A Canadian woman convinced her boyfriend, her town and herself that she was pregnant with quintuplets for 34 weeks.
It was only when Barbara Bienvenue, 37, went to the hospital to deliver the babies this month that doctors pulled her boyfriend aside to tell him she wasn’t pregnant and never had been, according to CTV, a Canadian news station.
“I lost everything, it was my whole life,” her boyfriend Paul Servat told the Toronto Sun, adding that Bienvenue told him she was expecting twins, then triplets, then quadruplets, then quintuplets. He said her belly grew, and she experienced morning sickness and lactation.
Marie-Pier Gagnon, a reporter for Le Canada Français, a local French-language newspaper that covers Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec, reported on Jan. 23 that the couple was expecting quadruplets. They would be named Alexander, Sebastian, Charles and Rosalie, and they would be born via Cesarean section on Feb. 22 at the CHU Sainte-Justine Hospital in Montreal. Photos of a colorful room with wall-to-wall cribs accompanied the article.
Gagnon wrote that the news spurred a movement on social networks to help the couple, and donations poured in.
Then, on March 20, Gagnon published another article, revealing that Bienvenue was never pregnant.
Local police spokesman Sgt. Luc Tougas said his department is aware of the Bienvenue story, but it has not received any formal fraud complaints from the people who donated money and baby things to the couple.
“The spouse, who was also jilted with this whole story, has been reimbursing some of the associations,” Tougas told ABCNews.com. “He was also very stunned. Right now, this woman is at the hospital undergoing psychiatric treatment. We suspect some mental issues.”
A Facebook page soliciting donations for the babies has since been taken down. ABC News sent an email to the account set up to handle donations, but there was no response.
Bienvenue experienced a phantom pregnancy, or pseudocyesis, and she is receiving psychiatric care, The Sun reported. Pseudocyesis is a very rare disorder in which a woman experiences all the symptoms of pregnancy, but is not pregnant.