Sooo, you know how I said we had our first kids yesterday morning? Well, throughout the day the story unfolded further.
I noticed that the mother continued to be restless and to strain sporadically as if she were pushing, or still in labor even though she had already had two kids and they were all cleaned up. I didn't remember seeing her doing this in previous births, so I was a little concerned, thinking that she might be having trouble getting the last placenta out. I often do not trust my memory or instincts, so I thought, at first, that I just didn't remember how she acted after birth and that maybe this was just normal for her.
I monitored her throughout the day and began to wonder if she was still in active labor and maybe there was another baby in there. Late in the afternoon, I finally decided to put my hand in there to see if I could feel anything. The problem is...what is an empty uterus supposed to feel like? It's one thing to know there are babies in there, so you kind of know that a baby has feet and ribs and a head. But, if you don't know if there's a baby, then what are you feeling when you stick your hand inside a goat? I felt something lumpy. Tom called the vet who dealt with the problem birth last year (same goat, by the way), who has since moved to another vet office. I spoke with her and tried to describe what I was feeling. Are you supposed to be able to feel the pelvic bone or organs through the uterine walls? Well, it is possible, but I didn't know if that was it. The vet's advice was to wait and monitor.
By about 7:00 p.m., she was still straining. This is not normal. I decided to explore and to not be so tentative this time. I put my hand in, way in. There was something in there that I could wrap my fingers around. I gave a little tug, but was afraid to pull too hard because, well, what if I was pulling on a vital organ or something? To give you an idea of what I was feeling...you know how, when you're getting the Thanksgiving turkey ready to cook and you have to stick your hand into the cavity to pull out the neck and giblets? It's like that. It was like feeling the neck and being able to hook my fingers around it, but it's still a little frozen and stuck, so I have to tug it. Except, warm and gooey and scary and tight.
I called our regular vet. Of course, it's after hours now, so I had to wait for the doc on call to call me back. She said it sounded like there was another kid in there and that I could either try to get it out myself or load her up and bring her in and possible pay 700 bucks if they had to do a C-section. Tom was at Bible study and I was alone. I couldn't hook up the trailer myself and I knew we couldn't spring for 700 bucks, so I decided to try to maneuver the kid around and get it out by myself.
The only painkiller I had was Bute for horses. I didn't know if I should use it, but I felt like Pansy was in for some real pain and I wanted to make it a little easier for her. So, I gave her a tiny dab of the Bute paste before I started so that she could bear it a little better. The vet later confirmed that it was OK for me to do that. It's probably not what she would have prescribed, but I didn't do anything bad.
Tom arrived home to find me elbow deep in goat. I was pretty sure the kid was dead by now, but it had to come out and the mother couldn't get it out after 12 hours of labor. A baby goat is supposed to come out front feet first with the nose kind of tucked down by the knees, as if it is diving out of the birth canal. It took a while, but I finally located the front feet and got them into position. But, the head was not where it was supposed to be. I felt all around and finally found the head. It was in such a weird place that I was beginning to think there were two babies in there. And no matter how much I tried, I just could not get that head into the proper position. I spent about two hours digging around in that momma goat. At least three times, I pushed the legs back in so that I could try to move the head to where it should be.
I was exhausted, nauseous, and felt like I was going to faint, so I decided to rest and let the exhausted momma rest. I think I might have hyperventilated and caused myself to feel faint. It's amazing how strenuous it is working in a womb. Plus, I was on my knees and bent over in that same position for so long.
By this time, most of the fluid and lubrication had come out, so it was getting harder and harder to maneuver the kid around in the womb. As hard as it is to feel and move things in a gooey slippery uterus and birth canal, it is even harder to move it around in a non-slippy environment. So, I told Tom that we need lubrication. The only thing I could think of was KY jelly. We all know what KY jelly is, right? Well, we didn't have any. I'm exhausted, I'm fainting, and I'm about to puke and I'm telling Tom to get lubrication. So, anyone who knows Tom will know that this is funny. He calls the neighbor, Mike.
"Mike, this is Tom, we need help, do you have any KY jelly!?"
Now, Mike wants to laugh and make a joke, but he can tell that Tom is distressed and waits for the next sentence, which is, "We have a goat that is having trouble in labor." Mike happens to be with his wife and young son at Walmart, so they dropped what they were doing and frantically grab a couple of tubes of KY and head for the express lane.
In the meantime, Tom has googled it and found that olive oil is also a safe lubricant. And, in our desperation, we've called our neighbors, Otis and Joanne, who have assisted horse births. How different could it be? They arrive (with their young grandson) donning surgical gloves, we lube Otis up with olive oil and he takes a stab at getting the kid into position. Joanne takes her turn. Mike and family arrive with KY. We call the farrier, Rhonda, who is also Joanne's horse trainer, to ask if she knows anything about birthing goats. She says no. Tom calls the first vet, Dr. Missy, again and entreats her to make a ranch call. She agrees to do it., but she's about 30-40 minutes away.
So, we all sit back to wait. We're all in the stall. Pansy the goat is laying, exhausted, on the floor with two little legs sticking out of her behind. Tubes of KY and a jug of olive oil are scattered about. Two little boys are playing in the barn. Somehow, now seems like a good time for us six adults to have a laugh over the KY jelly and how none of us have it in our house. Who buys that stuff other than desperate people trying to birth goats in the middle of the night? It seemed a bit inappropriate for us to be carrying on a normal and sometimes hilarious conversation under such circumstances, but, hey, what can you do?
Finally, Dr. Missy arrived and we all breathed a sigh of relief because the onus was no longer on us. She cheerfully took over and within 30-40 minutes was able to get the kid into position and pull it out. It was dead, as we expected. She used loads of the KY, so we were glad we had that on hand. She had, in fact, stopped at the pharmacy on her way to pick up her own tube of KY, so we know that we did something right. Anyway, the vet brought a piece of twine about 1/4 inch thick and a yard long with a loop she had tied on the end. She slipped that loop over the head so that as she was pulling on the legs, Joanne pulled on the twine at the same time so that the legs and head came out together (with the feet a little before the head) like they should. After that, the body slipped out easily. Another lesson learned.
So, it was sad that the baby was born dead, but the best news was that Pansy wasn't damaged by all of us amateurs poking around in her. She's wiped out and very sore, but we got her some meds and she is, hopefully, on the road to recovery. The first two kids are doing splendidly and are already hopping around playing like nothing ever happened.