The 46-year-old actress covers the March issue of Women’s Health and opens up about why her mid-40s were the right time to welcome her 2-month-old daughter, Kaavia, whom she shares with husband Dwyane Wade.
“Any earlier and the FOMO would have greatly influenced how I parented,” she tells the magazine. “I’ve seen it. I’ve done it. I’ve done it well. I’ve gotten all the T-shirts. Now I’m in the right mindset and mental space, and I’m open to being the best mom I can be.”
Since welcoming her daughter, Union has been exhausted and exhilarated, a feeling she wouldn’t change for the world.
“[It’s] 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,” she explains.
While pushing through the tiredness, Union — who has helped to raise Wade’s nephew and two sons from a previous marriage — has been thinking about how to parent, with one thing standing out among all else.
“I want to let her be free,” she says. “I want to instill in her morals, values. And then I want to give her space to fill in those gaps, fall on her ass, and make mistakes. Get an F because she didn’t study. Pick the wrong dude. Pick the wrong friends and figure it out. I don’t want to be super judge-y.”
Becoming a mom wasn’t an easy journey for Union. She suffered nine miscarriages, three years of unsuccessful IVF treatments and eventually made the difficult decision to have a surrogate carry her baby.
“There’s nothing more that I wanted than to cook my own baby,” she confesses. “The idea of [surrogacy] felt like surrendering to failure.”
Despite accepting her decision to use a surrogate, Union was still insecure about if people would judge her for not carrying her own child.
“People want to see the bump, hear that you got hemorrhoids; they want to know you’re like them,” she says. “I was like, ‘This is going to seem like the most Hollywood sh*t ever. Will I be embraced as a mom?’ It’s terrifying.”
The surrogacy decision came when Union was down to just three embryos and had long suffered the effects of IVF.
“My face looked like the surface of the moon, small chunks of hair were falling out,” she says of the side effects of the fertility treatment. “At 9 a.m. I had a flat stomach. By noon I looked like I was five months pregnant.”
Eventually, a women’s hormone expert told Union to cut out gluten, dairy, alcohol and caffeine to negate the negative effects, something she was certainly not eager to do.
“I felt like she was trying to torture me,” she quips. “I did it for six weeks, then I was like, ‘I need a drink!’”
Watch the video below for more on Union’s journey to motherhood: