• Posted by Pregnant Stories
  • 15 Aug 2011

Here is a true story about a pregnant woman accused of shoplifting a basketball!

It seemed that earlier that year an expectant mom had been accused of attempting to shoplift a basketball and had been forced by store security to prove that she hadn’t. The humiliation of the incident apparently contributed to the onset of early labor, with her son being born a scant day later, a full month before the stork had been expected to come in for a landing.

Once the incident was behind her, the woman sued the store for what she’d been put through. And it was news of this lawsuit that made it onto the newswires in June 1985.

The full story was far less titillating than one- or two-line summations of the incident made it out to be.

On 13 February 1985, a very pregnant Betsy Nelson of Arlington, Virginia, was detained on suspicion of shoplifting by Irving’s Sport Shop, a sporting goods store in Seven Corners, Virginia. She had gone there to look for a rowing machine to help her get back in shape after the upcoming birth of her child, a joyous event not expected for another full month.

She didn’t find what she wanted, so she left the store to browse in an adjacent mall. She was fetched back to Irving’s by the store’s assistant manager and a security guard. A cashier had told her supervisor that Nelson had stolen a basketball and put it under her dress.

Nelson was held at the store for about thirty minutes, where she was given the option of either opening her garments and proving she hadn’t stashed anything in them, or going to the police station. She chose to clear up the matter on the spot.

“I had to disrobe in front of six male security guards and police officers in the store,” Mrs. Nelson said. “I had to take off my jacket, sweater and lift up my blouse.”

“Disrobe” was a loaded word to have chosen, as most people equate it with the removal of all of one’s clothes. Nelson had been required to doff her jacket and sweater and shake out her maternity top, a procedure which would have dislodged any purloined merchandise. At no point in the proceedings was she in a state of undress, at least not according to the descriptions of her treatment she gave to the press.

No basketballs were shaken loose, nor anything else that wasn’t Mrs. Nelson’s by right. The incident concluded with the assistant manager’s apologizing to her.

Months later, Nelson filed suit against Irving’s. She was seeking $100,000 in compensatory damages and $500,000 in punitive damages from the store, charging false arrest and negligence on the part of store employees. No information on how this lawsuit was ultimately decided surfaced in the press, leading us to believe it was resolved out of court.

Did the case deserve the media attention it garnered? Yes and no. Yes, in that we put motherhood on a pedestal in this society, so the thought of an expectant mother-to-be’s being mistakenly treated like a common criminal is abhorrent to us, as is the mental image of someone in that condition being bullied into having to expose (parts of) herself. No, in that shoplifting is a retail reality, something that stores have to combat every day. Without the ‘expectant mom’ angle, Nelson’s experience didn’t seem to have been unduly unpleasant, and indeed it appeared to have been well handled compared to how it could have gone.

Retail shrinkage (unexplained loss of merchandise) due to shoplifting is rampant, and for women a favored method of getting anything out of a store unquestioned is to put it up under one’s dress, on the often-correct assumption no one will detain a pregnant mom or even risk suggesting she might have been helping herself to a ten-finger discount. The sanctity of impending motherhood has aided a number of professional shoplifters to live quite comfortably.

Does that mean every pregnant woman should be eyed as a potential shoplifter? No, not even close. But on the other hand, if a store clerk sees what she thinks is a theft in process, she’s justified in having the suspect detained and checked out, impending motherhood or not.

A popular bit of lore (included here only because it too features pregnant women and stores) is the apocryphal tale of an expectant mom whose water breaks while she’s grocery shopping. She retains her presence of mind, quickly grabbing a jar of pickles off the shelf and deliberately dropping it. The pickle juice masks the amniotic fluid puddling around her feet.

Some have taken that story to heart, even suggesting expectant moms should carry jars of pickles with them once they near their due dates in case their water breaks in public.

  • Posted by Pregnant Stories
  • 08 Aug 2011

When you’re pregnant, weird things happen to you, but one of the stranger ones is the changes to your dreams. If you can get good sleep, that is. Really vivid, really strange dreams.

I often have nightmares, but when I was pregnant my dreams weren’t scary usually — they became really weird.

In talking to friends about their dreams during pregnancy, I noticed some categories that a lot of the dreams seem to fall into. Let’s decode them.

#1. The Announcing Dream

It can take anywhere from a couple weeks to a couple months to know if you’re pregnant for sure, but a lot of women (myself included) have reported having a dream in the first few weeks about being pregnant or having a newborn baby they “know” is theirs in the dream. This has become common enough that that is the official name, and it’s been mentioned in books and even on The Ghost Whisperer. There is some suggestion that the announcing dream is the point where the baby’s spirit or energy enters the body, and that if your baby’s gender can be deciphered from the dream, it’s a pretty accurate indication.

#2. The Thin Skin

You know that Photoshopped picture where you can see the details of a baby’s foot pushing out of the mom’s belly? A lot of women have reported dreams like that, where they can literally feel their baby through a very thin layer of skin on their bellies. It seems that this is most common towards the end of the pregnancy when Mom is getting anxious to be able to really touch her baby with her bare hands.

#3. The Birth Trial Run

Women who are learning about birth and starting to form an opinion about the kind of birth they want often have a dream where they either go through the birth or see bits and pieces of it. For example, I wanted to do a birthing center birth but didn’t have it as an option, so I was stuck between a hospital birth or home birth (which I should have done), so I had a dream that I had a nice comfy bedroom in a hospital setting with a big bed and no doctors anywhere to be seen. I’d already given birth, but the meaning was obvious.

#4. Lots of Water and Water Creatures

Considering your baby spends 38 to 42 weeks in a watery environment, and your body is swelling with fluids, it’s no wonder lots of women have dreams about water balloons, oceans, chugging water until her belly swells, or even that her baby is a tadpole, especially in the first trimester. Towards the end of the pregnancy, generally dreams have more to do with big eruptions of water. Gee, what could that represent?

#5. Non-Human Babies

I already mentioned dreaming you gave birth to a tadpole, but it’s really common too for women to dream they birth something like a kitten or other animal. What this represents I have no freakin’ clue. Possibly a disassociation with the pregnancy, often in the early days where the concept of it “really being a baby” is still hard to wrap your mind around … or maybe you’re just a Furry? Don’t answer that.

#6. Scary, Baby-Stealing Dreams

Lots of women have fears about losing their baby, both before and after they’re born, and often their husband’s inability to help them. This frequently manifests in dreams; for example, my friend was pregnant with twins and dreamt that while she slept next to her husband, a scary man with red eyes, a red cape, bare chest, and black pants crept up her stairs. She beat and even bit her husband, knowing the man was coming, but her husband was useless. The man came into her room, ended her husband in a gory way, and then was coming around to her side of the bed, where she “knew” he was going for the babies in her belly. Yikes.

But things like that can often lead to:

#7. Fighting for Your Family Dreams

The creation of your family is also the first time you’ll really realize what it’s like to wear your heart on your sleeve. In dreams, when threatened, some women start playing out situations where they have to protect their families from would-be attackers of human or animal varieties. When Rowan was smaller, my dreams consisted of hiding with him, but I always knew we’d be caught and forced myself to wake up first. By the time Aurora came around, I guess I was done with being timid in my dreams, and I started fighting back. After one incredibly brutal dream that took place in my house where I fought off a bad guy to his demise, I remember my final thought before I woke up: “I wonder if the rental company will charge us for the blood stains in the carpet?”

#8. Sex Dreams

Some of the websites I looked at suggested these are often because the woman is worried about her partner finding her attractive, but you know what? I’m betting it has more to do with surging hormones and, especially at the end of the pregnancy, super-increased blood flow to the breasts and genitals, taking away supply from your noggin … much like being a man, I assume.

#9. Dreams of Being Pampered

Sometimes the mom-to-be really would love to paint her toenails or shave her legs but just can’t reach. Or dreams of a massage or other beauty treatment is just barely out of reach. It’s not all that surprising that third trimester women often dream about being pampered … sometimes turning into dreams like #8.

Have you had any of these dreams yet?

By Christie Haskell