The doctor walks into the recovery room, her smile hidden below her mask as she places the bundle of blankets into my arms and backs away. I look down at the bundle and as my eyes settle on my daughter Mia’s face, love overwhelms. I look up at my partner, Frank, and see he feels it too. It is an emotional moment shared by by many parents the world over. What made mine so different? It was totally virtual.
The whole pregnancy was role played, and while the doctor and Frank are real people, Mia is a scripted AI (artificial intelligence). So why did I do it? The simple answer is because I could. I could role play the pregnancy, from conception to birth, and even have a baby without the real world worry that I was ‘messing about’ with a real child’s life. Other reasons include the opportunity it provides to people who, for one reason or another, may never be able to experience pregnancy in real life.
There are many different ways to go about having a baby in Second Life. For this post, I shall explain my journey. It started with an ‘adult’ HUD (head-up display). It’s purpose was to create realism – something I am very big on – which it achieved by creating virtual menstrual cycles. Just like real life, the odds of my getting pregnant depended on the cycle; and again, just like real life, it took more than one attempt.
Once the HUD confirmed that I was pregnant, I started looking for maternity clinics. These clinics are extremely varied. Some good, some bad, some free, some expensive. I eventually settled on one that goes by the name of Heaven Lil Lights Maternity Clinic, and their head doctor, Dr Porter. Again, I was influenced by the need to be as realistic as possible.Every week, until the day of the birth I had a check up that included blood tests, ultrasounds, foetal doppler scans and general health check ups; the last weeks also included Lamaze and yoga classes. After the birth, I felt I had really made the best choice and to anyone considering a Second Life pregnancy, I cannot recommend them enough!
In Second Life there is a huge debate over Tummy Talkers. You either love them, or hate them. I love them. A Tummy Talker is a HUD that creates random emotes, usually about side effects the mother-to-be is experiencing. The Talker I used could be turned to private and also included labour emotes, such as my water breaking. Throughout the pregnancy, I also altered my body shape to match my pregnancy stage, and as you can see, I was ready to burst when the day came.
One experience that is purely limited to the virtual world, is the buying of the AI baby. Just like the clinics, the babies can be good, bad, cheap, etc. And I cannot express the need to research the options enough here. As of the time of writing this, I felt that the Zooby Baby was the most advanced in Second Life. So I chose my model, prepared it and hid it away in my inventory, ready for the big day. Then followed the preparations we all undergo, whether in Second Life or the real world. I set up my nursery, bought cute outfits, drove Frank and my friends mad with baby talk….
….And then it was the big day!
In part two, I’ll discuss the birth and the real life emotions Mia’s arrival provoked! Thank you for reading my ramblings!
3 thoughts on “One Plus One Equals Three – Part I”
Welcome to iRez Carissa! Congratulations on baby Mia and thank you so much for sharing your story with us! Canary Beck has written several iRez posts on Virtual Family and Virtual Community and it’s nice to have your Virtual Pregnancy story offer another aspect to our cultural exploration.
No doubt the range of responses, feelings, and reactions to the idea of virtual pregnancy will cover a wide, wide spectrum. One thing at least that seems fair to say, is that with Wikipedia putting the human population on earth at 7.062 billion as of today, if nothing else, I think we can agree that we humans really like pregnancy.
The pleasure of sex, the resonance of pregnancy, the joy of motherhood, these are powerful and beautiful experiences that we are hard wired to appreciate and which our culture further reinforces. Go humans! Unfortunately the weight of a 7.062 gigabod human herd is not sustainable by this planet and the price is the crushing of so many other life forms and the production of pretty much all problems on earth, like global warming or the global water crisis, to name two.
Who’s to say how virtual motherhood supplements or alternativizes or exists in any other relationship with physical motherhood, but in an overpopulated world, at least thinking about virtual motherhood is an interesting possibility. When a species, a cell, or anything else reproduces in harmony with its environment we call that balance, when it reproduces uncontrolled and without regard for its ecological milieu, we call it cancer.
For many the “prim baby” (haha, a “mesh baby” I suppose now) is a kind of weird thing. Yet if we are to exist more responsibly and more sustainable on this earth and with the other lifeforms that live here, our 21st century may well need to rethink biological experience, familial relationships and many other things.
Bravo Carissa! Of the 3 or 4 dozen authors here at iRez, NO ONE has moved from invitation to published author faster than you! — haha, how long was your pregnancy?? 🙂 — we met earlier today in the wonderful “Digital Cultures” discussion group in Second Life (founded by Tom Boellstorff and hosted by Tredi Felisimo) Today’s discussion topic was Attachment and Tredi invited you and new baby Mia to come join the discussion, and bam, here you are on iRez! Thank you so much for joining the conversation here in our virtual salon!
Tredi and I met last year at a lecture she gave and afterwards, she invited her listeners to attend the discussions. I eagerly went as many aspects of social science interests me. Sadly, due to real life etc, I was unable to attend more. So when I got the notice of yesterday’s chat I was more than happy to come over, especially when Tredi agreed to me bringing Mia.
To answer your questions, I became pregnant around the beginning of November 2012. Second life role play days work differently, and many people choose to have ‘sped up’ pregnancies, I’m sure real life mothers-to-be can understand why 😉
As for writing, I’m one of those people who once they get an idea in their head, they have to write it down! I knew I wouldn’t have slept that night with so many thoughts, plus if I had left it, real life (or Mia) would have distracted me to the point that I’d forget!
I was also very honoured and surprised when asked to write these pieces; and I’d be very happy to write pieces in the future. Sadly at the moment, I cannot say when that will be.
SL babies?! The crazyness of SL VR keeps amazing me. It seems that basically everything I can think of has been tried there.
Welcome to iRez, Carissa! I hope to read more about your adventures soon.