We remained at home (ed.: Knyazhychi village, near Kyiv). There was no point in leaving, it was quiet ok here. Our friends in local defense units and the Armed Forces of Ukraine expected that our village wouldn't be interesting to the occupiers: we aren't located on the direct way to Kyiv, but somewhat on the side.
Yes, in the first days there were missile strikes and air defense was working. We saw missiles in the middle of the night, it looked like a glow. On Friday (ed: May 13, 2022) we also saw fighter jets here, even though the war has somewhat «moved away» from us. Drones are still flying around, most likely ours.
"Theoretically, anything could happen. It's impossible to predict the outcome. But for some reason, we believed that the occupiers wouldn't reach us."
Author: What would be the point of no return for you, after which you would definitely leave?
My brother, who lived in Irpin, had fighter jets flying over the roofs of the houses. Probably, if we had that, we would be very far in 15-20 minutes (ed.: laughs).
But there is another factor that influenced our decision: my wife was about to give birth. We have already agreed on everything here (ed: to cover all medical issues), we had plans. We already paid a contribution to the Kyiv Maternity Hospital, which we trust. My wife gave birth to our third child already during the war.
Our February 24 started with the bombing of a military unit located on the border of Kyiv and Brovary (ed.: near the village where Mykola and his family live). Parents say they saw the glow from the explosion of the first missile. Then they even ran outside to look closer.
"In our room, the door started to chatter in an unusual way. Actually, that's what woke me up. Almost immediately, I felt several explosions.
My phone started bursting with notifications: the Telegram channels I am subscribed to reported about missile strikes all over Ukraine."
Though my wife and children slept until 10 am, hearing nothing of that.
Parents even went to work that day. Mom came back earlier, in the afternoon.
I was supposed to go to the Oschadbank on Kulibin str (ed.: a street branching off Victory Ave. The very next day, enemy vehicles were moving past Kulibin str). Plans had to be changed.
We started setting the air-raid shelter in the cellar of our house. We brought in a heater, arranged the lighting and the Internet so that I could work there.
On the same day, I went to the supermarket and bought canned goods and water. Refueled my car. I could make it in one hour, because I knew the gas station, which is usually isn't crowded.
"Yes, we expected an invasion. But no one believed that it would happen. Although the events that took place the day before meant that."
First week of the big war
I remember the complete confusion regarding what could happen next.
"My wife wanted to go abroad.
The car was fueled, but I wasn't sure that I would be able to get my family safely to the border."
We all remember tragic incidents involving civilian vehicles (ed.: lots of cars with civilians were shot up by occupants).
During the air-raid alarms and shelling, we went down to the basement. We started guarding our house territory at night: my grandfather guarded upstairs, and I was downstairs, in the basement. Sometimes the lighting and the internet went out. But that happens even now when we are no longer bombed.
«F*ck this war. We had to make it to the maternity clinic!»
My wife has contraindications to natural birth, so we scheduled a c-section in advance. F*ck this war. We had to make it to the maternity clinic. A date of March 15 was set.
"But when the invasion began, there was another serious cause for concern: my wife could have seizures early due to stress. And if it happens at night, then due to the curfew, I won't be able to get her to the hospital in time."
Therefore, after consulting with the doctor, we decided to move the cesarean section to March 9th.
So we accidentally supported our family tradition...
Family names & dates
"All the boys in our family were born on the ninth day: I was born on April 9, 1997. Mykola Jr was born on April 9, 2020, and Myroslav was born on March 9, 2022.
And all the girls were born on the twelfth day: mother Karina celebrates her birthday on December 12, 1996, and daughter Milana on November 12, 2018."
We «gave birth» every two years: 2018, 2020, and 2022.
In addition, all the children are «BMM» by their names: Biletsky Milana Mykola, Biletsky Mykola Mykola, and Biletsky Myroslav Mykola (ed.: laughs).
A couple of weeks before the delivery day, when the invasion began, our doctor called us and said that he was there, the staff was there, and the hospital was working. So, on the day of delivery, we called him in the morning to confirm the plans.
A couple of days before that, I drove by car along the highways that will lead to Kyiv. This is how I found out how many military checkpoints I would have to pass, which ones, and which roads were closed and mined.
"There was a «golden rule»: you leave Knyazhychy by several ways, but there's the only way back, through Brovary city. We couldn't drive through the forest, so as not to provoke our or the enemy's military."
Therefore, we only had the central exit. And there were no problems there: they looked at the documents, inspected the car, and let us go.
On the 9th, we waited for the end of the curfew, loaded things into the car, and left.
«At the first checkpoint, we said she is delivering»
"We passed the first checkpoint very quickly: we said that my wife was giving birth. They were scared! (ed.: laughs). Then we promised that she would not give birth right there, but in a few hours."
We «flew» through the second checkpoint at a speed of 100 km/h having our alarm lamps on and using the lane intended for Armed Forces vehicles, local defense units, and emergency cars. When the militaries stopped us and found out that my wife was delivering, they also quickly let us go.
And then we stopped at the exit from the Darnytsky bridge (ed.: in Kyiv downtown). We already thought that the road was blocked, and it would be impossible to move further. It turned out that at that time the trucks were just unloading sand and making a «snake» to make it difficult for enemy convoys to move if they could make it here. Later we drove there as well.
Then, bypassing concrete blocks and iron «hedgehogs», we reached the maternity hospital. They were already waiting for us there.
The first thing we saw was an empty parking lot. It was the nicest surprise (ed.: laughs).
When «we» gave birth to our son in 2020, I only saw free parking spaces in the morning, at 7 am. At lunch, parking the car turned to be a real problem. And here we go! We could park the car wherever we wanted, even across, even in a triangle (ed.: laughs).
We took our things and left.
Nice surprise again
We agreed with the doctors that I would bring my wife and leave.
But this time, the doctor suddenly allowed me to be present during delivery. And then for the entire time of my wife's stay in the hospital (ed.: three days). Like, it's quite problematic to go back and forth now, and there was enough space for me in the bunker as well. So, I stayed. My wife was taken for surgery.
When Myroslav was born, he was brought to my room, and my wife was left to recover after the surgery operation. During this time, I had repaired several phones for the nurses, and at 8 pm they literally forced me to have «breakfast».
"At that time, the medical staff had already been living in the hospital for 12-13 days. They had no way to go home and there was no one to replace them.
Around 9 pm, we were all already accommodated in the bunker."
The First Maternity Hospital in Kyiv was built during the Cold War. So, the bunker there is quite real (ed.: bomb shelter).
"As it should be, there are thick walls that don't let even a mobile phone signal through. There are hermetic doors on both sides. There's a surgery operation room, but it currently has no equipment. It's a real protective shelter that meets all safety standards: it can withstand a direct hit of bombs."
Before the invasion, patient IDs and other documentation were stored there. At the end of February, the bunker began to be emptied to accommodate women in labor.
The rooms in the bunker were prepared even before our arrival: it was a double room with full beds for me and my wife, our child, and for another pregnant lady who was hospitalized.
In addition to the patients and their families, staff and doctors were sent into the bunker for the night, too. Only those on duty who received newly arrived patients remained upstairs.
Remain there for a week autonomously
On the second and third days after Miroslav's birth, I, together with other men, doctors, and the facility manager, helped to remove racks and documents from the shelter in order to fit more people in there. The local facility manager said that there were about 15 tons of documents.
Back we brought water and humanitarian aid that just arrived: such as detergents, washing powders, and two tons of baby food.
"Since not all beds were brought down there, some people slept on benches or simply on mattresses for some time."
The doctor said that the bunker should be equipped in such a way that it would be possible to stay there autonomously for a week. There was even an Internet, the password for which I had to «get myself» because they didn't give it to me (ed.: slyly mocking).
We left the bunker only for discharge.
Yes, there were worries, but not so much because of the war, but because of the fact that we leave children at home for the time of delivery at the hospital.
"We didn't dare to take them with us to the maternity hospital, as the trip is dangerous, and the outcome is unknown: anything could happen. If labor had started earlier and naturally, it would have been extremely dangerous."
Therefore, the children stayed with their great-grandmother, grandmother and grandfather, and we remained in tension.
When Karina gave birth, we had one desire: to go home! To the children!
But we weren't released immediately: the doctor wanted to make sure that everything was fine with my wife. At the same time, women who gave birth naturally could go home within a day.
On the way home, we also picked up two nurses: we helped two families meet their relatives (ed.: smiles).
«Restrictions, inconveniences, but no changes»
Our life before the big war and during the big war didn't change. There are restrictions and inconveniences, but no changes.
Restrictions include not always being able to move freely outside your yard. In addition, we always observe light masking.
I already work without lighting: my three monitors are located in such a way that they almost illuminate my corner.
My main values haven't changed either. The main thing is that the children have everything they need and that they and my family are healthy.
If it'll be necessary to protect them with the armor, we will.
If it'll be necessary to provide them even more, we'll work harder. Especially since prices are rising. Previously, you could buy a pack of diapers for UAH 800-1,000. Now they cost 1,800-2,200 UAH. But they are still needed!
"So, for my children's lives to be the same as before, I need to work the same way as before: Dad has to provide for them."
It is very important to have support within the family. Everyone has their own «want» and «need».
«Why would I be sad?»
Recently, I spoke with people in line at the Administrative Service Centre: they say one day they discovered that there were occupiers in their house and an enemy's tank in the yard. Having no choice, they jumped into the river, swam across, and ran away. The house was burned down.
And while telling this, they joke and smile!
I remember them and think: if they are joking about it, why should I be sad? They really lost everything, even their documents!
"Of course, we're all scared. There's no person who isn't afraid. But there is one main rule: if we start panicking, we won't be able to make the right decisions. You won't be able to objectively assess the situation and do exactly what will save your family."
I can't panic and show my fear to my children because they will do the same. My daughter says, «When I grow up, will you help me hit the russians with a frying pan on the forehead? And on the ass? And put them in a corner? And put in a cage? And shoot?» (ed.: laughs).
She is 3.5 years old, and she understands everything. If she sees dad scared – and I'm really scared – she will be very worried. But still, they need to sleep normally. They need to control themselves. And we are responsible for that.
«What a war it is?!»
When everything that Bucha experienced was revealed, different feelings hit me.
"What happened there is great grief. It's not war, it's genocide. In my understanding, war is something else."
My grandmothers told me about WW2. They said that the fascists shot, steal things, but didn't do what was done in the suburbs of Kyiv.
The paternal grandmother told me about this: they were a large family. One day during the war, the Germans brought tree seedlings to plant in the occupied territories. Some of the seedlings were given to the grandmother's family: they say, plant it, they will grow so you'll have something to eat.
From what I was told, the Germans didn't commit genocide against us, they engaged in war. Some even shot above the heads in order not to kill a person.
But, of course, they were different people among them.
To learn during the war
"Probably the most important thing that everyone in our family has learned is to listen to each other better, to plan next steps based on each other's needs. To communicate with each other."
At first, even before Myroslav was born, we took turns at the wood-burning boiler outside: dad lit it, and when he went to sleep, while I was working, I'd walk around the territory from time to time, listening to what was going on around. Then I slept for a few hours and went back to work (ed: laughs).
After the Victory
First, I'll celebrate it! I'll take the day off! I'd go to the store, buy whiskey or cognac, some meat, take my wife and children, and we'd grill meat or fish.
Second, I'll install the third child car seat with isofixes in the car (ed.: laughs)! Nowadays it's quite difficult to do.
"Now we’re planning for two days ahead at most. Although the war has «moved away» from us, it hasn’t finished.
We understand that all this will probably continue until the end of the year: our enemies are still many."
We have to get all our territories back, and that will take time.
Message to the Lizards
There was news recently: 2,103 children were born in the Kyiv region during more than 70 days of the big war. While the war life still goes on.
"And we have a lot of obligations: to our family because it needs to be supported – children, wives, parents. We must support our second family, our Company: we owe it to our colleagues who are counting on us. We cannot let our Clients down, who are also trying to work during this difficult period."
We shouldn't grieve too much. And there's no need to feel guilty for the decisions we made at this time. Each of us made the right decisions for ourselves at the time.
We stay together, we are open to helping each other. And this – our unity, willingness to help and support – is the most important thing after our own family. After all, thanks to the flexibility of our Company, we can provide our families with everything they need.
Many businesses cannot operate now. My university friend worked at a very large online store. They were left unemployed. So, how to provide for yourself then?
The fact that our Company is holding up so well is a big win. And we must try very hard to support it.
"Problems are momentary, war is temporary. The main thing is not to lose our humanity and collective spirit, mutual support. After all, the Company does not abandon us all, and the main thing is to be part of the Company. Not only to receive but also to be ready to give."
The war showed several very important things.
That we are a strong people, we are a nation.
"That our Company is very flexible. We demonstrated this to our Partners even during the coronavirus restrictions: let us work from anywhere, and we will do it with quality."
That during the war we should do our work as well as before. The Company will ensure the fulfillment of its obligations to the Partners, to the Lizards, will pay taxes to the State, which will support our economy – and we really need a strong economy.
That we can DDOSing russia together in such a way that even there they admitted how effectively we do it. My home PC was making so many requests that my VPN dropped within an hour or so. It had to be constantly restarted (ed.: laughs). I even waited for complaints from the Internet provider, but everything is quiet there so far.
"And this is how, together, we will resist."
I feel deeply sorry for the people who died and were injured. Unfortunately, we'll not return them. Unfortunately, we'll lose many more. But we have a goal to which we must proceed.
And we will get there only together.