It is 6:00 pm when the sinister wail of the siren rises above the Ukrainian metropolis of Mykola southerniv. Very calmly, palms on their bellies, the ladies slowly make their manner down two flooring to the basement of maternity hospital Number 3.
Without a phrase, they decide on the beds within the makeshift, windowless ward.
They have solely been on the hospital in Mykolaiv for 2 or three days however they’re already used to this. Seven girls about to present delivery in a metropolis the place struggle has descended with out warning.
Natalia Reznikova, a 30-something redhead, is anticipating her third little one. Another child boy.
“I’m not panicking,” she says as she makes her manner fastidiously down the steps. “I just hope I don’t give birth in that basement.”
In a close-by room cluttered with paperwork, three new mums calm down with their new child infants.
Natalia, who declined to present her final identify, protectively cradles her firstborn, Maria, who arrived lower than 24 hours in the past.
She is exhausted however radiant in her electrical blue dressing robe.
When the air raid alarm sounded, she was on her manner again to her room on the second flooring, helped by her companion Oleksander.
“We are happy parents,” the younger couple smiles.
Natalia thinks herself fortunate. She averted having to present delivery within the labor ward underground.
The hospital workers have finished their finest to make the birthing room appear welcoming.
Alongside two beds kitted out with surgical stirrups, there’s a couch and an aquarium that bubbles soothingly.
Alina Bondarenko is in there along with her companion. Her waters have simply damaged.
“In peacetime this area is used by plumbers and technicians. Four or five days ago, we had two women giving birth at the same time in here,” says the hospital’s chief doctor Andriy Grybanov.
He recollects with touching precision how a lot the newborns weighed — “5.18 kilos and 5.4 kilos”.
The Specter Of Mariupol
When the sirens burst into life and the shelling begins, the workers don’t at all times have time to usher the ladies all the way down to the basement.
So they offer delivery within the second-floor hall. “Between two walls,” says Dr Grybanov. “It’s just that tiny bit safer.”
The working theater, the place the medical doctors cope with drawback births and caesareans, is on the fourth flooring of the constructing.
“But it’s really risky because we need light and then we become a target,” he continues.
Of the 49 infants the hospital workers have delivered since Russia invaded Ukraine, solely three have been by caesarean.
Almost half the ladies admitted since February 24 have needed to give delivery within the basement.
Mykolaiv has been beneath assault for days. The metropolis blocks the Russians’ coastal path to the strategic Black Sea port of Odessa and the invading forces are throwing their would possibly at this final hurdle.
“The health department advised us to put a big red cross on the hospital roof. But we’ve seen what happens,” says Dr Grybanov. “There isn’t a single international convention that hasn’t been breached.”
Several Ukrainian hospitals have already been hit by Russian forces, together with a most cancers ward in Mykolaiv. The spectre of Mariupol, the place a maternity hospital was bombed only a week earlier, hangs within the air.
There is a hall within the basement too, adorned with posters of soft-skinned infants. It doubles as a shelter for locals — aged folks, girls, kids, and a canine.
When the all-clear sounds an hour later, everybody trudges again upstairs.
Among them is Bondarenko, who the medical doctors hope can keep away from the cellar.
8:00 pm Another siren. Another put on trek downstairs. Everyone appears drawn. Some of the ladies transfer laboriously, holding onto the partitions and the arms of the nurses.
Bondarenko is totally dilated and the medical doctors have determined to maintain her upstairs.
Despite the alarms, the night time appears peaceable.
In the second-floor birthing room, Bondarenko’s husband is counting for her between pushes. The younger girls stay astoundingly silent and the physician, a debonair man with a twinkle in his eyes, has placed on some music.
Sting. Mylene Farmer. And “Pretty Woman” when child Snizhana greets the world.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV workers and is revealed from a syndicated feed.)