This post is not for the faint of heart. Last night Jo finally gave birth, shortly after I told Katherine that I was going to check her to make sure the first kid was presenting properly -- which I never did because Katherine talked me out of it. All day long, Jo had been bleating, although it was more of an annoyed bleat rather than one that signaled something was terribly wrong. I didn't realize until talking to Mike last night that I should have become worried long before I actually was. He said that I told him around 2:00 that Jo was quietly pushing between bleats. That's the way Jo and her sisters and their mother gives birth -- quietly -- so all of the bleating was really odd. Seeing her quietly pushing, however, made me think that everything was fine.
Last night around nine o'clock, I saw something white starting to emerge from Jo. It was not a nose, a hoof, or a butt, and it seemed too round to be a rib cage. Those are the only body parts I've ever seen presenting, but my brain said that the white thing looked like the top of a kid's head. As I was trying to figure out what I was seeing so I could respond intelligently, Jo gave a big push, and a whole head emerged -- a whole, huge head with a tiny little muzzle. The rest of the tiny kid came shooting out, and I immediately noticed a lot of red tissue. Temperatures were in the teens, so I had a towel waiting to dry the kid, and I immediately wrapped it up and placed it next to Jo's head, so she and I could clean it off. When I uncovered the kid, I saw what looked like a pile of intestines. As Jo tried to grab the pile of tissue, I stopped her and covered the kid back up so that she could only see the head, which was about twice as big as it should have been.
Jo gave another push, and when I looked towards her back end, I saw another kid about to be born. I grabbed a clean towel to catch it, and I placed it next to her face, moving the first kid away. I looked at the first kid under the towel and saw lots of things that were not quite right. I ran into the barn office and grabbed the cordless phone, dialing as I was running back to the kidding pen. Jo has always had three or four kids, so I was expecting another one to come shooting out at any moment. I called Katherine on her cell phone and just blurted, "Kat, get out here now! This is really freaky! I need you! Now!" As soon as I heard her say, "Okay," I hit the call end button and tossed the phone on the shelf above me. I took another look at the first kid and saw that the legs were all crooked and malformed, connected incorrectly, and the body was twisted in an unnatural position. There was definitely a pile of intestines, but the kid was very much alive. I continued drying the second kid as Katherine walked in.
I handed her the bundle in the green towel and said, "It's deformed. Take it into the office." After Katherine left, I realized I had no idea what sex either kid was, so I looked at the one I was drying and saw that it was a doeling. About fifteen minutes later, Jo stood up like she was done, and I saw long cords hanging out of her back end, which usually means the only thing left is the placenta. She still looked quite large though. I stood over her, straddling her body, bent over, and laced my fingers together under her belly, just in front of her udder. I lifted her off the ground and felt nothing but mushiness in her belly. No sign of another kid. I went into the barn office to see how Katherine was doing, as I continued watching Jo from the window that overlooks the kidding pens.
Katherine, who wants to be a doctor, said that those were definitely intestines, and you could see the peristalsis -- movement -- in them. I watched closely, and it looked like a little bundle of glistening red worms moving almost imperceptibly. In spite of what we saw, the intestines were ice cold, even though we were in the heated office. She complained that the little doe kept trying to stand and was crying in frustration because her completely deformed legs wouldn't support her.
It was past ten o'clock by now, and I called Mike and told him what had happened and that he'd need to put her down when he got home. It was especially sad because she clearly had such a will to live. I went back out to see Jo and her other doeling. Jo passed what I initially assumed was her placenta, although most does don't do that for a couple of hours after the last kid is born, sometimes later. It wasn't as much red tissue as I'm accustomed to seeing in a placenta. It looked more like an amniotic sac filled with water and blue and white tissue. I tried to grab the tissue that was inside, but it was like trying to snag a goldfish in a plastic bag of water. I tried to rip open the bag, but I had no luck, and Jo was eating it in record time. Part of my brain was yelling at me to take it away from her until I'd figured out exactly what I was seeing, but it was late, and the other half of my brain wasn't listening.
An hour later, as I looked at Jo's big belly, I started to wonder if that was an amniotic sac for another kid. If it was, the kid would be dead now because the placenta was passed already. I stood over her again and lifted her belly off the ground. I moved my hands into several different positions and still felt nothing but a mushy abdomen. I thought about checking her internally for another kid, but I knew I didn't have any antibiotics, which would be necessary at this point if I went fishing trying to see if another kid was inside.
I knew I didn't have any antibiotics because in the midst of all the chaos with Jo, I noticed that Viola was not herself. She had spent the whole evening standing and staring or laying down with her head down. She refused grain. I felt her udder, which was soft and normal, so no mastitis. I bounced her belly to see if I could find another kid, and it was just soft and mushy. I couldn't see how she could have an infection because she didn't have an assisted birth, but I figured I should take her temperature to be sure. I couldn't find either of my thermometers. I thought about giving her a shot of antibiotics but realized the only bottle in the medicine cabinet expired a year ago. So, I gave her an ounce of Power Punch (which is mostly molasses and vitamins) and every vitamin and mineral supplement I had on hand, just in case it was something nutritional, although I didn't have any calcium, which may be exactly what she needs.
With everything else going on, I never actually saw Jo's doeling nurse, although her belly felt round and full. I tried multiple times to get her to nurse when I was in the pen with them, but she was quite resistant. If babies don't get colostrum within the first six hours, their ability to completely absorb it decreases with each passing hour, so it's not the kind of thing you want to wait on. I finally decided to trust the feeling of the round belly and assume that she had nursed.
It was past one this morning when I finally got to bed, continuing to worry about Jo and Viola. Just after five, there was a loud metallic crash in the laundry room that woke me up. I still can't believe what I saw. The dog's food and water bowl are normally in a metal stand, but the metal stand was on its side in the middle of the room, and both the food and water bowl were sitting perfectly on the floor where the stand had been sitting. So, there is no way I could go back to sleep.
Knowing that the local farm store doesn't have the antibiotic I want, I called Margaret (my oldest who graduated from college in December and is looking for a job) and asked her to pick it up, as well as a thermometer, at one of the farm stores that's located in a city between where she lives and our place. I've also asked her to pick up a calcium supplement because Viola is also shivering, which is a sign of milk fever, along with lack of appetite and lethargy. We've never had milk fever here before, but apparently it does not include a fever, so I really need that thermometer!
To add to the excitement, Lizzie might kid today. I had originally thought about driving an hour to the little city to get what I needed, but when I thought about that, I realized that it would be really nice to have another brain here today. I'm not sure mine will be functioning very well. In fact, if Lizzie doesn't have a textbook perfect birth, I am really not going to be happy.