Adrienne Bailon-Houghton says her "quiet journey" to motherhood kept her on her toes.
"It took me six years to have my son," Bailon-Houghton, the former co-host of "The Real," explained during a Dec. 29 appearance on "The Jennifer Hudson Show." "And I think for such a long time, it was a quiet journey that I had just with myself because it was really hard. I didn't expect it to be so hard for me to have a child."
In August 2022, Bailon-Houghton, a former member of The Cheetah Girls musical group, welcomed her first child, a son named Ever James, with her singer husband, Israel Houghton.
The couple kept the pregnancy "a magnificent secret," she said.
"Our baby boy is here & we are so in love!" Bailon-Houghton wrote on Instagram after the birth. "If you have followed our love story, you know that our journey to baby has been very challenging ... We have quietly prayed while sitting on this most magnificent secret for the last 9 months. He is worth every tear, every disappointment, every delayed prayer, every IVF cycle, every miscarriage."
She added, "All we feel is joy and overwhelming love & gratitude. Grateful to God, to our angel surrogate and to all of our friends and family who have stood with us for over 5 years on this journey. He’s here and we have never been happier to lose sleep!"
After six years of trying to conceive, including eight IVF cycles and multiple miscarriages, Bailon-Houghton had one embryo left when doctors introduced surrogacy as an option.
Bailon-Houghton said she didn't like that idea.
"I'm not going to lie ... it just wasn't what I imagined would be my journey," she said. "And I think that's one of the things that hurts us the most in life is, the idea of how it's supposed to be."
The couple went ahead with surrogacy. Once their son was born, Bailon-Houghton said all her worries vanished.
"When I held my son — which I actually, I pulled him out myself — I put him right on me (and we did) skin-to-skin," she said.
Skin-to-skin contact, when a mother holds her baby close to her bare skin, is encouraged to strengthen the parent-child emotional attachment and contribute to successful breastfeeding rates.
Bailon-Houghton pointed out that some smirk at moms who document skin-to-skin contact with their newborns who were born via surrogacy. For instance, Khloé Kardashian lay in a hospital bed with her newborn son after his surrogate birth.
"A lot of people see pictures of moms that have babies via surrogates and they're like, 'Why are they naked? They didn't give birth. Why are they in the hospital without their shirts on or in the bed?'" Bailon-Houghton told Hudson.
"I'm the first touch he ever experienced ... I would not change a thing about it," she explained. "And I never thought that I would say that."
Women with infertility shouldn't suffer silently, Bailon-Houghton said.
"I think women don't really talk about fertility issues but if you bring it up at a table everybody’s going to be like, 'Girl, me too! What are you doing?'" she told Hudson. "I didn’t realize that until I was going through it myself."
This article was originally published on TODAY.com