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pregnant Ukrainian woman

Photo by Astaken on Flickr

On Feb. 24, in the early hours of a cold, dark morning in Lviv, two phones in one apartment rang nearly simultaneously. The phones belonged to two women, Maryna and Nataliia, professional colleagues of a sort and temporary roommates; they were also newfound friends, both of them pregnant and near the beginning of their third trimesters. Just over a week earlier, they had come from Kyiv, where they’d both been living, on a kind of business trip. Lviv was around an eight-hour train ride away, a hassle of a journey even for someone who wasn’t pregnant, and it was especially unappealing in the heart of a freezing Ukrainian winter. But the American businesswoman who was working with them insisted — the clients demanded it. They would be away two weeks at the most, she’d told them. Their manager tried to sell it: See it as a paid vacation to Lviv! The town was well known to Ukrainians for its historic cobblestone streets and charming pastel townhouses.

Under different circumstances, the trip might have held more... see more