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.

You know you’re gold when….

You know you’re gold when the people you have had the pleasure of meeting in all pathways of life come together to support you.  This week, I had a minimal ask, but one that’s super important to me, and one that has the potential to have a great deal of impact.  This week, I’ve reached out to people in my home state to help request an official proclamation of a preeclampsia awareness day to be passed in the cities they live & work in.

I have received an enormous amount of willingness to help thus far, and it has motivated me more than ever before knowing that this means something to future women, babies and families, having to deal with this condition. All it took was me asking. That means (in today’s terms): #winning.

THANK YOU to everyone I’ve annoyed already this week. I love you all.I am thankful and cannot do it without you.

Remember that time?

Do you remember the time that you were at your worst? When you thought there was no more reason to attempt anything resembling a “normal” life?  Do you remember feeling like you would never be able to crawl back out of the darkness and you didn’t even really want to try?  How the pain and loss you felt overwhelmed you (and THAT is an understatement), and you couldn’t figure out how to get out of bed in the morning.  It hurt to breathe, it hurt to cry, it hurt everywhere. Perhaps flashbacks were going through your head, perhaps you were feeling guilt in addition to the anger and sadness and desperately trying to find a way to turn back time so that something, anything would be different.

Hearing that “it gets better” doesn’t help when you can’t find your way through the next 10 minutes, so what about the right now, for those in this moment of blackness? Being able to let yourself process is the only way to muddle through these extraordinarily complicated feelings.   What helped you process all your emotions?

Group Share

Seeing as how I am facilitating a support group for bereaved parents now, I decided to go check out an established group to help gain some insight to them and what they may look like in practice. You see, after the loss of Delilah, I didn’t see myself as a group share kind of person.  Its not something I believed would make me feel better, I thought it would only serve as reminder that life was cruel to many parents, which is more depressing when you’re still trying to process everything you’ve just gone through. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I attended.

In sitting in and sharing with this group, the support that was provided to these women was palpable. Its hard to describe, but it was there. I wasn’t afraid to share now that I’m a few years out from my loss; I’m still not one who would find solace in group support in this type of atmosphere, because I prefer individual interactions, but I didn’t find it depressing at all either.  What I found was a group of women who laughed, ranted, and cried, sometimes together, sometimes individually but all in a place they felt safe. Through all of this I was reminded why I volunteered to be a group facilitator, and the proof that this is what some grieving parents need to make it through their dark times and better days.  Unlike the people who will come to my group, I will not be sharing a whole lot in this role, because this time it’s not about me. Instead, I’ll be making sure the group takes the shape of whatever these women need at that point in time.

Am I wrong?

Most days I look at myself and see/feel that I have become a relatively well-adjusted mother dealing with loss.  It doesn’t mean that I still don’t experience various moments of sadness and really feel the hole in our family (and my heart) from our missing daughter.  I know this.  I wonder how I was able to navigate through the grief so “easily”, I wonder why my days now are spent in relative happiness or contentment with life….  I wonder if you resent me for it.  I wonder if I am missing something here when I’m told that the other shoe will drop and maybe I just haven’t had it hit me in that big all out world ending type of way that brings me to my knees and makes me want to lock myself in a closet all day and bawl.  I just don’t see myself going there.  I’ve been able to process most of my feelings (and continue to do so whenever they surface), I’ve been able to lean on those closest to me at times where I needed to have her acknowledged.  I remember my days with her and the few times that I actually got to hold her with fondness, even when the end result is so tragic. I know I am changed from the experience, and that the catharsis of working with other families experiencing loss is not a tool to wallow in mine, but one to honor her.

Am i not crediting my grief enough? Am I just lucky that I was able to cope with all of this and found the support that made it work for me?  How does this look to others?  Do I put them at ease knowing that there is a way through it or do I make them uneasy because how can I sit there and be functioning in life when they can’t even see that life anymore?

Not Just Words

I love this quote:

Support the strong, give courage to the timid, remind the indifferent, and warn the opposed.

– Whitney Moore Young

It’s about community, allowing you to draw strength courage and inspiration from those who walk with you, and of course, change the minds of attitudes who need adjusting.  Now, let’s go do that!

Seven Words.

For any babyloss parent out there- this is everything that needs to be said when the wounds are still fresh….. and more truths about whats to come after. XO to you all.

Painting The House Pink

When The Angel Princess first died I spent a lot of energy being angry at the people who said, or did, the wrong things. All the people who told me it was for the best, in an attempt to comfort me, all the people who gave me “at least…”s, all the people who ignored me, or her completely, the people who announced their pregnancies within weeks of her death, with no regards to the stab in the heart that was for us, the people who kept waiting for me to be ok, the people who wouldn’t say her name. It was a long list, and the reasons were varied. But it felt good to be angry at something, or someone, concrete. I was so angry that she died, but she wasn’t here to be angry at, so I raged at the people around me. And although I am…

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How Can You Help her?

I came across the post “A Letter To My Doctor” today found on One Pink Balloon’s blog….. click HERE to read it.

These are some of the very words that I have said and/or felt, and if I haven’t, they are certainly the words of my fellow baby loss mamas.  True, some of it pertains only to the doc, but there is much more that is helpful information for any loving friends and family who are at a loss of what to do/say.

There is no better feedback for anyone looking to support these mothers than what is here.  So please, I beg you – read, understand what you can, and share.

Its the Little Things

Today is the day that I will both love and despise for the rest of my life.  It’s my angel’s birthday and the reason that I am where I am today (for better most times, for worse every now and then).  She would have been 3 today.  I could choose to reside in depression about what I’ve lost, what our family is missing, what she would’ve could’ve or should’ve been doing now….. I’m an hour away from her gravesite, but I never felt much in the way of comfort there anyway. I could reminisce our short time with her by looking at my picture books dedicated to her, but her pictures are up in our home and I see those beautiful eyes every single day both in person and in my memories. Instead, like my goals with Tangerine Owl Project, I’m choosing to celebrate by “paying it forward” a bit by covering the cost of people’s morning cup of coffee….

What?! That’s silly, what does coffee have to do with an angel baby’s birthday or work for supporting families of NICU babies?  Well nothing inherently – but it’s the little things….. that make the biggest impact.

My little 1.5 lb. wonder did so much for me in her 27 days on this earth, this pales in comparison.  We dubbed her motto “go big or go home” because she didn’t do anything subtly. Preemies are said to be “small but mighty”.  I feel like the Tangerine Owl Project is small but mighty too.  We’re working one connection at a time, to make a difference in this world to the families that suffer in silence through the ups and downs of the NICU, or those who have experienced the same unimaginable loss and are trying to pick up the pieces.  There’s a saying about being kind to everyone because you never know what battles they are fighting by themselves.  Totally true.

Furthermore, coffee is my husband and I’s “thing”.  We don’t do a whole lot of “out and about”, we rather prefer being homebodies or having friends over instead of big nights on the town. Our coffee dates are where we’ve had some of our most meaningful conversations – a time to truly disconnect from the world around and focus on just being us. The Tangerine Owl Project idea was created over coffee.  It’s like a comfort zone for me.  Yes, I am absolutely in need of caffeine to get my day started, but it’s so much more than that.

So the little things like simply making someone smile feels like the right way to honor someone that most of the world never got the chance to meet.  Because she may have been gone for three years, but she’s far from forgotten, in fact, she should be known, because even from heaven, that girl is destined for great things.
XOXO Delilah, and Happy Birthday.