First the bad news: Halle Berry won’t be fitting into the tight pair of Mickey Mouse jeans she has owned since she was 15 years old – pants she regularly tries on to test if she’s movie-star trim – for a while. The good news is, she couldn’t be happier. On Sept. 4 Berry gave a statement to her friend, Access Hollywood host Nancy O’Dell, that confirmed months of speculation – she is three months pregnant.
And, say pals, the woman who has everything (beauty, an Oscar, a $14 million-per-movie paycheck and a gorgeous Canadian model boyfriend by the name of Gabriel Aubry who makes her breakfast in bed) now has the one thing she felt was missing: the chance to be a mom. “I’m so happy for her,” says one friend. “Even three years ago, before she met Gabriel, she was already talking about wanting to have a baby.” Adds her friend and former stylist Phillip Bloch: “Everyone says, ‘Oh, Halle Berry. She’s the complete package. ‘Now she’s the complete package. This is phenomenal for her.”
And it’s the perfect birthday present for Berry, who turned 41 on Aug. 14. In April the actress told PEOPLE that motherhood “is the most important thing that we do as women. I hope that a baby finds me someday soon.” And not just because of a ticking biological clock or the fact that the Type 2 diabetes she was diagnosed with at 23 can complicate pregnancy. For Berry, the thought of missing out on being a mom felt like a hole in her heart. “Not that there’s not more to accomplish,” she told O’Dell last spring, “but I think I arrived at a point in life that I realized I needed more to get me up in the morning. . .and that’s children. I need that like the air to breathe these days. And I’m ready.”
Helping her get there was Aubry, 31, whom she met while making an ad for Versace in 2005. Aubry, who was raised mostly in foster homes, is described as quiet, down-to-earth and self-assured by friends. Says Stephane Bibeau, his friend and partner in Cafe Fuego, the Cuban restaurant Aubry opened in Manhattan’s East Village last year: “He loves her – not the movie star. Their relationship is based on love and friendship.”
That, says O’Dell, makes everything easy. “She always talks about how great Gabriel treats her. She’s wanted kids for a long time, and she knew she would have to wait until she found the right man.” Or better. “She thinks of Gabriel as an angel,” says Bloch. “He’s very secure and allows Halle to sparkle as brightly as she does. She hasn’t had the easiest time along the way, and she deserves it.”
Berry’s happiness has been a long time coming. She and her older sister Heidi were just children when their late father, Jerome, an African-American, abandoned them, leaving their white mother, Judith Hawkins, a former nurse, to raise them alone in Cleveland. Though very close to her mom, Berry told Ebony in 2000, “My whole life I’ve had the fear that I was going to be abandoned.” Her 1993 marriage to baseball star David Justice didn’t assuage that fear; they divorced in 1997, after she filed a restraining order against him. Four years later she married singer Eric Benét and formed a tight bond with his daughter India, now a teenager, only to divorce him in ’03 after learning of his infidelity. At the time, she later told Oprah, “I had an emotional breakdown.”
Through the tough times Berry leaned on her own mother – and became stronger. She told PEOPLE this year, “I won’t have a traditional marriage; I don’t see the value in that anymore. But I am such a hopeless romantic, and I really want love and I want a committed relationship.” Finally, she found it with Aubry. “Gabriel has wanted to be a dad for a long time,” says Bibeau. “He’s got the right woman. They are the perfect match – made in heaven.”
• By Karen S. Schneider. Jen Garcia, Amy Keith and Mary Margaret in Los Angeles and Kelly Carter, Sharon Cotliar and Lesley Messer in New York City