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Avril Lavigne could not believe her eyes. Squealing in horror, the newlywed rocker squirmed as she and a pregnant friend watched a live birth on YouTube in early April. Says Lavigne, 22: “I was breathing, like, ‘I can’t do this! What happens next? I want a C-section!'”

No need to panic. In the five years since becoming the black-eyelinered picture of teen angst, the singer has notched some major milestones: a wedding (to Sum 41 frontman and fellow Canadian Deryck Whibley last July), a third album (The Best Damn Thing, due April 17) and buying a home of her own (or rather, a new $9.5 million, 10-bathroom Bel Air, Calif., mansion once owned by Shanna Moakler and Travis Barker). But motherhood can wait. “When I was 17, I told an interviewer I’d be married by 21 and have kids by 25,” she says. “But I’m still a kid. I need to be married and do my work. I’ll have kids later, like 10 years from now.”

For now, her high-octane Damn Thing and its infectious hit “Girlfriend” are her babies. “Fast, energetic and fun—that music makes me come alive,” says Lavigne of the CD. “But it’s not full-out Britney, bubblegum pop.” Having Whibley, 27, produce two songs and record his band’s upcoming album in the same building made studio time fly by. “We both really respect each other. It was easy,” says Lavigne of their collaboration. Adds Lukasz “Dr. Luke” Gottwald, a producer on Damn Thing: “Deryck would pop in and say, ‘Honey, where are you thinking of having dinner?’ They’re sickeningly in love.” During breaks at the studio, the couple would skateboard, ride scooters, play Ping-Pong and down red wine, champagne and Jagermeister with her other producers. Says Lavigne: “It was really cool. It was a big drunkfest.”

Despite all the partying, Lavigne famously told the U.K.’s Mail on Sunday, “None of what’s happened to Britney [Spears] will ever happen to me. You can’t complain about … the madness. Because that is the job. I’ve always understood that’s the deal.” The middle child of John, 53, a telephone repairman, and Judy, 52, a homemaker, Lavigne grew up in Napanee, Ont., mimicking her older brother Matthew, 24. “I was really into hockey, baseball and fighting,” she says. “The only time I was girlie was when my mom dressed me up for church.” Now the former tomboy is a budding domestic diva, specializing in vegan food. “I don’t like to clean, but I’m a really good cook!” she says. “Deryck likes everything I make. The other night I made California rolls with sticky rice, imitation crab and seaweed paper.” Some favorites? Her vegan breakfasts and tomato soup. “It’s important for me to go home and do normal things,” says Lavigne. “I love being there.”

Hear Avril talk about her most memorable looks and photos. Go to PEOPLE.COM/AVRIL