Gabrielle Union is sharing the enduring emotions surrounding her surrogacy journey, which brought her and her husband, former NBA star Dwyane Wade, their daughter Kaavia James, in a new article for Time.
The writing, excerpted from Union’s upcoming book You Got Something Stronger? (to be published Sept. 14), explores the actress’s decision to use a surrogate in 2018 after a diagnosis of adenomyosis (when uterine tissue grows abnormally), unsuccessful IVF cycles, multiple miscarriages, and continuing to process the fact that Wade had a child with another woman before marrying Union in 2013 (the couple was having relationship problems at the time and Wade has referred to disclosing the news to Union as “the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do”). In 2016, when Union’s doctor suggested that the couple turn to surrogacy, she wasn’t initially on board.
“I was not ready to do that,” Union wrote. “I 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. 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 had decided against pursuing surrogacy and instead to continue with IVF, while considering a drug that would help her adenomyosis. However, one sentence from Wade changed her mind: “You’ve done enough.” Their subsequent conversation inspired Union to learn everything she could about surrogacy. “…If there was another way for me to bring my baby into the world, and have my health, why was it so hard for me to make peace with that?” she wrote.
After the couple found a surrogate, Union became anxious before their first meeting. “As I got dressed that morning, I realized this was like the best and worst blind date ever,” she wrote. “I wondered what outfit said, ‘I’m grateful, but I’m also not a loser. And I’m not some actress, you know, farming out her responsibilities.’ This woman and her husband had the power to look at me and say, ‘Ennh…’ I needed her to like me and accept me….”
However, Union and her surrogate — a woman named Natalie — hit it off and she and Wade attended the baby’s first 4D ultrasound. “Two couples crowded into a room built for one, awkward in our affection for each other, yet still feeling like strangers,” she wrote. “This was the first time Dwyane had met Natalie and her husband in person, and our hugs were those of people who did not know each other but had survived something as a unit.”
The day Kaavia was born was scary — Natalie’s labor lasted 38 hours and ended with an emergency C-section due to Kaavia’s umbilical cord wrapping 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.)
Today, Union and Wade are married and co-parenting Wade’s other children Xavier, Zaire, and Zaya, along with Wade’s nephew Dahveon Morris, although Union admits to occasional uncertainty. “So much time has passed. So many firsts. Yet the question lingers in my mind: I will always wonder if Kaav would love me more if I had carried her. Would our bond be even tighter?” she wrote adding, “….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.”