This week we chat with Stacey Porter. Stacey has been dedicated to efforts centered around supporting families who have suffered infant loss and traumatic birth since 2013. She is founder of the Tangerine Owl Project, a nonprofit devoted to offering peer support to these families, started in memory of her daughter after a NICU loss in 2012. Stacey is deeply invested in efforts to support maternal mental health as it intertwines so greatly with traumatic birth and bereavement experiences for these families. She works as a contractor with 2020 Mom leading their volunteer program and a handful of other projects, She sits on the board of directors for local non-profit Beyond the Baby Blues which offers clinical group support to women suffering from perinatal mood and anxiety disorders and serves on the bereavement committee for the Mothers Milk Bank of the Western Great Lakes. Stacey is a member of the National Perinatal Association and Preemie Parent Alliance and has collaborated on projects for patient education including online curriculum for staff on psychosocial support for NICU parents. Additionally, she has been a contributing author to two book anthologies focused on infant loss and resilience. Listen as Stacey discusses her loss, being a mother to two young children during the loss, and how she honors her daughter with the Tangerine Owl Project.
Listen as Stacey shares how she:
- Struggles with the balance independence and boundaries with her kids.
- The worry about how our mental health and the things we don’t say can affect our kids.
- How she kept herself afloat after losing her daughter, Delilah.
- Having small children at the time of the loss of their third child, how they grieved, coped and began to make their way out of the darkest times.
- Even with lots of support, she still needed a lifeline with someone who just understood what she was going through without having to explain all the details.
- There is no timeline for grief. There are expectations of society after a loss, but it isn’t always linear.
- After going through a loss, you are shattered. How to figure out how things have changed and how to move forward from there.
- As a support person, do your best to be encouraging but try your best not to set an expectation or something the person going through the loss can berate themselves for later. Notice and comment on the small things they’re accomplishing or doing well.
- She has been able to use her experience with loss and bereavement in order to support women through perinatal mental health and motherhood in general. There’s a huge network of people who want and need to interact and share.
- Engage with the people around you, create community and don’t be afraid to take that jump into being real and caring for one another.
“It’s predisposed, we think we have to be doing all this stuff and we’re the last on the list. We are not good at making sure that we’re taking care of ourselves. You’re no good to anybody if you have run yourself into the wall.” – Stacey Porter
“You don’t have an option. When you have little kids who are that young, they still need their basic needs met. Period. That is actually what I attribute to being able to start going through a little bit more than just the motions.” – Stacey Porter
“When people go through traumatic experiences, society tends to not want to talk about anything.” – Stacey Porter
“I couldn’t accept that she [Delilah] was just going to be here and gone. I wanted to make sure that people knew she had existed.” – Stacey Porter
“The hardest part, for families who are suffering losses, finding a way to continue living and to continue your life, whatever the journey is after that, after getting through that initial grief. It’s not a start and stop.” – Stacey Porter
“We can’t always fix it and what we do is we focus so much on trying to fix and trying to find ways to fix it that we end up invalidating the experience altogether.” – Stacey Porter
“We need to be able to support women by letting them have their truth and being with them expressing that.” – Stacey Porter
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