Carli Blau: On Intimacy and the Fertility Journey.
1. Describe your own journey to motherhood.
My journey to motherhood began with a dream to be a mom, and a realization that I may not be able to attain that goal without help. I wanted to believe that I could do it without science, medicine and technology, but I didn’t realize how difficult the whole journey would be. Truthfully, now looking back, I think the hardest part was letting go of control. Could I have gotten pregnant naturally? Maybe, actually, yes, because I did, but then I couldn’t hold onto it and miscarried at 5 weeks. Some call it a chemical pregnancy, but loss is a loss to me. I just wanted to get pregnant naturally, and control the situation, I wanted to have sex and have it lead to conception. I wanted a lot, and what I learned is that you can’t always get what you want, and like the Rolling Stones say, sometimes you just get what you need.
2. On advice for other women and mothers.
What my journey to motherhood taught me is that I don’t think I was ready to be a mom when I first got pregnant. Maybe that sounds strange if you’re reading this, but I was too controlling, to fixated on wanting what i wanted and how I wanted it, and had I become a mom in that headspace, the only one who would have really suffered is my child. Instead I learned to let go, and let be and in that I had a beautiful, yet difficult pregnancy and it resulted in a strong willed beautiful little soul I call Joie.
3. What’s your professional and personal view on how intimacy is/can be affected by fertility struggles and tips for navigating this.
Wow, big question and I’d be here for a solid year answering this in depth. I’ll say that with any change in life, there is often an effect on intimacy, especially when it comes to fertility struggles, pregnancy, child birth and parenthood. I say “parenthood” because intimacy and sexual relationships are impacted by all people regardless of how they identify. Particularly though, for an individual with a vagina as their body tends to be the one that endures the most discomfort and physical labor (pun intended) regarding these types of issues. Hormones cause major changes, lack of desire, lubrication and also increase anxiety and loss of connection. It is rarely one specific issue that causes people to lose their desire, but rather an amalgamation of things including change of priorities, lack of time, change in body function, and stress, LOTS of stress including financial, emotional, physical and sexual stress on the relationship. It’s also how these stressors play a role in a relationship and change the dynamic between people. Often times people who go through fertility issues feel like they have zero control, which ends up showing up elsewhere — like in their partnership. I am a firm believer in seeking counseling to not just fix an issue, or issues, but also to help avoid issues from developing. Therapy doesn’t fix someone that is broken, it simply provides people with the support they need and deserve to function at their best potential. If someone is going through intimacy struggles as a result of their fertility journey, I would suggest finding therapeutic support.
4. With your busy schedule and professional demands we’d love to know how you fit in self-care? What does this look like for you?
Great question! I think remembering what makes me happy and finding time weekly to do it is key. Even if it means that I go shopping, run errands, spend mindless hours in Walmart (LOL) or Costco, or simply lay in bed and crochet another baby blanket I don’t need while watching SVU. I will say the most important thing I’ve learned in regards to self care is the need to ask for help. I wouldn’t be able to do anything for myself without asking for the help of someone else. I have turned to my family and hired a nanny to help me take care of my child. I used to think I was super woman and would be able to do everything. What I’ve learned, that I don’t think anyone else talks about is the resentment I began to feel being just a mom. I say that with so much love in my heart and mind. I’m not JUST a mom, but when I was a mom and not able to do anything else, especially nothing for myself, I felt sad, depressed and a bit resentful. It is imperative that parents provide themselves with the help and support they need to take care of themselves without feeling guilty for needing it, or even desiring it.
Bonus/ Fun questions:
- What are the first 3 things you do after you wake up in the morning? After I brush my teeth I go into my baby’s room and sing to her and dance with her every day, get her dressed and then coffee…
- What is the best advice you have ever gotten?
- Don’t spend your time worrying about the people who don’t like you, you’re wasting all the time you could be spending on the people who do
- one day, some day — everything you want in life will happen one day, some day if you work hard, remain dedicated, focused and do good in the world
- you’re going to sleep with one person every day for the rest of your life so it better be the best sex you’ve ever had and the person you love the most, and that person is you! — If I’m going to be known for anything in life, this is what I’m going to be known for.
Tell us something we don’t know about you and about what you do. I started out in TV production and created my own TV show at Syracuse University called Honestly Naked, where I taught sex ed on TV. I would love to get onto TV some day… “one day, some day!"
- What is your favorite thing about you? How nice I am to everyone and that I’ve always maintained that reputation.
- What are you passionate about? Being kind, smiling often, and bettering myself every day of my life.
Carli Blau is a Licensed Sex and Relationship Therapist who specializes in women’s health including infertility, endometriosis, and PCOS. Carli provides therapy to individual and couples therapy and her approach to therapy is interactive and challenging yet supportive. She is certified in Maternal Mental Health, received her Master’s of Social Work from Columbia University, a Master of Education in Human Sexuality from Widener University and is currently working on her Ph.D. in Clinical Sex Therapy at Widener University studying infertility and sexual esteem in women trying to conceive.
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