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I'm a feminist and entrepreneur wondering whether I want kids

4 min read

Fertility could be top of mind or on the back burner for now — but it has the power to impact everything. We’re sharing your stories to both celebrate and create space for the many ways we navigate our careers, relationships, and finances in relation to our reproductive health. If you have a story to share, get in touch.

Tori Dunlap, founder of Her First 100K, knows that financial independence will help her to live the life she wants. But one thing she doesn’t know quite yet? Whether or not she wants to have kids. This is her story.

As a financial coach, I believe having funds means having freedom. And I think that’s part of the reason why women are having children and getting married later in life. They have financial independence that they didn’t have before. Now that women are more focused on getting degrees and working, and not just trying to find a husband, it completely changes the family and financial landscapes.

I’m a full-time entrepreneur focused on scaling my business to earn $100,000 in 2020. If you told me three years ago that this is what I’d be doing with my career, I wouldn’t have believed you. I majored in communications and theater in college, and now I’m teaching people about personal finance. That’s crazy to me! When I was growing up, I thought I’d be married by now and considering kids — especially since my parents got married at age 24.

Lately, I find myself wondering: Do I actually want kids? Or do I only want them because society tells me I should want them? Young boys are given Legos and trucks and things to build and create. It’s getting better, but girls are still often given Barbie dolls and things to take care of. And as we grow up, we’re expected to do it all and “have it all” — that’s another thing I’ve been thinking about a lot: women are expected to thrive in both business and family life at the same time.

I’m very much a planner. If I choose to eventually have kids, I know I need to plan for it financially. They call it family and fertility planning for a reason, right? It's hard enough to pay your bills, save for retirement, and pay off your student debt without having to think about paying for and financially supporting a child. And if I decide to freeze my eggs, that may be an extra, insurmountable cost. (Especially since egg freezing is never a guarantee.) I have to think about factoring in these costs as I continue saving.

Everything we’re forced to think about as women has monetary and political consequences. Though I feel a certain amount of autonomy over my body, living in today’s world, I don’t know if any of us truly has control over our reproductive health. I work, live, and breathe personal finance, and when you start to understand how money affects everything — politics, the way we choose to live our lives, what we choose to do with our bodies — it is absolutely alarming.

These days, I’m thinking a lot about my reproductive health because I’m transitioning into buying my own health insurance. The only prescription I take is hormonal birth control, so whatever health insurance I choose, I have to make sure that’s covered. I started taking birth control when I was 20 or 21 — it leveled out my hormones and diminished my acne. Now, after experimenting with different birth control options and listening to how my body responds to each one, I feel like I’m in a good place.

I grew up Catholic, and reproductive health is, of course, a really sticky thing in the Catholic church. I was told for a very long time that you should only have sex with someone you’re married to. I used to look down on people who were engaging in casual sex, which is something that I’ve really had to work on since college. Because HerFirst100K is a very feminist brand, it’s been crucial and very transformative for me to understand who I am and what I stand for — and to become comfortable with my body and with anyone else’s decisions about theirs.

With or without kids, partnership is really important to me — but if it happens, it happens, and if it doesn’t, it doesn’t. Right now, my career is really taking off and I’m really happy with that. But I also crave intimacy. I’m dating, but it’s challenging to manage both my career and my romantic life. Both take up a lot of headspace! It’s very interesting to be ambitious and independent, but also really want a partner. I kind of hate feeling dependent on a man to start a family, because I’m not dependent on men for anything else. If I was dreaming up my perfect life, would it include a relationship? Duh. But my life's already pretty goddamn great as it is.

Personal essay by Tori Dunlap, edited by Sarah duRivage-Jacobs

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