And One Day I Was Born…

May 11th, 1982 at 3 o’clock in the morning a nineteen year old Marina is determined to head over to the local hospital. She was beyond ready to give birth to her first child, sex unknown. Marina had been in “ready” mode for the past few days…However, due to Ukraine’s Victory Day celebrations on May 9th she tried to hold off as long as possible so as not to disturb everyone’s festivities. A heroic and selfless move, in my opinion.

The day after the holiday Marina was convinced her child was attempting to break loose from inside. So much movement, arms and legs poking through the skin of her stomach. She wanted nothing more than to see her baby on the opposite side of that piece of stretched skin. She stroked her belly gently as she lay in bed that evening. But her sleep was nowhere near deep that night as though she anticipated what was coming…

Contractions, pain…”Is this it?” Marina is uncertain but she proceeds to wake her husband. Resembling a sleepwalker who is following instructions, Slava gets up, throws on his t-shirt and jeans, and grabs the pre-packed bag. The calm of this May night is so peaceful and warm. They take a walk to the hospital which is located only 10 minutes away. The No2 Children’s Hospital sits near the last stop of the No1 tram in Kiev’s Svyatoshyns’kyi District. Confused, excited, exhausted, nervous, Marina and Slava reach the front steps. He kisses her ‘goodbye’ as she is whisked off into the beige and brown, floral tiled corridors with the doors shutting behind. Slava returns home to catch up on his sleep. During those days women were dropped off at a birthing center to give birth and picked up seven days later, after recovery. For hygienic purposes, family was not allowed to visit, let alone be by the bedside of a mother in labor. So the process begins.

“I’m ready to give birth!” Marina flags down a young male doctor as he walks hurriedly through the hall of the 3rd floor…He laughs and responds, “Yes, honey, everyone here is.” Marina chases this handsome creature down the hall. “No, you don’t understand…I need you to check me out…” she pleads, her persistence causing a shift in his behavior. He looks over Marina’s young helpless face, studying her smoothly innocent features. His kindness takes over, “Ok, let’s go.” he agrees to check her out and guide her though birth delivery immediately if necessary. The young man took her under his wing and Marina relaxed.

Marina is my mother and at 6 o’clock that morning on the 11th of May, after repetitive breathing and pushing methods, she gave birth to me! “It’s a girl! 4 kilos, 200 grams, 57 centimeters! Congratulations!” According to my mother, I was born with a short black hairstyle on my head. My eyes we shut closed as the doctor placed me on my mom’s chest for a brief bonding moment. I forced one of my eyes open as to check out my new surroundings and immediately shut it closed, securely going back to chill mode. I don’t remember clearly, but I may have missed being inside my mother’s womb at that moment. Marina began crying…happy tears of course, because at that moment she felt true love surging through her body. “Let’s get her cleaned up,” a nurse soon gestured to take me away. Handing me over, my mother breathed a sigh of relief. Her body was as light as a feather floating through an early morning breeze…That same breeze entering through the window in her hospital room which now enveloped her as she lay resting. Marina glanced toward the open window and realized the sun was rising and the hum of the city was slowly beginning to vibrate through the streets. She saw a woman through an opposite building window making morning coffee or breakfast…How routine…Life continues…”Wait, if I can see them, could they see me?” Her mind raced with bizarre thoughts as she drifted into half asleep state…

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