The story started in the previous posts:
Staying in Ukraine Before the War Started
Beginning of the Invasion of Ukraine February 24, 2022
My Fleeing from the War in Ukraine

Katya and I arrived just after 7 in the morning in Bucharest, Romania. The day before I made reservations at an Airbnb apartment for a bedroom and bathroom rental. The owner of the apartment Andre told me that the top private hospital in Bucharest was giving free or discounted medical care to Ukrainians fleeing the war. Katya was officially now a refugee. We took an Uber to the center of Bucharest, unpacked a little, and decided to take a short nap before heading to Regina Maria Maternity Hospital. She slept and I talked to Andre. I called ahead and talked to the refugee assistance secretary about our medical situation. Boston Children’s Hospital had already given us their best advice and unless the ultrasound were about to have revealed something new, we were about to follow through with a decision I pray no one ever has to go through with. Katya slept for Mayne an hour before waking up, very upset and anxious. We talked, cried, and talked some more before calling an Uber to the hospital. There were still COVID restrictions in place but they did let me into the hospital and examination room with Katya. The first 3 doctors came in along with a technician. Then 3 more doctors came in and they started the final ultrasound of Katya’s womb and of the baby. Two machines did the same tests on her womb and on the baby. They didn’t go into a lot of detail but they did show the 6 chambers of the baby’s heart along with the high heart rate, and in color, the way the blood flow circulated through the baby’s heart. It was bad, all so, so bad. The doctors were all surprised our unborn son was still fighting for life, but they also told us the reality of our situation and the cold reality of what was to come. We asked for just 1 hour to walk and to find a Ukrainian Orthodox priest.

The hospital didn’t have a clergyman on staff. We told them to give us just an hour to digest all of what had happened over the previous few days. We had passed an Italian restaurant in the Uber and as crazy as it may sound, she was hungry and wanted “real Italian food” she said. I still remember what we ordered for lunch. We ate and talked and cried a few tears before walking hand in hand back to the hospital. It was a fast 5-minute walk, the saddest 5 minutes of my life so far. We walked inside and checked in, and met the nurse for blood tests. I was not allowed to go to the back where Katya was going. I was upset but the nurse told me she would be back in 30 minutes. I kissed her on the cheek and instinctively kissed her belly, our unborn son goodbye. I had kissed her belly since February 1st when I arrived in Ukraine. It was like breathing to me… just part of my normal everyday life. It felt great to be a father AGAIN. Of course, I was excited. My son Evan is now 18. I am ready and was ready to be a father to any healthy child, although another boy would have been amazing. I still remember my partner Katya telling me “Andy, it’s a boy!” I still have the video I made during the ultrasound. Katya vanished through a doorway for what seemed like an eternity.

After an hour my phone rang and she called me to tell me that I was not allowed to see her until after the surgery for health and sanitary reasons. It was shocking to me to hear this. This was her first time in a hospital, her first surgery, and sadly, her first child. 20% of first pregnancies end in miscarriage, and this one had gone terribly wrong. I admit I was angry at the nurse that had told me I could see Katya again. Maybe she forgot or was trying to make it easier on us but I was angry, angry that I didn’t say the things I needed to say to our baby, and angry that I was not able to comfort Katya before the emergency surgery. This emergency abortion would save her life and preserve her womb for the future, and it would remove the unhealthy life that we had created, that COVID had so horribly affected, and there was nothing I could do to save Katya or our unborn son. Maybe I was angry about the whole messed-up situation! The war, leaving her family, the missiles raining down on Ukraine, the senseless death of young men, the innocent people of Ukraine dying every day, and yes, about COVID and the life that we would not ever be able to live again! I was made to wait outside. I waited as long as I could in the cold weather until about 6 p.m. in the evening. I was cold and wet so I ordered an Uber to come to take me back to the apartment. It was nearly 6:45 when I made it back to the apartment when my phone rang. It was Katya telling me she had not been into surgery yet. She had waited all day and at this point, things had begun to unravel in her head. She was upset and tired, and now hungry. I called the refugee secretary to see what the hold-up was. The doctor had 3 surgeries to do before Katya. Around 9 p.m. she called me to tell me she was going into surgery. She was understandably scared. Guys, I am sure you can understand this. I don’t need to control everything, but I do very much feel the need to comfort those I love and care for. I was literally sick with worry. I did not eat. In fact, I vomited many times that night.

We had to make the most difficult decision of our lives. Katya called me just before 11 p.m. She was out of surgery and awake. She was drowsy and sore but awake and talking. We didn’t talk for long because she needed to call her mother. We said our goodbyes and I went to sleep. I didn’t sleep well that night and woke up in a bad mood.

I woke in a bad mood after the previous 72 hours of what felt like hell on earth. We had traveled from Poltava to Odesa only to get horrible news about our unborn child, fled Odesa under missiles being fired into the city, waited for nearly 24 hours in a tinted line of cars leaving Ukraine, and I had been in some pretty intense altercations with cowards that didn’t feel like it was their job to defend their homeland. Arriving in Bucharest after an overnight bus, we had to make a decision that would alter our lives forever… end the life of our unborn son because his little heart was just not going to survive outside his mother’s womb and for sure not the full 9 months of Katya’s pregnancy. His tiny body was 40% too small on the left side with both arms and legs very short compared to the right side. Neurological issues would have meant IF our unborn son had made it into this world that he would never walk, never crawl or be able to feed himself, and that would be IF he had a healthy heart, which he did not have.

All of this added to the stress of the journey. Katya came out of surgery and was resting when I woke up the next morning. She called to tell me her phone was nearly dead, so I called an Uber and took a portable battery bank with me to give to her so she could call me when they discharged her from the women’s hospital. I arrived and the front desk personnel took her to the power bank. She called to thank me and said it may be an hour or more. As I write this, I can think back to that morning like it was just yesterday. I remember her voice and the pain in her goodbye. I looked for a place for us to eat breakfast when she got discharged but the security guard told me I had to leave. So, Uber took me to a place for breakfast when Katya called me out of the blue to say she was ready. THAT WAS FAST! I added where I had just come from to the Uber trip. We turned around and I went back to the women’s hospital. She was ready when I got there. She looked pale and so, so fragile. She had a list of medications to pick up for the pain and bleeding. While she was in the hospital I searched online for places for us to stay more permanently. There were housing opportunities all over Bucharest for people fleeing Ukraine. I had called one man that had a nice apartment but he called me back at the last minute to tell me that other refugees had called first and that they would need the apartment more than we did.

They had children. Even now writing “they had children” hurts me to my core. We got back to the Airbnb and went to breakfast. We had just sat down when the same man that told us the apartment was occupied called to tell me that the other refugees had gotten stuck at the border and that we could have the apartment. This was such good news. For the first time in a few days, there was at least some hope, some light at the end of this dark journey. We ate a quick breakfast, thanked Andre for letting us stay, and called a taxi to take us to our new apartment. The owner of the apartment met us and helped me carry our 3 very big bags up the stairs. The apartment was close to a few markets and restaurants. It was new and had a full kitchen, a full bathroom with a bathtub, a big screen TV, extra bedding for a rollaway bed, and a queen-size bed for us to sleep in. The apartment must have been no more than 3 or 4 years old. We unpacked and settled in for a few minutes before asking the owner, our host, to take us to the pharmacy for Katya’s medication.

The day before she, or rather WE had been pregnant, but today here we were in line at the pharmacy buying medicine for bleeding pads for the bleeding, and pain medication for Katya to soothe the spasms from her womb after the emergency abortion. This moment is so vivid in my memory. Standing there buying medications for pain and bleeding after all we had been through to get out of Ukraine was such a hard pill to swallow (a figure of speech, pardon the pun). One of the reasons for me to do all I had done, was the D visa, the days and days in Gadyich with her family, the trip to Odessa, the waiting and waiting in the car to escape the war, and it was gone now. Yes, it’s true I would have gone back anyway to get my partner out of the war zone, but losing the baby, even if the baby was unplanned and a total surprise, still hurt like a son of a $@tch!

We got back to the apartment and I walked to the market for food and water. I bought food Katya liked for me to cook, stuff for salad, chicken and rice, and a few sweets. When I got back Katya was in pain and had stomach cramps. She said her breasts were on fire, and leaking milk. Again, reminding us that the baby was gone and that her body didn’t know what to feel or how to handle the strain. She is such a strong person and I am sure she will feel the pain of this loss for the entirety of her life. She took some medication and slept for a while. When she woke I cooked dinner and we watched our usual after-dinner Netflix. We went to bed kinda early. The apartment was well-equipped and we were so lucky to have this nice place in a nice area. It was totally free. We woke to snow outside. I remember this beautiful scene because I made a video of the snow and gave a small speech on the video to celebrate International Women’s Day. Each time some milestone happened in our journey snow usually fell. This day was no different. Snow fell and I hoped secretly that it would purify and wash away the stress of the long trip to Bucharest and the horrible but necessary choices we had to make there.

The story continues in the next post “My Thoughts on Relationship with Ukrainian Woman”

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Author: Andy Scoggins

Andrew has traveled extensively from his home on the Outer Banks of North Carolina having starting his journey through the former Soviet Union in Winter of 2012 to Novokuznetsk, then on to Ukraine's Lviv, Kyiv, Kharkov, and finally his second home, Odessa.  

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