Gabrielle Union opened up about the challenges she faced during her 2018 surrogacy journey in a new essay for Time magazine.
Union, 48, who previously revealed her diagnosis with adenomyosis, spoke about her multiple miscarriages over the years — which led her to surrogacy.
Union recalled being informed by her doctor Kelly Baek back in 2016 how her best chance of having a healthy baby of her own would be through surrogacy.
“I was not ready to do that,” she wrote in the piece. “I wanted the experience of being pregnant. To watch my body expand and shift to accommodate this miracle inside me.”
Over a year later, Union was prepared to take a drug called Lupron, which would give her a 30% chance of bringing a baby to term. It also meant “throwing your body into early menopause and you can break bones very easily,” she wrote.
In the end, husband Dwyane Wade changed her mind with one phrase: “You’ve done enough.”
At first, Union was not happy with Wade’s response but he didn’t give up.
“As much as we want this baby, I want you,” she recalled him saying. “We’ve lost too much in our relationship for me to be okay with encouraging you to do one more thing to your body and your soul.”
Union revealed how she was wary of the process at the beginning of her surrogacy journey. But after meeting the surrogate, many of her fears dissipated. Especially when she found out her surrogate was a big fan of hers.
“This is such a trip. I have your book on hold at four different libraries,” the actress recalled her surrogate, Natalie, telling her before they hugged. “So, I guess now I can get a copy, huh?” she added jokingly.
And in March of 2018 — Natalie returned a positive pregnancy test. She showed off her baby bump to Union during a doctor’s appointment at the end of her first trimester, but it was not easy for Union.
“This growing bump that everyone thought I wanted to see was now a visual manifestation of my failure,” Union wrote. “I smiled, wanting to show I — we — were so happy and grateful. But part of me felt more worthless.”
And when Union saw the fetus on an ultrasound, she was overcome with emotion. “It was suddenly incredibly real,” she explained. “Dwyane took my hand, and there was so much happiness on his face, I lost it. My cry was a choke stopped up in my throat, tears streaming down.”
“It was grief,” she continued. “I’d had so many miscarriages … looking at the screen, I understood how many potential babies I had lost. That’s why I was crying.”
Five months in, the couple revealed to friends that they were expecting during a business trip in Beijing. Wade was so excited that he revealed his plan to get their daughter’s name, Kaavia James, tattooed on his shoulder that night.
“Dwyane’s confidence was something to behold and envy. He was so certain she was going to make it that we told our friends. After my first miscarriage, I had never ever told people when we were expecting. Even this felt dangerous. The words were out of my mouth to my friends and I thought, ‘What the f— did I just do?'”
Kaavia James came a few weeks early and took a total of 38 hours of labor before she was born. Doctors were forced to perform an emergency C-section after discovering the umbilical cord was tied around the baby’s ankle.
Union was overwhelmed, to say the least. “She was loved even as an idea. My body seized in a full release of every emotion,” she wrote.
“Relief, anxiety, terror, joy, resentment, disbelief, gratitude … and also, disconnection. I had hoped that the second I saw her, there would be a moment of locking in. I looked over at Natalie and her husband. There was a stillness to them. I looked at Kaavia James on the table, and then back at them. It took all of us to create her, so I wanted to share this time with them.”
“If I am telling the fullness of our stories, of our three lives together, I must tell the truths I live with,” she concluded. “And I have learned that you can be honest and loving at the same time.”
With a background in the creative and educational fields, Amelia Finefrock is freelance writer, singer-songwriter and nanny based in Chicago.
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