About three years into my now six year long journey with infertility, I found myself in a new town and a new fertility clinic. Lost, scared of the treatment that I was about to embark upon, exhausted from repeated failures, and very, very lonely; I knew I needed to find support. To be honest, I had already seen two different counsellors and was currently seeing one. I wasn’t so much looking for a counsellor as I was looking to meet others like me. I had been blessed with twelve nieces and nephews, and girlfriends with children galore; everybody I knew was very fertile.

I was seeking solidarity in fellow ‘infertile’ women. I wanted to be able to say, “Today is Day One” and have heads nod in complete understanding. I wanted to use acronyms like IUI and IVF without having to explain with flushed, shamed cheeks. I was seeking friendship.

So, as I knocked on the door of the UBC ‘Coffee/Drop In Session’ on that fateful rainy November day, I was unprepared for the incredible person was about to meet. I not only found life lasting friendship that day, but also found an incredible person and counsellor that have taught me more about life that she will ever know.

Janna Stark Glassman has an empathy and compassion that I had never known. Did I ever receive that desperately desired understanding nod! Janna has some unique ways that I have grown to adore. She exudes a warmth and kindness that heals just by being in her presence. Janna has very empathetic facial and body expressions. Even today three years later and four months pregnant, I can conjure up the memory of her silent, yet profound way of saying she felt my pain with me. Tears of gratitude sting my eyes. As, I bring up this memory I heal some more! She is also magnificent with timing. Janna allows space and time to feel pain and truly grieve.

She honours a person’s pain like no other. It was with Janna that I began to see infertility as grief and allow myself the time to truly grieve. Janna saved my life. She recognized a crucial moment in my infertility when I was giving up. Not so much on treatments, but on life. She stepped in and knew when and how to open my eyes. It was time to acknowledge the seriousness of my depression and the need to take action. She handed me a book. She knew me well enough to know the trick to help me – she tapped into my love of reading. Janna was patient and careful. She knew how to get me to make the life saving decision to take depression medication on my own, empowering me through gentle guidance.

During the first year of my time with Janna, I began to admire her way of counselling tremendously. I wanted to help others too. I began, with her help and encouragement, an Infertility Support Group in my town. As she gave of her own time, supporting, modelling, guiding, and inspiring me with the creation of this group, I healed even more deeply and gained a self awareness and self confidence I had never known.
My time with Janna is a cherished and precious part of my infertility story. I have learned about mental health, fertility counselling, interpersonal skills, and diplomacy. But most importantly, I have learned skills for dealing with life. Infertility is one of many struggles life can throw at a person. I actually feel blessed to have been given the cross of infertility to bear, because it brought me to Janna. The lessons and tools I have learned through my efforts to ‘conquer’ infertility, with Janna’s guidance, are life changing. It is with Janna Stark that I have healed. Today, I intend to honour her teaching through helping others as she so profoundly did for me.

Lorrayne N, Vancouver, B.C.