is one Nicole and Christian had dreamed of since before the surgery. The family transported their lives from small-town Illinois to New York in February 2016 to prepare for the procedure.

The boys had been in the hospital almost constantly since then, first at the Children’s Hospital at Montefiore Medical Center, where the surgery took place, and then Blythedale. They turn 2 years old on Saturday.

Gone are the fears of the surgery itself. The hour-long trips to the hospital. The longing to have their family under one roof.

Nicole lifted Anias from his hospital crib. “Are you ready to go?” she asked, cradling him close to her heart.

Across the room, Christian picked up Jadon and told him that he’ll soon “get to hang out at home.”

“You get to ride in a minivan,” he said. “You get to be a normal little boy.”

The boys were placed in a double umbrella stroller. Jadon sported a white helmet with a red Velcro strap; Anias wore a helmet with a blue stripe.

Dad pushed their stroller down the hall. Mom and their 4-year-old brother, Aza, accompanied them.

It was time to go home. Finally.

‘God works through people’

The McDonald home teems with activity. Nicole and Christian purchased the home in foreclosure in the spring. Nestled in New York’s Orange County, with views of the Catskill Mountains, it was in need of extensive renovation.

Christian worked almost around the clock to get it ready for his boys, ripping off siding and tearing up old carpet. A few weeks ago, four guys from Texas who are affiliated with their church showed up to help. In just 2½ days, they built front stairs, installed siding, replaced windows, refurbished the laundry room and renovated a bathroom.

Most important, they ran an electrical circuit to the boys’ room to handle all of their specialized medical equipment. Anias will need a feeding tube, as well as a breathing machine and a suction machine to aid in his care. The family will eventually have home nurses for 16 hours a day.

Less than 24 hours before the boys’ return, the split-level ranch home seemed more like the site of a renovation reality show, with Christian burning the midnight oil to complete the work. Aided by his minister and two church members, he pulled up carpet in the basement playroom and laid tiles.

On the wall, a quote from American philosopher and psychologist William James: “The greatest discovery of my generation is that a human being can alter his life by altering his attitude.”

Upstairs, Nicole prepared a chili feast. She traveled back and forth between the hospital and home so much, it’s rare to be able to cook dinner.

She had to fight back to tears while slicing onions. The tears, she said with a laugh, are “not from the onions.” They’re for the overwhelming excitement at the idea of bringing Jadon and Anias home. Earlier, she’d walked through their room. Their newly assembled cribs waited to be occupied.

“My kids have never been home separate,” she said. “I’m so excited, I can hardly stand it. It feels like it’s not even real. We’ve never been home and each held a kid. It’s going to be awesome.”

Christian joined her in the kitchen to reflect on the monumental journey the family has been on for the past year. He said the boys have been in hospitals for so long — nearly 1½ years, counting the months before the surgery — that feels like, in a weird way, Jadon and Anias have been wards of the hospital and less his own children. “It’s almost like I get to be a dad to them for the first time,” he said.

That’s not to say he’s not appreciative of everything the hospitals have done, from the surgeons at Montefiore who operated on them to the staff at Blythedale who worked tirelessly to get Jadon and Anias to this point.

“I’m feeling pretty excited getting to hold my kids sitting on my couch and actually just hold one at a time,” he said. “It’s like I have my sons now, you know?”

The last time the boys were home, Jadon and Anias were still connected at the head. Any time their parents needed to move them, they had to carry them together in a carefully choreographed way.

The family lived in a rental home in the Bronx. Now, they have their own home. They want to push the boys in strollers to the park. They want to take them to the local pizza joint. Simply put, they just want to be a family.

“I can’t wait to show them the world,” Nicole said.

More than anything else, Christian said, “I’m just so excited for them. I’m sure they just want to come home and be with their family, and we want them to come home.”

Both parents express gratitude for everyone who has reached out to them and prayed for their boys. Devout Christians, the parents say their faith has sustained them during this arduous journey.

“Times like this really shows us that it is God’s help,” Christian said. “God works through people.”

Added Nicole, “This strengthened my faith. If I didn’t have God in my life, I would not have made it.”

A member of their church donated their minivan. Strangers generously gave more than $340,000 to the family’s GoFundMe account — money that has supported the family the past year, aided in the purchase of their home and helped pay off huge medical bills.

The journey has in no way been easy. The months since the surgery have seen both boys stave off seizures and serious infections that resulted in trips to the intensive care unit.

But the parents say they are prepared to handle whatever comes next.

“We had miracle upon miracle upon miracle happen with these children to get them to where they are now,” Nicole said. “We have our children coming home.”

‘Motivated’ boys ready to tackle the world

The boys’ road to recovery was made possible thanks to the dedicated staff at Blythedale Children’s Hospital. In additional to physical therapy, they received speech and occupational therapy five days a week. The boys will still return for three days of therapy a week for the foreseeable future.

Mara Abrams has worked with Jadon as his physical therapist and says his tenacity has been awe-inspiring. He loves books, he loves toys, and he loves life. She said he’s learning to pull himself up on furniture and walking sideways along the furniture with a bit of help. He’s nearly crawling, too.

“The first step in a wonderful life is about to happen,” Abrams said. “It’s just so great that the hospitalization is over.”

Jadon’s progression is nothing short of amazing, she said. It was difficult and intimidating when he first arrived because he’d only known life from lying on his back.

“All of a sudden, the whole world changed for him,” she said. “I know it took so much time for him to visually accept that the world wasn’t meant for him to lie down, that he had to come into a vertical position and figure out this is what the world looks like.”

But with help, Jadon took off. “Every day, he’s always been a cheerful, happy guy. He throws his arms out; he squeals with delight. He loves going to therapy. I’m just so happy they’re going to have real-life experiences.”

Her favorite moments are many, like the time he took a few steps toward his occupational therapist and grinned from ear to ear. Or the time he was on a tricycle working on reciprocal leg motion, and he suddenly saw his mom. “We started to go towards her. She squealed with delight, and he did. It was really wonderful.”

Anias has struggled the most, both before and after the surgery. With twins joined at the head, one tends to be more dominant. In this case, Jadon was the dominant one, whose body worked overtime to keep both of them alive. Anias has struggled with breathing and other issues, compared with his brother. Anias’s body also rejected the skull cap that had been placed under his skin to protect his brain, and it had to be surgically removed. He will probably undergo another surgery for a new skull cap when he is 7 years old. Until then, he will wear a protective helmet.

But Anias’ gains have been tremendous too, according to his physical therapist, Maureen Carroll. Although he is a few months behind Jadon’s progression, he has made giant leaps.

When Anias first came to physical therapy, Carroll said, he was scared of people and using only his left side. Now, he’s kicking both feet and routinely using his right hand to stick his foot in his mouth. He’s become social with his twin and older brother.

Anias, who eats via a feeding tube, is 4 pounds heavier than Jadon now, weighing in at 28 pounds.

“He wants to play. He wants to move — and that’s amazing,” Carroll said. “The child who was afraid of people at first now wants to interact with the world. He’s motivated, and that’s huge.”

What excites her the most about Anias, she said, is that “he’s excited to be here, and he’s excited to move.”

“That’s what makes my job so easy,” she said. “I’m just going along for the ride. He’s the one who is the hero and the miracle.”

Making the family whole

The silver minivan pulled up to their home early Friday evening. Mom and Dad got out and prepared for the big moment. On the hourlong ride home, Jadon played with a ball while big brother Aza jabbered for much of the time. Both boys laughed and laughed. Anias was oblivious, asleep in his seat.

The family dogs, Taz and Tyson, greeted the minivan to inspect the new arrivals. Taz, a tiny Maltese/toy poodle mix, leaped into the back of the minivan and sniffed around. His tail wagged at the sight of the two boys.

Nicole gingerly carried Anias up the front stairs. Christian fetched Jadon and, on their way up the steps, pointed out his renovation handiwork to his son: new siding, stairs and windows.

“I put you in a new window, Jadon, so you can have a clear view,” he said. “This is it. This is your home.”

Soon, the home buzzed with the hectic life of raising three boys under the age of 5. Aza ran about. Taz began barking. The environment was completely new to the twins.

Jadon trembled and cried every time Taz barked. The night before, the parents had talked of how they longed to sit with the boys on the couch.

With Jadon screaming, Nicole took a seat on the living room couch and held him. “This is your home,” she whispered. “Don’t be scared.”

His tears abated.

A few hours later, Anias fell asleep first. Jadon soon followed. Both boys were asleep in their home.

As much as Nicole and Christian dreamed of the moment, they said, it was even better than they imagined.

Their family was whole again.

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Evacuated babies get to go home after Harvey

Babies who were dramatically airlifted out of a neonatal intensive care unit about 120 miles away in Beaumont, Texas, last week are expected to return Tuesday as the hospital now has access to clean water.

“We’re really excited. Now her grandma and everyone else can see her,” said Martha Sifuentes, whose five-week-old daughter, Itzel, was one of the eight babies evacuated Friday to the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston.

Sifuentes said she and her husband, Angel Gonzalez, were grateful to the doctors and nurses at UTMB and the Baptist Hospital in Beaumont.

“Everybody has been so great and sweet and patient with her,” she said.

The couple was separated from their daughter for a day after she was evacuated by helicopter because of flooding on the roads between Beaumont and Galveston. “It was heartbreaking,” she said.

But on Saturday the roads cleared up, and they reunited with Itzel. “It was almost like I was seeing her for the first time,” Gonzalez said.

Baptist Hospital had plenty of food and staff last week, but had to close when the city’s water pump failed. The hospital still doesn’t have running water, but water is being shipped in from Nederland, Texas, about 12 miles away, according to hospital spokeswoman Mary Poole. Trucks are delivering about 100,000 gallons of water a day.

Of the eight babies who were airlifted out of Baptist Hospital — five on helicopters and three on airplanes — two were discharged after they arrived in Galveston. Of the remaining six infants, only Itzel’s parents were able to make the trip from Beaumont, which was hard hit by Harvey.

“Many of them — their homes were flooded,” said Dr. Snehal Doshi, director of neonatology at Baptist. “And others couldn’t get out. All around the area bridges and roads are flooded and washed out.”

Dr. Joan Richardson, chair of the department of pediatrics at UTMB, said the babies were in great shape when they arrived at her hospital.

“They were asleep. They were very happy. They could have cared less that they’d been in a helicopter,” she said.

The babies have done well in Galveston. Itzel, who was born ten weeks early, hit a major milestone for a preemie baby: She was allowed out of her enclosed isolette (an incubator that allows for temperature and oxygen control), and into a regular crib. “It’s a big step. She’ll be going to college soon,” Richardson said.

Doshi accompanied Itzel and the babies from Beaumont to Galveston, and has stayed with them since Friday. On Tuesday he’ll ride with the babies on the ambulance back to Beaumont. He could have gone home and left the babies to the care of the Galveston staff — but he didn’t.

“They’re our babies. The parents and their families — they trusted us with their kids,” he said.

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How brands can cash in on new royal baby

Prince William and his wife Kate have only just announced they are expecting another baby, but companies are already sensing a chance to cash in.

Dozens of businesses — from suppliers of baby products and fashion retailers to betting agencies — posted congratulatory messages on social media within minutes of the announcement.

The third child of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will be the fifth in line to the British throne.

“It is a tremendous marketing opportunity for producers and retailers of baby products, who can build their promotional campaigns around the good news from Kensington Palace,” said David Haigh, CEO of Brand Finance.

There’s a pile of money to be made. Companies could expect around £100 million ($130 million) in additional sales because of the royal baby craze, according to Joshua Bamfield, director of the Centre for Retail Research.

“We would see the main beneficiaries as being: grocers, butchers, cakes, alcohol, pubs and mother and baby wear,” he said.

The royal baby bump will extend way beyond the birth, expected some time in the Spring of 2018.

“Over the years, the youngest royal baby will continue to boost the sales of clothes and toys brands they wear or play with,” said Brand Finance’s Haigh.

Fashion retailers lucky enough to win a royal endorsement could be looking at a goldmine, said Bamfield.

Clothes worn by Kate, 35, and her children tend to sell out in hours. The makers of the $100 lacy shawl Princess Charlotte wore when her parents introduced her to the world reported a huge increase in sales. Similarly, the blue dungarees her brother George wore at an outing in Australia sold out immediately.

“Retailers and manufacturers will be on the ball to ensure that the expected high levels of demand can be satisfied,” Bamfield said.

British betting companies could see a windfall too. They’re already offering gamblers the chance to bet on the baby’s gender and name (Alice, James and Arthur are among the current favorites.)

There was a huge surge in royalty-related betting when George and Charlotte were born in 2013 and 2015.

The wider U.K. economy could benefit too from a boost to tourism and general interest in the royal family, although experts say the new prince or princess will likely generate less interest than his or her older siblings.

“It will naturally be seen fairly positively, though the third child is never going to command the level of interest of the first, and I suspect that most brand owners will feel the same way,” said Don Williams, chief creative officer at PI Global, a brand consultancy.

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Average American dad is getting older, study finds

Today’s American dad is slightly older — roughly 3 years — than his counterpart from four decades ago, according to a study published Thursday in the journal Human Reproduction. The average age of a father of a newborn in the United States increased from 27.4 years old to 30.9 years old between 1972 and 2015, found Stanford University School of Medicine researchers led by Dr. Michael Eisenberg.

Men who want to become fathers might want to think about the implications of their choices, Eisenberg suggests.

“There is data that a man’s fertility declines with age,” Eisenberg, an assistant professor of urology, wrote in an email. “As such, it may make sense to not wait too long as it may be more difficult to conceive. In addition, there are some potential risks to children.”

More dads over 40

Eisenberg and his colleagues analyzed 168,867,480 births — all the live births reported in the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Vital Statistics System from 1972 to 2015.

The system records births and deaths reported by all 50 states and includes parents’ self-reported ages, education levels, races and ethnicities.

“Most data on rising parental ages in the U.S. has been restricted to mothers,” Eisenberg wrote, which makes sense because birth certificate data are generally collected from mothers. “We wanted to examine trends in paternal demographics based on the data available on birth certificates since the 1970s.”

Over the study period, the portion of newborns’ fathers who are 40 or older doubled from 4.1 percent to 8.9 percent. Meanwhile, the proportion of dads who were 50 or older rose from half a percent to nearly one in every 100.

The youngest dad for the period studied was just 11 years old, while the oldest was 88.

Asian-American dads — in particular, men of Japanese and Vietnamese descent — were the oldest fathers, the study found. Their ages ranged upward of 36 years old, on average. More years of education also correlated with fatherhood happening at an older age during the 44-year study period. Typically, fathers with college degrees are just over 33 years old.

“Take home points” noted by Eisenberg included the fact that paternal age in the United States has risen “across all race/ethnicities, educational attainment levels, and regions of the country.” That said, some regional differences existed. Northeastern and Western states showed the highest paternal ages on average, the study found.

“A surprise to me was that more than 10 percent of birth certificates in the U.S. lack paternal data,” Eisenberg said, although the reasons for that aren’t clear.

Though mothers tend to be younger than fathers, “the difference between paternal and maternal age has decreased over time,” Eisenberg noted. This suggests that both mothers and fathers of newborns are older today, but the average age of mothers is increasing slightly faster than that of fathers.

“These demographic trends reflect our society so if men are delaying fatherhood there are likely many implications such as smaller family sizes,” he wrote. “Another possible implication is a higher risk of certain diseases which are more prevalent among older fathers.”

One 2012 study estimated that the male germline — the genes a father will pass on to his children — develops two mutations every year; with an advancing average paternal age, inherited mutations in the general population will also rise, noted Eisenberg and his co-authors. Numerous reports have linked older fatherhood with an increased risk of autism, psychiatric illness, neurologic disease such as neurofibromatosis, pediatric cancer and chromosomal abnormalities in children.

“As such, these trends may suggest that we should be seeing more of these occur in children over time,” he said.

However, there are positives when older men become fathers, Eisenberg noted. Generally, they are more likely to be stable, with better jobs and more resources, and perhaps most important, they are more likely to live with their children and help with child-rearing.

No need to worry — yet

Magdalena Janecka, postdoctoral fellow at the Seaver Autism Center at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York, referred to the new study as “huge” in an email and said it offers “interesting insights into reproductive trends among different ethnicities and across the states.” Janecka, who was not involved in the research, published her own study of older dads this year and found that the sons of older dads had, on average, better educational and career prospects.

Overall, the new study’s findings “are in line with the trends observed in other Western countries,” Janecka wrote in an email, citing data from the United Kingdom indicating that average paternal age has risen from 30.6 years in 1991 to 33.2 in 2015.

However, the authors’ explanation for this upward trend in the ages of fathers, “including increased use of contraception, increased entry of women into the labor force, and longer life expectancy, may not represent an exhaustive list of possible causes for older parental age,” Janecka added.

“Such increase is not just a recent phenomenon,” she explained. One historical study found that the average paternal age in 18th- and 19th-century Sweden was 34.37 years, she wrote. “Similarly, in the UK, women’s age at motherhood in 1938 was only a year lower than in 2013,” with a dip occurring between those years, she said.

Speculating about underlying causes for the older ages of dads is difficult, she added, given that the new study does not include information about whether these older average ages resulted from delaying fatherhood or extending it.

When it comes to this upward trend in the age of fathers, Janecka does not believe worry is necessary — at least not yet.

As she sees it, a number of negative outcomes have been reported — including disorders like achondroplasia, a form of dwarfism, and autism — but there are possible positive results, including higher IQ for the baby, which may occur when men become fathers at older ages, she wrote. “We still do not know to what extent those associations are due to the effects of age itself and to what extent due to age-independent traits of men who decide to delay fatherhood.”

The role of maternal age with respect to these disorders is also unclear.

“One clear message” still emerges from the studies to date, Janecka said: “Contribution of paternal age to those disorders/traits is overall negligible and should not influence individuals’ decisions about the timing of parenthood.”

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