A Canadian man was distraught to discover that the 5 children his girlfriend was supposedly pregnant with were, in fact, not real.
The Toronto Sun reports that Paul Servat only discovered the truth when he took his girlfriend to hospital to deliver the children. A nurse took Mr. Servat aside to inform him that not only was his girlfriend not going to deliver any children but that there was no record of her pregnancy at the hospital.
What made the story all the more shocking is that the mother-not-to-be exhibited many of the signs of pregnancy such as a swollen abdomen, lactation and morning sickness.
Read: 8 early signs of pregnancy
Doctors believe that Barbara Bienvenue, 37, may have suffered from pseudocyesis, also known as a phantom pregnancy. The symptoms of pseudocyesis can often be so realistic as to fool doctors, though it is unclear whether Bienvenue actually consulted with medical practitioners during her false pregnancy. Pseudocyesis has even been known to occur in men, though this is very uncommon.
A point of suspicion is the way the number of children Ms. Bienvenue was supposedly carrying changed throughout the pregnancy. Initially she told friends it was just one child, this then grew to two, then three, four and finally five, according to the Huffington Post.
Servat is reported to be distraught, having become very excited at the thought of raising a family. Both families were heavily involved in the upcoming birth and the couple had received a large number of congratulatory gifts. Servat says he will now return these gifts or give them away. “I have lost my whole life” he told reporters.
Question: Ask our resident paediatrician
Phantom pregnancies have become increasingly rare over the past few decades and now account for just 0.0001% of reported pregnancies. However, they can cause serious distress to the involved parties.
Bienvenue is now undergoing a psychiatric evaluation to determine the cause of the episode.
Women with transplanted wombs hoping to fall pregnant
Schizophrenia linked to pregnancy complications
How does birth affect the vagina?
Sources: Huffington Post/Toronto Sun/Daily Telegraph