About staceytangerineowlproject

I am a Chicagoland mommy, who runs the Tangerine Owl Project (tangerineowl.org) devoted to supporting families with infants in the NICU and/or those who have experienced infant loss. I am an advocate for maternal mental health, preeclampsia education and community outreach/support for the uncomfortable issues that families deal with. I have a ridiculously loving and supportive husband, two lovely children and a 3rd in heaven. Life can be chaotic, but we make the best of what's thrown at us, through all of this I am thankful that it has led me to meet and learn from some incredible people.

6 years….

Well Delilah,

It’s been six years since you inspired us to start the Tangerine Owl Project.  Six whole years….. how can that be when I remember seeing you just like it was yesterday?

It’s been pretty quiet over here at the project lately, but that’s because your mama has gone back to school!  I’m working to get my master’s degree in social work so that I can continue to help families who have lost their precious little ones like you.  It’s a long process but it’s worth it, because when I’m done, the Tangerine Owl Project is going to be a place where mamas can go while they are pregnant and after when they need help with adjusting to life with a new precious little one or if they are heartbroken like me because their angel didn’t get to go home.  It’ll be amazing, but it’ll be a few years before I get there.  In the meantime,  I do what I can to support others; You have always been the guiding light behind this and for that I am forever thankful.

Happy Birthday little girl. We love you fiercely & miss you everyday.

f

Maternal Mental Health Advocacy Opportunity this May- Mom Congress!

Hey MMH advocates,

Some of you may recall that I do some contract work for an amazing national non-profit called 2020 Mom. This org. is committed to Maternal Mental Health advocacy and will be convening this May and taking Capitol Hill by storm to raise awareness for Maternal Mental Health initiatives with each states local leaders.  MOM CONGRESS!!  I am planning to get out there and am hoping that you all may be moved to join us as well.  We set appointments with our congressional representatives to make sure they know that MMH is important and what they can do to support mamas and families in their home states.  I know, I know, face time with your legislative reps can seem a bit daunting, but they are people like you and I. As constituents, it’s our job to help tell them what we need so that they can do their job.  Won’t you join us?

You can find a lot more info here:  https://www.2020mom.org/mom-congress

 

Writing To Heal

If you have suffered a loss, you have likely looked for ways to dull that hole in your heart…

Catharsis can come from many different avenues, one of which is writing your own truth.  I am grateful and thankful to authors out there who explore what it means to love, lose, grieve and survive.  One of which is author Jo-Ann Joseph.   Jo-Ann has allowed me to contribute to an anthology collection for grieving hearts, called Footprints on the Heart.

From there, I suggested another collaboration meant to inspire with stories of all the beautiful things that have come after loss.  The accomplishments and celebrations of resilience that can only be sparked by such loss and the will to take those feelings and drive them into something meaningful. Does this sound like you?

We have titled the work in progress Lost & Found: The Rainbow Effect, and we are searching for collaborators.  Our aim is to include works from as many different people as possible, no writing experience is necessary – you are the expert in your life.

If you would like to learn more check out our Facebook page here for collaborators and connect with Jo-Ann or I.  https://www.facebook.com/groups/500034830498330/

May is Maternal Mental Health Awareness Month – #31ReasonsWhyMMHMatters

In order to support Maternal Mental Health awareness during May – I’m calling out a reason every day during this month that gives experiences and insight to explain more about why it matters.

Maternal Mental Health is more than the “baby blues”, and it effects up to 1 in 5 women, yet its downplayed, underdiagnosed, stigmatized, and otherwise viewed as something that will just go away.  BUT IT WON’T.  Maternal Mental Health (MMH) encompasses a wide range of perinatal mood disorders that can occur including postpartum depressions, postpartum anxiety, postpartum psychosis, postpartum postraumatic stress disorder, postpartum OCD, and bi-polar mood disorder with perinatal onset.  More info on these can be viewed here: https://womenshealthtoday.blog/2017/06/13/understanding-perinatal-mood-and-anxiety-disorders/

MMH conditions are indiscriminate across varying age groups, races, cultures, subcultures, socio-economic status.  It can effect ANYONE. Your mom, your wife, your sister, your friend, your daughter, your colleague, and the list goes on… Maybe they shared, maybe they hid it, maybe you never knew, but if you know 5 women, chances are you know someone who has suffered.

This is the primary reason that we are hosting our event in Skokie on June – to raise awareness and funds dedicated to Maternal Mental Health. PLEASE CONSIDER SUPPORTING BY JOINING OR DONATING TO THE CAUSE. Check out more about it here.

So here is my running list, and I will continue to add to it daily through the month of May.

  1. She thought her kids and/or partner would be better off without her
  2. When she expressed her fears that she would be a bad mother she was told “don’t worry, you’ll be fine”.
  3. She was mommy-shamed for a choice she made for her own self-care
  4. She couldn’t access the help she needed
  5. She was on edge all the time and picked fights with her partner over little things
  6. When she said she felt like she was drowning they all thought she was overreacting or exaggerating.
  7. We never told her postpartum anxiety and/or depression has a history in our family.
  8. She DID tell her provider her symptoms, but they chalked it up to “new mom anxiety”
  9. She says she’s ok, but I hear her crying alone in another room
  10. She never mentioned her symptoms because she feared they would take her other children away and/or she would be arrested
  11. She told herself she didn’t deserve to a mother
  12. She couldn’t find a reason to get out of bed
  13. It’s Mother’s Day…..You came from a mother, are a mother, or know a mother – and EVERY mother needs support. Period.
  14. She had vividly horrifying dreams of harming her baby even though in real life she never would
  15. She lied on the depression screening questionnaire so she could leave, and because she’d never admit to being broken.
  16. She set her alarm every 30 minutes to check if the baby was still breathing
  17. She felt she failed at every aspect of motherhood
  18. She had unexpected and unexplainable panic attacks

On Mother’s Day…

MothersDayIseeyou

As I sit here on Mother’s Day, I am very aware of just how lovely and heartbreaking it can be for a mother of birth trauma and/or mamas who have suffered a loss of any kind. It’s a challenging co-existence.  Much like pregnancy, the societal expectation for us is to celebrate our mothers and motherhood.  In theory the concept works – honor the mother… and show her appreciation & love – but what about the struggling mamas?

Everyone has pain in their life, those who have lost their mothers, those whose relationships are strained, those whose moms aren’t involved in their lives, those who have lost children, what about those who are struggling with infertility?  It’s almost like a slap in the face because they aren’t able to follow the impending protocol on these specialized.  There’s no way to be inclusive of everyone, and there is no way to heal those whose hearts are broken again when this day comes. Every. Single. Year.

What about the mamas suffering from depression and anxiety – does this expectation and the inclination to celebrate her end up actually doing a disservice?  It could bring up all sorts of fears and doubts, loneliness, pressures, and sadness.  These could bring out the worst in her. All those who care about her want is to celebrate her, but all she can think about is how she has or is failing her children or family – True or not self-worth like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.

Sometimes I wish that we would stop making such big dedications or at least not perpetuating the misleading view that life is experienced in the same way for all.  You know what they say about good intentions…

 

Evanston/Skokie Maternal Mental Health ColorWalk June 10, 2018 – Join us!

There are many reasons that I am passionate about raising maternal mental health (MMH) awareness. Maternal Mental Health issues affect 15- 20% of women and are the most common complication of childbirth, yet they remain the most underdiagnosed. From my own personal experience and learning from conversations with other mamas sharing theirs in grief, loss, and motherhood, I’m now painfully aware that we are failing mothers everywhere.

After the loss of my preemie daughter Delilah, even in the midst of the catharsis provided by starting the Tangerine Owl Project in her name and to support others going through similar tragedy, I still found myself battling maternal anxiety & depression – years later. The effects of birth trauma, having a baby in the NICU, and/or losing a child are long lasting. But it’s not just the loss community that suffers.

Women everywhere are experiencing MMH issues. The US has staggering rates of maternal morbidity & mortality. Sadly, this is because too many mamas still remain scared, silent, unable to access care, ignored, helpless, or hopeless. There is great need among every population and subgroup – MMH conditions do not discriminate.

2020 Mom, a national non-profit dedicated to closing gaps in Maternal Mental Healthcare has launched our 2018 ColorWalk at locations across the country. We are raising awareness about MMH among our community and among women at-risk for developing postpartum depression, postpartum anxiety, or postpartum psychosis.

The Skokie/Evanston area MMH ColorWalk is scheduled for Saturday, June 10th, 10:00 AM at Devonshire Park (4422 Greenwood, Skokie 60076), and I have set up a fundraising team. I am asking for your support.

MY FUNDRAISING GOAL IS $5,000.
IT IS A LOFTY GOAL BECAUSE MATERNAL MENTAL HEALTH IS A BIG ISSUE.

This is doubly beneficial because 2020 Mom will donate a portion of the money our team raises back to the Tangerine Owl Project!

Ways people can Join My Team & Support MMH:
1. Join My Team: Walk with me and help me fundraise for this cause
2. Join My Team: Walk with me and make a donation to my team
3. Join My Team: Walk with me
4. Make a donation to my team

Any of the above can be done by visiting my Walk Team Page here: https://bit.ly/2KtIl01

  • $25 will provide a package of diapers that our ambassadors can take to a local organization in need
  • $50 can help an ambassador provide a lunch & learn session at their local hospital
  • $!00 will provide MMH awareness materials to a medical provider’s office
  • $150 can help us send an MMH advocate to Washington DC to talk with legislators about MMH policy initiatives & share their story.
  • $250 will fund a MMH documentary screening for communities and/or practitioners

1 in 5 Women will experience a Maternal Mental Health issue in their lifetime. Odds are you already know women who have or will.
 
PLEASE SHARE THIS WITH ANY FAMILY MEMBERS, FRIENDS OR COLLEAGUES, AS THEY MIGHT WANT TO JOIN AS WELL BECAUSE OF A PERSONAL EXPERIENCE.  

We welcome all community members, local businesses, organizations, MMH advocates, and practitioners to participate & come together at this family-friendly event; Get BOLD and make an impact!  We will provide the Color Dust (non-toxic & eco-friendly), Water & Refreshments at this family friendly event. If you are a mother or know a mother, YOU HAVE STAKE IN THIS CAUSE.

Please feel free to contact me with any questions. Thank you for your support!

Stacey