Khrystyna Pavluchenko caresses the tiny hand of her newborn Adelina. She had foreseen the deep joy of becoming a mother for the first time – but not the guilt.
“(It’s) because I left,” says Pavluchenko, choking on tears as her hour-old child sleeps in the cradle next to her hospital bed in the Polish capital, Warsaw.
“I did not want to go. I had to.”
On February 24, as the Russian invasion began, Pavluchenko, then eight months pregnant, was jolted awake at 6 a.m. Air raid sirens blared through her hometown of Ivano-Frankivsk, a city in western Ukraine. The first Russian missiles were on their way.
Pavluchenko tells about the insane attempt to escape in the next 72 hours. Her husband, medically unfit for military service in Ukraine, was already in Poland.
She desperately wanted to stay with her parents, grandparents and extended family.
But everyone insisted: “Go to Poland.”
So, reluctantly, she began planning her dangerous escape from Ukraine.
“Rockets fly. Nobody knows where they might strike next,” she recalls.
Pavluchenko raced to pack with that thought. Everything she needed for her unborn child had to fit in a bag that she could wheel across the border on foot once her bus reached the border.
“I was afraid of giving birth prematurely,” she recalls entering Poland.
That was the same fear Polish customs officials had when they saw her. They quickly called an ambulance.
She was taken to a nearby hospital and eventually to the Inflancka Special Hospital in Warsaw, where psychiatrist Magda Dutsch treats Ukrainian women.
“It’s unimaginable,” says Dutsch. “They evacuate often. They speak of shelling and bombing, of hours, sometimes days, that they spend in a bunker. They talk about the flight and how difficult it was to get to the border and out of the war zone. For someone who hasn’t seen the war, I don’t think you can imagine such pain and stress.”
According to the Polish Health Ministry, at least 197 Ukrainian children have been born in Polish hospitals since the war began. When she fled, Pavluchenko had no idea that so many other Ukrainian women were in a similar situation.
For her, she felt completely alone.
“A Second War”: In another part of the hospital sits Tatiana Mikhailuk, 58, who is also one of Dutsch’s patients.
From her hospital bed, Mikhailuk tells the harrowing story of her escape from a town outside of the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv. When a missile flew overhead, Mikhailuk fled her home with her granddaughter in her arms.
Explosions had already shattered all the windows in her apartment building. As she and her husband and their grandchildren were driving out of Buchad, an hour north of Kyiv, something exploded on the left-hand side of the road.
“We cried and prayed the whole time,” says Mikhailuk.
You made it just in time.
Two days later, Russian missiles would destroy the bridges to their suburb.
Mikhailuk had survived the attack at home. But when she crossed the Polish border, she started bleeding.
Doctors at Inflancka Specialist Hospital diagnosed her with cervical cancer and performed emergency surgery.
“It’s like a second war for me,” says Mikhailuk. “They (the hospital) did everything to save me. I am very grateful to them, all of Poland. I will never forget their kindness and what they do for Ukrainians.”
She adds: “I’m Dr. Khrystyna grateful,” another Ukrainian refugee, who sits in the corner of the room while we speak to her.
Khrystyna is unsure how to describe what title we should use to refer to her.
At home in Lviv, Ukraine, she is a licensed gynaecologist. But in Poland her official title is “Secretary”.
“I’m helping,” said Khrystyna, who asked CNN not to reveal her last name. explained.
On February 24, Khrystyna’s husband texted her: “Pack your things and go. The war started.”
Like so many other Ukrainian women in the hospital, she ran and took her young son with her.
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https://www.cnn.com/europe/live-news/ukraine-russia-putin-news-03-31-22/index.html March 31, 2022 Russia-Ukraine News