Celebrities never do things by the rule book, so why should it be any different when it comes to having children? Tanya Sweeney on stars and their shotgun babies
Once upon a time, the adage went a little something like this: first came love, then came marriage, then came a baby in a golden carriage. Yet in the topsy-turvy world of Tinseltown, the fast-track mothers have turned it all on its head.
The golden carriages (or Bugaboos) are certainly here to stay. However, the love part of the equation? Entirely optional ... or rather, a happily incidental quirk of fate.
Earlier this month, Kimberley Stewart, socialite daughter of Rod, shocked celebrity watchers by announcing her first pregnancy. Yet there were more surprises to come, for the father is 44-year-old Benicio Del Toro, a ladies' man of whom tales are legion in Hollywood.
"Kimberly is pregnant. Benicio is the father and is very supportive," Del Toro's rep, Robin Baum, announced. "Although they are not a couple, they are looking forward to the arrival of the baby."
Stateside reports suggested that a fling between the pair happened at LA's Chateau Marmont; the very same hotel where Del Toro was rumoured to have made love to actress Scarlett Johansson in a lift.
"Did I ever have sex in an elevator with Scarlett Johansson after an awards show? Let's leave that to somebody's imagination," Benicio said in a recent 'GQ' magazine article. "Let's not promote it. I'm sure it has happened before. It might not be the last time, either."
True to form, Oscar-winning Del Toro calls his bachelor pad a 'cave' and, asked why he's never married, he said: "Why do I have to get married? So I can get divorced?" Perhaps not surprisingly, the pair are said to be uninterested in rekindling any kind of relationship since news of the pregnancy broke.
Stewart may have caused shockwaves among Los Angeles' lunching classes, but she is certainly not the first celebrity to fast-track her plans to start a family. And, in an industry and town where a seven-year marriage is seen as tantamount to a life-long commitment, perhaps news of women who begin a family within a few months of starting a relationship should come as no surprise.
Elsewhere in Hollywood, January Jones -- known as buttoned-up Betty Draper on 'Mad Men' -- has also opted for a similar approach to modern motherhood. Just last week, 33-year-old Jones announced that she was pregnant and would be raising the child alone: "January Jones is happy to announce that she is expecting her first child this fall. She's really looking forward to this new chapter in her life as a single mother," said a spokesperson. The identity of the baby's father remains at large for now, but Jones's split with comedian Jason Sudeikis after seven months together.
Kate Hudson also decided to turbo-charge her romance with Muse frontman Matt Bellamy. The two had been dating for less than nine months before they announced in January that she was 14 weeks pregnant. The two reportedly met at a Radiohead gig via a mutual friend over the summer. As of last month, the pair are now engaged.
"Well, it wasn't like we didn't know what we were doing," she says. "There were no ovulation kits involved. We were tempting fate, and it worked. I didn't think I was going to have another kid until I was maybe 33 -- that was in the back of my mind before I met Matthew. But we were so in love when it happened, it was just so exciting for both of us."
And, just as awards season kicked off, Natalie Portman blindsided the industry by announcing that she was not only engaged, but also pregnant. The lucky man in question was Benjamin Millepied, Portman's 'Black Swan' co-star, whom she met a year previously during the film's production process.
"I have always kept my private life private but I will say that I am indescribably happy and feel very grateful to have this experience," she said at the time.
However, it all pales in comparison to the proverbial land-speed record set by Kelly Brook, who became pregnant in January with her new rugby-player boyfriend Thom Evans after about a month of dating. The former model tweeted her announcement in March: "Thom and I are happy to announce we are expecting a baby girl. We are delighted."
Only six months previously, Brook had been in a relationship with another rugby star, Danny Cipriani. The ex-couple split in June last year after almost two years together, but have remained friends, even holidaying together in the Maldives over Christmas.
Last month, Kelly admitted of the surprise pregnancy: "This is what happens when you are in love. You surrender to whatever is to be. It wasn't a plan, but if it happened, it happened. We were boyfriend and girlfriend."
Thom is quoted as saying: "It helped that I was head-over-heels in love with Kelly. When she told me on Christmas Eve, it didn't even feel like a complete surprise. I had a feeling she might be."
Fast-track pregnancies may be on the rise, but they're certainly nothing new in showbiz circles. Sophie Ellis-Bextor fell pregnant with her first child Sonny (now seven) within two months of hooking up with musician Richard Jones. The couple went on to marry and have another son, Kit Valentine, now two.
Nicole Richie had been dating her now-husband Joel Madden for six months when she became pregnant with daughter Harlow, now three. To say that the pregnancy was a surprise is something of an understatement. Around this same time, Richie pleaded guilty in a Los Angeles court to driving under the influence of drugs, stemming from an incident the previous December after she drove down an LA motorway the wrong way.
However, Nicole turned her life around almost instantaneously: "Just like any mother, you know, you want to take the best care of yourself, especially while you're pregnant. And I'm definitely eating healthy now, and I'm really playing by the rules. I do not drink caffeine at all, cut out sushi. No alcohol, no marijuana, no pills, nothing, no smoking around me."
She and Joel married in December 2010, and had a second child, Sparrow, last October. After rising to prominence as one of the Noughties' most notorious wild girls, Nicole surprised everyone -- and, most likely, herself -- by becoming one of Hollywood's most settled and dedicated mums.
In 2005, Geri Halliwell broke the news to a surprised public that she was expecting a baby with screenwriter Sacha Gervasi, with whom she had had a six-month fling. While Geri has since moved on to new partner Henry Beckwith, Gervasi is now thought to be dating Jessica de Rothschild, an heiress worth a reported $450m.
And, although Geri admits that motherhood has made her "reassess her responsibilities", news of her pregnancy was quite the about-turn for Halliwell, who was at the time something of an affirmed bachelorette: "At first I was a single, young Bridget Jones kind of woman. I was [operating in] a selfish world... now I'm a mother, my compassion has expanded," she is quoted as saying.
These days, in addition to being mum to Bluebell (now four), she has found time to launch her clothing range at Next and work on her upcoming album.
Of course, in the world of celebrity, turbo-charging one's new romance with a pregnancy is made that bit easier with fertile finances and access to a battery of staffers and the like. But back in the civilian world, are such pregnancies any easier to deal with?
Says Lisa O'Hara, relationship counsellor with the Marriage & Relationship Counselling Services (www.mrcs.ie): "Generally speaking, a pregnancy is not the best way to start a relationship. The real world is quite different from the celebrity world, which is made up of fantasy scenarios. Closer to home, pregnancy makes a relationship more vulnerable, and couples undergo huge changes -- physical, emotional and psychological -- when a pregnancy is introduced.
"That's not to say that a child won't flourish under these circumstances, and who's to say that if a couple are well-connected and find themselves pregnant they won't be okay?" she adds.
"It all depends on their ability to work as a team and accept each other's needs at this time."