Last Tuesday, Rachel Massey, a pregnant Brooklyn mom, was pushing her toddler on the swings in their local playground in the arty-artisinal neighborhood of Williamsburg, when a teenager approached her with a gun and demanded her phone. Massey has later said in interviews that she wasn’t sure if the gun was real, but she found herself stunned by the request. “I’m sorry?” She said to her assailant, but did give over the phone and watched the teenager flee. But then she did something you might not expect to do while you’re expecting. She chased her mugger.
She left her daughter with her sister, told her sister to call 911, and went after the guy, who was eventually cornered by another man in the park. Stopped by the tennis courts, the thief gave up the phone and then continued to run. The cops arrived but were unable to find him and make an arrest. Massey said that she was on “autopilot” and later found her brazen actions upsetting.
Here’s the thing, though. I get it. Could I have been this woman– not now– but when I was pregnant and with my toddler? Sure. I’ve read a lot about the “mommy brain,” and I’m just guessing that there’s a bit of fierce maternal chemistry behind Massey’s bold moves.
My stark, raving mommy opinion is that she probably correctly assessed that the teen was not going to kill anyone, and that she didn’t want some punk getting her phone just because she appeared all nice and mommy-like. Studies show that pregnant woman have heightened sense of perception about the world and about danger. Other research has found a connection between bravery, vigilance and even violence with lactating. I think this was the act of a protective momma bear. She was insightful, instinctive– maybe it seems like a stupid move, but I trust a mother’s “autopilot.” I have never been more “in charge” than when I was pregnant with my second and had a toddler in tow. I never had to confront a gunman, but my dealings in more mundane areas of my life were swift, decisive and bold. And never risky, either. Not to get too Naomi Wolf on ya’ll, but maybe we should think of the womb as embodying the kind of power so often associated with “balls.”
Ceridwen Morris, CCE, is a writer, childbirth educator and the co-author of From The Hips: A Comprehensive, Open-Minded, Uncensored, Totally Honest Guide to Pregnancy, Birth and Becoming a Parent.
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