Michelle Buteau isn't afraid to tell it like it is—a hilarious gift she's bestowed on comedies like Always Be My Maybe, Isn't It Romantic, and BET's First Wives Club reboot. Her journey to motherhood is no exception. Buteau has been refreshingly candid about the role surrogacy played in the birth of her twins, Hazel and Otis: "I wanted so much to be pregnant that it took over me like a bridezilla for the uterus," she shared in an essay for Glamour earlier this year.
And at Glamour's annual Women of the Year Summit, Buteau opened up even more about struggling with infertility, and how she got past beating up her body for what it couldn't do and ultimately owned her decision to use a surrogate. "Oprah says you can have it all, but not at the same time. But I think you can, because I did that shit," she said.
Read Buteau's full speech from Glamour's Women of the Year Summit, below.
Anything good that has happened to you simply does not come without struggle. That should be the name of a course in college. And as a performer, one of the first things you have to learn is how to really, truly accept rejection. That things might not go your way or how you've planned. That you just have to keep going and not take no for an answer. I wish the same could be said about your health. But what do you do when your body rejects you? How do you deal with that?
I was really sad that I couldn't carry, but I was so happy that somebody else could.
One year my mom gave me health insurance for Christmas, because I was a broke comedian and my husband is Dutch and a photographer. We ain’t got no money! And a few months later with this health insurance I was getting all my holes checked, I’m like, I’m so cute, and I found out I had a benign brain tumor. And I told my mom, never buy me a present again. And it turns out—everyone’s like, "Benign’s the word you want to hear," and I’m like, “How about ‘you don’t have a tumor’? Let’s hear that.” And it’s on my pituitary [gland], so it’s kind of messing with my hormones and making my body think that it’s pregnant.
And so in order to have babies, I have to become a science project and do in vitro. So that’s what I did, because all I wanted to do was have kids, you know? All I want to do is have kids. You know, I never thought I’d get married. I just always wanted to have kids. And I’ve gotten to the idea it wasn’t covered by health insurance, my health insurance, because health care isn't misogynistic at all. That’s sarcasm on a Sunday.
I didn’t realize what I would go through emotionally. You know, it was just four years spending thousands and thousands of dollars. Countless shots. Bruised bodies, tired spear, a partridge in a pear tree. It was crazy. And after four years of doing that, I decided, okay. Having a handful of miscarriages and still trying to get onstage and find my happy is too hard for me. And I have to make this simple for myself. I have to find my joy. And so the only option I had left was surrogacy.
And I’m not a control freak. But wow, you have never felt so out of control. But I also had a glimmer of hope like this could actually happen. And when I started to feel good about myself, I booked a movie with my friend Allie Wong, Always Be My Maybe, available on Netflix.
And so I booked a part and then she's like, “Awesome, you’re also going to play my best friend, who is eight months pregnant and a lesbian.” And I’m like, “What?” So it's a beautiful representation, right? It’s so dope.
Oprah said you can have it all, but not the same time. I'm like, “Yes, you can, Oprah, because I did that shit.”
Oh, but also playing a pregnant person and putting on a belly every day was such a mind fuck. Can I say that? Mind fuck! People would ask me, “Oh, do you want to have kids? You look so good pregnant.” And I would just look in the elevator pitch version like, What, are you paying for them? Like trying to get through the day. But it was so crazy because the week that I was giving birth in the movie was the week that my surrogate was getting transferred with our embryos. And I’m like, Wow, life is just serving me all the jokes and I have to figure out how to deal with them. I was really sad that I couldn’t carry, but I was so happy that somebody else could.
And I wanted to find the good in all of it, because that’s what you do sometimes. And so when my surrogate was pregnant and going into labor, my husband, my mother, and I went to the bar next door and had a bottle of Malbec.
Now, Oprah said you can have it all, but not the same time. I’m like, "Yes, you can, Oprah, because I did that shit.” And this year, my husband and I, we welcomed twins, Hazel and Otis!
I just want to let you guys know that whatever you want in life, I want it for you. It might not be the way you planned or you want, but never give up because you can get your shit together and get what you want in life.
Find out more about Glamour’s 2019 Women of the Year here.
Originally Appeared on Glamour