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.

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.


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.

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!


Love, Light, Strength & Purpose

Happy birthday Delilah Evangeline. You continue to be an unparalled force of nature in my life and the driving influence behind all that i have learned and accomplished these last six years.

LOVE – All of this starts and ends with love. If you strip everything down, I do what I do because its a way to honor my love for you and to make sure that love is known to others who never have chance to meet you.

LIGHT – You are my sun and my moon, the guidance in times of joy and places of darkness.  I am always captivated by the way little coincidences don’t seem so coincidental anymore when I look at the path I’ve been navigating since you left.

STRENGTH – I continue to find strength in you and have been able to provide strength to others who need it to endure overwhelming heartbreak.

PURPOSE – I can’t say (and never will) that there was a purpose for you dying, not in a real way.  I mean, there is a logical medical reason, but there is not a universal acceptance that will make sense that can explain reasoning for the loss of one so wanted, and so loved. Awful things happen to those who never deserved it, and that has been one of the most difficult things to wrap my head around as I searched for an explanation.  But my experience with grief and loss has opened up a world of intriguing information and passion that I would likely not have found otherwise.  You are behind everything I do; sometimes in a very lucid way, and sometimes so subtly that I don’t realize it until in hindsight.

It’s these reasons that I started the Tangerine Owl Project in your memory.  Its for these reasons that it continues to evolve, because little girl, you are the essence of it all. Sharing you with the world is an honor and a privilege that I am thankful for every moment.

With love, always.

Poppy’s Dream – MMBWGL

Today I had the opportunity to take part in something so beautiful and meaningful, it filled my heart and soul.

I serve on the bereavement committee for the Mother’s Milk Bank of the Western Great Lakes (www.milkbankwgl.org).   Together, we look for ways to acknowledge and honor mamas who have donated their milk after a loss. Those of you who know me know that I donated Delilah’s milk after she died, I didn’t see any reason not to.  I know that other mothers struggle with the idea of milk that was meant to sustain their child going to someone else.  It can be a painful thought and only mothers can make the choice that is right for them.

That said, for many bereaved moms, donating milk has been a tangible way to connect with their baby.  They find hope and peace knowing that their child can provide for another child in need.

Most often, donor milk is used for NICU babies who aren’t able to get milk from their own mothers for a variety of reasons, and IT IS CRITICAL to their survival.  Donor milk from mothers of preemies, is even more rare, and provides a different makeup of essential nutrients than normal full-term babies mother’s breast milk.  Donating Milk saves lives.

We reveled in that yesterday at the unveiling of Poppy’s Dream, a gorgeous tile mural at the milk bank that accompanies personalized stars with the names & birthdates of donor babies. We held a ceremony for the unveiling, and had an unprecedented attendance from donor families. It was a mix of emotions for those who attended as they reflected on their experience. I was asked to share Delilah’s story, and again was reminded of how meaningful she has been to others who were able to thrive and grow with her milk.  This mural serves as a reminder to the staff of why the milk bank exists, and its a stunning representation of the delicate balance in life, and the good that can come from bad.

It is an honor to serve on the bereavement committee for MMBWGL and allowed me a bit of space to be present with my thoughts on Delilah (who was also recognized in the candlelighting ceremony).  And what better timing as her birthday is tomorrow…..

There goes the universe working in mysterious ways again.


Guess what? I’m a book contributor!

SO excited to announce that I have been invited and accepted to contribute to a book on dealing with pregnancy & infant loss that is meant to aid health professionals in understand how to better work with these parents.

The Book is called Our Only Time by Amie Lands and it will be out in just a few weeks!

(More info on the book here)


Its surreal to be in a space where I am viewed as an expert and where my experiences are noted in a platform different than an individual level when I am talking to other loss mamas.  Each and every story has value and I don’t mean to negate any of that – the one on one work I do is just as rewarding to help mamas navigate grief, but building a name for myself and the Tangerine Owl Project in the world of care and insight for bereaved parents in the face of healthcare providers and other professionals is such a wonderful feeling.

Once again, I am honored to be thought of and I applaud Amie and the other contributors for continuing to give voice to these mamas, and to hope that my words may help comfort those going through their own hell by knowing they are not alone and by guiding those health care professionals with them at this time who are tasked with the damn near impossible and completely unnatural – walking with these families towards the death of their child and navigating the road after with them.


“My NICU Network” – An online curriculum for NICU professionals in assisting NICU patients, parents, & families


MyNICUNetwork Logo

In the past few months, I have been working in tandem with numerous other professionals with a variety of backgrounds to contribute to online course material developed for professionals working in the NICU.  This is a collaborative project between the National Perinatal Association, Patient+Family Care, & the Preemie Parent Alliance is called My NICU Network.  I am honored and privileged to have been included in developing part of the curriculum that will be provided to NICU professionals to help them further understand and work with these unique families.

Providing perspective as an expert in the unit on Pallative / Bereavement Care on how to interact with bereaved parents or parents whose babies are expected not to make it has been very fulfilling.  Not gonna lie, it was difficult to have to put myself back in that NICU room, back into the worst day of my life on an emotional level.  I don’t often like to revisit it, but parents who have been through this can offer exceptional expertise on what can both aid and hinder relationships with professionals in the NICU.  What are things that one may find helpful and consoling, what things should not be said and insight as to why seemingly innocuous or “supportive” words may not come across that way to someone in the crisis of torment, confusion, & grief. All together this is an awesome learning tool for those who don’t interact with these parents all the time and aren’t accustomed to or necessarily comfortable with the ins and outs of NICUs and all that go along with that experience for parents.  It can be a challenging time for both care providers and families, so I’m thrilled to provide any insight that help to provide and guidance that makes navigating the process, along with the other wealth of information that is available through this course.  Please share it with those who may find it beneficial in your networks.

A Bit of Gratitude and Rejuvination

This past weekend I both attended and spoke at the Preemie Parent Alliance Summit.

I was looking forward to it for a long time knowing that I would be reconnecting live & in person with people I haven’t seen since the last summit i was able to attend in Phoenix circa 2014.  Then, I was 2 years fresh off of the loss of Delilah, only a year and a half into running the Tangerine Owl Project and still super motivated to connect with others who wanted to help NICU families.

Though I have kept in touch with and kept a few tabs on some of the amazing people & organizations that I knew, there is just something about being there in person that has reinvigorated the drive in me that has been somewhat lacking, somewhat exhausted, at times somewhat frustrated and disappointed in myself, and even somewhat burnt out.

I felt like I haven’t been able to do a ton of meaning full things for Tangerine Owl for a few reasons over the last few years….  We have had a lot of transitions in family and work, increasing responsibilities with work, and have taken on more volunteer opportunities around Maternal Mental Health, infant loss, and things at the kids school.  I also had not yet been able to put my finger on exactly HOW to serve people through Tangerine Owl without being a clinician, a licensed anything, or having a ton of disposable income.

Being at this summit for me was a chance to meet and learn from a number of simply phenomenal individuals and give hugs to those who I have missed and talked with virtually for awhile. I learned more about self care and got some pointers on what I can do to help balance myself, I learned what others in the space are doing to care for NICU families and how.  I learned more about a lot of things. I got a chance to relax a bit and indulge a bit.

I also had the honor to present this year.  Those who know me know that I get very anxious about public speaking, it never has been my strong suit and its one of my least favorite things on the planet. BUT, this opportunity was for the greater good; It was sharing information that could help other people, it was giving validity and value to the bereaved parent and what they can teach others but are so rarely considered in transformative opportunities with institutions not centered around bereavement.  So I pushed myself to do it. Even when the people are interested, engaged, and in the same world that you are. My fight or flight response kicked in and I had to breathe through the anxiety.  Which made no sense at all (my head knew there really was no reason to be scared, but my body apparently felt differently)  I was up to 4:00am perfecting my slides and organizing my thoughts.  Worth It.

Travel is always exhausting, and its another source of anxiety for me and another not-so-favorite thing, even when its for something fun. Finding potential future collaborations, building my knowledge, seeing my friend & entrepreneurial mentor. BUT, this was so worth it and I would do it again in a heartbeat.  I realized just how much I missed being with people who are fighting the same battles, and reaching towards similar goals, and recognition for Tangerine Owl was just the icing on the cake.

Thank you to all who attended, led, shared, laughed, cried, guided and encouraged. You are my people and you have recharged me and reminded me that even little things are enough.  It motivates me to keep going and to know that I am making a difference, even if its not what i originally envisioned, as quickly as I envisioned, or even on the same path as I originally envisioned. I continue to learn from and love this group.

March for Moms this spring to support Maternal Mental Health (MMH)

Why March for Moms?
As you know, my organization, The Tangerine Owl Project, is dedicated to supporting families who have suffered traumatic birth or stays in the NICU, premature birth, and infant loss. Any of these experiences can make mothers vulnerable and at higher risk for a perinatal mood disorder.

  • 15-20 % of all women will be affected by a maternal mental health (MMH) disorder
  • Maternal Mental Health disorders are the most common complication of pregnancy & childbirth, yet many go un-diagnosed

Because I am passionate about raising MMH Awareness, I have been working with 2020 Mom, a national organization who strives to close gaps in maternal mental care through education, advocacy, and collaboration.

There is strong correlation between untreated maternal depression or anxiety & premature birth moving 2020 Mom to launch “March for Moms”. In partnership with March of Dimes (MOD), our teams will walk alongside MOD supporters at MOD walk sites across the country to support moms & babies by advocating for MMH. We are raising MMH awareness about among a group of moms who are already at-risk for developing postpartum depression or postpartum anxiety.

I am leading a team that will participate in the Plainfield, Illinois walk on Sunday May 7, at 1:00pm in Village Green Park. This is not a fundraiser for the Tangerine Owl Project, however, it IS raising money for a cause that will affect many of the women we work with. It is for that reason that I hope you will consider supporting me and the wonderful work that 2020 Mom is doing in MMH. 2020 Mom will also donate back 5% of the money our team raises to our local MOD chapter.

Ways you can support my team & MMH:

  • Join my team and walk with us
  • Join my team & make a donation
  • Join my team and ask people in your networks to join/donate to the cause too
  • Make a donation to the team

To join or donate to the team, please visit my walk team page here:

If you would like to start your own team to raise MMH awareness and fundraise for 2020 Mom at any MOD walk location in the US instead, that would be just as impactful! The more teams walking and the more locations the better!!! More info and step by step help to set up your team is available here: http://www.2020mom.org/mmh-walk/. I would be happy to assist you in finding your local MOD walk details and/or setting up your team. Walk Sponsorship Opportunities are also listed at the above link for businesses who would like to get involved. Feel free to get in touch with any questions.

Please share this with any of your colleagues, patients or friends/family members that may want to join or donate because of a personal experience.

Thank you for your support in helping both moms & families thrive!