A Sad Day on the Farm
My Monday started out normally enough. I woke up at 6:30 and punched the sleep button on my alarm clock... Momma woke me up closer to 7:00, and I got up then. After I had my quiet devotion time on the front porch swing, I decided that a day as beautiful and calm as this one should be largely spent in reading good books – several of which I am in the middle of... As soon as I walked back inside from the porch I remembered that Rebekah has cello lessons on Monday mornings. That meant that if I wanted her help milking the goats, I had to go do it immediately even though I hadn't had any breakfast yet. I had one goat to milk that is in a barn in the back of the property, and one to milk from the front patch. So after I had milked I was standing in the back yard holding two mama goats wanting to go different directions. About that time my youngest sister comes running out of the house saying “Lacey's got gunk stuck to her rear end and Momma says she may be having her kids!” At those words my mind shifted to high gear. I forgot all about my growling stomach...I had no time for food now... Then I decided to carry both goats to the patch in the front of the house, and get Lacey up to the birthing barn in the back. As I approached where Lacey was lying I could tell that, sure enough, she was having contractions – and hard! She was very close to pushing the first kid out. As I raced to the barn with her, Momma and I were shouting instructions to the other girls concerning needed equipment. Within five minutes of putting Lacey in the barn out popped the first leg! That might excite some people, but with only the few goat births I've witnessed I knew that this was the first sign of trouble! The 'normal' birthing position for goats is part of a hoof, a nose, and then the other hoof all right there together. I could see only one hoof up to the “ankle”, and there was no nose. I looked at Momma leaning over the gate. I told her what I saw and saw her countenance sink. It was Lacey's mother that we had so much trouble with last time. Was Lacey going to be the same way? We decided not to intervene yet. After about a minute I saw a nose. At that point I was hopeful that she could do this without my help. Not long after that most of the little kid was out, and lying across my hands. I just needed one more good push from Lacey and I'd have it. As I pulled it on out and laid it on the clean feed sack I had waiting for it, I checked the sex. “It's a girl!” I announced happily. I was proud of Lacey for sticking with it. I know it was hard, but she was able to get it out on her own. I've never heard a goat bellow like she was doing while in labor. Most grunt, and all have short breaths, but I've never heard one express so much pain. But she did it! As I was drying the little doe off I double checked just to make sure I had seen correctly and we for sure had another girl. I was right. After suctioning her nose and mouth out, and dipping and clamping her umbilical cord I handed her off to Patience and Zoe. About this time Momma and Rebekah had to leave for cello lessons. Momma said to call her later and let her know how things went. I thought Lacey might have another kid in there somewhere! After about seven minutes Lacey was pushing again. I thought at first that it was another kid. Then I thought it was the placenta. After I saw something like another water-bag break I thought it was a kid... After about 10 minutes I began to be worried. I saw her pushing out the water-bag, but there was nothing in it. This was the same thing that had happened when Chantilly's baby was breeched. I sensed trouble. After I saw something coming out at the very top of the water-bag I knew it wasn't right. It looked like a head, but something most definitely was not right! At that point I knew I had to do something. I asked Zoe to give me some lubricating jelly, and I rubbed it all over my gloves. “You may have to hold her head still,” I warned. “I've got to go in and see what's coming out. Whatever it is, it's not right.” So Zoe climbed in the pen and held Lacey's collar while I worked at the other end. Every time I stuck my hand in she would push even harder, and I couldn't push the kid backwards to find legs. I did determine that a head was what was coming out, and the thing that made it look so weird was that it was up-side-down! Inside I started to panic. That wasn't one of the positions that I had studied how to fix! Was it twisted, or was the whole thing upside down? Where was the umbilical cord? Was it wrapped around the kid? How would I fix it? She was pushing too hard for me to do anything! A thousand thoughts came flooding into my mind at once. Before I knew it she had the whole head out, and there was a little hoof lying on the chest. I didn't see any life signs either. Usually once the head is out they'll sneeze, or shake their heads or something. I saw nothing. I lightly pulled the leg as she pushed, and then I saw another hoof. Now only the shoulders were stuck. I didn't know what to do. Lacey was pushing so hard, and then with this positioning I was worried about her. By the time he was halfway out she had seemed to stop pushing... Finally it was out completely....Still no signs of life. It lay limp in my arms, and I thought it was dead. I took him out to the sunshine and rubbed it and suctioned his nose and mouth while one of the girls called Poppa. He said to rub it vigorously. While doing that I checked the sex on this one. It was a little buckling. After I said that wasn't working Poppa suggested I get a small pipe or something and blow air into the baby's lungs and alternate that with chest compressions. I did that for a while with Zoe's help, but still no progress. No signs. Not a breath. Not a twitch. Finally I gave up. I realized that he couldn't just be oxygen deprived. It had been too long. I looked into Zoe's face for the first time since I'd been pumping air. Tears were streaming down her face. I called Momma and told her. I think she cried too. Patience was very quiet as she took care of the little girl, rubbing it and trying to get it to suck the bottle. I called Daddy, but didn't get an answer so I left a message. Momma told me to put the little buck somewhere and we'd bury him later. He was brown with a black lightning bolt on his chest. He had the same dark stripe down his back that his sister does. I was... I really don't know how I felt. I realized that death came as a bundle package with life. It was just that I've never had one die before... I realized that this was part of being a goat midwife. This was part of being a veterinarian. I didn't cry, but I felt like it. I felt like it was my fault that the little fellow died, or was dead. I felt that there was something I could have done better or differently. But there's no way to know now. Nothing I can do but learn...and move on... Daddy returned my call about this time. He asked how we were, and how Lacey was. He told me to eat something. That was really the first time I'd noticed my stomach growling again. I came inside and ate something. Physically I feel better, but the more I think about it, the worse I seem to become emotionally.
Lacey seems to be doing very well. We gave her a little feed, which she ate, and some warm sugar water for her to drink. Within an hour and a half she dispelled the placenta. The little girl kid is beautiful. She learned to stand up very quickly, and also how to drink from the bottle. We're not letting Lacey raise her, as a CAE preventative...Just in case. She is in the bathroom now with a heater on. She is mostly fawn colored with a black stripe down her back. Being half Alpine half LaMancha, she has the cutest little ears. They look like tiny elf ears. I pray that she survives and becomes a healthy little milk goat too. Thank you Lord for the tiny life in our bathroom! Thank you for another healthy mama goat to milk.