An apparent "phantom pregnancy" has rocked the world of a Canadian man who believed his girlfriend was pregnant with quintuplets for 34 weeks, only to find there was never a pregnancy to begin with. People in the community were also fooled, believing Barbara Bienvenue, 37, was experiencing a legitimate pregnancy, reports ABC News.
"I lost everything, it was my whole life," said her boyfriend, Paul Servat, in an interview with the Toronto Sun. According to Servat, Bienvenue first said she was expecting twins, then triplets, then quadruplets, and finally quintuplets. He said the phantom pregnancy seemed like the real thing, with Bienvenue's belly growing, morning sickness and even lactation.
But finally when they went to the hospital - Servat expecting like any quintuplet father-to-be that he'd be returning home with a buggy full of babies - doctors had to deliver the bad news and explain the false pregnancy.
News of the pending quintuplets in Le Canada Francais, a french language newspaper, inspired the community to support the expectant couple with donations. The article even listed names for the babies, Alexander, Charles, Sebastian and Rosalie.
But the paper was forced to recant when it was realized there actually was no pregnancy and would be no babies.
Local police said they hadn't received any complaints regarding any donations made on behalf of the formerly expectant couple.
"The spouse, who was also jilted with this whole story, has been reimbursing some of the associations," police told ABCNews.com. "He was also very stunned."
The Daily Mail reports that Bienvenue is now undergoing a psychological evaluation.
A friend of Servat's alleged Bienvenue did the same thing with another man in 2010.
"I lost everything, it was my whole life," said Servat, as he stood in the baby room in his house, surrounded by five cribs.
Servat said Bienvenue had surprised him in September with the news that she was pregnant. They had been dating for about two months at the time.
"We were so happy," said Servat.
Phantom pregnancy, also known as false pregnancy, hysterical pregnancy, and most commonly, pseudocyesis, gives a woman all the signs and symptoms of pregnancy when there is actually no baby. This is the condition Bienvenue is beleived to suffer from.
Phantom pregnancy in people is rare and more common in animals, especially dogs and mice. Often it is just psychological. Even some men can experience pregnancy symptoms when their significant other is pregnant, surely the most dramatic example of phantom pregnancy.
Images via Le Canada Francais