When Tai Beauchamp injected the 1-1/2" hormone-filled needle into her side, the last thing that she felt was empowered.
Crazy? Maybe a little. For one, she's a woman of faith. And faith taught her to never doubt in the power of God and His ability to make miracles happen even in the midst of a ticking biological clock.
And to be frank, shelling out nearly $15,000 for a procedure that may work when she could use those funds for something more tangible had her questioning why, for the last few months, she had put herself through the beginning stages of freezing her eggs.
But she quieted her doubts and stood firm in her decision, one made not out of fear, but out of power gained by having options. And when she left the fertility clinic two weeks later, she tossed back her hypothetical cape and strutted with her head held high.
“I kid you not I felt like super woman," shares Beauchamp. “It wasn't just about my physical body, I just felt like I did that. It supported all that I believe I want to become as a person because how often are we told to take charge of a situation or you can do it?"
Like many women, Beauchamp wants to have it all—marriage, children, and a bomb career to match. The latter she's already excelled at. By age 25 she was the Beauty Director at Seventeen magazine with a coveted corner office and six-figure salary, and by 28 she ran her own company helping corporations infuse strategy with social responsibility.
As an on-air personality and style expert she's been a host on The View's “Must Have Monday" and TLC's Dare to Wear, and in the midst of television appearances and beauty ambassador gigs she's managed to find time to share gems as a motivational speaker and launch a lifestyle site, The Tai Life. But love and marriage? That's something she put on the back burner, even after a five-year relationship-turned-engagement went sour. “I was doing well, but I was just going through the motions of a relationship and not really thinking about the importance of not wasting time," Beauchamp says.
Growing up in New Jersey as an only child to a single mom, Beauchamp remembers always wanting to be a mother, but says she was taught the importance of getting her education and getting money over dating with intention. “They're not telling you that if you want partnership you have to invest in it. So I had partnership, but I was also really focused on my career. It paid off professionally, but nobody was telling me when I needed to flip the script or that I also needed to invest in my personal."
"They're not telling you that if you want partnership you have to invest in it."
It wasn't until she was twenty-eight that two of her female mentors approached her about freezing her eggs while she continued dominating in her career. Beauchamp dismissed the notion that her ovaries were depreciating by the year, insisting that time was on her side. “I think young people, you're just thinking oh time is on my side, but time ain't really on your side. It really isn't."
By 35, after being diagnosed with fibroids, which can lead to fertility issues, and having them surgically removed, she was singing a different tune and began researching how she could pro-long her childbearing years.
Despite the more recent accounts of egg freezing, or oocyte cryopreservation, the practice itself has been around for over three decades, with the first successful birth from a frozen egg occurring in 1986. Baby girls are born with about two million eggs, but by the time they hit pubescent years, they're down to three-to-four hundred thousand, and lose another thousand each month. According to fertility specialist Dr. Sherman J. Silber, 16 percent of women in their late twenties will be infertile, and by mid to late thirties, 25 percent will battle with infertility. Fear of running out of supply before it's too late sends many women into overdrive as they seek to beat the biological clock that looms before them.
Source: Extended Fertility
Beauchamp, now 38, believes that freezing her eggs allowed her to breathe a sigh of relief and took the pressure off finding a mate. “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," she says.
Beauchamp admits that the process of egg freezing was no easy feat. Her first consultation with Dr. Jamie L. Morris of Reproductive Medicine Associates of New Jersey happened in February, just a month after her thirty-fifth birthday. “You should go and talk to them, find out and ask questions about their specifics and how much success they've had, not only with how many women have come back to have those unfrozen eggs implanted and the success rates of those births, and whether or not those reinsertation take," advises Beauchamp.
Soon after her consultation she kicked out $3,000 to get her blood work done just to ensure that her eggs were healthy enough to undergo the process. Once she received the green light, it would be another few months before she could book her appointment since the procedure required that she be stationary for at least two weeks.
Beauchamp's insurance only covered the initial consultation, so it was up to her to fund the remaining $15,000 worth of medical visits, procedure costs and prescriptions. Since the average person doesn't have that amount just sitting around in the bank, Beauchamp suggests looking to organizations, such as Baby Quest Foundation, which offers financial assistance to those in need, or using “layaway" plans such as EggBanxx to break up the costs. She also predicts that in the future this will be more of the norm, and thus, more insurance companies will jump on the baby bandwagon. “Truth be told, I think in about five years time insurance companies are going to start paying for this more, or at least a piece of the service."
Beyond the exorbitant costs, there's also the discomfort that comes along with increasing hormone levels. Similar to In Vitro Fertilization (IVF), Beauchamp had to give inject herself with a needle three times a day for thirteen days for ovarian stimulation, which Beauchamp describes as PMS times 100.
“I'm one of those random New Yorkers who loves the subway, and I literally couldn't walk up and down the stairs, so there is a lot of pain associated with it."
She also had to go into the fertility clinic at six in the morning for daily monitoring of the oocyte (egg) growth and growth of the follicles. On average there were sixty people in the waiting room, and she was one of two black women. “That was depressing and sad in many different ways. That really made the socioeconomic piece real to me, because I was in that waiting room and you saw maybe four minorities, maybe one other black person and two Latina, which would also speak to how it all connected socioeconomically."
By the thirteenth day she was ready to inject her trigger shot, which catapulted the eggs into maturation. But due to the critical timing of the shot, was forced to escape to the bathroom while on a date to administer the shot. The easiest part of the process was the actual extraction procedure, which took only 20 minutes. On average they hope to extract anywhere between 8 to 15 oocytes, and Beauchamp produced ten.
Because the hormones can stay in your body for some time after the procedure, Beauchamp says it took three months for her feel back to normal, but she doesn't regret the decision to extend her fertility. If anything, it's given her the platform to discuss a topic that's often swept under the rug in the African-American community. “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."
"If we start to think about investing in relationships in a different way earlier and sooner, the dynamics would shift."
To the many women who feel that they're losing the battle against time or feel a pressure to produce in fear that they won't be able to perform later in life, technology puts the reins of destiny—or at the very least lineage—back in their hands.
“If I can share my story so that someone else can be enlightened and know the power of their decision and their options, why wouldn't I do it? It's really about shifting the way that we look at what we value and what is important."
If you are interested in freezing your eggs but concerned about the costs, click here for a list of resources and fertility financing plans.