It has been an emotionally very difficult process for this Queensland father who lost his son. His striking gesture during a recent marathon was his way to honor and acknowledge his stillborn son.
When Troy Austin pushed his empty pram, while running at the 42 kilometer (approx. 26 miles) Sunshine Coast Marathon last month in Australia, some of the other runners were bewildered.
“Hey mate, you’ve lost your kid!” one woman joked.
“Yes, that’s the point,” Troy replied simply.
And yes, that’s exactly why he ran with an empty pram. He wanted to raise awareness of stillbirth. His son, TG, died at 27 weeks gestation about a year and a half ago.
In January 2016, the doctor learned that the baby had no heartbeat through an ultrasound. On Jan. 21, TG was stillborn. Troy and his wife, Kelly, held TG in their arms till the sun rose the next morning.
“You go to the hospital to give birth, knowing that your bub isn’t coming home to his room. His clothes are not needed, his cot is an empty space…,” he told MailOnline.
The grief of losing TG came in waves, he revealed. “You will be doing something and just get sad, you try and remember holding your son, you wonder what you would be doing,” he said.
Troy decided to get active, participating in sporting activities to help him get through the grief of losing TG.
And at the Sunshine Coast Marathon, Troy ran with two friends, Brett and Robert, who helped him to answer the continuous questions concerning his “missing toddler.” Troy admits having his friends by his side helped “stop his bottom lip from trembling” when constantly hearing those questions.
“As the run continued the onslaught was relentless,” Troy wrote in a Facebook post, “crossing over to the second lap I hear on the loudspeaker, ‘Here comes old mate and it looks like he lost his kid.’ More giggles from the crowd.”
“I specifically didn’t put a sign on the pram so questions would be raised,” he said. “I just didn’t realize how many questions would be raised.”
“At the start I could handle the comments a lot easier, but became somewhat blunt at about 30km mark,” said Mr. Austin, as reported by 7 News Online.
Though the repetitious comments were hard for Troy to take, in one way or another, he thought that people were acknowledging that he had a son, TG.
“The thought which helped me, though, was telling myself that every time that phrase was yelled out, they were acknowledging that I lost my son…Parents that have lost a child want to hear their children’s name, they want to know they are counted,” he said.
“They were acknowledging that TG was my boy.”
A year and four months after TG’s death, the Austins welcomed a baby boy, Samuel, but Troy said he can never replace TG.
“We will never forget TG, for he is our son,” said Troy, who remembers TG every time during family events, by putting a small giraffe at the table.