Thursday, February 20, 2014
Lesson learned via c-section
A week ago Monday it was obvious that Giselle was in labor. She woke us up over the video monitor shortly after 6 a.m. but wasn't really making much of a fuss until closer to 8, which was when I finally went outside to the barn because I thought I saw mucous glistening under her tail. When I got to the barn, I didn't see any mucous, so either it had already fallen into the straw or there was some sort of optical illusion over the video monitor.
I spent most of my time sitting in the barn office watching Giselle through the window because I'm having trouble regulating my body temperature due to my thyroid issue, and I didn't want to go outside into the zero-degree temperatures until I really needed to be out there. Around 9:00 Giselle seemed to be seriously, but quietly, pushing, and from the office I could see a kid's hoof presenting. Considering the experience I'd had the day before with a kid presenting ear first, I was really happy to see a front hoof properly positioned.
I left the office and went into the barn, assuming that the kid would be born fairly quickly. However, once I got within a few feet of Giselle, I knew I had trouble on my hands. The hoof was much too big. I went back into the barn office and called Jonathan's cell phone, asking him to bring my insulated overalls. This would not be a quick birth, and I was already freezing. He brought out the overalls, and I asked him to stay with me because I would probably need his help. At this point, the hoof had been sitting right there, sticking out of Giselle a couple of inches for at least twenty minutes and hadn't progressed at all. I grabbed several vinyl gloves and a bottle of iodine, put on my insulated overalls, and headed back into the barn.
Jonathan held Giselle while I put my hand inside of her trying to figure out how to get the kid out. My hand could not slide between the kid's head and her pelvis. As I slid my hand in, the head moved back into her uterus. I looked for the second front leg, but there was no room for me to maneuver inside of her, and I was having no luck. Normally I don't worry about pulling a kid when there is only one leg presenting, but it was obvious that this was a very large kid, and Giselle is a smaller than average doe. I didn't want to deliver the head and one leg, only to have the kid get stuck on the shoulders. With a kid that big, I wanted the assurance of having both legs front and center. I tried a second time. I did grab what I thought was another foot at one point, but I didn't think it was a front leg. Third times the charm, I thought as I tried again. The kid is too big. Her pelvis is too small. I told Jonathan that I was taking her to the U of I vet clinic. I ran into the house to phone and tell them I was coming while he got my car ready. It's a hatchback, and we put several empty paper feed bags in the back with a blanket over them. Jonathan carried Giselle to the car, kid's leg still hanging out of her back end. In her condition, I knew she would not jump over the back seat to join me.
For the entire two-hour drive to Urbana, every time Giselle let out a scream, I kicked myself for one thing after another. I should have just pulled harder. I don't need to be taking her to the vet clinic. I should have had more confidence in myself. And then there was the "should" that I repeated the most. I never should have bred her again. I normally have a two-strikes rule; a goat has a kidding problem twice, and she's retired. Unfortunately, I had rationalized and talked myself out of retiring Giselle the previous year when she had a hard time delivering a fairly large kid.
They were extremely busy at the University Vet Clinic, and there was not the usual large group of students meeting us. In fact, it was one senior vet student who was in the midst of her first day of clinic rotations. Luckily I'd been to the clinic enough to tell her how we needed to move Giselle inside (using a cart) and how to open the sliding door, and so on. The resident joined us fairly soon, and I explained to her what had already happened. She examined Giselle and asked how I felt about a c-section. I told her that I was expecting it. "This is what I get for breaking my two-strikes rule," I told her.
The mid-size operating room was being used for surgery on a small pig. Giselle was clearly too wide for the smaller operating room, so they wheeled her into the large operating room, which has a cow-sized table. Definitely overkill, but it worked. The senior vet student assigned to Giselle had never met a goat before and was full of questions. Giselle was an excellent ambassador for the breed, being very cuddly and agreeable, in spite of her condition.
Between finding people, gathering supplies, getting drugs, shaving Giselle, administering an epidural, it took more than two hours before the first kid was finally delivered, and it was dead. I was watching from an open doorway and thought I'd heard a squeak, but when no one said anything about the baby, I finally asked how it was doing. One of the students looked up at me and shook her head.
"It's dead?" I asked. "Yes, but we're working on the other one now." That was the kid that was engaged in the pelvis, and I heard the vet professor tell someone to push the head and foot out of the pelvis and back into the uterus. A minute or two later, and it was also delivered dead. The professor said it was tough to get the kid out of the pelvis because the head was really jammed in there. As we had all suspected, there was no way it could have been born naturally. It was simply too big.
While everyone had been in awe over the large hoof sticking out earlier, now everyone was talking about what a huge kid had been delivered. The kid blocking the exit was a five-pound buckling. Most Nigerians are in the two or three pound range. Although we have had a five-pound kid born once before, it was to a doe that was 22.5 inches tall, and Giselle was three inches shorter than her! A five-pound kid was simply too big for her to deliver. And the poor little 3.5-pound doeling never had a chance.
Once the kids were delivered, and they assured me there were no more, I decided to go get lunch. It was close to 4:00 in the afternoon by then, and I hadn't eaten since 7:00 that morning. After eating at the local health food co-op, I went back to the University to see how Giselle was doing and was amazed that she had won so many fans already. "She acts just like a princess," said the senior vet student, as she described how Giselle seemed content to sit and let everyone take care of her.
Seeing Giselle's side completely hairless after being shaved for surgery, I couldn't imagine putting her back into a sub-zero barn, so I stopped at Lowe's in Bloomington to buy a vinyl flooring remnant and take it home to put in the barn office. Giselle could stay in there for a few days until the weather hopefully reached more sane temperatures.
And on the drive home alone I kept repeating to myself that my two strikes rule needed to be followed in the future. There would be no excuses for any goat, regardless how much I adore her and want more babies from her. It simply is not worth it.
When I was only ten minutes from home, I received a text message from Mike asking, "Where are you?"
And that is when the excitement really started. I'll share Vera's birth story with you on Saturday.