‘I can never know if my failure to carry a child put a ceiling on the love my husband has for me’
In an essay for Time, the author recalls being told by her doctor that her best chance of having a healthy baby of her own would involve surrogacy. This was not her plan for parenthood, however.
“I was not ready to do that,” she writes.
“I wanted the experience of being pregnant. To watch my body expand and shift to accommodate this miracle inside me.”
Union, who is also stepmother to husband Dwayne Wade’s three children, contemplated taking a drug called Lupron which gave her a 30 per cent chance of bringing a baby to term. Doing so came with risks: “You’re basically throwing your body into early menopause and you can break bones very easily,” she writes.
Wade was reluctant to let his wife go ahead with this, however.
“As much as we want this baby, I want you,” she recalled him saying. “We’ve lost too much in our relationship for me to be okay with encouraging you to do one more thing to your body and your soul.”
Despite her reservations, Union went ahead with a surrogate named Natalie.
A positive pregnancy test for Natalie proved to be a testing time for Union, however.
“This growing bump that everyone thought I wanted to see was now a visual manifestation of my failure,” she writes.
“I smiled, wanting to show I — we — were so happy and grateful. But part of me felt more worthless.”
And when she and Wade attended an ultrasound, she described being overcome with emotion.
“It was suddenly incredibly real,” she explained. “Dwyane took my hand, and there was so much happiness on his face, I lost it. My cry was a choke stopped up in my throat, tears streaming down.”
She added: “It was grief. I’d had so many miscarriages… looking at the screen, I understood how many potential babies I had lost. That’s why I was crying.”
Kaavia James was born on 7 November 2018, but Union admits that she continued to struggle with her feelings around motherhood.
“I will always wonder if Kaav would love me more if I had carried her. Would our bond be even tighter? I will never know what it would have been like to carry this rockstar inside me,” she admits.
“I can never know if my failure to carry a child put a ceiling on the love my husband has for me.”
Surrogacy laws in the UK are currently under review by the Law Commission of England and Wales, with further developments expected in early 2022.
Writing for The Independent, lawyer Karen Holden said such changes are long overdue to make the process more accessible, describing current arrangements as “complicated, with much room for improvement”.