A thoroughly modern mom-to-be, Elizabeth Hurley kept pals up-to-date on her pregnancy by entering text messages into her cell phone. Meanwhile, little Damian Charles was tapping out communiqués of his own. On April 3 "Liz sent a message saying the baby was kicking a lot," says a friend of the actress's. "She said, 'It's got to be a footballer, it's kicking furiously.' "

Translation: I want out! At 12:22 p.m. on April 4, Hurley, 36, gave birth at London's Portland Hospital for "Women and Children. "Mother and baby are happy and healthy," Hurley's spokeswoman announced. According to friends, Hurley's C-section delivery, which she had scheduled in advance, was both swift (one hour) and tidy (the incision was made just below the model-mom's bikini line). The first-time mother had plenty of support. Her older sister Kate, a screenwriters' agent, stayed at her bedside throughout the birth and her mother, Angela, and younger brother Michael paid visits. "I have never seen her look happier or more radiant," says writer William Cash, who dropped in before Hurley left the hospital April 9. "The baby looks beautiful and the suite she is in is overloaded with more flowers than a hothouse."

Hurley had slipped into the hospital unnoticed, eluding not only photographers but an alleged stalker who was arrested by London police April 4, after he spent several days outside Hurley's Chelsea townhouse. Belgrade-born Petar Mihajlovic, 32, who had left notes in Hurley's mail slot and received a written warning from police in December, was charged with-harassment and denied bail. "Elizabeth has had a real grim time of it recently," says a pal.

Another troublesome problem, however, remains to be tackled: the issue of Damian's paternity. When Hurley announced her pregnancy in November, she named her ex-flame Stephen Bing, 37, an L.A.-based movie producer and heir to a real estate fortune, as the baby's father. But Bing's chilly response—a statement claiming he and Hurley "were not in an exclusive relationship when she became pregnant"—touched off outraged denials from Hurley.

Even now the couple's proxies are locked in a he-says, she-says dispute. "Steve does not think the child is his," says Anthony Pellicano, an L.A. private investigator and friend of Bing's who has advised him about the matter. Retorts a friend of Hurley's: "Bing is going to be in for one hell of a shock. She is 100 percent sure." Bing wants to settle the issue with a DNA test; a Hurley pal says she will have Damian tested as soon as possible. "Steve will do the right thing," says Pellicano. "If this is his child, then he will pay. If it isn't, he won't." Hurley's friend Sean Borg says she is ready for the showdown: "This whole situation has sent her to hell and back. Bing has tried to make a mockery out of her."

She has a close circle of friends to lean on—including Hugh Grant, who has remained Hurley's best buddy since the two called off their 13-year relationship in 2000. "I try to be supportive and muck in like all her friends," Grant, 41, told Britain's Empire magazine this month. He added, though, that he had no plans to "be a surrogate father." Grant was filming the comedy Two Weeks Notice in New York City when Hurley gave birth but was expected to be in London on April 14 for the premiere of his movie About a Boy.

Hurley—who had about $7,500 worth of baby gear, including a $810 Bébé Confort stroller, a $400 handmade gingham-lined basket and a $340 leather and sheepskin baby sling delivered from London's chic Babylist emporium in March—plans to be a working mom. But with three movies due this year (including the comedy Serving Sara in August), she's looking forward to a break. As an actress and a model, "You end up dwelling on yourself quite a bit," she told Today in December. "I really can't wait for the emphasis to go away from me. I'm looking forward to everyone concentrating on someone else for a bit."

Samantha Miller
Pete Norman in London and Alison Singh Gee in Los Angeles

  • Contributors:
  • Pete Norman,
  • Alison Singh Gee.