Jordana Brewster remembers feeling like she didn’t need to take time off after the birth of her first child in 2013 because she was using a surrogate.
“One of my closest friends said, ‘You should take maternity leave,’ and I was like, ‘I’m not able to carry my baby so why should I get that? I should go straight to work,’” Brewster told TODAY Parents. “I was punishing myself for something I couldn’t help.”
The “Fast & Furious” actor and her former husband, producer Andrew Form, went through several rounds of failed IVF before growing their family through surrogacy.
“It’s this wonderful, beautiful, amazing thing, but I struggled,” Brewster revealed. “I felt ashamed.”
Brewster worried that people were judging her — and it's understandable. The stigma surrounding surrogacy is pervasive.
“I think a lot of people assumed that because I was young and an actress that I was using a surrogate to avoid gaining weight,” she explained.
After Julian, who is now 7, was born, Brewster joined a moms group in Los Angeles. She recalled feeling the need to defend her choice even though no one ever questioned it.
“I’d make this big deal out of announcing that I couldn’t carry, so that's why Julian was born to a gestational surrogate,” Brewster said. “No one ever asked for the information. I would just offer it."
But Brewster no longer feels shame — or the need to justify her choice.
"I let go of the baggage. I let go of the noise in my head," she said. "I've done so much work to create this beautiful life and I'm going to enjoy it."
The “Dallas” alum, who welcomed her second child, Rowan, 4, via a surrogate in 2016, is now helping to destigmatize talking about surrogacy and fertility issues. Recently, she teamed up with Clearblue for the company’s #Conceivinghood campaign, which was created to spark honest conversations about the difficulties 7.5 million women in the United States face when trying to conceive.
“When I started trying to get pregnant about a decade ago, women didn’t really talk about fertility — there wasn’t as much community around it. My friends were getting pregnant really easily and I expected the same thing to happen to me, but it didn’t and I felt like something was wrong with me,” Brewster said. “That’s why I love the [Clearblue] initiative. It’s comforting when you see other people are going through it too.”
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