Pregnancy and babies are hot topics in our society. We’re obsessed with looking at photos of celebrity baby bumps and pinning cute DIY ideas for baby showers. But when it comes to the difficult subject of pregnancy loss, there’s still a lot of stigma, confusion and silence. Miscarriage is frighteningly common, but awareness of it is not, and few things prove that more than the humiliation and heartache one Connecticut mom was forced to endure when she tried to return some unused Babies ‘R’ Us items after losing her unborn son.
Jessica Huchko and her husband were thrilled to welcome a fourth child into their family of three girls. When they found out they were having a boy, they did what most expectant parents would do and purchased a new car seat, a stroller and several other items from their local Babies ‘R’ Us. Sadly, the expectant mom later suffered a miscarriage and was forced to return everything she bought.
She brought the items back to the store, still in their unopened boxes but sans receipt. She hoped employees could look up the purchase and process the return using her debit card — something many retailers do now — but instead of being compassionate and sympathetic to her situation, Huchko says associates hassled and humiliated her for not honoring the store’s return policies.
The clerk allegedly demanded an explanation as to why she was returning the items, leaving Huchko in tears as she explained that her son passed away. After that, a manager came over and Huchko was forced to explain her situation all over again as a line formed behind her. The manager claimed they couldn’t find any of the items in their system. Instead of a full refund, they offered the devastated mom a fraction of what she paid for the car seat and a measly two cents for her double stroller. She left the store in tears.
Babies ‘R’ Us representatives have since reached out to Huchko and tried to make it right, but you’d think a store geared toward expectant parents would be a bit more sympathetic in a situation like this one. According to WebMD, about 15 to 25 percent of all recognized pregnancies end in miscarriage. It’s a devastating reality for so many people. Surely, Huchko isn’t the first to make a return to Babies ‘R’ Us in such heartbreaking circumstances, and they should’ve had policies in place to help grieving parents a long time ago.
If anything, Huchko’s humiliating experience only proves how far we still have to go in eliminating the stigma of miscarriage. Women can find support for almost any aspect of pregnancy, from removing chin hair to treating heartburn to deciding which car seat to buy. But we don’t make enough space for people who’ve lost babies to grieve or to share their experiences, and we certainly don’t approach the subject with the sensitivity, respect and compassion it deserves.
Babies ‘R’ Us might make some changes to their policies and corporate culture after what happened to Huchko, but her story is a reminder that the rest of us need to change as well. We need to be both more loving and more aware. Miscarriage can happen to anyone at any time, and the parents who’ve been through it deserve better than our culture of shame and silence.
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