A Diary of a New Jerusalemite: Birth
Six weeks ago, I gave birth to my first born, a son, in Jerusalem. As a Jerusalemite who is married to a West Banker, I’m obligated to give birth in Jerusalem in order for my child to potentially obtain the Jerusalem ID.
I chose an Arab-owned hospital in East Jerusalem, St. Joseph’s French hospital, instead of the larger Israeli West-Jerusalem hospitals like Hadassah or Sharaey Zedek. Although I had many people discourage me from giving birth at St.Joseph’s hospital, because they didn’t think it was as good as the Israeli hospitals, I was determined to give it a chance. I heard good things about it from several women who actually had given birth at St. Joseph’s, and this was enough for me. I even know an American mother who had given birth to her first two children in the United States, and she said that she had a much better experience at St. Joseph’s with the birth of her third child.
My first reason for choosing St. Joseph’s was because all the staff spoke Arabic, and that was essential for me, because neither my husband nor I speak Hebrew. However, after visiting the hospital for the first time, I wasn’t only drawn to it because of the language, which made me very comfortable, but I was also extremely impressed with the doctors, the nurses, and the cleanliness of the hospital. Most of all, I was happy to be greeted with a smile, and treated with such kindness from everyone I interacted with, which is very rare in Jerusalem, as you might know.
One week before I gave birth, my cousin’s wife delivered her baby pre-term at St. Joseph’s. When we went to visit her the next day, she looked relaxed and happy. Although, she had to deliver her baby at almost eight months, which is very difficult, she said that the staff was so supportive, and she was very pleased with the way her delivery went. Hearing her testimony about the hospital gave me such peace and completely relaxed me, and I barely had any anxiety about giving birth.
When it was time for me to give birth, I was blessed to have an amazing midwife, who was with me the entire time during my delivery, along with my wonderful older sister and husband. The midwife was truly gentle, encouraging and supportive. Right before I delivered my baby, a baby’s nurse came into the room to prepare to receive the baby and give him his first immunization shot. When my baby was born, they put him on my chest right away, for skin-to-skin contact, and the nurse started helping me breastfeed only minutes after giving birth.
Afterwards, I was sent to the post-maternity ward, and to my luck there was plenty of room in the ward, which meant I had a room to myself during my two-day stay there. The nurses were very helpful at giving advice when I was struggling with breastfeeding. They also asked how I was doing, and made sure that I had plenty of rest. The food that they serve in the post-maternity ward is absolutely amazing, more like 5-star hotel type of food. Everything is fresh, healthy and tasty.
One of the most unique and personal touches at the hospital is that the nuns prepare a big tray of chocolates, along with several gifts, wrapped beautifully, and personally deliver them to each mother after her delivery.
After spending three days at St. Joseph’s hospital, I almost didn’t want to leave. I truly had an unforgettable experience there, and I cannot recommend it more to any mother planning to have her baby in Jerusalem.