Woman gives birth to baby girl in UK as husband stuck in war torn Ukraine

  • Video report by Charlotte Gay

A woman from Ukraine has given birth to a baby girl in Plymouth while her daughter's father remains stuck in the war-torn country.

Lena Kulakovska welcomed her daughter, Nicole, at Derriford Hospital in July.

The mother-of-three says although she is over the moon to be in a safe place with her daughter, she still struggles with the prospect of not having a home to return to.

Lena and her husband Sergii's flat in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv was destroyed by bombs during the Russian conflict.

Lena and her three children now live in Plymouth with the Archdeacon of Plymouth, Nick Shutt, and his wife Corinne.

Lena and baby Nicole on a video call to Nicole's father Sergii

Choosing to leave Ukraine - and her husband - to come to the UK was a last-minute decision, Lena told ITV News West Country.

"It's very difficult to run and hide with three babies and one in a buggy," she said.

"This is why I decided at 35 weeks [pregnant], when Nick contacted me, that's the last weeks I can arrive from Ukraine."

“I wanted to stay in Ukraine. I wanted the war to stop so I could birth her as usual near my sister in Zhytomyr, but the war just got worse and worse so I decided to go somewhere very far away.

“I couldn’t walk down the street with her in a buggy, because I couldn’t run quick enough to hide.

The family's neighbourhood in Kyiv has been severely damaged during the war

“I sent a message and then Nick and his staff got in contact with me and everything happened very quickly. In one week, I was here.”

Nicole was delivered safely on July 5 at Derriford Hospital in Plymouth - meaning she shares her birthday with her five-year-old sister Arina. She is also much loved by her older brother Kyryl.

The family says it has been hard settling into their new way of life with communication with their husband and father restricted to video calls.

And with no end to the war in sight, Lena's trying to adjust to life in the Dartmoor village of Walkhampton.

"I try to be happy, and every person here is trying to make my life happy," Lena said.

"But sometimes it's very hard for me because I'm thinking 'I want home, I need a plan B'.

"I understand that it cannot stop and I need to be strong because I have three children and they don't need to see their mother cry or be upset. I need to be strong."

Lena and her three children are now living in Plymouth

Speaking of the kindness of the community, Archdeacon Nick Shutt says the cost of living crisis isn't deterring any families in the diocese network from helping Ukrainians.

Archdeacon Shutt says: "I think people are really generous, people have opened their homes and have opened their hearts to the Ukrainian people because they're in a dire situation.

"I think you would never want to do this for the money, you're only getting £350 a month, you're doing it because it's just the right thing to do."

Speaking on the unplanned circumstances around her daughter's birth, Lena says: "I do wonder how she will feel - English? Or like Ukraine? But I think she's Ukraine."

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