Today is the one-year anniversary of Russia’s brutal, unprovoked, full-scale invasion of Ukraine. To mark the occasion, Kyiv Post has collected 17 stories to try and convey the breadth and scale of the loss caused to Ukrainians caused by the Kremlin’s aggression.
My daughter was born on March 2, 2022, on the 7th day of the war, in a maternity hospital in the center of Kyiv. Meanwhile, occupying Russian troops were conducting massacres just a few kilometers away in the Kyiv region and were trying to break through the city's defenses.
Remembering the early days of the war is very difficult for me. On Feb. 24, I woke up to explosions, like many of my compatriots. The first thought in my head was, "we need to get away from here ASAP."
I put the most necessary things in my bag. Together, my husband and I got into a car that didn't even have gas in it: we were not prepared for the worst-case scenario in any way.
By 6 a.m., we had already left the house and faced total chaos on the capital's streets: there were kilometer-long queues at gas stations, and most were already closed due to gas shortages.
While we were driving around the city in search of fuel, all the exits from Kyiv were blocked by thousands of cars. Then we realized that we would not be able to leave. We decided to stay.
Being 39 weeks pregnant, I was afraid to get stuck on the road in the middle of nowhere without medicine.
The first few months
Eva was born on the 7th day of the war to the sounds of explosions in an empty city. We spent the first three nights of her life in the basement of the maternity hospital.
When we got home, it became a little easier. But all the same, caring for a newborn baby to the sounds of missile attacks (and fearing death 24/7) was still a huge psychological test.
During March, we did not leave the house with the baby, not even once. I was extremely scared. She was even baptized by a priest at home. Eva was 12 days old by that point.
You may think we overreacted and hurried, but then we thought our lives could have been taken at any moment, so we wanted to baptize our baby.
Summer in an oasis of calm
After the liberation of the Kyiv region, things began to get better. We started going out for walks, and many restaurants and shops reopened. It seemed that life was slowly returning to this city.
In May, we went to our country house near Kyiv and spent four months there. I remember this time with a special warmth. It was our oasis of peace in the midst of chaos.
But all the same, despite the relatively calm situation in Kyiv and the wider region, tragedies in other regions of Ukraine and the uncertain future of the country in general, did not allow me to let go of the situation. I suffered from mental breakdowns once in a while.
Living the gift of life
Over the past year, we have never left Ukraine. We are now trying to maintain a normal lifestyle despite regular missile attacks.
My daughter has got used to playing and sleeping in the bathroom or in the hallway. Hopefully, she will not remember this part of her childhood.
We work, celebrate holidays, meet with friends and relatives, and make the most of everything we can from life in our current situation.
Our guiding light - we believe in Ukraine's victory and a bright future.
In a week, we will celebrate Eva's first birthday. Sometimes I can't believe we made it through this year.
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