The recent decade has been a progressive era for black girl magicians. Not only are we casting spells as we dazzle the world in the essence that is our magic from a physical standpoint, but we are also demystifying road blocks and glass ceilings at every turn.
On a daily basis, we witness female professionals of color slay their patriarchal nemesis with ease. But it seems our only kryptonite is our biological clocks. No matter how much we accomplish, we must succumb to the time limits and chronological deadlines set by our bodies. Especially for those of us who hope to be mothers.
But to that, more and more millennial women of color of today have begun to say, "Naw." Women are taking back control of their lives professionally, financially, and of course, that authority is lending itself to their reproductive lives as well. Recently, 38-year-old political analyst Angela Rye opened up about her decision to undergo the process of oocyte cryopreservation, most commonly called: egg freezing.
Our bodies seem to impose just as much pressure as society does when it comes to when and how we conceive. Rye told Refinery29 that she made the decision to freeze her eggs in January in attempt to protect her energy and her womb from the stress of an intense professional life:
"I froze my eggs in January, and because I have such a stressful life, I wanted to try to create a nurturing environment for eggs to grow."
We feel pressured by our loved ones and our bodies to have children within a timeline, despite the commitment we've made to our dreams and careers. By age 30, our egg count is reduced to less than half of the number that we have as teenagers making infertility more likely the older we get; women diagnosed with fibroids or endometriosis are burdened with an even shorter timeline.
Angela Rye is among the league of women sparking debate among black women about having options. She said that she decided to freeze her eggs after she learned that her egg count was low.
"I've never been governed by a biological clock. I still feel like whatever I decide to do with my body is between me and my maker. But I first looked into it when I was turning 35 because they say your egg count goes down around that age, so I looked into it as a just in case. And after they ran some tests, I learned my egg reserve number was low. That scared me! But it also wasn't an instant decision, because to be honest, the process is expensive. So I came back a few years later and this time, I went through the process and did some acupuncture and they were able to retrieve seven fully developed eggs — which isn't the 20-something they typically hope for. But I'm good with seven, because that's my favorite number, so it felt like it meant something. Now, I don't feel any pressure as far as work timelines or relationships...I can just focus on my purpose and know that I have that option there if I want it."
As women, we have options in our careers, lipstick colors, what we eat, and what clothes we choose to wear: but not when we choose to have a baby.
curlBOX founder and all-around boss woman Myleik Teele has always had a silver lining about becoming mother, despite the emphasis she placed on building a fruitful career. Now, the entrepreneur is a proud mother to a son named Noah. But when she was 35, she got her wakeup call that if she wanted to become a mother one day, she'd have to start looking into options to secure the future pregnancy she one day hoped to carry. Enter egg freezing:
"When I turned 35, I went to the doctor and she basically told me, 'Your eggs are dying, you'll never have a baby!' and I start freaking out. I went to the fertility doctor and I'm like I should freeze my eggs and they're like your AMH level is too low. I spent $12,000 dollars buying all of these shots and stuff, giving myself 5 shots a day, and the doctor's like, 'Basically, your fertility is low so you have a year to get pregnant.' I went through a really dark period because I just went and did all of this stuff, and only to find out that I may not have the opportunity."
Motivational speaker and entrepreneur Tai Beauchamp told xoNecole that her decision to freeze her eggs came during the height of her professional career after realizing she wanted insurance so that when she was ready to be pregnant, she could be, no matter her age:
"If I met a partner and I wanted to have a child next week and we decided to get pregnant, I don't think we'd have a problem getting pregnant. But I just did it because I want the insurance. It was just about options for me."
After a tumultuous hormone injection process, Beauchamp had successfully completed the egg freezing procedure. Beauchamp conquered her kryptonite and it is a decision that she doesn't regret. Nowadays, she does her best to spread the wealth she's gained by sharing her experience in a community where fertility isn't often a topic of discussion:
"There have been comments made about how fertile black women are, but simultaneously we're not having open conversations about fibroids, we're not having open conversations about endometriosis, we're just beginning to speak more now with more than 50% of the people being in college or graduating college being African-American women, that our partner and dating pool is changing. But if we start to think about investing in relationships in a different way earlier and sooner, the dynamics would shift too."
Beauchamp and Rye's stories are rarities, often unattainable by many women of color. In the past, egg freezing wasn't an option for black women due to the price point: a single phase can cost $5,000 or more. The increased success and shift of black female professionals on the economic landscape has made the procedure more accessible, but not accessible enough.
Rye and Beauchamp agree that it's important to normalize the egg freezing process and hope that opening up about their experiences will spark conversation and incite more health insurance companies to cover the procedure. Rye said that she hopes that openly discussing her own procedure will inspire other black women to explore their options:
"Well, the thing is, it's so expensive, so from an economic standpoint, it can be cost-prohibitive. So it's a conversation we're afraid to even have. But I feel like we have to if we ever want this process to feel more normal and more attainable. My manager actually encouraged me to document my whole process in case one day I want to share it with the world and show other Black women what it's really like."
Innovations in medicine and technology like egg freezing have allowed professional black women to unapologetically gain control of their personal, professional, reproductive goals. Rye is proof that being a millenial woman is lit, we really can have it all.
Read her full feature with Refinery29 by clicking here.
Featured image by Scott Dudelson/Getty Images