Last night was another one of those experiences that makes me truly doubt my abilities to become the farmer woman I would love to be. Does that sound too down? Maybe it’s because I was up in the middle of the night last night and have currently consumed enough coffee to make my hands shake and up my typing speed to 70wpm. When you consider what it takes to make that happen for a hardened caffeine fiend… well… don’t ask about cups, ask about pots.
I am a carnivorous consumer of books, both fiction and non-fiction. Last night was one of those nights that makes you realize that no matter how much theoretical knowledge you have on a subject, it is no substitute for a few minutes of hands on experience. This is something that we in the information age, with so much available at our fingertips know, but forget.
The baby monitor has been in the barn for the last few nights.
Last night Marcus wasn’t home, last night I was exhausted, last night at 2am I was awakened by soft moans from Libby. I almost didn’t go out, she moans a lot, but this was different, but still not painful. I grabbed my kidding kit and my girl Friday and headed out to the barn. There was a kid on the ground already, just pushed out as we walked into the barn. We cleaned him up and moved Libby into the kidding pen. The kid was a tiny buck. Could that be all that was in that fat goat? She showed no real signs of discomfort, and delivered no placenta. (Umm -if you’re really squeamish you might want to go away for a while.) She would have an occasional contraction, but she never cried or acted anything more than a little uncomfortable. Until about 4am, she started pushing, but nothing was happening. Finally a little bit of the birthing sac came out, still pushing with way far apart contractions, and nothing happening. She was now acting as if she was in distress. I was pretty sure that a dead kid was in the canal. I knew I was going to have to go in after it, with my fair little hand, up there…
In an ideal world this doesn’t happen. This is not the first goat birth I have seen. My mother had goats. My recollections of her herd queen’s births were one of the things that convinced me to try natural childbirth myself, to read all those Lamaze books and to drink their kool-aid. That girl made it look easy. A little crying, a little push and boom, baby on the ground.
Gloves placed on my fair little hand; hand slipped up there a couple distressing inches. It all felt good to my inexperienced hand. There was a small hoof right there, one more good push and surely all would be over. One more good push… and out popped a second birth sac. Oops, not good. My mind, with it’s preconceived idea that a first freshener could not possibly have triplets, denied that sacs true meaning. Suddenly, poor Libby started one of those long, continuous pushing contractions. The horrible kind, that make you desirous of death, when you’re having a baby. Out came three, four hooves. Back in went my hand, it had no choice. I still really couldn’t tell right away what the heck was going on. Two heads were pushing in the canal so close together I thought it was a big butt. My vocabulary lacks the proficiency to describe how painful this looked. It seemed like one huge monstrous buck that would never fit through that hole.
My first impulse was to run back to my bedroom and crawl under my bed and never come out again. That impulse is what causes me to bemoan the fact that I will never be any more of a farmer than Marie Antoinette, tripping around in a muslin dress, carrying a silver milk pail, playing at being a peasant. You either are or you ain’t.
When I realized that it two kids trying to go through the space like the Three Stooges, I was able to push the what I thought was the bigger kid’s nose back in-between the poor girls contractions. Her contractions had been so far apart all night. One more contraction and the nose was visible, my fingers were still holding the back most body in, so that the other baby would have room to come out. The adrenaline was flowing for me so much here that the details are a little fuzzy in my memory. I was able to hook my finger around the front goats hooves and nose and pull him out, hopefully gently, with the next contraction. Her contractions were so weak and she’d been through so much on that last push. As soon as the front goat was out of the way the feet from the other goat came out. That big nose was actually a butt, the feet came way out first. There was no movement, surely this one was dead after being trapped in the birth canal with the other one. One more weak contraction and again I helped to pull (maybe eased would sound nicer) the baby out. Much to my surprise, this lifeless looking creature was alive. As soon as the goo (slime would be more accurate, albeit less genteel.) was cleaned off and some mucous sucked from it’s mouth, she was trying to stand and looking for something to suck on.
Apparently something is off in my management to cause this slow delivery and small kids. I’ve been trying to do it all by the book with the information that is available from reputable places on-line and every goat book I can devour. There is still much to learn and most of it is going to be hands on. Literally.