Woman sparks outrage by asking if it's acceptable to ask for baby shower gift back after a miscarriage

A sign hung announcing a baby shower.
The woman's predicament has sparked outrage online. Photo credit: Getty Images

Asking for a gift back after, you know, gifting it is typically considered a major no-no, but one woman's prezzie predicament has proved particularly controversial online. 

In a nutshell, the woman - who shared her conundrum anonymously to the Reddit forum Am I The Asshole - asked whether it would be acceptable to ask for a baby shower gift back after the recipient had suffered a miscarriage. 

The woman's quandary has prompted fierce debate among readers of the popular forum, raising questions about etiquette, friendships and respectfully navigating others' grief and trauma. 

Titling her dilemma, "AITA [am I the asshole] for asking our friend to return a baby shower gift after a miscarriage?", the woman began by acknowledging that although her thought process "sounds awful", she wanted to use the forum as a sounding board. 

"My husband has a long-term family friend named Jen. Jen and I aren't friends at all but we are friendly when we see each other. When Jen had her first kid my husband purchased a fairly expensive item off of her baby shower registry as a gift (around $200-$300). I had no issue with the gift or how much he spent, it was a nice item to gift her and we were excited for her to grow her family with her husband," she wrote.

"Fast forward a few years, Jen and her husband are high earners, both making over six figures. Jen announced she was pregnant again very early on and sent my husband her baby shower registry with her announcement text which was full of high-priced items."

The woman then admitted that she thought a second gift registry was unnecessary, as the couple would still have most of the items from their first pregnancy. 

She also noted that she was "surprised" by Jen's decision to announce her pregnancy with a baby shower registry while still in her first trimester, adding: "Maybe that's just because I'm a cautious person who didn't announce my pregnancy until 20 weeks, which I know is extreme on the other side."

Due to her own thoughts on the matter, the woman said she let her husband decide on what gift and price point would be appropriate. With him being much closer to the mum-to-be, he ended up splashing around $400, she said - with him arguing the cost was justified because Jen is "like a cousin".

A few weeks after, Jen suffered a traumatic miscarriage, the woman said - adding that the "incredibly sad" loss likely means "she won't be able to carry future pregnancies to term". 

Women celebrating at a baby shower
The woman wondered if it was appropriate to ask for a baby shower gift back after the recipient suffered a miscarriage. Photo credit: Getty Images

Now, a few months on, the woman said she and her husband are wondering whether it would be appropriate to ask Jen and her husband to return the gift, noting the large sum of money they spent on it. 

"It's not something she can use for her older kid. Asking her to return the gift seems cruel, like adding a chore onto her grief and it's probably past the return window anyway. I'm also not sure if she's going to keep trying to have more kids and it seems incredibly insensitive to ask, plus she may not have decided yet," she wrote.

"Asking her to pay us back for it also seems very cruel. My husband and I are also decently high earners but $400 is still a lot of money. It's one thing if she's able to get a few years of use out of the item, that's money well spent. But if it's going to sit in a box in her attic for years… that's where we are getting stuck.

"So, would we be in the wrong if we asked about getting the gift back? Ideally, we could get our money back but if we can't then I'd at least like to gift it to someone else who can use it."

The response to the woman's dilemma was overwhelmingly negative, with many pointing out that asking for a gift back is almost always considered a major etiquette faux pas - let alone asking for it back from someone who has recently endured a traumatic experience. 

The top comment, which amassed thousands of likes, read: "You're the a**hole. It was a gift. It shouldn't come with terms and conditions. You gave it away. It's gone."

"She's just lost her baby and her fertility. Don't kick someone when they're down. When she's ready, she will probably sell your gift and use the money for something else, hopefully, something that brings her joy," said another.

Another suggested that rather than gathering the dust, the gift may be donated, gifted to another friend, or turned into a "shrine" to their lost child, adding: "You just don't know what she'll do with it and it's none of your business."

"You decided to spend a lot of money on a gift so maybe give less in the future if you are going to feel resentful later. But do NOT add to this woman's pain so you can get your money back. That's monstrous," a fourth said. 

"There's no tactful way to ask for it back… so just let it go," agreed another.

Others said asking for the gift back would be the "height of insensitivity and rudeness", with another summing up the woman's predicament as: "Sorry about your miscarriage, can I have my gift back?"