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    Did Katie Holmes fake her pregnancy?

    Is it true that Katie Holmes was padding her stomach? Does this all seem like a stunt to have a delivery closer to the release of Mission: Impossible III, or is it just me? Is this baby a fake?

    By: P.P., Austin, Texas

    A.B. Replies: Let's put it this way: Unless Vanity Fair parachutes into this mystery with a crack team of investigative journalists, an elite squadron of First Amendment lawyers and a bulletproof briefcase with at least $300 million for court costs, no one in our generation--no one outside of Team Tom, that is--will ever know.

    Maybe we'll get some startling revelation about this child after Cruise's death, but don't bank on it. After all, there is a freshly born young person involved. If this Suri person grows up to discover any sort of hinkiness surrounding her own conception, she isn't likely to share it with the world.

    Here's what we can say: There are plenty of people who doubt Katie Holmes was ever pregnant, or pregnant by Cruise, or pregnant during the time she says she was, or for as long as she appeared to be--even among mainstream Hollywood reporters who've trumpeted this suspicious romance for the past year. Would any of those blue-chip professionals go on the record? Of course not. They have Jettas to pay off.

    "Nobody puts anything past this guy," one entertainment editor tells me. "Just look at his wacky behavior."

    Do I have to? Again?

    Doubt over the realness of Holmes' pregnancy is largely the result of TomKat's own baffling origins. Recall: Before they could be discovered by the paparazzi--standing around on an African beach, say--TomKat publicly announced they were an item, and hey, what do you know? Just in time to promote their two big blockbusters! Most stars, even desperate, stringy publicity whores like Kimberly Stewart, don't roll like that.

    "There are just so many things about the entire relationship that don't sit right," Mark Lisanti, editor of the very skeptical Defamer blog, tells this B!tch. "They have bungled this relationship from a PR standpoint so badly that everything since has been put in this harsh light of analysis."

    How harsh? I almost, at one point, for, like, a nanosecond, feel sorry for Cruise. That's how harsh. The Internet has produced hordes of conspiracy theories surrounding the origins of Suri, many of them promising to be much more entertaining than M:I3. Much of this speculation is easily trumped by inconveniences like logic. But that's not stopping me from fueling the rumors all over again. Behold...

    ? A timeline of Holmes' pregnancy photos seems to show her stomach growing and shrinking--and then growing again. It's a mesmerizing set of photos. Like a lava lamp with a brainwashed little girl inside.

    ? Two weeks after announcing her pregnancy, Holmes appears in public with a shirt barely concealing a popped-out belly button--a development commonly linked to the second or third trimester. Or, of course, with just having an outie.

    ? On the day Holmes goes into labor, none of the dozens of paparazzi stationed outside TomKat's home manage to catch the pair leaving the house, entering a nearby hospital or crawling back into the compound.

    ? Baby gifts at the Cruise camp aren't exactly being welcomed with élan. A Baby Jogger baby stroller, delivered by a publicity firm the day of the birth, sits outside Cruise's house for three days before finally disappearing. To this day, the publicity firm hasn't been able to determine what happened to it.

    ? Holmes' wardrobe and behavior in the days leading up to the birth also spark doubt among observers, particularly those who have had kids.

    "Our community kept a keen eye on the odd undergarments peeking out from the maternity wear, and [Holmes'] inordinate amount of shoe shopping," notes Sheila Cameron, head of FreeKatie.net. Neither trend, it seems, makes sense. "Your feet swell like crazy when you are that pregnant," she confides in this B!tch, "and not one mother could figure out why you would find a one-piece undergarment comfortable."

    Besides, Cameron adds, "I would have thumped my husband over the head if he suggested I sit on bleachers in my third trimester."

    To be fair, many of these mysteries can be explained away by the killjoy that is modern science. This B!tch reached out to scads of obstetricians and gynecologists for this column, and they all say the pregnancy photos and the belly-button thing don't mean anything.

    "Babies do move a lot in utero," says New Haven, Connecticut-based ob-gyn Mary Jane Minkin. "So, these photos aren't really surprising. Babies can even do a full somersault several times a day."

    In fact, we hear some even have couches they can jump on in there. Maybe this is Tom's kid after all!

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