News and Events

Born in the Midst of Conflict

Publication Date: 10/22/2023 8:00 AM

When strife and conflict prevail and peace seems almost unattainable, the arrival of a newborn brings a glimmer of hope for the future. For two couples the birth of their babies was clouded in uncertainty, but their births became a testament to love and resilience.

Julie and Ido Berger with their daughter. Photography: Rambam HCC.Julie and Ido Berger with their daughter. Photography: Rambam HCC.

Since the start of the Swords of Iron war, more than 100 babies have been born at Rambam Health Care Campus (Rambam) in Haifa, Israel. During these dark times, when war is uppermost in everyone’s minds, the stories of some of the families bring light and hope for a better future.

Fathers on the Frontlines, Mothers in Maternity Wards

For Julie and Ido Berger, both 30-year-old residents of Haifa, the anticipation of welcoming their first daughter was overshadowed by the outbreak of war in Israel. Just days before Julie’s birth date, Ido was called up for reserve duty. The couple had to adapt to a new reality. While Julie was preparing for the birth, Ido was stationed in the conflict zone in Southern Israel.

“We had been planning to tidy the baby’s room. Julie was close to term and her parents came over on Saturday morning to help out,” Berger recalls. “At 8:30 a.m. I was contacted and called up for reserve duty. One of our missions was to reclaim a community in the war zone in Southern Israel and defend it. My unit has been stationed in the Gaza Strip ever since.”

A week after hostilities broke out; late on Friday night, Julie’s contractions began. Her father called Ido and told him that the labor was progressing well. When Julie arrived at Rambam’s Division of Gynecology and Obstetrics, she was on edge. Julie says, “We never imagined our daughter’s birth would be like this. From the moment Ido left home, I feared he would not be at the birth, but I came to terms with it. His role in the military reserves is important, and that helps put things into perspective. We agreed beforehand that if things developed, I would let him know. However, I didn’t want him traveling at night since a first birth usually takes a long time.”

Rambam was a two-hour journey from Ido’s army base. Fortunately, Ido made it to Rambam in time for the birth.

“I have mixed feelings,” says the happy father, “my daughter is safe and well cared for, but I want to be with her. I fully understand the critical need for reservists to do their duty – we need to be there right now.” He continues, “I was an 18-year-old soldier during the 2014 Gaza war. Back then I was fearless, but today I am in a different place.”

The proud new parents are united in their thinking: “The most important thing is that everyone returns home safely.”

A Joyful Reunion

On the opposite side of Rambam’s Division of Gynecology and Obstetrics , Hannah* gave birth to a healthy boy last Saturday. Although Hannah has three children from a previous marriage, this would be Hannah’s and her partner Chai’s* first child. Also a reservist in the IDF, Chai was called up for duty that Saturday morning; Hannah had to prepare to give birth – alone.

“On Thursday afternoon, he came home to see the children, it was a brief respite as he had to leave on Friday morning,” Hannah recalls, “A few hours after he left, my contractions started, and in the evening I arrived at Rambam with my mother. I did not want Chai to feel obligated to be present at the birth. I was unsure if my contractions would develop into full labor. He was not answering any of my calls. Later, as I entered the delivery room, he was still not answering. I messaged one of his friends, who managed to update him. Luckily, Chai made it back in time. During the birth he fell asleep, and we could not wake him,” she says, smiling, “While he slept, everyone was encouraging me. Finally, he woke up in time for the last two contractions; we filmed Chai and everyone was laughing. It was one of those fantastic moments in life where everyone has your back. His entire unit mobilized themselves and went out of their way just so we could be together.”

For Hannah, this was a birth she will never forget,“Everyone feels the same, we are all mourning – it is a sorrowful time,” says Hannah’s mother. “But there’s comfort in bringing a new life into the world – it is symbolic. Life is the most powerful thing; we must remain optimistic and hold on to the good things, our children and families, and our love for our country.”

Parents, Hannah* and Chai* with their bundle of joy

Parents, Hannah* and Chai* with their bundle of joy.
Photography: Rambam HCC

* Names changed due to “Chai’s” classified role in the Israeli Defense Forces.

Babies Bring Hope

The dedicated staff of Rambam’s Division of Gynecology and Obstetrics have delivered well over 100 babies since the war broke out. Avia Rachel Gal, one of Rambam’s midwives attended to both Julie and Hannah. Although the delivery room is the happiest place in the hospital, current events have led to her witnessing challenging complexities during these sad and difficult days. “It was exciting to see these husbands participate in and witness the birth of their babies. These events were also family reunions – the parents had not seen their children for several days, and were probably worried,” Gal recalls. “Dressed in their uniforms, the fathers provided a sense of security, and I even felt that I was part of the war effort – while I was guarding their wives, the husbands guarded us.”

This article was based on an article originally published online on the Hebrew webiste,