Wednesday, January 11, 2017

GRAPHIC IMAGES: Premature Goat Kid Born to Ruth

We have never had a start to kidding season like this one. One complication after another- all different, all horrible. We are running on 9 hours of sleep spread over 3 days and it just seems so senseless and dismal. I am tired of crying. I am tired of everything.

Ruth is Salome's first and only kid. Tracing back, all the does of this line, kid with serious complications. Knowing the family history, we were extremely concerned about how Ruth would handle kidding~ even if she should handle this well, we would not intentionally breed Ruth. It could go either way really; Ruth could end up without any difficulties with kidding or she could have her Mother's narrow pelvis and the trouble that entailed. We were prepared to get veterinary assistance immediately if things looked to be going badly.

Obviously premature hoof presenting.
Ruth had steady contractions for about 30 minutes with no progress- no hooves or nose presenting. I cleaned my hands, slathered on some lubrication and gingerly felt inside. Right at the entrance, I felt what I thought was a nose, no hooves. With the horror of Salome's ordeal fresh in my mind, I texted Shea from Gentle Meadow Goat Farm to come out... again. Sean called Dr. Arena. This was getting to be a regular occurrence- one I was quite sick of! The thing is, we are decently comfortable assisting with most kidding situations. We can pull kids should we need to. These two back~to~back, complicated kiddings (where kids are already dead inside the mother and stuck there) are more than we feel comfortable tackling on our own. There are just too many things that can go sideways. We want live, healthy kids. We want live, healthy Mommas. We needed more experienced hands!

Shea arrived within a few minutes of our call. Gloved and lubricated, Shea felt inside to see what the situation was. We called Dr. Tanja and left a message about what was happening. We needed more help. When either Dr. Tanja or Dr. Arena called back, someone needed to come out as soon as possible. Shea explains, "When I first felt into the birth canal, it took me a little while to figure out what I was feeling. You have to kind of walk your fingers around different body parts until you can identify them. When I finally figured out what I was feeling, initially, I thought that it was simply poor positioning. The kid had one hoof positioned right near its forehead with the elbow tucked back. It was trying to be born 'top of the head' first. Its nose was tucked down, with its chin to its chest. The first thing I did was pull gently on the leg to straighten it out. My hope was that it would free up some space in the birth canal and the kid would be able to be delivered. As soon as we saw the tiny, hairless leg, we knew it was premature and not viable. With our recent experience with Meme, I assumed it was dead. Next, I tried to get underneath the kid's chin to move its nose into position but I couldn't reach far enough in to do that. I attempted to get a thin rope around the kid's head to pull it out. I was also unable to do that. Because I could feel that the skull was past the birth canal, I wasn't sure why the kid wasn't coming out. I worried that I was feeling the head of one kid but I was pulling on the leg of a second kid. While you were on the phone with Dr. Tanja, I thought that, if I couldn't get the kid out, we may be looking at needing a c-section. Still assuming the kid to be dead, I decided to see what would happen if I pulled harder. So, I took the leg and very slowly started pulling. For whatever reason, the kid started emerging more this time (It wasn't moving by itself). As you were talking with Dr. Tanja about her coming out to help, the kid finally emerged." 

We recognized two things simultaneously as the kid slid onto the towel. 1- It was terribly premature by about 6 weeks give or take 2 weeks in either direction. 2- He was born alive. He couldn't live statistically. As perfectly formed as he was, he needed longer to develop. His eyelids were still fused closed. He was completely hairless. His ears weren't fully formed. No teeth. He weighed less than 2 pounds. Sean wrapped him in a towel and warm heating pad and handed him to me while he dealt with Ruth. I held him while Dr. Tanja walked us through checking for any other kids and getting Ruth settled as comfortably as possible. Devastated, freezing cold and in shock myself, I took the little guy into the house to hold him until he passed. He was not in pain. He never gained consciousness. I held him warm in my arms, talking nonsense, crying for the life he would not have. And for Salome and her unborn kid. And for a million other reasons. He passed quietly into sleep about an hour after he was born.

Sweet baby needed more time to develop. :(
What happened? It is impossible to say. Ruth's pelvis is too small for her to kid safely. Had the kid grown to full-size there is no way it would have been able to be born without medical intervention. Did her body know that somehow and reject this kid? Did she get hit by one of the other does in the barn? She wasn't in a kidding stall because she was nowhere near ready to kid. It is possible. Honestly, we'll never know. We can be fairly sure that this trend is not caused by a disease causing miscarriage. We have never had a history of that kind of thing, but we will be on the watch just in case.

We are watching Ruth for signs of infection. We are monitoring Lily for signs of mastitis. We are watching Freddie for signs of failure to thrive. We are watching the rest of the does for signs that complications are lurking, waiting to rear its ugly head. I feel... lost. Tired, but unable to sleep. Defeated. I always take it personally when I lose an animal, regardless of the cause. Perhaps that is my own vanity- the feeling that I am personally responsible for every chance that befalls any life on this homestead. I do, though. I know Sean feels similarly. He consoles me with the words, "You can do everything right and sometimes things still go wrong. You can only do your best."

Keziah and Atara. Both doing GREAT!
In the column of things going right, Lily finally passed her placenta. That means that she won't need any treatment unless she spikes a fever. Freddie is eating well and behaving normally. And, at 3 am this morning, Keziah presented us with a perfect lamancha doeling in a textbook kidding, free of any complications. This birth means no more frozen milk for Freddie. We now have a source of fresh milk ready for his every meal. And, I have a couple other good bits to share tomorrow. Be sure to check back in. You'll be glad you did. ♥

~Sean and Sonja ♥

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