I had a stillbirthThis weekend I am getting additional training in esoteric healing, a type of energy work, with Patricia Enstad, MS, LISW, CMT.  I have been using energy work in my therapy sessions for a couple of years.  I am now preparing a talk for the Star Legacy Foundation’s Stillbirth Summit 2014 in June called “Active Healing:  Treating the Mind-Body Trauma of Stillbirth with Energy Psychotherapy.”  Here’s a teaser:  talk therapy is not enough to heal from the physical, emotional, relational, and energetic traumas of a stillbirth.

If you have had a stillbirth, what would you like doctors and others to know about your experience?   Please leave a comment here or send me a private email at dsimmonsphd@pih-mpls.com.  Please share this question with others.  Healing comes from our working together.

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Because March is Endometriosis Awareness Month, it is important that women learn the symptoms of endometriosis.  Endometriosis is a condition involving menstrual blood that flows back through the fallopian tubes and areas throughout the pelvic area, rather than flowing entirely out of the vagina. These displaced cells can stick to surfaces of the pelvic organs and the bowels. Endometriosis does not need to be advanced to cause significant symptoms. Symptoms include:

  • Chronic or periodic pelvic pain
  • Infertility
  • Painful intercourse
  • Painful urination
  • Painful bowel movements
  • Lowered immune response
  • Back pain
  • Mood swings
  • Heavy bleeding
  • Bloating
  • Miscarriage

Endometriosis sufferers generally suffer from weaker immune systems, which can leave them prone to common colds, allergies, food sensitivities, skin sensitivities, and bladder infections.   Many women have food sensitivities, including gluten (i.e.g, wheat, rye, and barley.  Dietary changes may be helpful.

Endometriosis often causes emotional upset, especially when others do not understand or dismiss how painful the condition can be.  I have done clinical hypnosis with women with painful symptoms and they have experienced some relief.


No, it is not normal for your periods to be excruciating. If you have endometriosis or you think that you might, and if you wish to have a baby, seek out a consultation with your local fertility clinic.  Endo Twin Cities Endometriosis Support is an excellent resource for women suffering from this difficult and often misunderstood condition.  And check out The Gyno Show with Dr. Eric Heegaard on Sunday, March23 when he and Danielle of Endo Twin Cities have some great radio talk about endometriosis.

Please join in the conversation and leave me a comment.  And let others know that they are not alone.  Thanks.

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Just in time for Valentine’s Day, I will enjoy speaking tonight with the St. Paul Mothers of Multiples Club on reconnecting with your spouse.  I look forward to frank and funny discussion on heating up loving relationships after the birth of multiples.  Thanks for the invite, Good Women All!

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I just had to share this fabulous article, 20 Things I Couldn’t Say to My Fertility Doctor When I Was Her Patient by Kathryn Kefauver Goldberg (Huffington Post, February 3, 2014).  Kathryn writes for the Huffington Post and the New York Times.  I’ve already thanked Kathryn on Twitter and told her that her article has complete awesomeness!  This article will be helpful to any of you are going through inseminations, IVF, donor eggs, donor sperm, or surrogacy, and to anyone who has done so in the past.  Please share this around!  It will help so many people  Thanks!

20 Things I Couldn’t Say to My Fertility Doctor When I Was Her Patient

by Kathryn Kefauver Goldberg (Huffington Post, February 3, 2014)

Dear Fertility Doctor,

Here are some things I wish you knew, that I couldn’t say when we met three years ago:

1. I do not actually want to be here, which is weird, because I just put $15,000 on my credit card to do so.

2. Any calm and charm I exude is a façade. My super-crazy side is reserved for my husband and anonymous infertility friends online. Anything casual you say about my chances of conception will be parsed for hours and days.

3. I respect you, but I also see an acupuncturist, a hypnotist and a psychic.

4. Though my FSH levels are “data” to you, that high number feels to me like it’s a low SAT score, like I’m branded and doomed. No matter how much you explain it, I don’t understand why you can’t be happy if it goes down.

5. I look at the Internet. A LOT.

6. Infertility hurts so far beyond the baby. It’s about my marriage, my friendships and my ability to picture a future. It’s about my body, and whether everything I’ve been told about personal power is true.

7. My period feels like a miscarriage every month.

8. I want to feel important to you, even as I know you are successful no matter what happens in my case.

9. It’s really weird that we have to do a rectal exam ten minutes after meeting, though I understand the social contract demands we both act cool about it. I never thought that district of my anatomy would be part of getting pregnant.

10. Part of me thinks I can solve this with wheatgrass.

11. I know you want me to grasp statistical reality, but I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t think I could beat the odds.

12. Probably you were that straight-A pre-med student while I leisurely pursued my English major. I’m intimidated by you, even though I used to pity you for having to toil in organic chemistry when literature seemed much more relevant.

13. I try to act cool about the ultrasound wand, but I’m pretty sure I have PTSD.

14. I don’t understand why I have to wait for you without my underwear. I feel everything is skewed that I have to be half-naked while you get a crisp lab coat. OK, I understand, but I hate it.

15. The waiting room is a quiet, tense, darty-eyed purgatory where every minute feels like an hour.

16. It’s not the shots that are hard. I would inject myself in the eyeball to get news two weeks earlier.

17. I appreciate when you quote that study saying infertility is as stressful as cancer. I’ve never had cancer, but I do sometimes feel like I’m dying.

18. Bless you for not telling me to “relax.”

19. Despite all these things I just said, I entrust you with my hopes, dreams, ovaries, husband’s sperm and maybe even our embryos. Please don’t mess with any of these things.

20. Thank you, forever, for helping us along, and finally off, this dark, rocky path.

Follow Kathryn Kefauver Goldberg on Twitter: www.twitter.com/kathrynkefauver

(I’d love to have you follow me on Twitter @DebSimmonsPhD)


Are you struggling with infertility?  Please call me at 763-546-5797, x. 105.  I can help!

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I hope that 2014 will be a year of growth and change for you.  Toward that toward goal, I offer you a loving challenge:

If this was going to be the last year of your life, what would you do differently?

Growth and change can be a challenge for many.  Many of you may fear change, all the while wishing desperately that something (or someone) would change.  Here’s a secret:

You are the most powerful agent of change in your life.  Stop waiting for the other person to change.

Change is happening all the time in your mind and body. With every inhale and every exhale, you experience change, whether you are aware of it or not.  The different thoughts that float through your mind are a constant demonstration of change as well.

So how do we challenge ourselves to change?  Through action, that’s how.  We witnessed a terrific example in 2013. Through his actions, Pope Francis reawakened the possibility that people can be kind and helpful to one another, rather than shaming and judging others.  Big “Like”, Il Papa, from Catholics and non-Catholics alike.

By settling or holding back and not exploring every possibility in your life, you incur an opportunity cost.  An opportunity cost is what you give up when you decide not to take an action that might bring you to a desired outcome.  An opportunity cost is expressed in relative price, that is, the price of one choice relative to the price of another.

Here is an example.  If you are near or older than 40 and you have been receiving fertility treatment at your OB/GYN office—because it’s cheaper, because it’s covered by insurance, because you’re not quite ready to move to IVF or donor eggs, or because you are in denial about the ticking time bomb that is your biological clock—what are your opportunity costs? You are losing time and possibly your chance to have a genetic or biological child.  Explore every opportunity and run to a fertility clinic, even if it costs you money.  So many people in my office have cried tears of resentment and sorrow because they have waited too long to maximize their opportunity to conceive.

Here is another example.  Let’s say that your relationship is fair to middling. It’s not great but it’s not awful. Just there.  Perhaps you are too afraid to even think about what change might look like.  By complaining but not doing anything about it, what is your opportunity cost? By refusing couples therapy to improve your relationship or discernment counseling to end it in a way that is not destructive to either party.  Dreaming big dreams about change is great. Action is what gets you there.

And here’s another example. One party is desperate to raise a child and is ready to attempt pregnancy naturally or to go to a fertility clinic. The other is ambivalent and just puts off discussion.  The opportunity cost to the party who is waiting (and waiting and waiting) for discussion is time and helplessness.  Again, the biological clock really does have a shelf life. The ambivalent party, by not willing to engage in discussion, has made a decision for both of them. The opportunity is to engage me or another good therapist and quickly. The one who is willing to go to the therapist is the one who is willing to grow.

Okay, hang in there with me for one more example.  How willing are you to change your thoughts and habits about food?  Let me say that I am not a believer in diets.  We are talking about your life over the long term.  If you are considering bariatric (i.e., weight loss) surgery, how are you willing to change how you eat NOW?  If you are not willing to change your thinking and habits NOW, the bariatric surgery will be a waste of time.  I have written previously about eating for fertility.  How you eat–and I mean this for women and men–can make a big difference in your ability to conceive and stay pregnant.  Take a look at Celiac Disease, Gluten Sensitivity, and Your Fertility and I Can’t Get Pregnant! for more information on how to enhance your fertility and stay pregnant.

So consider the following questions in the weeks ahead and share them with others:

•    How will you grow in 2014?
•    How can you make your life different and better?
•    What changes need to be made?
•    How will you address your fears?
•    What are you settling for?
•    What are you waiting for?
•    How can you make your relationship more of a treasure?
•    When will you go to the adoption seminar?
•    When will you make an appointment at the fertility clinic?
•    How will you change the way you eat?
•    How will you find different or better work?

For some of you, the message might be a “Do Something New”.  For others of you, the message might be “Slow Down and Move with Intention.”  (You can read my earlier blog post, Moving With Intention, here.)   Either way, I challenge you, lovingly, to grow and change.

Take the bull by the horns.  If you’re nervous about getting too close to the bull, examine your internal bull**** instead.  You know what I’m talking about, friends.  It is the stories you tell yourself that keep you stuck.  Edit or write new stories.  Move it and move on!

Be curious.  We learn best when we are curious about something or when a situation is new.

Lose your fear of social media.  You can go where no man has gone boldly before.  Also go where people are already.  Connect and reconnect more with others in the year ahead.

In 2014, I send my every good wish for those of you who are building your family through fertility treatment, adoption, or the old-fashioned way.

I wish you a better relationship, with yourself and others.

Treasure your relationships.  You and your loved ones matter.

And most of all, I wish you courage, happiness, good health, and prosperity in 2014.  Happy New Year!


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