Jon Waldman learned that his family suffered from infertility, and this is his story.

You can read stories of resilience and share your story at: www.iamresilient.info

Trigger Warning: The Resilience Project provides an open space for people to share their personal experiences. Some content in this podcast may include topics that you may find difficult. The listener’s discretion is advised. 

About the Guest:

Jon Waldman is a Winnipeg-based writer and five-time author. His most recent book, Swimming Aimlessly, discussed his family’s six year infertility journey before having a daughter in 2015. Jon has spoken about the struggles men have with infertility at TEDx and the United Kingdom’s National Infertility Awareness Week, and been interviewed by the CBC, the BBC, CTV, Global Television and HuffPost, among others. He has written about the subject, as well, for Globe and Mail and The Telegraph. Jon’s work has also appeared in the Winnipeg Free Press, The Hockey News, and The Toronto Sun.

 

Twitter: @jonwaldman

Instagram: @jon_waldman

Simon and Schuster author page: https://www.simonandschuster.com/authors/Jon-Waldman/168366987

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3158212.Jon_Waldman

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jonwaldman/

About the Host:

Blair Kaplan Venables is an expert in social media marketing and the president of Blair Kaplan Communications, a British Columbia-based PR agency. She brings fifteen years of experience to her clients which include global wellness, entertainment and lifestyle brands. As a pioneer in the industry, she has helped her customers grow their followers into the tens of thousands in just one month, win integrative marketing awards, launch their businesses and more. Yahoo! listed Blair as a top ten social media expert to watch in 2021. She has spoken on national stages and her expertise has been featured in media outlets including Forbes, CBC Radio, Entrepreneur and Thrive Global. Blair is also the #1 bestselling author of Pulsing Through My Veins: Raw and Real Stories from an Entrepreneur and co-host of the Dissecting Success podcast. When she’s not working on the board for her local chamber of commerce, you can find Blair growing the “The Global Resilience Project,” an online community where users share their stories of overcoming life’s most difficult moments.

Learn more about Blair: https://www.blairkaplan.ca/

Submit your story: https://www.iamresilient.info

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Transcript
Blair Kaplan Venables:

trigger warning, the Resilience Project provides an open space for people to share their personal experiences. Some content in this podcast may include topics that you may find difficult, the listeners discretion is advised.

Blair Kaplan Venables:

Hello friends, welcome to radical resilience, a weekly show where I lead Kaplan Venables have inspirational conversations with people who have survived life's most challenging times. We all have the ability to be resilient and bounce forward from a difficult experience. And these conversations prove just that, get ready to dive into these life changing moments while strengthening your resilience muscle and getting raw and real.

Blair Kaplan Venables:rney for having a daughter in:Jon Waldman:

It's going I mean, I don't have any Barbie dolls, moving any heads off, or anything like that. It's not nothing violent to me happening. But certainly, you know, when you're talking about an infertility, you're, you're talking about a very treacherous road, you're talking about a journey that changes your life. And as I was going through it, and not finding the male support that I needed, I knew that, you know, I had to do something. And so the book is, so far, at least the pinnacle of, of my of my work, but you know, it's not something that I'm stopping with. It's something that that's a conversation that has to continue.

Blair Kaplan Venables:

So I think, you know, first of all, I really appreciate you being so open to talk about it, because for years, the subject was taboo. Myself, I was told that I had fertility issues, and that my husband and I couldn't conceive naturally after trying. And I was supposed to go for tests, and I decided, hey, let's just try for the summer, then I'll go for tests, and I got pregnant. And it was beautiful, because I didn't need the intervention that they thought. But then at eight weeks, I had a miscarriage. And that on its own was so traumatic, but no one talks about that, like in Hollywood or TV, like getting pregnant is to see it seemed so easy. But it's not for everyone and I would love to know your story.

Jon Waldman:started trying to conceive in:Blair Kaplan Venables:

And so when, like, what was that moment where you and your wife looked at each other, and you had that discussion or that realization that it was time to, you know, drive across the country?

Jon Waldman:

It wasn't one conversation, for sure. Like we even we tried SWI when we did our first procedure of IUI. We did it in Winnipeg. And we just found that we weren't getting answers to what we needed. We were we were sort of given that up that option of it's up to you what you want to do next, after doing our first run. And we said, No, that's not helpful. We need advice. So we at that point, we'd already started to be in the spark group through the fertility matters Canada, previously known as the infertility Awareness Association of Canada. And we heard from some people who were traveling to Calgary traveling to Toronto, did some research online saw that people were going to Fargo when it can Kuhn going to Europe for their solution. So he just looked around and found that ultimately Victoria was going to have are, was going to be the best suited for us. As Jasmine, actually, as we found out for multiple Winnipeggers. But it wasn't, it was not an easy conversation to have. It's never an easy conversation for anybody to have, but especially what I find for men to be able to ask for help or to, you know, whether you're asking for directions, or whether you're something asking for something that's life changing, you know, men have trouble admitting that they have a problem, and have even more trouble saying that, you know, I need some guidance, I need outside help on this. We can't we're problem solvers by nature. So we try to do things ourselves. And ultimately, yeah, this isn't something you can do yourself. So it was it was hard. But and it took multiple conversations, like I said, but ultimately, we had a consult with a doctor in Victoria. And from it, yeah, this is the way we have to this is going to be the best way for us to do it.

Blair Kaplan Venables:

So you just mentioned that there's people were looking all over the world for the right clinic for you. How did you know like, what were those things you were looking for? In a place to go through this with? Like, what were those key things that made this decision for you with this specific fertility clinic

Jon Waldman:

one of the biggest things was that they were a little bit more, I don't want to say experimental, but they were a little bit more open in their thinking as to what are the possibilities of the cause of our fertility issues. They had a little bit more of an open eye towards you know, different drug protocols, different treatments, etc. than a lot of the places across the country and we didn't want to different to the states. So and we just wanted to stay in Canada for it. And it seemed like it was gonna be the best spots aside from the that part of it being able to go into Victoria and be in an environment that is so calm and so serene, safer rainstorms, which we experienced there. It was the right place for us to be

Blair Kaplan Venables:

I can imagine I mean, everyone's different. But you know, having that conversation of like what you can do naturally and what you need assistance with what was going on in your head.

Jon Waldman:

Um, a million different things and I it's a little bit of exaggeration, but not too much. Ultimately, for me it was you know, running good not doing what you should be doing naturally, you know, your quote unquote, behind your friends, your you know, you grew up with the same group of guys and girls and they started having kids at an early another time and you and you start to feel it, you start to fall behind the same way that if you were not able to land a job right away, or if you weren't moving into a house right away, you're getting married right away and all that kind of thing. You sort of feel these deficiencies and it's so hard to relate what it feels like and it's hard for people to understand unless you've gone through it yourself. And certainly not expressing a wish on anybody but it is something that it's hard. It's almost impossible to describe because there's you talk about how it affects you emotionally financially. We are relationship with your partner changes your relationship with your family changes your relationship with your friends change. beliefs, and goals are a big part of your being like even, you know, when you're sitting at work. And if you start hearing somebody saying that, you know, someone has sent you an email with an announcement of him going on madly when pregnant or whatever, or what have you, it hits you. And it's hard to work around it, it's impossible to work around it.

Blair Kaplan Venables:

I'm so sorry. You went through that. And my I mean, not to take away from your story, I had a very different experience, first of all, a different gender. The number one, and but I know what you mean, because, you know, I'm 36. And my friends, were starting to have kids, and I was ready, and we tried and try them. My friend started having your second kids, and we're still trying. Now we're starting to get tests, we learned that like Shane's spring camp was a little down, but fine, and that, then all of a sudden, it felt like it was falling on me. And, you know, it's like, well, I didn't and then I see people getting pregnant who like had a one night stand got pregnant, they're gonna raise the kid and I love that that's beautiful. But then there's this jealousy. And this like pain of like, What is wrong with me? Like I want I'm ready to be a mom. Like, why is my body not working with me? And like, it's, it's so interesting, because then like you said, you get these announcements, these are getting invited to baby showers and like, you're so I knew I was so happy for my friends. And I like decided, You know what, I'm going to switch my mindset, I'm just going to celebrate everyone with a baby, when I see a baby at the coffee shop, and they smile at me, talk to them, and I'm just gonna welcome that energy. And because I like to mix the science with the Whoo, like, I'm a woowoo Jew, and I'm Jewish and Jewish. And, you know, like, I can't tell you what it was or how we got pregnant. Because we did not try that summer it was but but like you said, being in Victoria, where it's all relaxed, we were camping a lot. And I honestly, it was the best summer of my life. Like, we just lived our life, we went camping, we hung out, there was no pressure we didn't, you know, we're trying to do anything, we're just doing our thing. And I was like, wow, like, that's so interesting that that happened. And I remember because when I was told that we might need to do IVF, my husband, I talked about the cost of it. The cost of it in Canada is very expensive. And, you know, maybe we can talk a bit about that cost, because that's when we decided, let's take the summer and see what happens. Because I was never gung ho on that, like, at the time I lived in the middle of the mountains, I would have had to drive three hours. And for you know, to get treatment, it is a lot of money. And I thought, you know, I maybe if I lived in Vancouver, it would be different. But for us, there was all these other elements, and you guys made this decision to drive across the country. So a little bit further than I would have to drive. But there's that cost element. And not everyone has that luxury. So like, I want to talk about that. Because I know there's some countries that it's like your first round of IVF is free.

Jon Waldman:

Yeah, and it used to be the case in Quebec, that they would be for that first round, Ontario had something similar, but both programs have gone by the wayside. Because it's I mean, they I had overwhelming demand for it. But when you when you talk about the cost, and it is, you know, for IUI can be you know, a couple $1,000. When you're talking about drugs, you know, it's a it's in the three figures. But when you're talking about IVF, you're anywhere between 10 and $15,000, the relief that you can get is that depending on how where wherever you're working, depending on the wording in your health plan, a lot of plans will not explicitly say that certain drugs can be used for fertility procedures, as is the case with us, we are able to save a lot more $1,000 as a result of that. But a lot of places are disqualifying that, and they aren't providing the funding for that. Let alone that this is something that you're that is a private procedure in Canada, which where the health plan health coverage for so many things is provided. And yet it's a delayed system, but it's still and it's not perfect, but it's better. But the way I look at it that I like and it is this is that someone can say oh, you know, you can just go and adopt or you can just be happy being the being the uncle or whatever. And I'm like, Yeah, sure. I don't need to get my knees operated on I can get around a wheelchair, I can get around with a walker. You tell me which one which is the one that means more and what and which is the one that you can that you can live with and live without it's not being able to start a family not being able to have a natural family or a lot of people adoption is yes, it's it's a great answer. And it's a great opportunity. But for some people you know, we were sitting in we looked at adoption. And one of the emphasis points that the presenter made was that the person that you're walking down the down the aisles you at her wedding, she isn't biologically yours. And it was a heartbreaker, it was horrible to listen to, but there's a there was an ounce of truth to it, then for a lot of people, they don't want to go through that adoption process because of the that unknown that they don't know, they don't necessarily have all the all the the history presented to them. They don't know, you know what they have to be watching out for if the if there's a history of early death and found in their family or anything like that. So it's impossible. And it's impossible to know everything. And some people choose not to do adoption for that reason. So you can't just say that there are that there's other things you can do other than fertility procedures, that's, that should be provided by our government, the same way that it is for any other surgery. I don't see any reason why it shouldn't be.

Blair Kaplan Venables::Jon Waldman:

Well, there's a couple different options. You know, there are we didn't know about this when we were going through our, our process. But there are some organizations that provide for lack of better term scholarships. They provide funding, just out of the goodness of their hearts. There's even an organization in Toronto that that provides funding for Jewish families, but you have to be doing the process in Toronto. There's similar organizations across Canada, US, United Kingdom everywhere. The one thing that the thing that I would recommend is to find your local association, whether it's fertility matters, whether it's resolved, whether it's the other organizations that are across the globe and find a local support group You know, and if there isn't a local Software Group go on Facebook and research one of the groups. And what I would say is find both for specifically for gender and find for mixed gender. And one of the one of the saving graces for a lot of the people that I've spoken with, both during the book and afterward is that there are a number of groups that are just for men. There's a lot of there were groups that I was in, during our journey and afterward where there's a little bit of hostility. You know, there's some, because we were primarily, I would say, somewhere between 80 and 90%, female membership, there are a lot of comments about my husband isn't involved isn't, doesn't do this, or doesn't do that, that kind of thing. So when you get that, that feeling as a male going into those groups, you know, you're not going to be wanting to go much further. But you find you find comfort among gay brothers, no questions asked. But I would say that, you know, when, when, what when I, when we went to our support locally, there were a couple other guys that would routinely go and even though they weren't as vocal as I am, and I come from the journalism world, so it's natural for me to be vocal. But just having other men there made it more comfortable for me to keep going there. So certainly, you know, find that that opportunity, but find the opportunities for yourself also, because the the path that women goes through, and the path the men go through, are different, the mentality is different. The physicality obviously is different. So there's a few different parts to the to that but it's, it's so important for men to be checking in on themselves, and to be really aware of what they're feeling and what their emotions are and how they're proceeding and not to just be robotic, and just going along for the ride and just providing the support that they can,

Blair Kaplan Venables:

that that's what I want. That's a brilliant answer. So men listening to this, if you and your partner on this journey, like find the support, your partner is not going through this alone, you're going through it together. And it's together experience and yes, you're each individually, you know, going through something separate. But you need to take care of yourself. What are some things you did to take care of yourself? And to, you know, help yourself physically and mentally? And like the support you found amongst your brothers? Like, how can how can you support your brothers? How can your friends support you? Like, let's talk about that? Because this is something that we don't talk enough about?

Jon Waldman:

Yeah, it's definitely something that wasn't easy. I mean, for me, I mean, it's different. I'm, I'm wired differently, again, being being in journalism. My, the way that I found comfort and found relief was to broadcast it. And literally, you know, within the first three months of us being part of a, in a support group I was approached, no, we know you have experienced journalists, we know that you've done radio for this, that or the other. Would you feel comfortable going on local radio to talk about it? And I said, Yeah, sure. Why not? I didn't think it was actually going to happen anytime soon. But sure enough, I got a call six weeks later, that CJ OB local global radio, wanted me to come on a show a Dalia curse and to tell my story, I just so really trepidatious Lee and anonymously. But I did it. And I found that the more that I talked, the better it felt. And I think that for a lot of guys, you know, they'll say that, you know that, if given the opportunity, they can talk, we have the stereotype, of course that men don't talk. It's about finding that outlet for me, it was a public outlet for other people, it's going on, it's going on Reddit and an anonymous forum for other people, it's going on Facebook, it's going on Instagram, or it's going into life support groups, or it's, you know, going for a drink, have a drink night with, with guys who are going through similar experiences. It's just, you just have to find that out that that's going to work best for you. Certainly, I don't, I don't consider my path to be the norm. But, you know, it's it really was it helped me just to be able to talk and I talked with I ended up talking with everybody, you know, I talked with strangers about it, who contacted me after I did the my radio and television spots. I talked with journalists, I talked with people that that were that we were friends with that didn't say tell us anything. I had a co workers that are nowhere started telling me about the experiences I haven't had when we went to our board went to Victoria, I was working in a marketing agency and I had to tell my clients Hey, guess what, I'm gonna be gone for a month. I will be working with you, but I'm gonna be two hours behind you. And one of my and I and they and I asked my VP and she said, yeah, you can, you know, tell them why you're going and One of the one of my clients, to his credit came out and said, we went through the same thing we had both of our kids through IVF. So, it's amazing how when you have that conversation, whatever, whatever way you have it. It's amazing what doors are open, but don't ultimately you just have to start talking about it, talk with your partner, talk with your family, talk with everybody, or as many or as few people as you want. But getting it out of your system is the most important thing to do.

Blair Kaplan Venables:

And that's brilliant, thank you so much for sharing, because that's actually why the global Resilience Project exists and why the radical resilience podcast exists. So it's a creative space for people to share their stories. And so if you are going through this and you'd like to share your story, you know, we invite you to submit it, you can go to our website, or in the show notes and submit your story. But I think you touched on something and I want to talk about this before we wrap up our chat today. Because I think it's important. I remember Brene Brown fan. And, you know, there's a lot of shame. Like people feel shame, when you can't do it naturally like and I think I think it's important to to just talk about that. Not saying you felt it, I don't I don't know how exactly you felt but like what, what you're doing is inviting people to find a support group or to Google anonymously, or to come on our podcast, whatever it might be, and everything in between. But like knowing you are not alone, and it's okay to not be okay, it's okay to go through the feelings like don't push them down and find that support whatever it might be. And, and I'd love to know, like I normally ask a higher level question of like, general advice. But I think this is a good question to end on with John and like, you can kind of give whatever advice you'd like. But what advice do you have for men who are feeling shame about this process or embarrassed?

Jon Waldman:

I think that ultimately, men need to know that it's not something to be ashamed or it's not something in 99% of the cases that you did, you know, getting playing sports and taking a ball to those regions. None most of the time will not impact your fertility. Saw your some bad habits might you know, like having greasy burgers and that kind of thing. But it's nothing that's in those situations, there's nothing that's beyond repair. If you're born with low sperm counts, that's not your fault. If you're born with low motility, or no motility, or no or horrible morphology, that's not your fault. That's the most important thing to understand is that it's not something where you are where you're, you know, one of the quote unquote, stupid things we did earlier in life is the be all and end all of your fertility journey. And just know that there, that's whatever way you go. Voice yourself, in your in your relationship, you have a voice, your wife has a voice, your partner has a voice, you have to know that what you're doing, what you're going forward with, is the path that you want to do if you're not comfortable doing something. And I've had and I've had the conversation with people who have said that they are not comfortable doing IVF but they're not comfortable having doing adoption or they're not comfortable going to a surrogate. You have to know what you want to do and you have to be able to voice it's because you're going to regret it if you if you something later in life if you if you do something or don't do more especially don't do something you just have to be to be to know that whatever you're going to do is what you want to do and it's what you truly want to do both as an individual and as a couple. And there is it's all and it's so hard to find your voice but it's something that is so essential and you're going to feel so much better. You'll go through some tears you'll go through all the the weak moments you go through all the stomach wrenching feelings, but you come on the other side so much better.

Blair Kaplan Venables:

Right God that's beautiful. Listen to John he knows what he's talking about. And because he's a journalist, he puts his words together so beautifully. I think that's really brilliant advice and it's beautiful and I you know, I really appreciate you being so open with us and our community. Where can people find you if they want to dive in a bit deeper into you and your wisdom and experience?

Jon Waldman:

Absolutely the best way is to connect with me on Twitter at John Waltman or on Instagram at John underscore Walkman all my books most important one of course being about infertility are up on Amazon and available everywhere. And please do not hesitate to DM me i I have spoken with so many people and I I enjoy I truly enjoy the opportunity to speak with with individuals and to help them along their way. So please do not hesitate to reach out

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