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“Bombings were very heavy. I still wonder how doctors could work in such conditions” Olha, who gave birth to a son on February 28, 2022, in Kharkiv

“Bombings were very heavy. I still wonder how doctors could work in such conditions” Olha, who gave birth to a son on February 28, 2022, in Kharkiv

When the war started, I was 38 weeks pregnant. Childbirth was scheduled to begin sometime on March 12, 2022, but the baby was eventually born on February 28, 2022. Probably because of the stress: the day before, my husband, our 3-year-old daughter, and I spent two nights sitting on a bench in a bomb shelter, where there was a bucket instead of a toilet. Almost with no sleep, in a high level of stress. In our maternity hospital, every second child was born prematurely.

On the third day, we went home to eat and I felt my stomach tighten. We called an ambulance, and I was taken away. Until the morning I lay in the ward, we were not bombed so heavily at that time. And the next day, the contractions intensified — the doctor said I would give birth that day. Meanwhile, the instruction was to drop everyone into the bomb shelter immediately.

It was a basement where old devices were stored or some equipment in the boxes. Mattresses were put between the boxes. Some girls had stayed there at night from the first day, some with newborns, with men. The room was small. There were about two dozen people in it. It was hard to breathe.

I was told to choose a place because I had to go through contractions there. The gynecologist examined everyone right there. Of course, no one looked, but it was still uncomfortable.

When the labor approached, I was brought up to the ward. Bombings were very heavy. I still wonder how doctors could work in such conditions. I shuddered every time — it was not so easy to concentrate. Everything I knew flew out of my head.

The first night after the birth, I also spent in the bomb shelter. I put the baby down and sat. It was difficult because I was stitched up after giving birth. I decided that if I had survived this, I would not be afraid of anything else.

There was little food, mostly soup. I drank tea and ate spoons of sugar to raise somehow my blood glucose. I was lucky this was my second child: I understood what to do and how.

Two days later, we were sent home from the hospital; my husband took us home. But that evening, I read somewhere that there would be a heavy bombing. We grabbed things, water, and children and ran to the basement next door. Since the time my child was born, he saw nothing but those bomb shelters.

The next day we left Kharkiv. My husband and I said goodbye in Dnipro, and I went to Germany with my three-year-old daughter and baby. We traveled by train for a day, walked a kilometer to the border with Poland, and lived in a refugee camp for two days.

Then my brother helped me to find a family in Germany who volunteered to shelter us. Since then we have been living with them in a small village.

I had a lot of free time in the basement of the maternity hospital and decided to write a diary. I read from one of the psychologists that it helps survive a traumatic experience. Already in Germany, based on these records, I created a small book about how I gave birth and how I left Ukraine with my children. I wrote it in English so that people abroad could find out what indeed was going on here. I am selling the book on Amazon for a few euros. I hope to earn a little because until the child is at least six months old, I will not be able to work.

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