Darren: We’re close in every way with Emmi’s sister Rafaela and her husband Hagop – they even live right next door – so when they announced they were pregnant, aged 39 and after years of trying, it brought us together even stronger.
Of course they asked us to be their baby’s Godparents. And of course we said yes.
For 27 weeks we shared their excitement. Then, one day in August, we shared their devastation when an ultrasound brought the terrible news: Scarlett, their little girl and our precious Goddaughter, was going to be stillborn.
Emmi never left her sister’s side in the hours and days that followed. As siblings and women they knew instinctively how to support each other. I wasn’t as sure what my role was as a brother-in-law but I knew I had to be there for Hagop.
Sometimes ‘being there’ was literally all I could do. There were no answers or reasons for Scarlett being stillborn and Hagop was confused, probably angry too. So I just stayed close and made sure he knew I was there. I let him talk and vent and grieve. I listened. And when he got emotional I was a shoulder to cry on.
Men aren’t great at expressing emotion at the best of times. And how can a man fathom what it is to give birth? They can only watch in awe as a woman becomes a mother. And never was that more awesome than with Rafaela and Scarlett.
Emmi: Mum and I were with Rafaela when she gave birth to Scarlett. The whole family had dropped everything to support her and Hagop and Mum was a rock. Having given birth to three kids herself she knew what to do and say, and when.
I’d never witnessed a birth before and Rafaela kept checking to see if I was okay. I wasn’t. I felt like I was in a horror movie. How will my sister do this? But she did it. A mother will do anything for her child. Rafaela was so strong and brave that for a few flickering moments I almost forgot there’d be no baby to take home.
When Scarlett came it was beautiful. Everything was calm. Everyone was quiet. It was 7.15pm on a Sunday.
Two weeks later, after a naming ceremony, we buried Scarlett next to our grandfather. And every Sunday since, at 7.15, we light a candle and think of her.
As Godparents we imagined we’d be almost a second set of parents to Scarlett – two role models who’d always listen, lend a hand and give her a soft place to fall. All we can do now is keep her memory alive, support her parents, celebrate her birthdays, remember how she was and imagine who she might have become.
Rafaela is a different person now. She’s learning to live with the grief but I know she and Hagop will never get past it. Yet they also know Scarlett was – and is – a blessing. And so they light their candles and visit her grave every Sunday. The most positive thing is they’re still dreaming of a rainbow baby. They’re hopeful.
Darren & Emmi Minchington, godparents to Scarlett.