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!