Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Our most challenging birth ... with a happy ending

Sadie and her triplet doelings at one day of age

After a week of being on kid watch and thinking that Cicada or Sophie would give birth, Monday afternoon Sadie went into labor. I was supposed to be teaching a class at the local community college on how to get your writing published. My husband Mike and intern Stefanie were here, and although part of me thought that it would be fine to leave them in charge, there was another part of me that thought something wasn't quite right.

Sadie started pushing shortly after 4:00. She wasn't pushing particularly hard and didn't seem distressed, but she kept changing positions -- sitting like a dog, standing and arching her back up like a camel, or squatting to push. Everything in my head said that the kid was not in a great position, and she was changing positions to try to move it along. Most goats give birth lying on their side, and those that do give birth standing are not making their back look like the classic Halloween cat.

At 4:30 I was thinking that I should be going into the house to shower and have dinner, but surely the first kid will be born any minute now, and I can show Stef how to dry it off so that she can handle the rest as they're born. This is her first birth.

By 5:00 I'm thinking that I didn't really need that much time to shower and eat, and that first kid is going to be here really soon, especially after I see a bubble of water appear and break. I slip one finger into Sadie and feel something hard, pointy, and boney. It's probably a butt. It's definitely not a nose. Breech kids take a little longer to push out because the butt is more blunt than the nose, which is torpedo-shaped. But the kid should be born soon.

As the minutes tick past, I start to think that I can get away without showering. As more time passes, I tell Stef that I don't need dinner. I can just eat a banana in the car as I'm driving to class. I'll eat dinner when I get home at 9:30. When I check Sadie again, I immediately realize the kid has not budged at all in the last half hour. Something is definitely not right. I realize I have to stay with Sadie. Mike has never dealt with any labor complications, and his hands are much bigger than mine.

I call the college and apologize profusely for canceling at the last minute. "I have a goat in labor who is having complications, and I can't leave."

Sadie is pushing so hard that her rectum is prolapsing. Basically she's pushing it inside out. It's not something I've seen before, and I hope to never see it again. Thankfully, when she stops pushing, everything goes back inside where it belongs. It happens a few more times over the next hour or two, but it all goes back inside whenever she stops pushing.

I ultimately figured out that the kid was indeed breech, but unlike every other breech kid ever born on this farm whose legs were straight up against its stomach and chest, this little darling had its legs folded as if it were lying in the pasture enjoying a sunny day. So, in your typical breech, there is only the circumference of the kid's butt and a single set of bones from it's hind legs that are pressed straight against its body. But in this case, there was the circumference of the kid's butt PLUS three sets of bones from the hind legs that were folded up like a Z against its body.

Summarizing the whole thing in a paragraph like that makes it sound far more simple that it was. I spent a lot of time trying to figure out exactly what I was feeling when I examined Sadie, and I was talking out loud to Mike and Stef about it, trying to help myself visualize it all. I knew I needed to find the hind feet and pull them out, but I couldn't find them. Finally, I decided to phone a friend who has a lot more goats than me, so has seen a lot more unusual presentations. As I was walking towards the house, my brain seemed to connect the dots of what I had been feeling inside Sadie, so I was able to explain it to her far better than I could have a few minutes earlier.

She said I needed to push the kid back inside so that I could straighten out the back legs and pull them out of the doe to deliver the kid. "Do you have a cattle sleeve," she asked, referring to the plastic gloves that go up to your shoulder. "Yes," I replied.

"If you're wearing a shirt, take it off because it's just going to get in your way -- unless you can push your shirt sleeve up to your shoulder." I didn't bother telling her that it was 30 degrees here or that I was actually wearing a shirt, a sweater, and a coat. None of that changed what needed to be done.

Sadie and her first doeling
After I got back to the barn, I was explaining to Mike and Stef what I needed to do. I took off my coat, trying to ignore the cold, and managed to push my shirt and sweater up above my elbow. Stef asked me a question about the kid's presentation and how I would be rearranging it, and as I responded to her question, it actually helped me clarify to myself what I was doing. Although the concept was simple, the task itself was not easy, and it was punctuated with me saying, "I hate this," and "I'm so sorry, Sadie," over and over again.

Once I had both legs out, it really was not hard at all to pull the kid out. It was a doe! And she didn't seem to be the least bit troubled by the ordeal that her mother and I had endured to get her into this world.

As we were cleaning her up, Sadie pushed out the second kid, which was another doe, also in excellent condition.

Then a big bubble of fluid appeared under Sadie's tail. I saw something small and black in the bubble, and I said, "That looks like an ear." Then in a moment of wishful thinking, I said, "It's probably a tail," even though my brain was saying that a tail would be shorter and thicker. It was indeed an ear, which unfortunately for Sadie meant that I would have to push the kid back inside of her, where there would be more room, so that I could flip up the chin so that it could come out nose first. After having just rearranged the first kid, I was not feeling nearly as nervous about helping this one.

We ultimately learned that the third kid was the largest of the three -- also a doeling -- at 4 pounds, 2 ounces. The first one weighed 3 pounds, 8 ounces, and the second one was 3 pounds, 6 ounces. After getting all of the kids to nurse, it was 9:00, which is when my class at the community college would have ended. I was glad that I had canceled because I probably would have been called home early, if I had gone in. Or, if no one had called me, we probably would not have had three live, healthy doelings.


Hallie Jerdan said...

Most encouraging to read the details of repositioning each of the goats. Last year we had two disasters in which we lost all five kids (two for one doe and three for the other, plus the second doe didn't survive the Csection...which I shall ever believe the vet bungled. I appreciate your saying to verbalize what you planned to do enabled you to formulate a plan. We have seven more does to kid this year...three of which are huge...of course, my hope is that they will each pop them out without any pomp and circumstance while we are absent from the barn but alas, life is not lived viewed through rose-colored glasses.

Kris said...

So very glad that things ultimately worked out. And you learned a lot along the way which may come in handy in the future. Those doelings are a.dor.a.ble!! I, too, use the 'explain it out loud' before I do something complicated and it really does help. All my best to Sadie, the girls and, of course, the shepherdess!

Anonymous said...

they're beautiful - so flooffy. fabulous jobs by you and sadie. applause.


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