Sunday, May 6, 2012

We're Kidding Over Here!

We interrupt this regularly scheduled post to bring you good tidings of goat birth!  Yes, the first baby of spring arrived this evening.  I was literally typing my "Traveling GAPS" post when I heard my hubby call, "Get out here, I see feet!"  I got to play goat midwife, and believe me, I earned my stripes tonight.  Allow me to spin the saga.  

We have two pregnant does this spring to add to our tiny little milking herd (the only other member is our current milking doe, so it is a small band).  Our first experience with goat birth came last spring when Keely had her babies, becoming our first milking doe.  Her birth (sorry, kidding is the farming term...but I still think in terms of human birth...and all this farm stuff is still quite new to me) was so easy, so "textbook," so uneventful; we just enjoyed the cuteness of our first baby goats.

Tonight's birth was not so smooth.  Piper did not display normal signs of imminent birth today, but she showed enough discomfort, loss of appetite and mucus activity that we knew birth would happen this weekend.  Her contractions were abnormal, however, so I was taken off guard when I heard that baby was coming.  I was excited and not anticipating problems, but I'm glad I brushed up on my goat kidding literature earlier today.  

So when I heard hubby's call, I sent out a prayer for wisdom, pulled on my muck boots and ran to the goat pen.  I knew as soon as I saw Piper and the barely emerging kid that something was amiss.  Now, I'm absolutely NOT a goat kidding expert.  But I read multiple sources on prepping for the event last year, and I'm no stranger to midwifery in general.  The basics of birth are fundamentally the same, of course, but dealing with the pregnant/birthing mama in the animal kingdom is a far cry from the human ladies.  The biggest difficulty is that I don't speak goat...and she doesn't speak English (a fact that apparently skipped my mind as I was telling her to push.  LOL!).

The problem I encountered when I arrived on the scene was a breech posterior kid and a mama who was not pushing.  She was barely contracting.  I knew when I saw the hooves pointing the "wrong" way that we had a potential disaster on our hands.  In normal anterior position, the kid is coming out front feet and face first, body right side up.  In breech posterior position, kid is upside down and backwards.  Various malpresentations exist, some more detrimental than this, but our situation required action.  I remembered reading about how to pull the kid out of mama if baby is presenting posteriorly, how to do a manual check to verify said position, how kids are stronger than you think so pulling them out isn't as damaging as you imagine, and that time was of the essence because the kid could perish if left too long in that position.  I knew that I needed to pull that baby out, which goes against my natural instincts as a noninterventionist.  But when lives are on the line, it's good to know what to do.  It was time for appropriate intervention.

The difficulty was that Piper wouldn't push!  According to my reading, the birthing assistant pulls the kid gently but firmly downward and outward while the mama pushes.  In this case, mama wasn't helping.  Baby was stuck inside in the wrong position, and this goat midwife went into adrenaline overload.  So I begin pulling the baby, remembering "time is of the essence," and all the while I'm saying to the goat, "Push, Piper, Push!!"  And my husband's saying, "Get aggressive, be firm...pull that baby out."  And the little hooves were slippery and my heart's pounding in my ears, and I'm praying, "Please Lord, don't let this baby be dead," as my children are standing there eagerly watching what was supposed to be a blessed event.

Suddenly, after what felt like a herculean tug, out popped baby goat!  Limp baby goat...ah, oh...oh, dear...  And then I switched into command midwife mode and within seconds I had my eldest son handing me the bulb syringe and helping to pull mucus and amniotic sac out of nose and mouth, and.....finally, we're laughing.  Thank you, God, baby goat is sneezing and breathing.  Mama began her nurturing attentions and immediately began licking the mucus away, and the baby was squirming and mewing and all was well.

But, goats usually birth multiple kids.  And subsequent kids generally come on the heels (yes, yes, pun intended) of their siblings.  In Piper's case, nothing was happening.  We waited ten minutes.  I began to worry, based on having observed her not push and barely contract.  How many more kids are in there?  If she is experiencing labor dystocia, will she even be able to birth the other kid?  I began to have visions of dead baby goats and a septic, dying mama and wailing children.  I did the only thing I knew to do.  I went in for a manual check to see if another kid was in the canal.  Nothing.  I attempted to palpate her belly to feel for more kids...that was slightly comical.  Ah, how easy human birth is in comparison.  When you palpate a woman's belly you can actually feel baby.  Not so with a barrel-bellied goat.  I tried jiggling upward and side to side to see if a baby inside would bounce against the walls.  I felt nothing and Piper was quite displeased, to say the least.  It wasn't a very telling sign of anything.

We played the waiting game for 30 minutes, using the time to get baby goat on mama's teat, a crucial aspect to baby's survival.  My children were tired and hungry and we decided there was nothing more we could do, so I went inside to get a friend's emergency vet recommendation (just in case...although not a holistic option) and to start dinner.  Five minutes into onion dicing, I hear hubby calling, "I see a placenta!"  Ah, music to my ears.  Passing the placenta means the kidding is more babies.  So instead of my dramatic imaginings of impending doom, we merely experienced an abnormal singleton birth.  What a relief!  Piper did the normal, natural thing and made a snack of her placenta, the final stage in kidding.  [I'm sure this practice in the animal realm has multiple instinctual purposes, but I know that for both humans and animals, ingesting the placenta is a boon for postpartum hormonal recovery.  It made a big difference for me with baby number PPD.  Two thumbs up for encapsulated placenta, ladies!]

As I write this, mama and baby are doing fine.  Baby Calico is walking and suckling and Mama Piper seems content with her newfound motherhood.  Hopefully both will pass well through the night and the next few weeks, during which we will enjoy another episode of goat birth...Bambi is due next week.

OK, thanks for allowing me to share my drama.  Now that the adrenaline rush has subsided, I realize I fully enjoyed my work as goat midwife tonight.  Maybe Bambi will have a breech presentation!  Ah, just kidding!!!