Heather Wilhelm-Routenberg said she would only have kids with her wife Robin (Robbie) Routenberg-Wilhelm if they could have girls — because Heather was still traumatized from being sexually assaulted on two different occasions after college. Heather and Robbie say that CNY fertility clinic in Latham, NY, assured the Buffalo couple it would not be a problem: The lab could determine the sex of any embryo, created using an egg from Robbie and donor sperm, before it was transferred into Heather.
But when Heather was 15 weeks pregnant — having been assured by the clinic that the embryo was female, she says — they found out she was carrying a boy. The news sent her into a dark depression. After their son’s birth in December 2020, Heather became suicidal and wasn’t able to bond with the baby. Now, with the help of Eric Wrubel of Warshaw Burstein, LLP, Heather and Robbie are suing CNY on 11 counts including breach of contract, medical malpractice and battery. Here, Heather tells AMY KLEIN how much she loves her son and what it’s like to have a pregnancy and new motherhood that traumatizes you.
[A lawyer for CNY said they are investigating and had no further comment.]
I was always afraid of hospitals and have a lot of physical pain during medical procedures on my reproductive region, so we thought we would start reciprocal IVF with Robbie carrying my daughter. She got pregnant, but at 8-10 weeks we found out the baby wasn’t growing.
Seeing the look of devastation on Robbie’s face after the miscarriage made me feel so helpless. I said, “We have to do it!” And we started my IVF cycle that day to carry her baby. I got pregnant on the first try and I was very excited. I felt like a badass, like I was doing something for my family.
We felt attached to this baby girl, and it was going to be a tiny Robbie, which was the best part.