Anytime you bring a newborn child home from the hospital, it’s a whirlwind. It certainly was for us in 2012 when we brought our little girl home from the hospital where she was born. We were fortunate that we only had about a 2-minute drive. It was even more of a whirlwind when we brought our twin sons “home” to our Airbnb apartment in Kyiv.
We were euphoric because Mickey had overcome a potentially life-threatening condition and we had taken a big, tangible step towards getting back to our actual home. I wondered if where we were had something to do with it, but the proverbial whirlwind was a million times more intense when our sons were released from the hospital than it was five years earlier.
Another reason was that, as my wife and I liked to joke about when we had a few nanoseconds to talk, there were two of them. That’s really not the same thing as double the work or energy of one newborn, but rather more of a level of intensity that’s multiplied by around 10. In addition, the boys were incredibly colicky, unfortunately, so they quickly earned the nickname of “Scream Team” from their bedraggled parents. Trust me when I say that they earned it.
It was uncanny how the Scream Team would work in shifts. It was nothing short of remarkable when I think about it now. One of the boys would scream and scream and SCREAM for hours. It would take both of us, working in shifts of our own, to finally get him calmed down and off to sleep.
I don’t think there was ever a time when we were afforded even a minute to enjoy the quiet, because every single time that happened, the other baby would immediately – and I mean IMMEDIATELY – start up with his screaming for hours. We’d have to go through the process all over again.
We literally never slept for more than a few minutes at a time for months, so this extended well beyond our time in Kyiv. Our time in Kyiv was our first exposure to this, though, so we were also grappling with dealing with no sleep and the difficulty that comes with 23.999 hours of screaming from at least one of them out of every 24-hour period.
I’m telling you this to provide some context of what we saw one night about a week before we were able to come home. It was the absolute first time since we left the hospital that both boys were sleeping simultaneously for more than an hour. All the so-called “experts” out there tell you to sleep when they sleep. That’s a nice idea, but totally impractical most of the time because there’s a lot to do when you actually have the time. That night, though, I allowed myself to enjoy the quiet.
Suddenly, a hellacious thunderstorm swept into Kyiv. The power was going in and out, which wasn’t all that uncommon anyway, but even through thick curtains in the living room window, you could see the lightning dancing across the sky and coming within what seemed like inches of the buildings around us. The thunder was of a volume that I don’t think I’ve ever heard. I could not believe that the boys slept through this.
I decided to peek out the window, but boy, I didn’t expect to see what I did. I looked down and saw this:
Nothing like opening the drapes and seeing a ballistic warhead parked outside your window. I immediately felt that internal cold rush of anxiety, wondering what was happening. To my absolute amazement, people just walked past this thing like it was an abandoned car. No one gave it a second look.
I closed the drapes quickly after taking the photo, hoping to un-see what I just saw. I waited about 15 minutes, but the storm continued to howl and growl. After a particularly close lightning bolt and deafening boom of thunder, I opened the drapes again, wondering what would happen to a ballistic missile if lighting hit it.
This time, I didn’t see lightning. I saw this:
I can’t believe I’d ever say this, but I actually felt better. It’s just a battalion of tanks – not a ballistic warhead – so what could possibly go wrong there? Not long afterward, the tanks rolled out of sight as well.
I have no idea what was happening, but I wondered if I had hallucinated all of this given my extreme sleep deprivation. That’s why I took the photos. Given the unique set of circumstances, there was almost nothing that could have even come close to shocking me out of my mental state at the time, but a giant missile parked outside my window definitely did the trick. Once again, this seemed to be normal life for the folks who live there. Can you imagine what would happen if the military parked a warhead in the middle of your city? I’m pretty sure there’d be a big reaction. Not there – just another day in Ukraine.