The area near Tula’s Kremlin, in the very center of the city, changed dramatically over the years. However, here you can still find structures dating from the 19th century. One of such buildings years ago belonged to a merchant, Ivan Lomov. Before the Revolution of 1917 the house, at some point Lomov’s family estate, was given by Lomov’s daughter to a charity and turned into an orphanage. At that time the house had only two stories. The house got its third story in 1930. Now Tula’s Central Maternity Hospital, officially called Tula’s Maternity Hospital No. 1 is located here.
A sign describing the house and giving the reference to Tulagid (Tula Guide), a mobile cultural navigator, is on the wall near the central entrance:
We can see that thematically relevant bas-reliefs grace the hospital’s beautiful classical facade. (Picture from http://myslo.ru/city/reviews/places/lepota)
The hospital itself has a rich history. It opened in 1926 and since then its walls witnessed many miraculous and paramount moments, I’m sure. Walking by the hospital in this strictly pedestrian part of an old street you always see banners that happy fathers hang on fences opposite the hospital’s windows and messages that they write on the asphalt below.
These particular banners read: "Lilechik, thank you for the daughter! I love you very much!" and "Aniuta, thank you for the son!!!"
I think that fathers and relatives use the canvas of the street because they’re not allowed to bring any such banner into the hospital itself. I assume that visiting hours may be limited, too.
I have in my mind an image from my Soviet childhood when fathers or relatives were not allowed into maternity wards or hospitals at all and would meet their families only at time of discharge. They would stand outside and shout to their wives (oh, the time without cell phones!) who would then try to show babies through closed windows. They would write messages on small pieces of paper torn from school notebooks and try to give it to hospital personnel to pass to their wives. At that time the maternity hospital was like a fortress and no matter how the birth went you had to spend there at least a week.
Now the rules changed, although they vary between hospitals and even between hospital’s divisions. Now you can choose a maternity hospital, if you want, you can have your partner present at birth, you can have your baby staying with you or not etc.
The times changed but a happy father and messages to new mothers remain. Some of the messages that you see when passing Central Maternity Hospital make you smile, some are more serious, some are hand-made and others are products of a print shop but they all transfer a sense of celebration and extreme joy that is usually associated with any maternity ward. I always smile when I see these. I try to imagine these people and their babies. And every time I feel privy to some miracle, unexpected, and because of that even more precious.