In peacetime, Ukraine has a thriving surrogate industry, one of the few countries where foreigners can get Ukrainian women to carry their pregnancies.
Now at least 20 of those babies are stuck in a makeshift bomb shelter in Ukraine’s capital, waiting for parents to travel into the war zone to pick them up.
They’re well cared for at the moment. Surrogacy center nurses are stranded with them, because constant shelling makes it too dangerous for them to go home.
Russian troops are trying to encircle the city, with Ukrainian defenders holding them off for now, the threat comes from the air.
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Nurse Lyudmilla Yashchenko says they’re staying in the bomb shelter to save their lives, and the lives of the babies, some of whom are just days old. They have enough food and baby supplies for now, and can only hope and wait for the newborns to be picked up, and the war to end.
Yashchenko said they leave briefly during the day to get some fresh air but don’t dare stay out too long. She worries about her own children, too — both her sons, ages 22 and 30, are fighting to defend their country.
Exhaustion is constant.
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“We are almost not sleeping at all,” Yashchenko said. “We are working round the clock.”
This is a live update. Click here for complete coverage of the crisis in Ukraine.