An Australian dad ran a marathon while pushing an empty stroller in honor of his stillborn son.
Troy Austin, 36, ran the Sunshine Coast Marathon in Queensland while pushing the stroller last month, not just to remember his son, T.G., but also raise awareness about stillbirth.
When Austin and his wife, 34-year-old Kelly Austin, went for their 27-week ultrasound in 2016, they went in happy and ready to see their son kicking, but that wasn’t the case.
“We went along to our normal checkup,” Austin told InsideEdition.com. “When the ultrasound started, the doctor went for the heartbeat first. After searching around, he said, ‘I can't find a heartbeat.'"
Austin said he didn’t know anything about stillbirth until that tragic moment. It was the couple’s first child.
Doctors put down heart failure as T.G.’s cause of death, but 30 percent of stillbirths in Australia go without an explanation.
Doctors prescribed Kelly medication to help the body prepare for birth and Austin said those days leading up to the birth were extremely heart-wrenching. The family was able to spend some time with their son before he was prepped for his funeral.
“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. It happens like a normal birth, but it's not,” Austin said. “His clothes are not needed; his cot is an empty space.”
T.G. would be a-year-and-a-half now.
After T.G.’s death, Austin said fitness helped him to cope.
“I trained and kept my mind and body so tired it could not grieve,” Austin said.
He entered the marathon in August because his friend was running to help raise money for a charity the family made in T.G.’s honor, Everyday Hero. The organization raises awareness and offers support to families who have experienced stillbirth.
Austin brought out T.G.'s unused stroller from the couple’s garage for the race. It was one of the first things the couple had bought for their son.
He said the marathon was difficult because people made jokes about his empty stroller along the way. He said they'd asked for rides in it and one person even yelled, “Hey mate, you lost your kid!"
“I wished someone would tell him why I was running with an empty pram. That was why I was there to raise awareness, to raise the question — so I got what I asked for.”
Austin said he knows most of it was just Aussie humor and he did explain to several people who asked why his stroller was empty. He was met with hugs from some.
“I received mixed emotions from those who understood the point but a fare few didn't get it," Austin said. "I'm glad it has raised the topic so much."
The couple has since had another son, Samuel, who is healthy.
“That doesn’t take away from how much we miss our first son, T.G.," Austin said. "To us they are both our sons. When we get asked, we [say we] have two boys. We love them equally."