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The story of hope and loss of Ukrainian triplets who were born the day Russia invaded their country

The couple of Ukrainians Hanna and Andriy Berezynets were delighted when they found out they were expecting triplets. But on the day they were to be born, the Russian invasion began and the three girls were born to the sound of bombings around them.

When Hanna had her first ultrasound, it showed a small speck: the baby she had been planning for so long with her husband, Andriy. However, at their next doctor’s appointment, they were told they were expecting twins. On the third visit they confirmed that she was, in fact, expecting triplets.

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“We were afraid to go to the doctor on the fourth appointment,” jokes Hanna, although she says they were happy. “We really wanted children. God heard us and gave us three at once,” Hanna told the podcast Ukrainecast.

Hanna went to the maternity ward in Chernigov on February 23, 2022 for cesarean section scheduled for the following morning.

Rumors of a Russian invasion spread for weeks, but Hanna didn’t believe them until she received a message on February 24 from her brother, who was studying at a military school.

He told him the war had begun and that he did not know where they were sending him. He encouraged him to leave Chernihiv.

But Hanna couldn’t leave right away. Her operation was scheduled for 9 am and the hospital team was preparing for the birth of the first triplets in three years.

Under normal circumstances, Emilia, Melania and Olivia would have remained in an incubator after birth. (HANNA BEREZYNETS).

Hanna couldn’t believe the war had started.

“I thought this would happen far away, in a field, in a forest, but not in our lifetimes.”

Andriy arrived at the hospital at 6am with suitcases full of clothes and other supplies and tried to calm her.

“She told me the main thing was to bring our babies into the world,” Hanna recalls.

The babies were born in a matter of minutes: Emília at 9:36 am, Olivia at 9:37 am and Melania at 9:38 am.

“I couldn’t imagine they would be so beautiful,” says Hanna.

Ten minutes later, at 9:48 am, the State Border Service of Ukraine officially announced that Russian military vehicles had entered the Chernihiv region.

“Wait, I’m protecting you.”

Chernihiv is in northern Ukraine, on the border with Belarus, from where Russian troops invaded.

She was immediately hit by artillery. Although Russia did not occupy the city, it was severely damaged.

The afternoon after giving birth, recovering from surgery and barely able to get out of bed, Hanna was told she needed to go down to a shelter with her babies.

“I was very lost. I didn’t understand how I would get there,” she recalls.

To get there, Hanna had to go out in temperatures close to zero degrees. Nurses wrapped babies in warm blankets and they carried them to Hanna.

Medical staff at the Chernihiv hospital say they helped deliver 20 babies at the shelter.  (HANNA BEREZYNETS).

Medical staff at the Chernihiv hospital say they helped deliver 20 babies at the shelter. (HANNA BEREZYNETS).

There were around 100 people with newborns in the shelter and then 20 more babies were born.hospital staff told Ukrainian media.

Although Hanna’s daughters were healthy They were premature. Normally, they would be placed in special incubators, but there were none at the shelter, so nurses took turns holding them and putting them under their clothes to keep them warm.

“The girls were unprotected. I was lying next to them and I didn’t know how to help them,” says Hanna, her voice shaking.

They were small. Emilia and Melania weighed just 1.6kg and 1.4kg respectively, but Olvia was even smaller. She weighed 1.1 kg and needed to be transferred to the ICU to survive.

Hanna and Andriy decided they couldn’t leave her alone, so after a week at the shelter, the whole family moved to the first floor of the hospital.

Olivia was in the ICU for two weeks.

“We stayed in the hospital corridor with the other two girls and only went down to the basement when there were big explosions,” says Hanna.

There was a moment when Hanna was sitting in the hallway with Emilia and Melania when she suddenly saw a huge flash of lightning followed by darkness and smoke.

“I jumped up and grabbed my daughters, not knowing if she was dead or alive.”

Hanna holding her three daughters.  (HANNA BEREZYNETS).

Hanna holding her three daughters. (HANNA BEREZYNETS).

Then she saw Andriy running towards her and they ran towards the ICU exit to see if Olivia was okay.

They passed broken windows, torn off doors and destroyed walls, but luckily, Olivia’s room was intact and she was safe.

family loss

The family finally left the hospital on March 20 and, with the help of volunteers, was evacuated to Kiev, the country’s capital.

The journey, normally two hours, took five because they had to divert to avoid Russian troops.

They then spent a few months in Slovakia before returning to Chernihiv.

During all this time, Hanna desperately waited for the moment when her father, Anatolii, would meet his granddaughters.. He was fighting in the Ukrainian ranks and his messages were a source of great strength.

“I was like, ‘Wait, I’m protecting you, defending you. Let’s kick out the Russians,’” Hanna recalls.

Hanna's father, Anatolii, said that Ukraine

Hanna’s father, Anatolii, said Ukraine would “expel the Russians.” (HANNA BEREZYNETS).

After Russian forces withdrew from the Chernihiv region in April 2022, Anatolii was sent to eastern Ukraine.

The family hoped he would return home in time for the girls’ first birthday, but he didn’t make it. On January 11, he died on the front line near the village of Terny in Donetsk.. He was 51 years old.

“I keep thinking that the war will end and he will return from the battlefield. I can’t believe our family won’t be together,” says Hanna with tears in her eyes.

She and Andriy compare their babies’ first year of life to “a horror movie”, but they say that thanks to the girls there was also a lot of love and happiness, “three times more”.

The triplets are growing well.  (HANNA BEREZYNETS).

The triplets are growing well. (HANNA BEREZYNETS).

Source: Elcomercio

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