I’m Daria and this is my blog. I started it in 2008 after finally caving under the pressure of family who wanted to see more photos of my first daughter, (then 2.5 year old) Anna. Since then, it has evolved into much more. Sure, it still a place where I can write and document our family, but it is also a place where I can share information and promote awareness for issues I care deeply about. It is a place that serves as a creative outlet for me (and perhaps a way to save on therapy too :lol: ). A place where I can share my gratitude and my journey. It is a place that I hope, in some way, can help others.

Photo by Green Door Photography (http://greendoorphotography.com)

I live in Missoula, Montana with my husband, Doug, two very special daughters, Anna and Gia, and one pretty cranky 15-year-old dog, Sam. With two PhD’s in Biochemistry as parents, I was bred to be a scientist. In fact, I spent my childhood years in Philadelphia and its suburbs performing science experiments and collecting insects. After graduating college with a degree in Environmental Science and receiving my Master’s of Science in Aquatic Toxicology, I worked mainly for the State of Oregon, Bioassessment Division, as the lead Aquatic Entomologist (yes, that early bug collecting came in handy). I traveled the state surveying streams and other water bodies (fun!), collecting information that I would later use to analyze and write reports (boring, yet still somehow exciting!). I was living the life as a real biology geek! I can only imagine my parents’ disappointment when I decided, after nearly a decade of this work, to leave the field (pun intended).

I moved to Missoula in 2001 and since 2004, I have owned and operated my photography business, Dancing Tree Photography. I have always enjoyed taking photos, had a darkroom in my house since eight grade and was both the photography editor for the school newspaper and also the yearbook. I love it, but since having kids, it has taken a backseat to more important matters.

In 2009, my second daughter, Gia, entered our lives. Five pounds and not breathing on her own, she was rushed to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit where several abnormalities were soon discovered. In 48 hours she was on room air and a few weeks later it was determined that she had a rare and completely random genetic abnormality (arr 9q34.11q34.2(130,297.675-135,715,481)x3), about which there are no other documented cases. She would attempt take a bottle and even nurse in the NICU, but she could not drink enough to sustain herself. After a nearly 2-month stay at the local hospital, she returned home complete with a surgically placed feeding (gastrostomy tube, g-tube) because of her failure to thrive diagnosis. Additionally, she is faced with global delays, hearing loss, and limited speech.

After over a year and a half of several weaning attempts, Gia and I attended Seattle Childrens’ Hospital’s feeding program the end of January 2011. I am so proud and excited to report that on July 5, 2011 we removed her feeding tube. A huge milestone which I have yet to find a space to record in any baby book.

She is an amazing little girl, who brought us quite unexpectedly into a world we thought we would never visit. Sure she has some special needs, but she teaches me in ways I didn’t know possible. She is full of perseverance, motivation, humor and love.

I also write a twice a month for Mamalode Magazine Online, in a column called appropriately enough, An Unexpected Path. It is published every other Friday and please stop by for a read. Feel free to share and comment!

I am so grateful and lucky to be here on this unexpected path and to share our journey with others. I can be reached by email at: anunexpectedpath [AT] live [DOT] com (sorry, I hate, hate hate, spam!). Feel free to contact me, I’d love to hear from you!

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  1. Alissa says:

    Hello!! I found your blog online and was very interested in your family’s story. We are currently getting ready to attend the intensive feeding program at Seattle Children’s in two weeks. If you felt comfortable I would love to chat about your experience. I am having those same very nervous feelings. If not I totally understand. It sounds like your daughter is doing great.