Written by Shannon Hughes, guest blogger
Once upon a time, my husband and I had the conversation about building our family and after about 2 minutes, we decided that it was time to start trying. Little did we know that it was not going to be as fun and stress free as they make it seem. Flash forward 3 years, and there were still no babies in our house. Something wasn’t right.
After several tests, on both our parts, we were diagnosed with infertility and jumped right into this world filled with appointments, medications, ultrasounds, injections, emotions, a lot of questions and A LOT of waiting. At the time, I was working as a nanny, but the appointments and non-stop feeling like crap (no better way to put it) led me to the life of unemployment. I didn’t mind, because all I wanted to do was sleep.
I had been toying around with the idea to start this side hobby of making t-shirts and selling them, just to give me something to do, but mostly to help distract me from the stress of IVF. Once my job transitioned to ‘stay at home wife’, I took the t-shirt biz a little bit more seriously, and decided that if I was going to do this thing, I was going to do it right.
With that decision, Nine 16 Designs was officially launched as an online apparel shop! 9/16 is the date that my bearded hubs and I had our very first date, so we thought it was fitting for the name of our new venture. Also, it made the logo easy to design and just sounded cool.
The first few months of business were pretty lackluster, but it kept me busy. This was something I needed once we got the results from our first round of IVF…negative. The transfer didn’t work. I was devastated…like, couldn’t breath or stop crying kinda vibes. It was a huge blow to our confidence that IVF was going to work. We never had a doubt in the world that it wouldn’t. To make matters worse, they ran some tests afterwards to see if they could find the reason as to why our embryos didn’t implant. The results were even more devastating than the negative BETA results.
They found cancer in my uterine lining. IVF was off the table for a minimum of 6 months, maybe even more. Now what? What am I supposed to do for 6 months, while we work to get my body clear of cancer cells?
I decided that I wasn’t going to just sit around and mope, so I jumped back into the business but this time, I decided that it needed something more. I wanted to DO something more.
I had been trying to think of an organization that we could team up with, to donate a portion of our proceeds to, but nothing was really clicking for me. I wanted it to be a good one, one that I would have a passion for. I didn’t really want to team up with big companies that wouldn’t directly benefit from our donations.
Then one day it hit me.
I had gotten to know SO many individuals struggling with infertility and the number one topic, or cause of stress during this process was money. The cost of fertility treatments is overwhelmingly high. You could buy a brand new car and pay cash for it, then probably buy a few designer purses or Rolexes on top of that. That’s the kind of money that people are dishing out, just for the CHANCE of having a family of their own.
So that was it. I wasn’t going to work with an organization, or any big companies. I was going to work with individual people, and I was going to work with as many of them as possible.
With that, Project 1:8 was created, and I was SO excited about it. We started asking people to share their stories with us, and spread the word. We would choose a couple, or individual, and work with them for a two week time span spreading the word about their story, sharing their pictures, and just letting the world get to know them. Any order that was placed during that two weeks, a portion of the proceeds goes into a pot for the couple to get. We also opened up a direct donation link, for those that didn’t really see anything in the shop that they liked.
When we started, our list of applicants was about 10-15 people. We are now only a few months into it, and our list has grown to over 100! It is our goal to work with every single one of these warriors, and even though what we donate might not be in the thousands, we know that every little bit helps. We’ve helped pay for entire orders of progesterone, we’ve shared the word with friends and families, resulting in large direct donations, and most importantly, we’ve helped get the word out about infertility.
As my husband and I struggle through our own treatments, it has been a very welcomed task to organize and run Project 1:8. We are thrilled to be able to help others who aren’t fortunate enough to have insurance coverage. We are even more excited that we are getting the word out there. I will continue to spread the word, share the love, encourage and support any and all men and women who are going through this extremely difficult time.
At the time this post is being written, we have donated over $2,000 to our applicants, and it is my hope that that number grows exponentially over the next several months.
Want to win some Nine 16 Design swag of your own? Head on over to our Instagram page for your chance to win!