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.
This article was originally published in 2016
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Exclusive: Gabrielle Union On Radical Transparency, Being Diagnosed With Perimenopause And Embracing What’s Next
Whenever Gabrielle Union graces the movie screen, she immediately commands attention. From her unforgettable scenes in films like Bring It On and Two Can Play That Game to her most recent film, in which she stars and produces Netflix’s The Perfect Find, there’s no denying that she is that girl.
Off-screen, she uses that power for good by sharing her trials and tribulations with other women in hopes of helping those who may be going through the same things or preventing them from experiencing them altogether. Recently, the Flawless by Gabrielle Union founder partnered with Clearblue to speak at the launch of their Menopause Stage Indicator, where she also shared her experience with being perimenopausal.
In a xoNecoleexclusive, the iconic actress opens up about embracing this season of her life, new projects, and overall being a “bad motherfucker.” Gabrielle reveals that she was 37 years old when she was diagnosed with perimenopause and is still going through it at 51 years old. Mayo Clinic says perimenopause “refers to the time during which your body makes the natural transition to menopause, marking the end of the reproductive years.”
“I haven't crossed over the next phase just yet, but I think part of it is when you hear any form of menopause, you automatically think of your mother or grandmother. It feels like an old-person thing, but for me, I was 37 and like not understanding what that really meant for me. And I don't think we focus so much on the word menopause without understanding that perimenopause is just the time before menopause,” she tells us.
Photo by Brian Thomas
"But you can experience a lot of the same things during that period that people talk about, that they experienced during menopause. So you could get a hot flash, you could get the weight gain, the hair loss, depression, anxiety, like all of it, mental health challenges, all of that can come, you know, at any stage of the menopausal journey and like for me, I've been in perimenopause like 13, 14 years. When you know, most doctors are like, ‘Oh, but it's usually about ten years, and I'm like, ‘Uhh, I’m still going (laughs).’”
Conversations about perimenopause, fibroids, and all the things that are associated with women’s bodies have often been considered taboo and thus not discussed publicly. However, times are changing, and thanks to the Gabrielle’s and the Tia Mowry’s, more women are having an authentic discourse about women’s health. These open discussions lead to the creation of more safe spaces and support for one another.
“I want to be in community with folks. I don't ever want to feel like I'm on an island about anything. So, if I can help create community where we are lacking, I want to be a part of that,” she says. “So, it's like there's no harm in talking about it. You know what I mean? Like, I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change. I'm just getting better and stronger and more intelligent, more wise, more patient, more compassionate, more empathetic. All of that is very, very welcomed, and none of it should be scary.”
The Being Mary Jane star hasn’t been shy about her stance on therapy. If you don’t know, here’s a hint: she’s all for it, and she encourages others to try it as well. She likens therapy to dating by suggesting that you keep looking for the right therapist to match your needs. Two other essential keys to her growth are radical transparency and radical acceptance (though she admits she is still working on the latter).
"I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change."
Gabrielle Union and Kaavia Union-Wade
Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images
“I hope that a.) you recognize that you're not alone. Seek out help and know that it's okay to be honest about what the hell is happening in your life. That's the only way that you know you can get help, and that's also the only other way that people know that you are in need if there's something going on,” she says, “because we have all these big, very wild, high expectations of people, but if they don't know what they're actually dealing with, they're always going to be failing, and you will always be disappointed. So how about just tell the truth, be transparent, and let people know where you are. So they can be of service, they can be compassionate.”
Gabrielle’s transparency is what makes her so relatable, and has so many people root for her. Whether through her TV and film projects, her memoirs, or her social media, the actress has a knack for making you feel like she’s your homegirl. Scrolling through her Instagram, you see the special moments with her family, exciting new business ventures, and jaw-dropping fashion moments. Throughout her life and career, we’ve seen her evolve in a multitude of ways. From producing films to starting a haircare line to marriage and motherhood, her journey is a story of courage and triumph. And right now, in this season, she’s asking, “What’s next?”
“This is a season of discovery and change. In a billion ways,” says the NAACP Image Award winner. “The notion of like, ‘Oh, so and so changed. They got brand new.’ I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
"I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
She continues, “So I'm just trying to figure out what's next. You know what I mean? I'm jumping into what's next. I'm excited going into what's next and new. I'm just sort of embracing all of what life has to offer.”
Look out for Gabrielle in the upcoming indie film Riff Raff, which is a crime comedy starring her and Jennifer Coolidge, and she will also produce The Idea of You, which stars Anne Hathaway.
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Feature image by Mike Lawrie/Getty Images
What would you do if you just got laid off from your corporate job and you had a serendipitous encounter with someone who gave you the opportunity of a lifetime? Tamara Taylor was faced with that decision in 2013 after she was let go from her sales profit and operations coach job in the restaurant industry and met a then-up-and-coming stylist, Law Roach, on a flight to L.A. She and Roach struck up a conversation, and he shared how he was looking for someone to run his business and was impressed by her skills. While she took his business card, she was unsure if it would lead to anything. But, boy, was she wrong. Two weeks later, after packing up her home to move back to her hometown of Chicago, she called Roach; he asked if they could meet the following day, and the rest is herstory.
Taylor founded Mastermind MGMT, an agency that represents some of Hollywood’s best “image architects” like Roach, Kellon Deryck, and Kollin Carter, who are responsible for creating unforgettable style and beauty moments for celebrities like Zendaya, Megan Thee Stallion, Taraji P. Henson, and more. Taylor and her company possess an array of functions, but her biggest role is to be her client’s advocate. We hear endless stories about how creatives aren’t paid or underpaid in the entertainment industry, but Taylor ensures that her clients get their piece of the pie. The entrepreneur opened up about her company and her non-profit, Mastermind Matters, in an exclusive interview with xoNecole.
“I always say that I'm an artist advocate first, deal closer second. So my primary focus is to just make sure that the artist is getting everything that they deserve, whether it's compensation or, you know, certain accommodations, but just making sure that they have everything that they need to be able to show up and provide the best service that they're hired for,” she explained.
“So you know, in the beginning, it was hard because I didn't have any experience, and the artists who I was working with at the time–we were learning together, meaning neither of us had assisted anyone. We didn't have mentors in our specific fields. So every deal was like a new learning experience for us from the styling side and also from the business side, and so it took, you know, doing some research, using some very creative tactics, to find out information in the industry and just starting to request accommodations that I knew other artists were granted, who maybe didn't look like my artists.”
Photo by Christopher Marrs
Ten years later, there’s still not many people who are doing what Taylor is doing. However, things have gotten easier thanks to the research and connections she made in the beginning. During Mastermind MGMT’s ten-year anniversary celebration, she announced her non-profit, Mastermind Matters, which is a 501(c)(3) non-profit that focuses on helping young entrepreneurs through a 12-week program. The program is divided into “two routes.” The first route is for aspiring creative artists who want to start a business from their talent and all the things they need to learn about business, such as taxes, life insurance, etc. The second route is for practicing creative artists who are already in the industry but need resources such as how to plan for retirement or how to sustain themselves if they can’t work for a short amount of time, i.e., the pandemic.
“I just feel that I'm able to have a business and be successful because of their art as well. And so there are things that I know, I tried to teach it to them but understanding that I can only do so much because I'm not a subject matter expert in those fields,” she said. “So I at least want to be able to provide the resources, and then if they make their grown decision not to do it, then that's on them. But you know, I could be guilt-free and taking advantage of the resources that I'm also providing to them.”
Taylor continues to be an innovator in her industry by always pushing the boundaries of creativity and thinking one step ahead of everyone else. The Chicago-bred businesswoman is moving into the tech space thanks to a new invention created with her clients in mind, and she is looking forward to bigger collaborations in the future. Follow Mastermind MGMT on Instagram @mastermind_mgmt for more information.
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Feature image by Christopher Marrs