A lesbian couple in New York have opened up about the trauma they felt when their IVF baby turned out to be a boy, instead of the girl that they wanted.
Heather Wilhelm-Routenberg only wanted to have a baby girl with her wife Robin (Robbie) Routenberg-Wilhelm because of painful memories of being sexually assaulted by two men. Robin provided the egg and Heather the womb. But the fertility clinic failed to follow their explicit instructions. Now they are reconciled to raising their son, but they are suing the fertility clinic for breach of contract, medical malpractice and battery.
They discovered the error when Heather was 15 weeks pregnant, but she refused to have an abortion. “That was never a choice I could make in these circumstances,” she told the New York Post in a long interview. She was hoping that the developing foetus actually belonged to another couple and that they would swap after the child was born.
She was beside herself with anxiety during the pregnancy. “Not only was the baby in my body not ours, but the baby in my body was male and he was put there against my will, just like rape.”
Both partners were distressed at the mere thought of having a boy:
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.
Now that their son has arrived, they have accepted him, but it remains difficult. “When it’s just us, it’s amazing!” says Heather, “but when we’re out in the world, he’s a symbol of something, being socialized as the same people who did bad stuff to me.”