The birth of a baby is often the last thing anyone expects to happen when a mother and her newborn arrive at a maternity hospital.
But the first time they do, they are confronted with a complex set of circumstances that are not all that they expect.
In a small rural hospital in the Croatian capital of Dubrovnik, an estimated 200 pregnant women are currently being treated in a makeshift birthing room, all of them having just given birth to a baby boy.
Dubrovni is one of a handful of hospitals in Croatia that offer birth as a last resort in the event of an earthquake.
This was the case for Maria, who gave birth to the baby, the first of her five children.
Maria, 25, said she is thankful that she had the opportunity to be at the hospital in Dubrovnick and the opportunity for her son to be born on the ground in his native country, which has been hit by the deadliest earthquake in the region since 1999.
“When I was pregnant, we were expecting a baby on the floor.
But with this earthquake, we decided to have a baby as we have a lot of problems in our house,” she told TechRadars.
The woman’s story was not an isolated one.
In Dubrovnic, the second-largest city in Croatia, an average of four babies are born a day, with another 14 babies still being delivered.
In April this year, the country recorded its second-biggest quake in more than a decade, the 7.8 magnitude tremor that killed at least 40 people.
A local journalist was one of those who managed to get a picture of the scene as the first child was born.
“I think it’s a good thing that a hospital is here for us,” Maria told Techradars.
“It gives me peace to go to my house.
But it’s also a great opportunity for the mother to have the baby.”
Maria and her husband, who is also a journalist, were not the only ones who wanted to have their first child while pregnant.
A Croatian couple who were looking for a place to stay in a small town were not satisfied with the beds available.
They decided to get pregnant in the hospital.
“We did not know that this was possible in a hospital,” said Maria.
“There was no medical support, there were no clinics, there was no money.”
As Maria and the couple prepared to have another baby, a nurse approached the couple and asked for their permission to use their maternity ward.
“He told me that there was a baby waiting there,” Maria said.
“My husband said that the baby had a big head and a baby with a big heart.”
Maria was not the first woman to deliver her first child in the middle of an ongoing disaster.
A group of Croatian women who had been trying to find a place in Dubravnik to stay had been looking for accommodation in the town’s old city.
They had to wait a month to find one, and the local government was not willing to let them stay in the city they had been seeking.
A similar situation had played out when a group of women in the country’s south found a place on the edge of the country, but they were told by the local authorities that the hotel they were staying in was too far away.
“The hotel was very close to the town centre, so we could not get in there,” said the woman, who wished to remain anonymous.
“But we went there and found a bed in a park.”
After the woman delivered the first baby, her husband and other women began to plan to move their family out of the city and into a village.
“Before, we could find a small place and sleep there,” the woman said.
Maria and a group decided to move to a small village near the town, which was located on the banks of the river Ljubljana, and had a small population of just over 500 people.
Maria said she had never felt so safe and happy.
“If you are in a place that you feel safe, then it is easier to be there,” she said.
When the earthquake hit in April, the village was not expecting to receive so many people.
The quake left about 5,000 people dead.
But for some women in Croatia’s capital, Dubrovnica, the situation was even worse.
In the months before the quake, about 20 people died every day in the village.
Now, the number of deaths has dropped to zero.
Maria has decided to keep her baby.
“As a woman, it is important to have your baby, but I want to have him when he is old enough to understand the consequences of his decision,” she explained.
The baby is being cared for by a local doctor.
But even if the baby is born healthy, he will need to be given the proper medical attention, as his mother has suffered a stroke.
“She has lost the ability to walk,” Maria explained.
“This is a good