Gabrielle Union believes moms should put themselves first in the name of self-care.
In a season 3 episode of Katie’s Crib — Shondaland’s first podcast in partnership with iHeartRadio that features Katie Lowes and a guest having a raw conversation about the journey of new motherhood — Union opens up about her fertility journey along with the pain she endured and the importance of self-care.
“We’re super conditioned to not center ourselves in our own stories,” says Union, 47, mother to 21-month-old daughter Kaavia James and stepmom to husband Dwyane Wade‘s children, including 13-year-old Zaya.
“Anything less than giving every part of ourselves to other people [and] we’re that selfish b***h, we’re the bad mom, we’re the bad wife, we’re the bad friend when you don’t give every piece of yourself to everyone else whenever they feel like they need it,” she continues.
But Union believes it is more than “okay to center yourself and your needs and advocate for yourself and be the center of your own story and be the best self for yourself, so you can offer — in reasonable doses, and as you see fit — parts of you to other people,” adding, “We say in our family and in our crew, ‘We all we got.’ Start with you first.”
Union also was frank about her fertility journey as well as the struggles she overcame on the road to motherhood.
“Everyone moves through this fertility journey differently,” she tells Lowes. “For so many, there is so much shame about your body betraying you and you just don’t want people to know. But there is this amazing network of women working low key to help you through the process.”
“Once I went through the process and was vocal about it, I’d get at least a few times a week, people wanting help,” Union continued. “I like the idea of paying it forward because it’s hard, and certain parts of it just freakin’ suck.”
“For three years, my body has been a prisoner of trying to get pregnant — I’ve either been about to go into an [in vitro fertilization] cycle, in the middle of an IVF cycle or coming out of an IVF cycle,” Union revealed at the time, while promoting her book We’re Going to Need More Wine.
But despite the pain, Union says she has found inspiration in fellow moms.
“Sometimes it’s … just being in a Target or being at the grocery store and seeing moms of babies and toddlers who are somehow keeping it together, who give you that eye contact and they’re like, ‘You got this girl,’ ” Union told PEOPLE last month. “Sometimes that’s all it is.”
With a background in the creative and educational fields, Amelia Finefrock is freelance writer, singer-songwriter and nanny based in Chicago.