It is one thing to conceive a child, but it is something else entirely to physically give birth. Whether you’re a mother or father, the moment your offspring is delivered into the world, everything changes.

But for one father, the happiest moment of his life was to be cruelly destroyed when he arrived at the hospital to find that the quintuplets he’d been expecting with his girlfriend never existed in the first place.

Paul Servat believed that his girlfriend of two months, Barbara Bienvenue, was expecting after she announced she was pregnant in September 2013. After all, why would he have any reason to doubt she was telling the truth?

Now, with the help of hindsight, Servat is able to see that his girlfriend’s behavior was rather peculiar.

A cause for concern was the number of children the pair were having. Initially, Bienvenue was only expecting one baby, but after a few weeks, this changed to twins, then triplets, then quadruplets until she finally settled on quintuplets – one week before she was due to give birth.

With five babies on the way – an extremely rare phenomenon – Servat knew that they’d need financial support. Wanting to give his babies the best start in life, the 35-year-old launched a Facebook page in order to collect donations from local stores, charities, and citizens.

The community soon began to provide the happy couple with clothing and furniture, which they installed in the nursery at their home in Montreal, Canada. But if Servat was already happy, he was ecstatic when 37-year-old Bienvenue asked him to pick their five baby names.

“We were so happy,” he said.

Despite the swelling of her belly, it was clear to outsiders that her bump wasn’t big enough to accommodate five fetuses. An acquaintance of the happy couple, who’d just had triplets, was the first to become suspicious.

“‘I gave her tips on how to handle it, where to get financial support, where to get sponsors for diapers,” Genevieve Laflamme told CTV, before going on to say how she noticed many holes in Bienvenue’s story.

One particular element she couldn’t believe true was when Bienvenue told her, just one week before her due date, that doctors had actually discovered she was carrying five babies rather than four – something which would have surely shown up on an ultrasound before then.

But while those who knew them were growing suspicious, Servat was oblivious. He blindly prepared for the arrival of his children, posing happily for photographs with Bienvenue who showed off her round belly. Even his parents were clueless.

“They were so looking forward to having grandchildren,” Servat said rather solemnly after discovering the truth.

One day in March, Servat rushed his girlfriend to the hospital believing her to be in labor. But rather than delivering his five babies, doctors had some other news to give. Bienvenue wasn’t pregnant and never had been.

“The doctors told me it was a phantom pregnancy,” Servat explained, having spent the past 34 weeks believing he was about to become a father.

Even more sickening is the allegation from a former boyfriend of Bienvenue who claims that this isn’t the first time she has faked a pregnancy.

“This isn’t the first time she’s done it,” a relative told The Toronto Sun at the time. “But honestly, we never would have thought she was sick enough to do it again. She cut ties with us in recent months. She didn’t want us to know about her game.”

In addition to her fraudulent pregnancy, the relative revealed that she once pretended to have leukemia. After doctors discovered she’d faked her pregnancy again, she was placed under psychological observation.

“Doctors need to take care of her or else she’ll do it again and again,” her relative continued.

Meanwhile, Servat was left to pick up the pieces of his broken heart. “He was crying on the phone. He was devastated, he didn’t understand,” a friend told The Toronto Star.

While Bienvenue’s relative pitifully said, “He doesn’t deserve to live with this.”

After receiving the heartbreaking news, Servat told the people who’d given gifts to the non-existent babies that they’d be given their money and/or donations back.

“I’ll return all these things to people who sent them or give them [away],” he said. “I’m a good person and I have nothing to do with these lies.”

We hope that servant has been able to recover from the traumatic events and that Bienvenue is getting the help she needs.