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Gabrielle Strikes Gold

HER LATEST ROLE DOESN'T COME WITH A READY-MADE SCRIPT OR HANDY STAGE DIRECTIONS. AS A NEW MOM, GABRIELLE UNION IS WRITING HER STORY AS SHE GOES - AND LEARNING WHAT IT MEANS TO RAISE A STRONG DAUGHTER. (HINT: LEAVE THE JUDGEMENTS AT THE DOOR...)

Jessica Herndon

She welcomed her first child just eight days ago, but Gabrielle Union shows no sign of sleep deprivation. Easy-going in jeans, a red plaid shirt and a pair of sneakers, Gabrielle looks fresh and flawless as she arrives at one of her go-to local haunts, a beer tavern near the California home she shares with her husband, Miami Heat basketball star Dwyane Wade.

She comes in for a hug before sliding into the corner booth and though she’s quick to admit she got a bit more rest than usual last night, the actress-producer – who stars alongside Jessica Alba in the new television series L.A.’s Finest (a Bad Boys spin-off) – says her new normal is “like that second day in Vegas where you’re all, ‘I’m not sleeping Saturday away. I’m going to day-party and rally!’ But your body is like, ‘Are you crazy?’ You’re exhausted and you kind of start to feel a little ill because you haven’t slept.” But she’s not complaining. This is part of being a parent and it’s just one of the many phases she’s up for, following a lengthy struggle with infertility.

Before the arrival of her daughter, Kaavia James Union Wade, who was born via surrogate, Gabrielle suffered nine miscarriages and underwent three years of failed IVF treatments, all of which she chronicles in her 2017 memoir, We’re Going to Need More Wine. Last year, she revealed she’d been diagnosed – after years of searching for answers about her body – with adenomyosis, a condition that can cause intense periods and an enlarged uterus. It could be the reason she was unable to carry to term. “There’s nothing more that I wanted than to cook my own baby,” says the 46-year-old, who helps raise Wade’s nephew and two sons from a previous marriage. But once she was down to three embryos, surrogacy seemed like the best option.

“The idea of it felt like surrendering to failure,” Gabrielle says, when speaking about welcoming a surrogate into their lives. Yet she pushed past those emotions and shifted to focusing on finding the right woman to carry her baby. “Some people care about the race, religion or food habits of their surrogate. I was like, ‘I want a reader.’ ” When Gabrielle met a potential surrogate who shared her love of books, she knew she’d found the one. “She said, ‘I love the smell of the pages,” remembers Gabrielle. It was the sign she needed.

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June 2019

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