Gabrielle Union On the Raw Truths of Her Surrogacy Journey
The actress and husband Dwyane Wade welcomed daughter Kaavia James, via surrogate, in November 2018.
Gabrielle Union's surrogacy journey was a long and emotional one, and the decision didn't come easily.
In an excerpt from her second book, You Got Anything Stronger? (Buy It, $22, amazon.com), which was published Friday by Time, Union revealed that it was husband Dwyane Wade who changed her mind about surrogacy, which she initially resisted despite the advice of her doctor. The actress, who went years being misdiagnosed before discovering that she had adenomyosis, admitted in her new book that she didn't feel ready to try surrogacy, and instead endured more cycles of in vitro fertilization (IVF).
"I had been through an adenomyosis diagnosis and more miscarriages than I could confidently count, and all I could was nod," wrote Union, referencing a 2016 exchange with her doctor, who said, "your best chance for a healthy baby would be surrogacy."
ICYDK, Union's condition, adenomyosis, occurs when the endometrial tissue, which usually lines the uterus, grows into the muscular wall of the uterus, according to the Mayo Clinic. The tissue thickens and makes conception and carrying a child to term difficult for those who have it. As Union detailed in her book, she "wanted the experience of being pregnant."
"To watch my body expand and shift to accommodate this miracle inside me. I also wanted the experience of being publicly pregnant," shared Union. "I would shake off the distrust society has for women who, for whatever reason — by choice or by nature — do not have babies. I had paid the cost of that for years, and I wanted something for it."
Union, 48, also reflected on how Wade, 39, had fathered a child with another woman in 2013, a year before their 2014 wedding. "The experience of Dwyane having a baby so easily—while I was unable to—left my soul not just broken into pieces, but shattered into fine dust scattering in the wind," wrote Union.
Union still wanted to carry a baby to term and mulled other options after she and Wade had tied the knot. The actress considered trying the drug Lupron, which is often prescribed for relief of conditions including endometriosis and uterine fibroids. However, the medication wasn't without its own risks. Union's doctor informed her that even with Lupron, she had just a 30 percent chance of carrying a child to term, adding that it "[throws] your body into early menopause and you can break bones very easily."
Wade didn't want to see Union suffer or risk her own life to bring a baby into the world. "You've done enough," said Wade to Union. He later added, "As much as we want this baby, I want you. 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."(Related: Gabrielle Union Reveals That She Faced Backlash After Daughter Kaavia's Birth)
Those words ultimately led Union and Wade to find a surrogate named Natalie, with whom they felt comfortable. Union, however, still struggled with her own feelings of inadequacy throughout the process, as well as grief for the children she'd lost to miscarriages along the way. The actress also revealed how her past pregnancy losses impacted the experience of sharing the news with loved ones.
"It was the end of July, the five-month mark we had never made it to. Dwyane's confidence was something to behold and envy. He was so certain she was going to make it that we told our friends," she wrote. "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—k did I just do?'" (Related: Gabrielle Union Reveals She's Had "Eight or Nine" Miscarriages)
Wade and Union's daughter, Kaavia James, arrived a few weeks early in November 2018. Doctors had performed an emergency C-section because Kaavia's umbilical cord was tied around her ankle. "Now that I am Kaavia James's mother, I know that she tied it herself because she was simply over it," joked Union.
Upon welcoming Kaavia into the world, Union also shared how she still struggled with self-doubt about her own motherhood journey. "I will always wonder if Kaav would love me more if I had carried her. Would our bond be even tighter? I will never know what it would have been like to carry this rockstar inside me," she wrote. "When they say having a child is like having your heart outside your body, that's all I know. We met as strangers, the sound of my voice and my heartbeat foreign to her. It's a pain that has dimmed but remains present in my fears that I was not, and never will be, enough."
Of course, Union, and all mothers — regardless of how they came to become mothers — are more than enough. "If I am telling the fullness of our stories, of our three lives together, I must tell the truths I live with," she reflected. "And I have learned that you can be honest and loving at the same time."