Giving Birth in Hebrew

Okay, it’s been a while since I even thought about writing on this blog. I think that is a sign of my being more well-adjusted and finding less things to complain about (or I’m just getting used to it).

About two months ago, I joined the ranks of billions before me and became a mother. I am currently holding in my arms and burping with one hand my beautiful 10-week old son. Becoming a mother is at once the most gratifying, shocking, blissful, and tiresome experience. More on that in another post.

I will say this: being pregnant in Israel is sort of delightful. There’s SO many pregnant women walking around, that most people know how to deal with you (unlike in many parts of Europe where they  offer incentives for people to have children). People here will instinctively give up their seat on a bus, allow you to cut them in line, or turn on the AC when you walk into their office. This was probably the only time where my deepest concerns (not getting a seat, standing in line, and sitting in sweltering heat) were answered without me even having to ask. This kind of special treatment is so unusual here – and I so appreciated each salesclerk, bus patron, and everyone else who cooperated.

What was less appreciated was basically having to camp out at the doctor’s offices. I have never been to so many doctor appointments in my life, but I think that goes with the territory of being pregnant, not necessarily having to do with Israel. I imagine (from movies probably) that in the States, your OBGYN does most of the tests, ultrasounds, etc. I only saw my actual doctor 3 or 4 times during the whole pregnancy. Perhaps because health care is privatized over here, each test happens in a different office, with a technician or the doctor who is on call. And each time I had to call to schedule an ultrasound or a doctor visit was a challenge – I was never sure exactly how to pronounce the names of the tests in Hebrew. It was an uphill battle, but eventually I learned the names of the various kinds of ultrasounds and which offices to call for which appointments.

Though my OBGYN speaks English, in Israel you do not call your doctor when you go into labor, rather you just go to the hospital and are assigned a midwife who is working that shift. Instead of planning out a birth plan in advance with your doctor, you actually have to be lucid/present enough (or trust that your partner will remember everything) in order to let the midwife know your intentions for delivery. I will say, however, that all of the midwives and doctors circulating during my time in the hospital were amazing – friendly, professional, and made me feel totally secure. And, each doctor that came through my delivery room, including the 3 midwives on shift during my time there, asked me how long I’ve been in the country, and then proceeded to compliment my Hebrew! What a time to receive compliments! It was the best.

But it’s true – I went through the whole of the pregnancy and birthing process in a foreign language! Everything from the earliest ultrasound, to prenatal yoga classes and my birthing class, and then the delivery itself  was all navigated in Hebrew.  I think I can call myself fluent now.




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