Our culture tends to enforce a certain order. Once a couple goes through the dating process, people expect them to marry. After marriage, as the saying goes, comes the baby in the baby carriage. Though times have changed and these cultural restrictions have become less rigid, children are still usually an expectation for couples and curiosity leads to the inevitable, presumptuous question, “So, when are you having kids?”
From the outside, actress Gabrielle Union appears to have followed the typical order, marrying NBA star Dwayne Wade three years ago and leading to that same baby question. She’s now opening up about her battle with infertility and her struggles with having children, a fight that’s led to some heartbreak. It’s a trial that millions of women face and now Union is speaking out in solidarity.
“I have had eight or nine miscarriages,” Union told People in an excerpt from her upcoming memoir. “For three years, my body has been a prisoner of trying to get pregnant—I’ve either been about to go into an IVF cycle, in the middle of an IVF cycle, or coming out of an IVF cycle.”
Though many assume that the treatment is foolproof, it’s not as easy as it seems. IVF comes with some tough side effects, pains that Union has gotten to know very well and details candidly in her new book, We’re Going To Need More Wine.
“Once a month I look like I’m in my second trimester because I’m bloated,” Union said. “It leads to the questions and it leads to the rumors and anytime I go into a doctor’s office I feel like I’m a member of SEAL Team Six undercover because I don’t want people to speculate.”
The process isn’t one she’d ever considered. In fact, Union wasn’t always sure that she’d even want kids.
“I never wanted kids,” she said. “Then I became a stepmom, and there was no place I’d rather be than with them.”
Of course, becoming a stepmom and following that order was met with assumptions of extending her family.
“For so many women, and not just women in the spotlight, people feel very entitled to know, ‘Do you want kids?'” Union wrote. “A lot of people, especially people that have fertility issues, just say ‘no’ because that’s a lot easier than being honest about whatever is actually going on. People mean so well, but they have no idea the harm or frustration it can cause.”
Her family is beautiful. If you haven’t watched their wedding video, 10/10 would recommend. Union and Wade are a beautiful couple and their bond is evident.
We hope that her family will continue to grow in whichever way or order she sees fit. And we hope that even those who mean well will allow couples to create and announce their own plans, free of assumptions and expectations.
Gabrielle Union’s book will be available in stores October 17.