When Oscar-winning actress Halle Berry started dating the much younger model Gabriel Aubry in 2005, she was adamant to all who asked that, after two failed attempts, she was effectively done with marriage. (Of course, she is now engaged to coeval beau, and fellow actor, Olivier Martinez.)

On the issue of children, however, the beautiful X-men star was a lot more optimistic, signaling in so many words that after conquering Hollywood, and reaching her 4th decade of life, motherhood was another milestone she was ready to conquer in the very near future.

Pressed on occasion to reconcile her embargo on marriage with her plans for motherhood, Ms. Berry would dispense with the usual 21st century, feminist defense of single parenthood and the modern family: She didn‘t need to be married to give a child a loving home (plus she‘s paid, if you didn‘t know). Fair enough.

And then, after some two years of courtship, the impossibly gorgeous pair became pregnant.

However, it seemed as though no sooner than their cute-as-a-button daughter, Nahla, was walking on her own, the couple was calling it quits; insisting that the separation was amicable.

Oh, how quickly things change. Now the former twosome are embroiled in one of Hollywood’s nastiest custody battles; with accusations and rumors of physical battery (towards a former nanny) and racial epithets being hurled (from one side, allegedly).

But of course, it’s unfair to make any judgments without all the facts.

Yet, it is hard not to ponder–aloud no less–if Ms. Berry had known all along that her relationship with her child’s father was a fleeting one; making him in essence a glorified sperm donor? (Remember what offset this whole ugly battle is Mr. Aubry’s attempts to legally have his name added to Nahla’s birth certificate.)

Actually, why didn’t Ms. Berry just visit a sperm bank? (You’d think that the Virgin Mary and time would’ve eased any and all stigmas regarding artificial insemination.) Or take the route Grammy-winning singer Melissa Etheridge and her partner took: turn to a close male friend with no parental rights interest (in their case, legendary rocker David Crosby)?

Yes, I’m assuming a lot of variables here. Like the Monster’s Ball star planned her pregnancy; was indifferent about her future child having a relationship with its father; or that little Nahla was not conceived in a loving (lustful?) relationship.

And as Sex and the City’s Carrie Bradshaw duly noted while ironically being wined-and-dined by her much older beau, the artist, Aleksandr Petrovsky, there is most certainly a difference between a (mere) “boyfriend” and a “lover.”

From the outside looking in, Mr. Aubry seems to have been the latter. So is the lesson for single women whose biological clocks rival Big Ben to not get knocked-up by a lover? Maybe.

But, another superstar mommy with raging maternal ambition (over marital ones) long before Ms. Berry‘s, demonstrates that is possible to co-parent with a former lover. Like Ms. Berry, Madonna–to the collective gasp of many–telegraphed her yearning to undertake motherhood before her first child, Lourdes, was born.

A man-eater for the ages, back then no one expected the Material Girl to get hitched again anytime soon, even to then-prey/lover/boyfriend, Cuban-born trainer, Carlos Leon. Again, like Ms. Berry, Madonna and Mr. Leon broke up before their daughter even reached pre-school age. Another not-so-anonymous sperm donor turned anonymous? Not quite. While it seems like Madonna dismissed him once her baby needs were met, Mr. Leon has actually been involved in his daughter’s life, even during Madonna’s second marriage to filmmaker Guy Ritchie. No roguish behavior there. Say what you will of Madonna, she sure has quite a knack for neutralizing her men: Mr. Ritchie never requested spousal support or a divorce settlement (ahem, Kevin Federline).

The most interesting thing, however, is that after both Madonna and Halle Berry quieted their biological clocks, they ended up regaining their marital drive.

While the ideal path to motherhood is to meet cute with the man of your dreams and get married, if a single woman has determined that motherhood is now or never, adoption aside, what are her best options to achieving that goal?

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