In what is believed to be the first case of its kind in the ACT, the former Canberra woman and her female partner are suing obstetrician and gynaecologist Sydney Robert Armellin for the wrongful birth of one of their twin girls, now aged three, claiming more than $400,000 for the cost of raising her to the age 21.
They claim the twins' birth mother had told Dr Armellin minutes before she was sedated and implanted with two embryos that she wanted only one embryo implanted. They had previously told him they wanted only one child.
However, an embryologist under Dr Armellin's supervision implanted two embryos, resulting in the birth of non-identical twins.
The birth mother, now working in Melbourne as a social research and planning consultant, wept as she told the ACT Supreme Court how hard it had been to cope with the unplanned twin pregnancy.
"I remember sitting on the couch and feeling devastated, absolutely devastated," the 40-year-old mother said.
She and her partner, who were living in Watson at the time, had planned to go to England after the birth, but their plans were scrapped when they discovered they would be having twins, jeopardising their careers, relationship and health.
She suffered pre- and post-natal depression, could work only a few hours at a time because of the pain, and she and her partner needed relationship counselling for about 18 months.
"We argued and we had a terrible time with the stress of what we had expected to be a time of great joy."
They also had to confront the options of aborting one of the embryos, or giving up one of the children for adoption. They decided to keep both children as an abortion would have put the other child at risk, and adoption would have been too painful.
"The experience of my pregnancy was so far removed from what I had anticipated that I was in relationship counselling, in a great deal of pain, and someone was suggesting that [adoption] was an option."
The women's names were suppressed until today, when visiting
judge Justice Annabel Bennett will make a ruling as to whether
to permanently conceal their identities.
The women's barrister, Hugh Marshall, SC, argued it could be distressing for the children to discover several years down the track that their mothers did not want to have them both.