The Jennifer Aniston Baby Watch: A History

Has there ever been a star whose non-existent children were more eagerly anticipated than Jennifer Aniston’s?

Ever since Friends made her a mega-star, fans and critics alike have been following Jen’s love life, her hairstyle, her super-humanly toned body, and — not to be gross — her womb. Aniston’s procreation plans – or lack thereof – have played a starring role in her high-profile Hollywood narrative, as star-watchers waited for her to make a baby with Brad Pitt, slammed her when she didn’t, then pitied her as he became a dad of six with her tabloid-cover nemesis, Angelina Jolie.

Playing a single woman who conceives via sperm donor in the new comedy The Switch has forced Aniston, 41, to talk a lot about the issue of motherhood lately, with her every comment sparking a headline – or in the case of Bill O’Reilly, a declaration that she is “destructive to society” for saying that women don’t “have to settle with a man to have that child.”

In the midst of the renewed chatter about Aniston’s motherly instincts, Celebuzz decided to sort through her longtime baby drama – from her personal comments to the public’s endless fascination with her womb.

1997: At 28, Aniston (still in the pre-Pitt, Friends era of her life) told Cosmopolitan she hoped for three children – and even cried at the very sight of babies! “I love everything about them,” she gushed. “I want to be a young mom too.”

2000: Sporting his-and-hers blonde highlights, Aniston, 31, and Pitt, 36, wed in a $1 million Malibu Barbie and Ken wedding and the Aniston Wombwatch begins in earnest, with People magazine suggesting in their wedding cover story that the couple would start a family “pronto.”

2000-2004: Though the phrase “baby bump” was not prevalent in these times, near-constant tabloid reports falsely break the news of Aniston’s pregnancy.

2004: With Friends coming to a close, the world decides it’s finally time for Aniston to procreate – and she seemed to agree. “It’s exciting,” she gushed to Oprah. “I didn’t want to have children while I was on the show … but this new chapter is perfect.”

December 2004: As rumors pick up speed that Aniston and Pitt are on the rocks, a seemingly misty Pitt gives hope to fans when he tells Diane Sawyer that he’s dreaming of fatherhood. “Kids. Family. I’m thinking family,” he said.  Reporters will later hone in on Pitt’s use of the word “I” – instead of “we” – as evidence that he was alone in his desire to have kids.

January 2005: Pitt and Aniston officially announce their split. America mourns the end of a golden era – and lament the fact that they will never see Brad and Jen’s sure-to-have-been-beautiful offspring. “She doesn’t want kids right now and he wants kids,” an “insider” told The New York Post.  And have them he has!

2005-2006: Aniston dates – but does not mate – with Vince Vaughn, her co-star in The Break-Up.

2008: At 39, Aniston has an on-and-off relationship with notorious “ladies man” John Mayer, who is 9 years her junior. On screen, she plays a mom of two who shelves her career in favor of family in the tearjerking Marley and Me, saying “I want to have children… that’s my plan.” She and Mayer later split and, in a turning of the tables, the tabs blame it on his ambivalence about kids.

March 2010: While promoting The Bounty Hunter, Jen, 41,  faces the usual stream of questions about her motherly future – and responds optimistically, saying: “I hope I’ve reached a point where I’m ready to enjoy being with a great man and having a family together. That’s always been my dream.

May 2010: Still childless, nasty rumors accuse Aniston of eating a diet consisting of baby food. She denies it.

August 2010: America’s heart breaks a little bit for Jenwhen she tells Entertainment Tonight that she wouldn’t make like her The Switch character and opt for single motherhood: “I don’t think for me personally that is something that I want.”

Still, after playing a single mom in the comedy, she announces her support for women who welcome children through sperm donation, saying “women are realizing more and more that you don’t have to settle, they don’t have to fiddle with a man to have that child.” This makes Bill O’Reilly very angry. Jen fires back, pointing out that while the traditional mom-and-dad family is ideal, not all women have “found their Bill O’Reilly.”

The Bottom Line: After more than a decade of statements and speculation, Jen’s baby saga could still end with little Anistons.“You don’t rule anything out because I don’t know what’s going to happen anymore,” she recently told reporters. “I could…meet the man of my dreams or get hit by a bus. Anything is possible.

Here’s hoping she finds her happy ending – whatever it may be.

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