Becoming a mom can be a tough transition for even the most adaptable women, just ask Gabrielle Union, who became a mother to baby girl Kaavia James via surrogate in January after years of battling infertility, failed IVF treatments, and suffering more than 9 miscarriages.
In a recent interview with Glamour, the actress revealed that although she thought the newborn stage would be "different" for her, but she later learned that she was sadly mistaken. The Being Mary Jane star explained that being a new mom is a strange mix of anxiety, guilt, and exhaustion that she just hasn't quite adjusted to yet. Gabrielle shared:
"She's like, 'Fuck your sleep. Fuck my sleep.' I've gotten to the point where I'm OK with her crying. I've just gotten used to it. You know, on the airplane they're like, 'You've got to put your mask on first.' But the guilt of feeling like there's nothing else I can think to do. I don't even know if I'm feeling guilt or fear or exhaustion. I don't know. I feel nuts."
She explained that being a public figure hasn't made her journey as a new mom any easier, but she eventually had to learn to ignore her critics and focus on the people who support her.
"Part of the journey is being OK with how others—specifically moms—are viewing you, judging you, praising you. You feel raw and exposed and vulnerable."
In the past, the artist has been transparent about her healing from her traumas and the power that comes with being vulnerable enough to seek help. In the interview, the actress explained that on her book tour for We're Going To Need More Wine, she had to Skype with her therapist daily to keep herself sane. Upon sharing her experience of being raped while working at a Payless in her youth, she was met with a multitude of other women seeking to share their experience. Although she was overwhelmed by the support, she also felt flooded in sadness.
"It just felt like a never-ending loop of evil and horrific pain and trauma. You've created this safe space, which is awesome, but it's almost like you're just… I'd start the day off like an empty pitcher. And little by little, eventually my pitcher runneth over. At a certain point, I don't know what's mine and what's yours and other people's. It all just feels like you're drowning in plain sight and everyone's looking for me to save other people."
In an interview with Shine, the 46-year-old entertainer shared that she wouldn't be the woman that she is today without seeking professional help. Gabrielle explained:
"I'm a big advocate for working on yourself and your mental health. There is no shame in reaching out to professionals who can help you process tough things that you can't work out on your own. It took me years to get to this point, where I felt like my stories had worth and mattered. Taking the time to work on myself is what got me here."
Despite the late nights and incessant crying, Gabrielle says baby Kaavia has been the beautiful source of light that she never knew she needed. After being diagnosed with adenomyosis, a condition that increases a woman's likelihood of miscarrying, in her 20's, Gabrielle crafted a clever lie to herself and declared that she never wanted children. While she knew it wasn't true, she remained in denial for years to protect herself from the fact that it may never happen, whether she wanted it to or not. She said:
"I wanted to create a big enough cushion emotionally, defensively."
It wasn't until after being marrying her current husband, NBA star, Dwyane Wade, and finally finding the courage to walk in her own truth that she decided to seek out alternative options; but when it came time to find out more information, Gabrielle hit a roadblock.
"Nobody was really open when I had questions. The only reason I heard about certain doctors or treatments or new technologies or new procedures—whether that be diet or Eastern philosophy—was through a whisper network, and mainly from women who did not look like me or who had a very different journey through life than I did."
Although these procedures are somewhat taboo in the black community, Gabrielle knew it was important to be vocal about her experience. Motherhood looks a lot different than it did 20 years ago. Thanks to modern technology, women have the opportunity to truly do life on their own terms, especially when it comes to becoming a mother, and Gabrielle wanted to show other women what that looks like.
"So much of the Instagram life is creating these perfect illusions, right? People have kids—even through surrogacy or IVF or whatever—and the kids just appear. Rarely do we hear how. What was the journey? Without understanding what got to baby, it feels like easy and overnight. And that's not the case."
Thanks, Gabrielle, for sharing your journey and empowering us all to do motherhood our own way!
Check out Gabrielle's full interview with Glamour here!
Featured image by Thomas Whiteside.