I was sitting in bed Monday morning, enjoying one of Mike's homemade croissants while checking email, when Katherine came running in babbling incoherently. I blurted, "Giselle!" and spewed masticated croissant all over my laptop.
"Yes! There's something huge sticking out. It's either a side or a butt or something. It's really hard."
As I jumped up and started to change clothes, I realized that Katherine would know a butt if she saw one. We've had plenty of breech births, and they're usually not a big deal. When I got to the barn, I was surprised by a large, flat thing that was presenting itself -- something that looked completely unfamiliar. I felt all over it, trying to figure out what I was feeling. I closed my eyes and tried to visualize the bones I felt. It didn't make sense. I tried to talk myself through it. "Okay, there's a bone going this way that feels like a leg bone, but there's a bone going this way that feels like a leg bone. This feels like a spine." But none of the parts were in the right places, and everything looked completely smooth.
In these situations, everyone says, "Just push the baby back inside, turn it around to a good position, and pull." The way they say, "Just push the baby back inside" makes it sound so easy. As I tried to push it back inside, I found it extremely difficult, both physically and mentally. Giselle didn't want the baby back inside, and it was completely counter-intuitive for me to try to push the baby back inside. I pushed, but I couldn't do it. I tried to find something to grab onto and pull, and somehow I got the baby out. The whole ordeal was more horrible than I can explain right now, and trust me when I say that none among you (except the hardiest farm women) really want the details. Next time, I will push with every ounce of energy I have to get the baby back inside, turn it to a proper position, and then pull it out.
He was dead. I laid him on a towel and covered him up. I don't remember what Katherine and I were saying as we were sitting there watching Giselle, but a couple minutes later, without a single push or sound, a kid literally fell onto the straw. As I picked him up and started to wipe off his nose, a second nose started coming out. I tossed a towel at Katherine and told her to catch the kid and clean it up, since I hadn't even cleaned the nose off the first one yet. When we put the babies in front of Giselle, she started licking them, but she didn't attempt to get up.
About half an hour after the kids had been born, Giselle still was not standing. I realized there wasn't a water bucket in the stall, which had just been cleaned for this very purpose. When Katherine brought the bucket of water, I told her to put it far enough away that Giselle would have to get up to reach it. One of her kids was wobbling around looking for his first meal, which would be impossible to obtain from a mother who was lying down. Giselle got up and took a couple steps to reach the bucket. She walked like a drunken sailor. Not good, I thought. I put the little buck under his mama so he could start nursing. Giselle's back end swayed to one side. I put my hand up to stop her from toppling. After a few minutes, her kid stopped nursing and she plopped down on her butt unintentionally.
I gave her some NutriDrench (a molasses, vitamin, and mineral concoction) and a shot of BoSe, a selenium supplement. There was little change throughout the day on Monday. She always seemed to be lying down, and she was wobbly when she was standing. She stood enough that the kids were able to get full tummies. She passed her placenta, but there appeared to be an umbilical cord hanging out. Another breeder and a vet once told me that was a sign of a retained kid.
I straddled her body, bent over, and put my hands under her belly right in front of her udder. I lifted, felt nothing hard, put her down, moved my hands slightly, lifted again, felt nothing and repeated the exercise a few more times. I thought I felt something hard, but was it a kid's bones or the doe's ligaments. Do does have ligaments there? I went to the stall next door and checked two of my milkers. Their bellies felt completely soft. I decided to check Giselle internally for another kid but found nothing. I gave her a shot of antibiotics and hoped that I had checked her thoroughly.
This morning, the cord is still hanging out. Her belly looks deflated. The straw is stained yellow in several areas around the stall. Perhaps she just had a lot of fluid in her uterus that made her look so big yesterday after she'd given birth. I've had a partially-retained placenta before; it didn't look like an umbilical cord. I have a thought haunting me; I know someone who lost a doe because of a retained kid.
After seven years and more than a hundred does kidding, I feel like I should know more than I do. I should have fewer questions. I should feel more confident, but instead of confidence, I only have hope.