Lilia Gazimova CRADLES her newborn daughter Yana while she lies in a hospital bed and describes her family’s ‘miraculous’ escape from a Russian bomb that hit their home while she was still pregnant.
The explosion hit the Ukrainian woman’s basement, where she usually sleeps – and she only survived because she was in her son Artem’s bedroom instead.
Lilia, 22, went into early labor and gave birth just hours after the bombardment devastated her home in newly liberated Kherson.
Her ordeal began at 1 a.m. Monday morning when she heard the terrifying sounds of a random bomb attack.
She told The Sun: “I could hear explosions and glass breaking and smell the smoke from the explosions.
“Me and my husband Nikita looked out the window and we heard two whistles.
“There was an explosion two or three houses down, ten seconds later we heard another whistle and our house was hit.”
The bomb pierced a brick wall opposite Russian positions across the Dnipro River and exploded in a semi-basement kitchen, killing the family’s cat, Malva.
Lilia added, “If we slept in the basement like we usually do, we’d probably be dead.”
“Normally we protect ourselves from shelling below and there has been shelling every night for the past four days.
“But because I was heavily pregnant I had a weird feeling and we decided to sleep upstairs in Artem’s room.
“It was a miracle – it was an act of God.”
Her home in the eastern suburbs of Kherson stood 500 meters from the Dnipro River, which marks the new front line after Russian troops abandoned all their positions on the west bank of the waterway in a humiliating retreat earlier this month.
Lilia’s mother Ina, 52, and grandmother Galina, 92, slept in an upstairs bedroom directly above the site of Monday’s mortar attack.
“FACES WERE CUT THROUGH GLASS”
Lilia said: “The windows were blown in and their faces were cut up by the glass.
“I was really scared and felt the baby start to move.
“I held Artem. My husband went to clear a way out of the house because the front door was blocked by the debris.
“We took all our documents and ran to our neighbor’s house.
“Half an hour later I felt my first contraction.
“I called the midwives but they said I had to wait until the curfew was lifted. They said they couldn’t reach me.
“Then at 4 a.m. my waters broke. It felt like it was going to happen – the baby was coming. We called an ambulance but they couldn’t come fast enough.
“So we ran to the main street. I ran and stopped every time I had a cramp.
“When we got to the street, we stopped a bakery truck.
“It was making its morning deliveries and we asked the driver to take us to the hospital.
“He brought me and my husband here. The doctors took me straight to a delivery room and about 40 minutes later it was done.”
Yana arrived at 7.15am – just six hours after the mortar attack – and weighed 6 pounds 10 ounces.
Shortly after birth, heroic paramedics wheeled Lilia’s bed into a gloomy, windowless corridor to protect her from flying glass in the event of another Russian shelling.
When The Sun met Yana, she was wrapped in thick blankets to ward off the cold as the city has no heating, electricity or running water.
Maternity ward director Sergey Kachan said they used a hospital generator to light the delivery room, but the rest of the unit was in darkness.
We have no electricity, no water, no heating.
Animals in the UK live in better conditions than we do.
Hospital Director Irina Starodumova
He said: “It’s very difficult. Normally young mothers spend three or four nights in the ward but we send them home earlier because it is so cold in the hospital that they are better off at home.”
The stations are eerily quiet as up to two-thirds of the city’s 300,000 residents have fled since February 24, when Putin unleashed his bloodbath invasion.
Sergey added: “Before the war we gave birth to an average of three babies a day, but now it’s one a day, sometimes none at all.”
Hospital Director Irina Starodumova announced that of the 1,200 staff who had worked there before the Russian invasion, only 646 remained.
dr Starodumova, 66, said: “We have no electricity, no water, no heating.
Animals in the UK live in better conditions than we do.
“The hospital has generators, but they are old, from the Soviet era, and they break down all the time.
“We have lights for emergency operations, but otherwise we use flashlights.
“Today I hope we can get a few hours of heating because it’s so cold.”
Lilia’s mother, Ina, who had cut her face from the flying glass, spent the first day of her new granddaughter’s life sifting through the rubble and trying to salvage what she could.
She said, “We are just ordinary people. Why do we have to suffer this war? What is Putin thinking? We’re scared of being killed like that, but we don’t want to leave our country.”
Lilia’s husband Nikita took four-year-old Artem to his childhood home on the opposite side of town.
“Hope we’re safe there,” Lilia added.
“We can no longer live in our house with a huge hole and no heating. It could collapse at any time.”
Almost all of Lilia’s pregnancy was spent under Russian occupation.
She shared how they were afraid to leave the house as men were harassed and sometimes kidnapped and tortured at checkpoints.
Lilia said: “Life under occupation was terrible. I was scared most of the time during my pregnancy.
“And when there were rumors of a nuclear attack, we were appalled.
“Our cousin was stopped at a checkpoint and the soldiers took all his money, phone and passport.
“They said, ‘If you want your passport back, you have to bring us a platter of beers.’
“He walked 40 minutes to find a shop, managed to buy them beers and came back.
“They gave him his passport but neither his phone nor his money. He left the next day and took his family to Finland.
“I was afraid that Nikita would be arrested and my children would not have a father. ”
As soon as the bombing increased, Lilia and Nikita decided to flee to the relative safety of Kryvyi Rih, the birthplace of President Zelenskyy.
Lilia said, “We were about to leave and then this happened.”
Russian troops took Cherson without a fight in the first days of the war.
During the eight-month occupation, 26-year-old Nikita lost his job as a longshoreman and was forced to work for a Russian supermarket chain that broke in with invading troops.
But Russia retreated in an orderly manner over many weeks after commanders admitted they could no longer supply their troops.
And despite the daily oppression, the city was largely spared the scorched earth destruction of other battlefield cities.
Lilia said: “When our military came back we were overjoyed.
“We went to the central square to celebrate. We were so happy.”
Then, days after the city’s liberation, vengeful Russian troops stepped up artillery attacks from across the Dnipro River.
At least seven people were killed and 21 injured in shelling Thursday, government officials said.
Now Ukraine has urged civilians to leave the country if they can, fearing a looming humanitarian crisis.
Temperatures are expected to fall below freezing while more than 40 percent of Ukraine’s heating and electricity grids have been destroyed by Russian bombing.
And the Kremlin has bombarded residents with texts and calls warning them they are not safe.
Officials in Ukraine fear Russian bombing could turn the city into a hellscape, similar to parts of northern Kharkiv, the country’s second-largest city, which endured months of bombing before a Ukrainian counterattack forced Russian troops to retreat.
Ukraine’s deputy defense minister predicted his troops would recapture Crimea – which Russia annexed in 2014 – by Christmas.
But analysts expect the next phase of the conflict to be slowed by the challenge of crossing the Dnipro.
Retreating Russian soldiers destroyed part of the bridge in their final act of destruction.
Ukraine had made it almost impossible to use the bridge for supplies by hitting it with US-supplied HIMARS missiles.
The Russians tried to build a pontoon bridge, which was also hit by missiles.
But whatever the future holds for her country, Lilia is thankful that she and her family did not perish under Russian bombs.
She said: “I just thank God we all survived and Yana is healthy.
“She’s lucky that she was born free, in a free Cherson.”
Additional Reporting: OLEKSII KULYK
https://www.the-sun.com/news/6769496/russia-bomb-kherson-miracle-baby/ A Russian bomb hit the room I usually sleep in – hours later I gave birth to a miracle boy, says a Ukrainian mother