Gabrielle Union has been very open about not only her struggles to get pregnant, including the fact that she suffered eight miscarriages along the way, she told us ultimately that she and husband Dwyane Wade opted to have a surrogate carry their child.
Typically, when people us a surrogate, celebrities especially, that identity of the person is kept top secret, for both the health and protect of the unborn child and the woman as well. And while Union is not telling us who carried her child, in a recent interview with Shondaland, she opened up about the process of choosing their gestational carrier and a sign that let her know she was the right woman to usher their daughter into the world.
“I’m trying to be as transparent as possible,” she says, “so more women have a better understanding of their bodies and periods and fertility options, and what those options look like.”
At 40 years old and after several miscarriages, Union learned that she had a condition called adenomyosis a condition which causes, among other things, a low ovarian reserve. The adenomyosis prevents fetuses from growing healthily.
For a long time, Union fought off the idea of having a surrogate and was willing to risk her health in order to carry her own baby.
“There’s a drug called Lupron, which basically quiets the adenomyosis. The goal would be — you do it, then you implant your embryo and hope it grows faster than the adenomyosis grows back. There’s only a 30 percent chance, but the side effects of Lupron are intense: You can break bones very easily. For someone with my active lifestyle, taking that kind of health risk for a 30 percent chance after so much loss…[At first] I was willing to take the chance. But I started thinking a little deeper and got to the root of, “Why am I so willing to risk my health for a chance?” If there’s another way to bring my baby into the world that allows me to also be healthy, why not? I had such fear of judgment, of not being thought of as a “real” mom or as relatable — “Oh she’s a Hollywood type. They farm everything out.” Over time, and with therapy and communication with my husband, I made peace with getting over my fear. But that was a tough one to let go of.
A lot of Hollywood people will make an announcement, like, “Our baby arrived via gestational carrier,” but very few are transparent about the whole process. There’s a fertility grassroots underground community: Once you put it out there within your social circle, they’ll find you. That’s how you get your information: doctors, acupuncturists, different therapies. Once this group of people takes you into their arms, you’re like, “Oh, OK! There’s so many of you!”
Then Union spoke about meeting and bonding with her surrogate and the requirements she and Dwyane had for her.
“Every surrogacy journey is wildly different. Some people talk to their surrogate every day, some don’t at all. I don’t want anyone to think our way is the one, “right” way. We were on a group chat — me, my husband, her, her husband — and we talked about so much, whether it’s TV shows we’re binge-watching, books we’re reading, updates on what’s happening between our appointments. Because our embryo was high risk, even though our surrogate was younger, there were a lot more doctor’s appointments than other pregnancies. We were together quite a lot. We still communicate to this day.
Race wasn’t an issue for me, but for others, if you have a same-race surrogate, there’s a fear of someone running off with your baby. People have all kinds of fears and things that they want. Some want [the surrogate to follow a] a specific religion; or to allow TV, or no TV; or they send audio files for the surrogate to play your voice so it can be heard along with the household voices. For us, we wanted: She has her own kids, a husband, she’s done this before, she knew what she was doing. There was no need for us to micromanage.
[At first], she didn’t know that it was us, although I knew all about her. So when we met, she walked in and was like, “Oh!” I didn’t know what that meant, and she was like, “I have your book on hold at four different libraries.” [laughs] I said, “I think I can get you a copy!” I’d been doing a lot of library appearances with the book, and I love librarians, and here’s this woman who also frequents her local library. In that first meeting, we talked about the books we love, the stacks of books we want to get through. Little Fires Everywhere, so many more. That, for me, was the sign.”
You can read the rest of Gabrielle’s interview, here.