Gabrielle Union: The idea of surrogacy ‘felt like surrendering to failure’

Gabrielle Union covers the March issue of Women’s Health, wearing her own New York and Co. clothng. Her interview mostly deals with her life as a new mother to daughter Kaavia James, three months. After suffering multiple miscarriages, Gabrielle discovered she suffered from adenomyosis, which may be why she is unable to carry a baby full term. After the diagnosis, Gabrielle and husband Dwayne Wade, decided to have their baby via surrogate. If you glance at Gabrielle’s Instagram, you will see that she is a thrilled and doting mother to her little girl. But, as the WH article points out, it took Gabrielle some time to come to terms with not having the baby herself.

Last summer, (Gabrielle) revealed she’d been diagnosed— after years of searching for answers about her body—with adenomyosis, a condition that can cause intense periods and an enlarged uterus. It could be the reason she was unable to carry to term. “There’s nothing more that I wanted than to cook my own baby,” says the 46-year-old, who helps raise Wade’s nephew and two sons from a previous marriage. But once she was down to three embryos, surrogacy seemed like the best option.

“The idea of it felt like surrendering to failure,” Gabrielle says, when speaking about welcoming a surrogate into their lives. Yet she pushed past those emotions and shifted to focusing on finding the right woman to carry her baby. “Some people care about the race, religion, or food habits of their surrogate. I was like, ‘I want a reader.’” When Gabrielle met a potential surrogate who shared her love of books, she knew she’d found the one. “She said, ‘I love the smell of the pages,’” remembers Gabrielle. It was the sign she needed.

Imagining the public’s reaction was a tough hurdle too. “People want to see the bump, hear that you got hemorrhoids—they want to know you’re like them. I was like, ‘This is going to seem like the most Hollywood sh*t ever. Will I be embraced as a mom?’ It’s terrifying.” But when her baby finally arrived, those feelings were replaced by ones of fierce love, loyalty, and a serious sense of protectiveness. “I was like, ‘Oh my god, this is my baby,’” she recalls. “I wanted to fight everybody in that room for various reasons and no reason.”

Approachable is exactly the kind of parent she hopes to be for her daughter. “I want to let her be free,” says Gabrielle, who wrestled with identity issues after moving, at a young age, from a mostly black neighborhood in Nebraska to a primarily white one in Pleasanton, California. “I want to instill in her morals, values. And then I want to give her space to fill in those gaps, fall on her ass, and make mistakes. Get an F because she didn’t study. Pick the wrong dude. Pick the wrong friends and figure it out. I don’t want to be super judge-y.”

[From Women’s Health]

The idea that surrogacy was a form of failure to Gabrielle makes me really sad. In no way do I fault her for feeling like this, though. I know so many women who’ve viewed very natural biological occurrences as a failure on their part. I’ve mentioned that that is exactly how I felt when I miscarried, that I’d failed. There are support groups for women who needed C-sections to deliver their babies to deal with the guilt of not being able to have a vaginal birth. And I know for a fact that my friends who tried everything to breastfeed were harder on themselves than anyone else. I’m glad Gabrielle has come through the other side of those feelings.

Because it’s Women’s Health, the article spends a big chunk of space on Gabrielle’s workouts and diets. Gabrielle discussed recouping her body after IVF treatments. She said her skin and hair were both impacted by the hormones and the intense bloating was very uncomfortable. At one point she said, “at 9 a.m. I had a flat stomach. By noon I looked like I was five months pregnant.” Good for Gabrielle for talking about this, I had no idea what IVF treatments did to the body. I think I’ll call my friend currently going through them to see if she needs a shoulder to cry on.

Photo credit: Instagram and WENN Photos

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11 Responses to “Gabrielle Union: The idea of surrogacy ‘felt like surrendering to failure’”

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  1. Becks1 says:

    I am sorry she went through all that to have a child, but I’m glad that she is speaking out about it. Infertility is often “taboo” as a topic or considered “personal” and people don’t discuss it.

    My brother and SIL used IVF to have their two children, and my SIL is very open about it, the whole process, everything. She likes to talk about it and to tell people about it because she wants to remove any stigma from it. (I don’t think people stigmatize IVF per se, but I think that infertility in general is often hushed up and not discussed, especially among older generations.) My mom acted like the fact that they did IVF was some sort of state secret, until I finally said (in front of SIL) – “mom, SIL doesn’t care if you mention it” and SIL was like “please, talk about it, its harder when you think you are the only one.”

    Not everyone needs to share their struggles, and I’m not saying that everyone with IF has to shout about it, but to the extent that hearing about it from someone like Gabrielle Union can help you – then good for her for speaking out.

  2. minx says:

    That baby, what a face! Adorably grumpy.

    • jessamine says:

      Apparently Gabrielle has a IG hashtag for her daughter #shadybaby to post/caption hilariously judgy and grumpy shots of Kaavia.

  3. TheBees says:

    I’m so happy for them! Enjoy it Gabby, they grow up so fast. My baby ( out of three) will be eight in a few days and I can’t take it. 🥺

  4. Reese. says:

    Inspiring how she shared her story. Such a lovely little one.

  5. Kimmy says:

    I’m so happy for her. You can tell how absolutely smitten she is with her daughter and with being a mom.

  6. Tiffany says:

    Gabrielle really has a way with words. She knows how to share without making it feel like TMI. Maybe it is because she really is matter of fact about it.

    On a superficial note, The Wades are one good looking family.

  7. Lulu says:

    I know that this will be an unpopular opinion, but commercial surrogacy is seriously disturbing to me. I’m really sad for all the many women like Gabrielle who suffer through infertility and I hope she has a lot of joy and love with her new baby. But this method of getting a child raises so many issues.

    I know that there are many women who really want to help other people become parents and view it as an act of love. But like, we wouldn’t find it acceptable for someone to sell their kidney, although there are many donors who view it as a great gift to someone else. Pregnancy can cause permenant changes to the body and even risk the mother’s life, but it’s somehow not viewed in the same way. That’s not mentioning how the surrogate gets all the hormones of pregnancy, and can form their own bond with the child – but they may never see it again after birth unless at the new parents discretion. Plus, there is no getting around the inherent commodification of women’s bodies in this – it’s nice that Gabrielle had that moment of connection about the books, but at the end of the day, they’re still essentially picking women out of a catalogue according to their preferred criteria like they’re shopping.

    As I said, I know that this isn’t a popular opinion. But the BBC had an article today following up the Cambodia surrogates who had to raise the children they birthed after the practice was declared illegal. And it really struck me about the usage of these women and how many had bonded with the children despite not being biologically related to them. I know that some surrogates can hand off the baby without any regrets or desire to see them again, but it’s clear that that isn’t always – or even often – the case. I would urge everyone to read that story. It certainly made me think hard on the topic – and I’ve got to say, it made it difficult for me to feel warmly about this whole situation, though I think it was very brave of Gabrielle to talk about her struggles.

    • Hikaru says:

      Rich and privileged women always claim the things they would never do themselves are good for women.

      No rich and privileged woman would volunteer to be reduced to an incubator but other women ought to if the privileged rich woman wants a child.

      When rich and privileged women are forced to exchange sex for career benefits it’s called abuse and inherently misogynistic, but when poor women have to sell their bodies so they can survive it’s called feminist and empowering.

      Some women are drinking deep from the class privilege cool aid and forgetting theirs is not the reality the rest of us live.

  8. Kate says:

    “I wanted to fight everybody in that room for various reasons and no reason.”

    This made me smile, laugh and tear up. Love her