Troy Austin pushed an empty stroller through the Sunshine Coast Marathon in Australia.
He faced people laughing and mocking him for “forgetting” his child during his run, but they had no idea how deep their words cut.
Good Housekeeping reported that the man was even teased by the announcer for running with the empty stroller:
“Here comes an old mate, and it looks like he lost his kid.”
What they didn’t know was that Troy and his wife, Kelly, did lose their son in a devastating way:
“Yes, I have lost my kid and I am not getting him back.”
The couple’s son son, T.G., was stillborn.
The couple found out their baby who had been “kicking away and active” no longer had a heartbeat when Kelly was 27-weeks pregnant. Three days later, when Kelly was induced, the mother and father held their son for the first and last time.
Troy told the Daily Mail:
“After a few emotionally painful days, 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…We smiled through the heartache because we had our first child, we were a family.”
T.G's birth announcement:Troy and I are proud to announce the birth our beautiful son, T.G Austin.He was born sleeping…
The couple each had their own way of facing their pain after the loss of their son, Austin explained. Kelly made sure to include T.G. in their lives, and held onto every piece of memorabilia they had to keep his memory alive:
“Photos in frames for grandparents, a small giraffe to place on the table at family functions to ensure he is represented, ensuring his name is written on cards addressed to our family.”
But Troy’s coping mechanism was different. Sports became his obsession — and distraction — from the suffering from losing his child:
“I trained and kept my mind and body so tired it could not grieve.”
That training led him to put on a brave face and push an empty stroller, thinking of what he wished he could answer to the hecklers at the marathon, “No, you can’t sit in and get a ride, no, I am not picking my kid up on the last lap (wish I could).”
He explained how hearing the painful phrase “Hey mate, you have lost your kid,” affected him:
“This phrase was a double edged sword, a sentence that was said so innocently at last weekends marathon.”
"Hey mate you have lost your kid" This phrase was a double edged sword, a sentence that was said so innocently at last…
Thankfully, Austin had his friend, Brett, close by when he faced the questions about the empty stroller:
“It took a good mate beside me to have a chat so my bottom lip didn’t tremble, as I would try think up quick ways of saying, ‘yes I have lost my kid and I am not getting him back.’ As the run continued the onslaught was relentless, crossing over to the second lap I here on the loud speaker….here comes old mate and it looks like he lost his kid’ more giggles from the crowd.”
Troy told the Daily Mail he wasn’t surprised by the question, that he knew it wasn’t meant to be cruel, but hearing it over and over began to wear on him:
“I was prepared for a few questions; however, I became worn down and lost my cool, especially after repeat questions from the same people.”
He began to realize the people joking about the empty stroller were innocently asking the question.
He also began to build strength from hearing the joke:
“T.G would have been 1 1/2 years old and sitting in the pram, however there would be no Legacy, no reason and no knowledge because until we were told he had passed we didn’t have any idea it could happen. 100+ people recognized I had lost my son last weekend, even if they didn’t realize it.”
Troy is still working to heal from his son’s death, by creating the charity, T.G.’s Legacy, to raise awareness for other parents suffering through the same devastating loss, describing stillbirth as “a life sentence.”