They say there’s no greater joy than bringing a child into the world, so it’s understandable how pregnancy announcements have become so huge. Parents-to-be are constantly on the lookout for ways to one-up each other in how they share their big news. Some might even go too far.

In 2019, this student in Georgia was counting down the hours until possibly the biggest moment of her young life. When she shared visual proof of it, the pictures sent her entire social circle into a frenzy. How did she come up with such a crazy photo idea?

Sarah Whelan Curtis had a big day coming up. It was a deadline that she and many of her loved ones had been looking forward to for some time, so she knew it was important to commemorate the occasion.

Twitter / Sarah Whelan Curtis

Of course, Sarah had a lot on her plate. A graduate student at Emory University, her free time was at a premium. Nevertheless, she allotted part of her schedule for a very special photo shoot.

Emory University

People sharing pictures of their kids is nothing new. But in the age of social media, Sarah saw many parents starting to show off even earlier. Professional maternity photos displaying baby bumps in scenic locales have become all the rage.

YouTube / Svitlana Vronska

With huge celebrities like Beyonce joining the fray, Sarah couldn’t help but lend her own contribution to the trend. However, her maternity shoot turned a few heads. It was a little bit unconventional, to say the least.

Essence

One photo featured Sarah looking not very pregnant, except that a stack of papers covered her belly. Only upon closer inspection did her followers understand what was going on.

Twitter / Sarah Whelan Curtis

Sarah wasn’t becoming a mother — not in the literal sense. Instead, she set up a photo shoot for her dissertation, which she cradled like a newborn. Granted, the thick paper on epigenetics probably weighed as much as a baby.

Twitter / Sarah Whelan Curtis

While it was strange to commemorate an academic achievement in this way, Sarah had a good reason: “I have a lot of nieces and nephews, and my mom told me, ‘Either get a Ph.D. or give me a grandchild.’ I got my doctorate.”

Besides, four years of backbreaking research and writing went into her dissertation. That’s quite a bit more than the typical nine months of pregnancy! She joked that it was the “longest labor ever.”

Times Higher Education

The dissertation wrapped in a baby blanket was truly hilarious, so the photo shoot went viral within a few hours. Though at least one response took her by surprise.

Twitter / Sarah Whelan Curtis

She wasn’t the only grad student who treated their post-grad research paper like a child! Alexander Sator took a similar photo and sent it to Sarah. Although they had the “same energy,” not all of their colleagues were as sunny about the dissertation process.

Twitter / Alexander J Sator

Take the newly minted Dr. Jennifer Cassidy, for instance. Rather than put on the face of an overjoyed mother, she made it seem like she was on her last leg when turning in in her dissertation. You can’t doubt her effort, however!

Twitter / Dr. Jennifer Cassidy

For now, Sarah will have to settle for being a proud PhD holder. She does have two cats, which could make for a nice sequel in her maternity shoot parody series. It’s been done before.

This emotional couple wept over their cat like they’d just witnessed a true miracle. The kitty, on the other hand, looks a bit disturbed by the whole charade. He knows that the best animal maternity photos involve only animals.

Photographer Ana Paula Grillo caught this pooch in her full glory, both before and after delivery. She seemed to enjoy the experience even more than the thesis “parents” did! Additionally, it’s not just the ladies who’ve had fun with this trend…

A number of the fellas have taken to the Internet to show off their own swollen bellies. Of course, there’s no actual babies growing inside, but that doesn’t mean these photos aren’t majestic!

After all, there’s no baby like a food baby. But even in light of these take-offs, actual maternity photos are still going strong. This one notable practitioner continued with her elaborate pictures.

Men’s Health

To announce the coming of twins, Rumi and Sir Carter, Queen Bey appeared with a flower wall, lingerie, veil, and an out-and-proud baby bump. Other celebs have been pretty creative as well.

Beyoncé / Instagram

Meghan Markle: Although it’s customary for Kensington Palace to make any formal announcement of a royal pregnancy, Prince Harry clearly couldn’t keep the cat in the bag. He snapped this happy picture of the Duchess and her bump in November.

Russell Brand: While brushing up on all the latest tips on new daddy duties, the comedian just couldn’t contain the big news any longer. Brand posted this pic to Instagram in 2016 to announce the coming of his firstborn, a little girl named Mabel.

Cardi B: In classic Cardi fashion, this hot tamale made her baby announcement by making a big entrance. When booked to perform on SNL, she showed up in a skin-tight white dress that left no mistaking — this little mama had a bun in the oven.

Justin Timberlake: Even though all of Hollywood was well aware of Jessica Biel’s baby bump, she and JT didn’t confirm the pregnancy until Justin posted this sweet belly peck to Instagram in January of 2015. Just a few months later, baby Silas arrived.

Ellie Kemper: Isn’t it every talk show host’s dream to have a celebrity pregnancy announcement on their show? Well, Jimmy Fallon happened to be that lucky guy when The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt star broke the news of her rising belly in 2016.

Gabrielle Union: Fans were over-the-moon to see photos of this new little family. Union and NBA legend Dwayne Wade have been very candid about their infertility issues, but thanks to a surrogate, Kaavia James was welcomed into the world in November of 2018!

Alanis Morissette: Pink and blue surprise cakes can go ahead and sit down. To announce baby Onyx Solace to the world, this Canadian songstress wrote and created a whole animated music video! That is one super special lullaby.

Tyra Banks: No one saw this coming. The leading lady of smize truly caught everyone off guard when she announced the arrival of her son York via surrogate. Unfortunately, shortly after the birth, her and long-term boyfriend Erik Asla broke up.

Ryan Lochte: Of course an underwater belly smooch is the only logical way for an Olympic swimmer to announce he’s expecting a child. Lochte and then-fiance Kayla Rae welcomed in son Caiden Zane in 2017, and something tells us this kid is going to be a natural in the water.

Michael Phelps: Not to be outdone by Lochte, Phelps and his wife decided they also needed a pool to help break the news of their offspring. In 2016 the couple gave birth to son Boomer. Now just imagine how cool this kid’s pool parties will be.

Angelina Jolie: Brangelina’s announcement of their twins was really more of a big slip thanks to Jack Black. When interviewing together for Kung Fu Panda, Black pointed at Angelina’s belly and said, “she’ll have as much as the Brady Bunch after these!” Whoops.

Blac Chyna: Did you know there was a pregnancy emoji? Well apparently, there is. One with pink hair even, which is exactly how Blac Chyna and Rob Kardashian chose to announce the coming of the newest Kardashian, a little girl named Dream.

Olivia Wilde: We’ve all seen the baby bump reveal photos, but Wilde made hers extra-especially cute by making her son Otis a guest star. A few months later, baby Daisy Josephine arrived to meet one very excited big brother.

Jessica Alba: Honor and Haven, Alba’s two daughters, gathered for this snap to reveal the arrival of their little brother. Sticking with the “H” tradition, baby Hayes arrived just in time for New Year’s Eve, making the countdown balloons all the more fitting.

Naya Rivera: To announce her firstborn with then-husband Ryan Dorsey, this Glee star went with a classic nursery riddle. Rivera gave birth to a healthy baby boy in 2015. Unfortunately, her marriage didn’t do as well, and a divorce was finalized in 2018.

Ciara: To celebrate her birthday in 2016, Ciara decided to share some big news with the world. Her and hubby Russell Wilson were expecting their firstborn, a baby girl named Sienna Princess Wilson. Now, we just can’t wait to see that cute first one, two step video.

Ayesha Curry: To announce baby number three, this court-side mom decided to let her swag do the talking for her. The Curry’s later welcomed in son Canon, their first boy. Rounding out at five, this little family is now a full lineup.

Kelly Rowland: What’s the best part about having a baby? Baby shoes, of course! Well, maybe not the best part, but still, Kelly knows what up. The ex-Destiny’s Child singer posted this pic to clue everyone in to her upcoming single. That baby sure has some big shoes to fill.

Kylie Jenner: Despite living most of her life in front of the spotlight, the youngest Kardashian chose to keep her pregnancy completely private. In fact, Kylie didn’t even announce the arrival of baby Stormi on Instagram until 3 days after her birth.