When we started trying for a baby, I had no idea what infertility really was. I was coming from the mindset of, “I’ve been pregnant before,” and “I’m young, this won’t be hard.” Nothing could have ever prepared me for the havoc infertility would play on my body, on my relationships, and especially my mental health.

I’m not a stranger to darkness, I’ve been dealing with anxiety and depression for years, before this, but infertility is a whole different beast, and I was wholly unprepared for the battle. I don’t like to ask for help, I try to fix my own problems when I can, and I feel like a burden when I need to ask for help. For me, the isolation that comes standard with infertility was made so much worse by the mentality I had built, where I believed I had to go this alone. 

When I miscarried I was in my teens, so my husband doesn’t share the same intense desire I have to hold a rainbow baby of my own. While he can visibly see when I’m in pain, he’s not able to comprehend the depth of loss that I am feeling. I don’t want him to feel the emptiness that honestly gets scary sometimes, but at the same time, I’m alone in this grief. None of my sisters has experienced this amount of hardship to get pregnant, and I have never felt more utterly alone in my life.

I could feel myself sinking as the days continued passing, and I almost let it drown me. Instead, I turned to writing. First, I wrote lyrics to songs I would only play for myself, then I moved on to a personal blog that my one and only friend dealing with infertility alongside me knew about, and as I slowly started clawing my way back to the surface. I decided my desire to help people was greater than my desire to be self-sufficient. 

You see, until you deal with infertility, you probably don’t go looking for other people that are dealing with it. I know I didn’t. So once I turned to Instagram to share my story, to help other people feel less alone, I suddenly found myself surrounded by women who were fighting the same battles I was. While every story is different, every account I found made me feel less crazy, less hopeless and more accepted. 

Opening up the conversation about my “journey” through infertility has been the best decision I have ever made. Not only have I found a community of incredibly strong and selfless women—and men—to support me on this crazy rollercoaster ride I’m traveling on, I’ve also discovered just how many people have always been in my corner. I was never willing to have the conversation because I didn’t think anyone would understand what I was going through, so I thought they couldn’t help me. But I didn’t really need people to understand me; I just needed people to be there, to carry me through on the hard days, and let me tell you, they have come through for me every single time.

I can’t tell you how many times I didn’t think I would be strong enough to keep going but somehow I managed to do just that. It wasn’t my strength alone that carried me through those dark times, it was all of the people I had supporting me, crying with me, and cheering me on. 

Without the help of my tribe, I would have been completely overwhelmed by this journey. I honestly don’t think I would have made it through. I have changed so much along the way. There are pieces of me that I don’t recognize, but with the help of the community I’ve found, I have been able to see that those pieces of me are stronger; they are beautiful and unique. Even the dark parts of me that I am ashamed of are beautiful.

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This incredible team around me has shown me that it’s okay to feel broken. It’s okay to be angry, sad, happy, and hopeful all at the same time. They gave me the courage to share my story and open myself up, and the vulnerability, while scary at times, has created such a healthy environment for healing. 

I finally found a safe space where I belonged, where no one would put me down for sharing posts on my darker days, where no one would tell me I overshare because infertility is personal and uncomfortable. A place where my journal entries are heard and appreciated and help other people. I feel like I am finally able to be me—like I am truly free to just put everything out there without any fear or hesitation. This gave me the strength I needed to share all that I’ve been through and all that I’m feeling. Whether in my posts, in private messages, or through the music I’ve produced documenting this wild ride of infertility, I am finally able to get it all off my chest and share it with others.

If you are new to the world of infertility, you need to know that there are going to be days where it’s hard to breathe, when you hurt so bad you don’t know how you’ll get up and continue moving forward. These are the times when you need your people. It’s okay to set your burdens down, it’s okay to process your fears out loud, to let someone else know your pain. You are not a burden, you are not alone, and you are not broken, no matter how many times you need someone else to help you through. Whether it’s your close friends and family, a local support group, or even anonymously online, you need a community to weather the storm with you.

Bailey Johnson has been trying to conceive for two and a half years. She has PCOS, Endometriosis, and was diagnosed with anovulation. While infertility treatments feel like a full-time job, she is a 911 Emergency Dispatcher and runs a small business with her sister. She is also a singer-songwriter and her most recent EP being all about her journey and struggles through infertility.