In a new essay for TIME magazine, actress Gabrielle Union talks about her 2018 surrogacy journey.
The 48-year-old previously revealed that she was diagnosed with adenomyosis, which led her to look into other pregnancy options.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, adenomyosis is a condition where the tissue from the uterus lining grows into the uterine wall, thickening the uterus. It can lead to heavy periods, pain during sex and your menstrual cycle, and infertility.
Union shared that in 2016 her doctor Kelly Baek informed her that if she wanted to have a healthy baby, surrogacy would be the best option.
“I was not ready to do that,” she wrote in the essay. “I wanted the experience of being pregnant. To watch my body expand and shift to accommodate this miracle inside me.”
Union soon prepared to take a drug called Lupron which would only give her a 30% chance to bring a baby to term but it also would mean that she would be temporarily “throwing [her] body into early menopause and you can break bones very easily.”
Her husband, Dwyane Wade, ultimately changed her mind, “you’ve done enough,” she remembers him saying.
“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 admitted that she was unsure the surrogacy process at the beginning of her journey, but she became at ease after meeting Natalie, her eventual surrogate.
In March 2018, Natalie shared that she was pregnant and showed her baby bump at the end of her first trimester. This, however, was difficult for Union to see.
“This growing bump that everyone thought I wanted to see was now a visual manifestation of my failure,” L.A.’s Finest star wrote. “I smiled, wanting to show I — we — were so happy and grateful. But part of me felt more worthless.”
But following an intimate ultrasound, Union became extremely emotional.
“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.”
She added, “It was grief. 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.”
After 38 hours of labor and an emergency C-section, Kaavia James was born a few weeks early.
"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."
Concluding her essay, Union reminded readers that it is important to share her story.
“If I am telling the fullness of our stories, of our three lives together, I must tell the truths I live with.
“And I have learned that you can be honest and loving at the same time.”
Read her full essay here.