I’m Maria and I’m from Ukraine. I was pregnant with our third child when the war began. I woke up, like most of us did, at 4 am on February 24th from loud sounds. I did not understand what was it- but it was so unusual and disturbing that I immediately grabbed my phone to read the news. That was the moment I woke up, and from that moment I could not fall asleep for a long-long time. We stayed at our private house in about 40 km from Kyiv in a village called Kolonshchyna (not far from Makariv). We also have an apartment in Kyiv, but we decided to stay outside of Kyiv, closer to the private maternity hospital where I was supposed to give a birth.

On February 26th we visited the maternity hospital for the checkup. It is about 10 minute drive from our home. The doctor told me that it was not time yet and sent me back home.

On February 27th the electricity outage started (spoiler - it was restored only in the beginning of April after Russian troops left Kyiv region). On February 28th at noon we heard the sound of explosion. I looked at the window and saw a black smoke on the Kyiv-Chop road. We came to the second floor and saw a column of Russian military vehicles (tanks, armored vehicles etc) moving towards Kyiv and being shot by artillery. There were so many vehicles that I was totally shocked.

This picture was taken from the window of my daughter’s room – the tanks on fire on the way from our village to the Kyiv-Chop road.

The artillery firing lasted from noon till 4 pm. During this time, I was nervous how would I get to the maternity hospital. Sometime later in our local Viber groups, messages started to appear that maternity hospital was hit by Russians. All the women with babies were outside on the street, and it was still winter – so very cold. Later on, all medical staff and young mothers with their babies were evacuated to another hospital. Thank God – all were alive.

The next day I found out that a family from our village was shot dead by Russians near the maternity hospital - they were just driving by. Meanwhile I was crying that now I did not have where to go to give birth. Then I decided that I will go to the opposite direction to the state hospital in Makariv through the village road. And right after that, the head of our community sent a message to the local Telegram channel that Russians were in Makariv and there was a gunfire near the hospital.

Contractions started late night during the curfew. Apparently, we were not allowed to go anywhere and we did not have where to go to either way. The firing was happening somewhere very close. We did not have electricity and any medicine. “Thanks” to COVID there was a bottle of sanitizer and a pair of disposable gloves. Contractions were very painful, and I realized that on the previous childbirth the process was guided by a doctor, and I do not even know how and when should I breath. I googled it (happily we had an internet connection at that time - later the cellular connection was be switched off). I was breathing, pushing, and screaming and my husband was saying: “Probably it’s too early. Probably the cervix is not opened yet.” And all this was happing while there was artillery firing outside. … a child had become stuck in the birth canal.

We had lost approximately half an hour at this stage. I was losing any strength and hope. I said: “It seems that he is stuck.” My husband replied: “I think so too”. At that moment he started to think where he would bury me and the baby. Then he realized that a white part he saw was not a child’s head but the amniotic sac and decided to cut it with kitchen scissors. And the baby has arrived very quickly after that! My husband took care of umbilical cord. Believe it or not, we had to use bag clip for it. Thinking back of all of this, I understand how lucky we are. Thank God, the baby was delivered without any issues and there were no complications and no bleeding.

During the labor I thought how difficult and painful it is to bring only one baby to life while there was so much death happening outside at exact same moment.