Wednesday night around nine, I noticed a four-inch string of mucous hanging out of Caboose's back end. Usually that means you'll see kids in a couple hours, so I stayed with her until past midnight. She wasn't even acting uncomfortable, but I decided to sleep in the barn, because you just don't see mucous that long before you see babies.
3:44 a.m. -- Caboose woke me up with a bleat that sounded serious, although it wasn't quite as long as most goat screams that mean the babies are coming. I pulled on my insulated overalls, boots, coat, and hat, grabbed an armful of towels, heating pad, camera, and phone, and I went to the kidding pen and sat down in the straw next to her.
4:37 a.m. -- I go back into the barn office and lay down on the futon, hoping to catch a little more sleep, because Caboose has done almost nothing for the past hour. Every fifteen or twenty minutes, she lets out a bleat that's about half as long as one that means she's really pushing. I spend the next hour feeling like a jack-in-the-box, as I pop up and look out the window from the office at Caboose when she lets out a short scream.
6:05 a.m. -- The sun is coming up, and I still haven't had any sleep, so I decide to check on Caboose again. She seems fine, so I start doing chores, feeding all the other animals in the two barns. About every fifteen minutes, Caboose lets out a real scream that sounds like she is serious now. I run in, thinking I'll see a nose or hoof or something, but there is nothing.
8:00 a.m. -- I decide to do a vaginal exam, thinking that the kid must be sideways or something. As soon as I feel a nose, I'm happy and assume that I'll be seeing a kid within about fifteen minutes.
8:33 a.m. -- Still nothing. I do another vaginal exam and realized that just beyond that nose is Caboose's very tight cervix. She has not been dilating. I immediately think of my friend with Nubians who had to have a c-section a few years ago because one of her does did not dilate. I call the University of Illinois vet clinic and am quickly connected to a professor. He is concerned that she is not dilated after hearing the history and explains how to manually dilate the cervix. If that doesn't work, he says we're probably looking at a c-section. I try to manually dilate the cervix and don't make any progress.
9:42 a.m. I come into the house to call Ellen, another breeder, to see if she has any tricks up her sleeve before heading to the vet clinic. She does, and adds that it could take thirty or forty minutes, so I try again.
10:30 a.m. I come inside and tell Jonathan to help me get a crate in my car to take Caboose to U of I for a c-section. Still no progress on dilating the cervix and when I pulled my hand out the last time, there was hair covering my fingers, so I knew the presenting kid was dead -- had been dead for quite some time and was probably responsible for the current situation.
11:05 a.m. I'm on the road to U of I. Caboose is absolutely quiet. I wonder if she's died. I second guess every decision I've made in the last eight hours. After half an hour on the road, I hear her kick, and my sleep-deprived brain says, "She's not even in labor!" because she is no longer bleating.
12:45 p.m. I arrive at the vet clinic. The crate is placed on a cart that is wheeled straight to the operating room. I feel my throat getting tight and tell myself not to cry. She is going to be fine. Margaret arrives ten minutes later. She is in her senior year as an engineering student at the university. I called her when I knew she was done with classes for the day, and I told her what was happening. Caboose was her goat before she went off to college.
Everything started moving really fast as more than a dozen people were buzzing around Caboose. A vet did a vaginal check and confirmed what I'd said -- she wasn't dilated. It was obvious a c-section was the only answer for a positive outcome. Caboose was weighed and her belly shaved as the surgeon kept reminding everyone that they needed to hurry in case there was still a live kid inside. They shaved her neck to insert an IV line. We discussed anesthesia options, and one vet explained that gas would be the quickest, least stressful option for Caboose, so I agreed. They put a mask over her face, and as soon as she was asleep, they put a tube down her throat. They shaved her ears and attached tubes and wires. Caboose is surrounded closely by six people: the surgeon and his assistant, the anesthesiologist and her assistant, and two students who are holding Caboose so she doesn't roll off the operating table. Half a dozen more masked veterinary students stand around the room to observe.
|Caboose's buckling, Marshall Dillon|
|Caboose's doeling, Miss Kitty|
|Miss Kitty stands!|
5 p.m. Margaret and I finally decide to leave the vet hospital. Caboose is awake and now has a walking epidural, so she won't be in pain, although she attempted to stand once and was completely unsuccessful. The little doe is a champion nurser. The little buck never quite figured it out, so they fed him some of Caboose's colostrum through a stomach tube. It was hard to leave them at the hospital, but the surgeon assured us that they would be carefully monitored at least hourly.
If Caboose can do all the normal goat things like walk around, eat and drink, she and the babies can come home Friday.