Gabrielle Union had not given up hope.
Despite years of failed IVF cycles and around nine miscarriages — she confesses she lost count — the “Being Mary Jane” star remained determined to have a baby with her husband, NBA player Dwyane Wade. Sometimes, though, optimism was in short supply.
“On those days where I felt like I was circling the drain emotionally, physically, spiritually, I allowed myself to have a freaking moment,” said Union, 46, who details her battle with infertility in her memoir, “We’re Going to Need More Wine,” released in paperback this month. “If I needed to put on ‘Beaches’ and cry along with Bette Midler, I did that. I allowed myself to be a freaking human.”
In an interview with TODAY Parents, Union said she found encouragement by realizing she wasn’t alone. One in eight couples has trouble getting pregnant or sustaining a pregnancy.
“Fertility issues strike so many people,” Union said. “You do not have to be lurking in the shadows, going to your doctor’s appointment in full disguise. You are not defective. You are part of a very, very, very large community that understands every step you have been through. There is hope.”
Union found hers last fall. Upon learning that she had a form of endometriosis called adenomyosis, which increases the risk of miscarrying, she and her husband decided to explore surrogacy in 2018. And, on Nov. 7 — a year after she first opened up about her experiences with infertility in her best-selling book — a surrogate made it possible for the pair to welcome a daughter, Kaavia James. (Wade, 37, also has sons Zaire, 16, Zion, 11, and Xavier, 5, from previous relationships.)
“I’m so glad I got over myself and my fear of what people would think of me if I did not carry my own child,” Union said. “It’s OK to bring your child into the world in a way that is not through your body. The world will not consider you a failure. Every route to parenthood is perfect, worthwhile and amazing.”
She said Kaavia, who will turn 3 months old in February, is proof of just that.
“She brings us all the joy we could have ever imagined but there’s this extra layer. She is dreams fulfilled,” the proud mom said. “She is the living embodiment of not giving up. I never thought this little girl could represent so much.”
As Kaavia grows, Union and Wade hope their daughter will live her own life with that same sort of resilience.
“I hope she cannonballs into her dreams and causes a big splash,” Union said. “I hope she's not afraid of taking any leap and that she knows she is supported, loved, protected and encouraged. We’re her cheerleaders, here to pass out Gatorade and give her a high five.”
Of course, Kaavia — or #shadybaby, as she’s known on Instagram — will eventually get her hands on a copy of her mom’s candid book.
“As soon as her reading comprehension is on point and she needs to figure out her clitoris from her vagina, I’ll let her read it,” Union said with a laugh. “I have nothing to hide!”