Posted by Tamara O.
I have been lucky in my career to meet some incredible people
who allowed me to tell their stories.
I spent the last moments of a brilliant life with a fellow
writer, a real curmudgeon of the type you rarely see in newsrooms
these days, watching him gasp for breath as he relived his days on
the World War II battlefields. I wrote his story on deadline
through tears because he was also my friend. I've sat at the
kitchen table of a mom whose once beautiful face had became the
face of kids' nightmares as she struggled to beat her cancer. Hers
was never a story of 'poor me' but one of pride for a life well
lived and love for others. Most recently, I've sat in the Chicago
home of the Stantons and listened to their heart-breaking story,
the death of their little boy, Danny. The family's story
and their strength to go on while helping others avoid such a
tragedy isn't one I'll ever forget.
Another Chicago mom and dad, Ted and Annette Stenstrom, know the
heart break, too.
I sat with Annette in a park in Chicago's River North
neighborhood last summer as she tearfully relived years of
infertility treatments, the joy of finally being pregnant with a
little girl to be named Moreland Grace, and the grueling days that
followed her birth and death. /magazines/chicago-parent/2009-august/a-lifetime-in-16-days
Like the Stantons, the Stenstroms are driven to help other
parents. The Stenstroms are focused on funding and providing
keepsake memory boxes and resources to other parents who face the
death of a child, to help those families get through the most
difficult time of their lives. Their organization is called The
Peapod Project, www.thepeapodproject.org.
At the same time, they continue their quest for a child. They
tried getting pregnant again, they've tried adoption (Annette says
she feels agencies won't even look at her because of her age, 51)
and now they are considering surrogacy.
"It's not easy, but you have to live and you can't give up
hope," Annette told me recently about all the road blocks the
couple has encountered in the journey to become parents.
They continue to mourn their baby, nicknamed Gigi, and go
Annette is busy getting ready for The Peapod Project's
fundraiser, the third annual 5K run/walk at Diversey Harbor Aug.
28. The run kicks off at 4 p.m.
Last year, 225 runners raised $12,000 to fund the memory boxes
at Children's Memorial Hospital. This year, Annette is hoping to
raise $15,000-$20,000, but the fundraiser is in jeopardy.
Annette reports The Peapod Project is $3,000 short for this
year's race expenses since a corporate sponsor pulled out at the
last minute. She says she and Ted have already put in $5,000 of
their own money - even though they were saving to pay for a
surrogate - to keep this effort alive.
Annette hasn't given up hope, hope that the race will go on,
hope that she'll have a baby to call her own. I doubt she ever
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