Amber Guyton has crafted an accomplished career out of planning.

As an interior designer and founder of the Blessed Little Bungalow blog and interior design firm, the Atlanta creative must consider the most ancillary details of a space as she executes design concepts for her growing roster of clients.

But during a visit to her gynecologist in 2022, Guyton uncovered one planning concept she’d unknowingly overlooked.

“I was 35 going on 36 at the time. And [my doctor] was like, ‘How do you feel about family planning?’ Guyton told 21Nintey in an exclusive interview. “I was like, well, I’m not really dating anyone right now. I just got out of a relationship. I would love to have a family, but I just haven’t really thought about it.”

The unexpected inquiry from her doctor came just as Guyton was settling into her first year back in Atlanta after relocating to the city in 2021. Her transition into Atlanta life included finding a Black female gynecologist. It was during her annual physical with that Black woman physician that Guyton was presented with a full picture of her fertility and the limits she may face as a prospective mother in her mid to late 30s.

“[My doctor’s] very blunt response was, if you’re serious about having a family, you need to freeze your eggs before 37,” Guyton said. “Her response very much do it now or you’ll regret it.”

Guyton admittedly hadn’t known that women are born with all the eggs that they will have in a lifetime. Learning that fact became a key catalyst for her to do some extensive research on egg freezing.

After taking a little time to process the pressing warning from her doctor, Guyton kicked into planning mode.

“When you hear that, it’s kind of daunting. So to have my black female doctor tell me, if you want [a family], I really encourage you to [freeze your eggs], it resonated with me. It made me feel like I need to definitely [freeze my eggs],” Guyton said.

Exploring The Egg Freezing Process

The average egg freezing process can range from around $15,000 up to about $30,000. That price range includes treatment, storage of the eggs, and any medications needed during the process. The cost is coupled with the price of in vitro fertilization of the frozen eggs, which averages out to around $6400.

Many employers will cover tens of thousands of dollars in fertility service-related costs for employees. This was a health benefit Guyton herself once had at the corporate job she left in 2021. As she researched the cost of egg freezing as an entrepreneur paying her own health insurance out of pocket, Guyton quickly realized that the procedure would require a serious financial sacrifice.

“I was just like, you know what, I’ll just pull it out of my savings. Because to me, it was like insurance. It was an investment in my future,” Guyton said. “I may be able to conceive naturally. But [freezing my eggs] is just in case I can’t.”

Along with the soaring financial costs, Guyton also had to consider her health status and possible side effects brought on by the process. During her initial consultation, Guyton went through an ultrasound and had bloodwork done to get a clear view of vital levels.

“Even though I’m healthy, I decided to see what the doctor said. And sure enough, because of my age, certain levels were low. And I was a good candidate to proceed with the egg freezing,” Guyton said.

Her questions about the procedure also included her concerns over how the hormonal shift from the daily shots may affect her depression and anxiety.

“Since 2018 I’ve been seeing a therapist regularly and I’ve also been on medication to help with my anxiety and depression. So I had to inform [my doctors] I was on medication for it,” Guyton said.  “[The doctors] give you so much paperwork to inform you of the possibilities of what you will actually experience. They want to make sure that you’re aware.”

Retrieval and Recovery

Guyton kicked off her complex egg retrieval process in May 2023 — shortly after taking a week-long vacation to Morocco.

For the first four days, she took oral medications. Then on the fifth day, she started her injections.

“You start with like two injections a night. Then after three or four days of that, it was three injections in my stomach a night,” Guyton detailed.

She did injections in her stomach for around 13 days. Along with her injections, she’d go to the hospital daily or every other day for a vaginal ultrasound and bloodwork to monitor the progress of her retrieval process.

By June, she had transitioned into the final stage of the process — the egg retrieval. In total, Guyton retrieved just under 10 eggs, which is around the average of 10 to 20 most fertility centers encourage women to preserve.

Knowing the emotional effects she could possibly endure, Guyton made a point to monitor herself closely as she proceeded through the process. It was an experience she admits was at times isolating.

“Different people react differently to the medications. Some people, with all the hormones, can be very emotional,” Guyton said. “There were times where I felt super lonely or super sad. It just kind of varied.” 

In those sadder moments, Guyton said she “had to be intentional in order to keep my spirits lifted.”

“Surrounding yourself with a support system is advice I received. I was like, ‘I’ll be fine. I feel fine.’ But it is more of a mental and emotional toll than it is physical. Or at least it was for me. So don’t underestimate that piece,” Guyton explained.

Living By Her Own Rules

Fertility journeys are a deeply personal experience that many women choose to take on privately. But Guyton made the decision to document her egg freezing process, editing footage of her daily injections into a now viral Instagram post. She posted the video the day before her egg retrieval procedure. The post was Guyton’s attempt to share information about the process she’d known so little about just a year earlier . Before and after the process Guyton’s family was extremely supportive. Still, the designer found that she didn’t always find alignment with those closest to her when it came to her motivations to freeze her eggs as a single Black woman. 

“I feel like half of my friends are married with kids. Then the friends that I have that are still single, a lot of them don’t wanna have kids,” Guyton said. “[Freezing my eggs] is not something that I felt I could really talk to them about because they don’t have the same desire. Which it is a beautiful thing if you don’t want to have children. That’s your choice. But I had very few friends in the same boat as me.”

It was through the swift and sweeping response to her Instagram post detailing her egg freezing procedure that Guyton found community among women navigating their own fertility journeys. Many of those paths require navigating cultural stigmas still surrounding the choice of egg freezing. Guyton’s post is pushing forward a conversation around Black fertility and pregnancy that remains grossly under-explored both in popular culture and among medical studies.

“Having the outpouring of support on my Instagram post had me in tears. It was people that said they waited too late. I wish I had done it. Or people that were saying they did four rounds of IVF and that failed. But then had a child that was conceived naturally,” she said. “There were just so many stories of encouragement. And there were people that were saying they were on the fence or were scared to do it but had thought about it. And my post gave them the push to get the consultation.”

Surveying her next steps following her egg retrieval, the interior design entrepreneur has no regrets about her decision to take full control of her fertility options and share her story openly.

“I’m not married and I want to freeze my eggs because I may or may not want to have children. I want to have that choice,” Guyton said. “It gives me confidence in dating and in my future. I don’t have to feel like I’m on this timer.

“It just gives you options and it makes you feel good about being in control of your future.”