Paul Servat, 35, couldn't believe it when his girlfriend told him she was pregnant with quintuplets. For the next nine months, they discussed names and decorated a nursery, while gifts poured in from friends and well wishers.
Finally the due date came. Paul drove Barbara, 37, to the hospital - only to be told that she was not pregnant and never had been. The quintuplets he had so eagerly awaited were fictional, a product of his girlfriend's imagination.
The couple, from Quebec, had only been together for two months when Barbara announced she was pregnant with twins. As the weeks progressed, she claimed she was expecting triplets, then quadruplets, until she finally declared that a scan had revealed she was carrying five babies.
The story might sound far-fetched, but Paul had no reason to doubt that his girlfriend was pregnant. Barbara's belly ballooned, he explained, and she suffered from morning sickness. She had even started lactating, he claims.
"She let me choose the names," he told reporters tearfully. "I lost everything, it was my whole life." He must now return the clothes, furniture and toys donated by friends and local businesses who were also taken in by the phantom pregnancy.
Barbara has now been placed under psychiatric observation. Her family say this is not the first time she has pretended to be pregnant, claiming she once also posed as a leukaemia patient.
"We never would have thought she was sick enough to do it again," a relative told the Toronto Sun. "She cut ties with us in recent months. She didn't want us to know about her game."
They now hope she will receive psychiatric treatment to prevent any further appearances of a phantom foetus.
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