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Her Midlife Miracle

WebMD Feature from "Good Housekeeping" Magazine

By Jamie Diamond

Good Housekeeping Magazine LogoWith A New Husband And Twin Babies On The Way, Marcia Cross Of Desperate Housewives Has Finally Found Happiness At 44. How She Did It.

She doesn't cook, and she isn't well organized She laughs easily and likes hanging out in cargo pants. No one would describe her as high-strung. In fact, Marcia Cross is pretty much the antithesis of Bree Van De Kamp, the fierce, tightly wound perfectionist she plays so convincingly on Desperate Housewives . While Bree finds solace in her carefully polished silver and artfully arranged peonies, "I really have to force myself to tidy up around the house," Cross says with a laugh. "I wish I could do all the things Bree does. But those are not my strong suits."

Here's another difference between the two: At 44, Cross is pregnant with twins, having married money manager Tom Mahoney, 49, last June in a church wedding that included 240 guests, seven flower girls, and a five-foot-high wedding cake layered with roses and lilacs. The babies are due at the end of April, just as Housewives stops shooting for the season.

Cross's pregnancy is not being written into the show—the plotlines were established too far in advance—which means her burgeoning belly has to be hidden from view. She's been wearing more sweaters on camera, though now "we're just shooting chest and above," she says. Adds fellow Housewife Teri Hatcher: "We have a lot of jokes about what to hide Marcia's pregnancy with. A few days ago, we used an entire gingerbread house."

Now that Cross is expecting, her face and figure are fuller: Her breasts, she exclaims, are "ginormous." The extra curves make her look more approachable and vulnerable than the sewing-needle-thin ladies of Wisteria Lane. This afternoon, she's wearing a black cotton scoop-neck shift with an Empire waist as she sits in a health food restaurant near her home in Los Angeles, sipping chai latte. The snooty, stiff way she holds her neck as Bree—as if she's just caught the scent of something decidedly unpleasant—is completely absent. Instead, Cross is an intent and careful listener, and unlike Bree, who wears a smile so fake a diamond couldn't scratch it, she often breaks into peals of hearty laughter. "She does a kind of whoop with her laugh that you can hear all across the soundstage," says Felicity Huffman, who plays the beleaguered Lynette on Housewives . "Bree is a master at hiding how she feels; with Marcia, you know what's going down right away. She wears her heart on her sleeve."

At one time, that was almost literally true. Before she met her husband, Cross says, she was involved with a string of men who had no interest in marriage or family and who broke her heart. Then, three years ago, "I decided to stop picking the wrong men," she says. And yet, she adds, "I'd given up on finding the right one."

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