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Like so many parents, singer and TV host Adrienne Bailon-Houghton loves to gush about her 10-month-old son Ever James. She’s full of sweet stories — like the fact that he said “mama” for the first time on Mother’s Day this year, an absolutely unbeatable gift. She’ll make no apologies for the habit, though. “I waited for so long to have my son and I cherish every single moment and every single day with him,” she tells POPSUGAR. “Even if I’m exhausted or whatever it is. Like, I literally am always just so grateful that I get to be a mom. What an honor and a privilege.”
It took Bailon-Houghton six years to have her son, and during that time she went through eight unsuccessful IVF cycles and multiple miscarriages. When she had just one usable embryo left, she and her husband, Grammy-winning music producer Israel Houghton, made the decision to use a surrogate.
She never imagined surrogacy would be part of her journey to motherhood. “I think it’s only natural to feel like you’re being robbed of certain elements of motherhood,” she says about the experience. “Obviously carrying a child in your body, but also feeling them move, being able to breastfeed, or even maternity photo shoots.”
If she has any advice for someone going through surrogacy, it’s this: “Don’t compare it to someone else’s experience, it is going to be different. And that’s just the fact,” she tells POPSUGAR. Her sister, who was a labor and delivery nurse for many years, helped Bailon-Houghton focus on the positive. “She was like, here are the silver linings: you are not gonna have to go through the pain of childbirth or wait six weeks to have sex, and you’re gonna have all this energy when the baby’s born,” she says.
Bailon-Houghton learned to embrace her own unique journey to parenthood. “I pulled him out myself,” she shared of the birthing story, in a Jan. 3 episode of “The Jennifer Hudson Show.” “I put him right on me, and we did skin-to-skin. I’m the first touch he ever experienced.”
The E! News co-host says from day one she’s spent all of her time with Ever. And now that he’s approaching his first birthday, he’s showing more of his giggly, goofball self. “Me and Israel are both super silly and always joking around and laughing so there was no way he was gonna be a serious kid,” she tells POPSUGAR.
Despite becoming more common, parents who choose surrogacy can face stigma and uninformed backlash. Priyanka Chopra, who used a surrogate to have her child with Nick Jonas, has said people have accused her of “outsourcing” her pregnancy. And Khloe Kardashian has said she felt surprised by how difficult some aspects of her surrogacy journey were.
Bailon-Houghton had her own experiences with learning to embrace her path to parenthood, but now that she’s almost a year on the other side, she has some words of wisdom to share. “I would say don’t think about everything you lost,” she tells POPSUGAR. “Don’t think about everything you missed out on. Try to focus on the silver lining and ultimately getting what you’ve prayed for, which is becoming a mother.”