It was just another routine Friday for the seasoned supermarket manager in eastern Canada on April 28, 2017. There was nothing out of the ordinary as he went about his duties, until he heard an extraordinary noise coming from the washrooms. Knowing at once there was trouble in store when he heard the agonizing screams, he raced off to investigate. And more than three decades in the job could not have prepared him for the sight he was presented with when he opened the door to the female bathroom.
Ashleigh Miller-Cross is a young woman with an incredible story. Originally from the town of Oldham, near Manchester in the north of the U.K., she now lives in the district of Cole Harbour in Halifax, Nova Scotia. It was here that she gave the staff of her local superstore the surprise of their lives.
It all started when Miller-Cross took a shopping trip to the Atlantic Superstore in the Bayers Lake area of Halifax in the late morning of that Friday. It was just a normal expedition for the young mother to stock up on groceries ahead of the weekend, until suddenly she felt that something was seriously wrong inside, and headed for the restrooms.
Around noon the store’s assistant manager, Martin Comeau, was seeing to some paperwork in his office when his concentration was shattered by the piercing sound of a woman screaming. Leaping from his desk, he instinctively followed the sound to its source. Without thinking twice he raced through the female door of the store’s washrooms.
Standing in the doorway of the washroom he was confronted by the sight of Miller-Cross screaming in pain in a bathroom stall with its door wide open. Why? Because she was in the process of giving birth. Comeau was no medical man, but he was easily able to give an on-the-spot diagnosis – the baby was already halfway out!
Leaving Miller-Cross with a supermarket colleague who had joined him on the scene, Comeau sprang into action. Although shocked, he managed to keep a cool head and used his cellphone to call the emergency services.
Walking and talking to the 911 operator, the quick-thinking Comeau dashed along the supermarket aisles down to the in-store medical clinic to grab the on-duty doctor to take care of the unexpected item in the washroom area.
He later told Canada’s national broadcaster CBC, “The doctor came over and one of our cashiers helped her finish delivering her baby.” Which must have been one of the most unusual items they have ever had to check. Very soon after paramedics arrived at the store to find a very surprised mom and baby both doing well.
“The mother smiled at me when she left, and she had the baby laying on her,” Comeau recalled as the ambulance crew departed for the local IWK Health Centre. In all of his 32 years of working with the general public in retail, he said he had never come across a situation quite like it.
But despite the assistant manager’s shock, the most surprising part of the story is that the oblivious Miller-Cross was completely unaware of being pregnant in the first place. She had given birth to her daughter, Mia, a mere ten months before and had absolutely no idea she was with child again.
Speaking to one of the nation’s network newscasts, CTV News, Miller-Cross explained that she had simply “presumed” that she hadn’t managed to lose her baby weight. “I didn’t grow any extra,” she said, adding, “I didn’t have any cravings.”
However, she was proven wrong that day as she was shopping for groceries, blissfully unaware that she was about to give new meaning to the phrase “fresh produce”. Medical staff later said that the placenta had been positioned in front of the baby, which explained why Miller-Cross hadn’t felt it moving around or kicking. Thankfully, her baby boy, which she named Ezra, arrived safe and well.
In the initial news report, assistant manager Comeau told CBC that he hoped to welcome Miller-Cross and her surprise delivery back to Bayers Lake’s Atlantic Superstore. Only a few days later, his hopes became a reality.
And when Miller-Cross, her husband, Kyle Cross, Mia and baby Ezra paid a visit to the supermarket, staff hosted a small ceremony for the new mom. Miller-Cross had the opportunity to thank everyone who helped her that day, but the staff had their chance to spring a surprise on her this time.
Miller-Cross was presented with a box of diapers, but there was even more to come. In a very kind and thoughtful gesture, the store pledged to pamper the family with a box of diapers every week for a whole year.
Ezra is certainly a little boy with an extra special story. One that touched local photographer Jen Matchett. She approached Miller-Cross and her family with an idea for a photoshoot with a very appropriate setting and a very appealing price tag.
Not only did Matchett offer to photograph the family free of charge, but she wanted to create a grocery store theme for the images. The family happily agreed and Matchett headed to the supermarket to grab a very specific prop for the unique set of photographs.
The idea of a baby in a basket is not exactly novel, but using a supermarket basket is a lovely touch. “The idea for the grocery basket shot came to mind right away,” Matchett told The Huffington Post. Ezra, who was only two weeks old in the series, is seen smiling contentedly lying inside a supermarket basket amid some groceries. In some of the shots a shopping list can be seen that reads, “milk, eggs, bread, carrots, bananas, baby.”
? It is the perfect way to encapsulate Ezra?’?s unexpected but happy arrival. “I hope people smile when they see the photos, and wish the family well when they hear the story,” Matchett told U?.?K?.? tabloid newspaper the Daily Mail.
The Bayers Lake employees of Atlantic Superstore reacted extremely well in the very unusual circumstances. It is certainly fair to say that they went above and beyond what is normally expected of them in terms of customer services. Just don’t ask them if they deliver…