A lesbian couple, who asked for a female embryo, have sued their fertility clinic in New York State, after getting pregnant with a baby boy. 

Heather Wilhelm-Routenberg and her wife Robin “Robbie” Routenberg told NYPost that they had decided to have kids only if they could have baby girls, as Heather was still traumatised after being sexually assaulted twice while at university. 

Fertility Clinic Said They Could determine Sex Of Embryo

They had approached the New York-based CNY fertility clinic, which had claimed that they could determine the sex of any embryo. 

Buffalo couple Heather and Robbie had met as undergrads at SUNY Geneseo in 2002. They dated for a while during their college years but broke up for a brief period. It was during this time that Heather was assaulted by two male acquaintances. These incidents were beyond traumatising for her which convinced her that she would have two baby daughters if they ever were to have a family. 

We didn’t want to have a boy because of the assaults and because of the socialization of boys — there’s constant socialization of what it means to be a “real man.” People say, ‘Oh, he’s a boy, let him hit you,’ and all the camouflage and guns don’t help. It reinforces masculinity, and that’s a reminder of the assaults every time,” Heather told NYPost

A Traumatising Pregnancy

Heather and Robbie had opted to go for reciprocal IVF to have two baby girls. However, Robbie found out that her baby was not growing after 8-10 weeks and miscarried. When Heather got pregnant they were looking forward to the birth of their daughter. 

However, at their 15-week appointment with their OB-GYN, the doctor informed them that they were having a baby boy, upon checking results from their QNatal test. Heather said she was in complete shock and was initially convinced that there had been a mistake and she was carrying someone else’s baby. 

The couple decided not to abort the baby and went ahead with the pregnancy. 

Heather said she was “hoping beyond hope someone would have our baby and we would switch after birth and it would be this happy story”. However, a test confirmed that it was indeed their child. 

The couple claimed that the pregnancy was traumatising for both of them and they could not connect to their child. 

‘He Didn’t Deserve Any Of This’

Heather said she was “furious” and “felt like a deep betrayal”. Their baby boy was born in December 2020.

“He’s an innocent being, he didn’t deserve any of this. The clinic messed with something so integral: our baby’s first formative years. That’s the reason I am doing this – because I love my kid so much. We think our son deserved that bond from the start,” said Heather. 

“He’s a lovely kid. He smiles just like Robbie, he has Robbie’s dimples, and that makes it easier. Our son is made of magic. He does things to be funny — he’ll use certain tones of voice and laughs to make us crack up. He’s hilarious, and he’s been an easy baby,” said Heather, adding that she  felt immense guilt upon her inability to be present for him in his formative years.

Robbie said she shared Heather’s pain and felt the couple did not get the “celebratory chapter” that many couples get with their pregnancy. “We both love our child, but we have had to work harder than anyone should have to work to make sure we are all alive,” said Robbie.


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