According to the Stillbirth Foundation, there are six babies a day born stillborn in Australia. On Jan. 21, 2016 Australian Triathlete Troy Austin and his wife were one of those six families coping with the loss of a child. Their son, who they named T.G., was born stillborn. Now they’re raising awareness about it.
In a recent marathon, Austin pushed an empty stroller in honor of his son. He was repeatedly asked, “Hey mate, have you lost your son?” And sometimes, he was able to fight his quivering bottom lip enough to come up with a response along the lines of, “yes, I have lost my kid and I am not getting him back.”
He wrote about his efforts to honor his son while simultaneously raising awareness about stillbirths on Facebook:
“100+ people recognised [sic] I had lost my son last weekend, even if they didn’t relise [sic] it,” he wrote.
Austin is also hoping to raise funds for a charity he and his wife started called T.G.’s Legacy. They’re hoping to raise awareness, educate the community about stillbirths and donate the money raised to the Stillbirth & Neonatal Death Support Group in Queensland.
It’s hard to put into words exactly what this process has been like for Austin and his wife. Three days after learning there was no heartbeat and their son would be stillborn, the husband and wife went in to deliver the baby. He told the Daily Mail, “It happens like a normal birth, but it’s not,” he said. “Mum’s having contractions, dad’s helping with the pain. Nurses poke their head in to see how things are progressing.”
After T.G. was delivered, the couple got to spend some time with their son and hold him for the very first time. “We want the birth to come along, we want to hold our son. He is beautiful. He is still and innocent,” Austin told the Daily Mail. “We smile through the heartache because we have our first child, we are a family.”
It’s been one and a half years since T.G. was born, but Austin describes stillbirth as a “life sentence” and says the grief is “ongoing.”
Since T.G. was born, the family has welcomed a baby boy named Samuel Bruce, but the dad acknowledges that T.G will always be a part of their family.
And as for the empty stroller, it—like T.G.’s memory—is here to stay.