Tuesday, March 6, 2018

WARNING: GRAPHIC IMAGES Rachel Kids Triples; Breech Birth

I meant to write about Rachel's kidding on Saturday, but our girls returned from visiting their grandparents in Bar Harbor and we spent time catching up on their week and watching a movie together. #familycomesfirst Then, the week got away from me a little. I finished four orders and got them in the mail, helped Sean with a couple small projects, and now it is Tuesday. On the bright side, that means that I can tell you about the kidding AND I have pictures and videos of kid and Momma updates.

Friday night was the last night of our week home alone together. We planned to spend it making dinner together (homemade spaghetti and meatballs- soooo good!) and renting a movie online to watch. I asked Sean to give me until 6:30 to finish up making the Bee's Wax Wraps™ I needed to complete an order going out to Salty Teacup #SaltyTeacup. He agreed and went out to feed Benton and Carter their 6 pm bottle. While he was in the barn, he saw Rachel do a series of deep stretching, low moans, and pawing the hay...

"Sorry, Babe. You need to wrap up now." Sean said as he came into the kitchen.

"I am almost done..." I started to respond.

"Time's Up. Rachel's pushing." Sean interrupted with a grin. This was wonderful news! Fresh milk for Carter and Benton! No more frozen milk for the twins! Fresh milk for US for cheese in the coming months. Plus, anticipated twins from one of our easiest does to help deliver. Rachel has never had any issues in kidding. She is so predictable, we planned on trying to "Go Live" via Facebook so those friend who wanted to watch the delivery, could.

The kidding kit was already packed and in the barn. I grabbed my camera and boots and headed to the barn with Sean. When we arrived, Rachel was doing all the pre-labor things we look for; staring off into space, pawing the ground, getting up, laying down, panting, breathing harder than normal, calling softly... There was no tell-tale "bubble" to signal an immediate delivery, so we settled in. We chatted quietly to ourselves. Sean plugged in the cell phone to continue charging so we could attempt to go live when things started happening. We took turns rubbing Rachel's cheeks and scratching her neck.

Two hours past. Things started settling into a rhythm. Rachel's contractions were coming every minute or so and lasting for 15-20 seconds each time. She started to push regularly. Still, no bubble. Sean and I grew concerned that something was wrong. We have assisted with kiddings when there are complications, but it is a delicate balance. On the one hand, once the bubble appears, we know that the general rule of thumb is the first kid should present within 30 minutes. On the other hand, interfering before Rachel's body had stretched to accommodate the kid coming can damage Rachel or the kid. It is too easy to rupture a membrane or cause injury. We try not to interfere as long as there is progress. Rachel did not appear to be as fully dilated as she should be and though we could see the bubble just inside, it was not progressing normally. We decided to try to gently feel the entrance to see if we could detect a problem. I gloved up and Sean squirted my hands with veterinary lubricant.

Keeping my fingers together, (always! always!) I gently felt around the opening. I could feel the bubble, but I couldn't feel anything inside it. I was torn. I didn't want to interfere if things were progressing, just slower than I expected from our experience with Rachel in the past. I didn't want to wait too long and risk losing Rachel or her kids to complications. Sean's gut told him something was wrong. He called our veterinarian, Dr. Tanja Ebel and texted her images of what we were seeing.

Dr. Tanja confirmed that Rachel was pushing too long and that we needed to get a good internal examination to figure out what was amiss. From the video text and pictures we sent her, Dr. Tanja thought that she was seeing a detached placenta. This was an emergency. Without the placenta providing oxygen and nutrients, the kid was dead. Sean squirted more lubricant on my gloved hands and I tried to carefully reach inside to feel what what happening. The bubble burst immediately. "No! No! No!" That was NOT what I was trying to do! I could hear Dr. Tanja on the phone saying, "The kid is most likely dead. You need to feel inside and get its head and feet to pull it out." Sean relayed to Dr. Tanja, "The kids were alive when we came out here. We could see and feel them moving." I was listening to them discuss what needed to happen, but the sound of my racing heart filled my ears. Along with it was the thought that I was going to mess up and kill Sean's Rachel. (We all love Rachel, but she is most definitely his goat. There is such a bond there. I knew what I had to do, but the thought of causing her death or contributing to it made me sick.)

I reached my entire hand and forearm inside Rachel and felt. What was this? Was it a head? Please let it be a head. No. No eyes or mouth. What is this? I continued to one side and felt a tiny fold- a leg. Okay. Leg. No head. Then, I saw a tail and knew this kid was breach. Full-on breech. Butt first. Legs tucked back underneath it. With gentle pressure, I pushed the butt back into Rachel as far as I could. Then, I felt for the right hind leg. I rotated it back so it was sticking out. My hand back inside, I felt along the other side for the left hind leg and rotated it back, too. Rachel was crying out. It was awful. With both legs presenting, using steady downward arching pressure, I pulled the dead kid free and placed it on the towel Sean had ready. My head was not registering what I was seeing, so I started to look for signs of life. Dr. Tanja's voice cut through my thoughts, "Feel with your thumb and forefinger on either side of the ribs. If there is no heart beat. Move on. You need to get the other kids out NOW!" I checked. There were no signs of life, no heart beat. In fact, the eyes were sunken in and she looked as if she had died some time ago.

I carefully reentered Rachel and pushed my hand past the pelvic bones. I felt two heads pushing on the other side of the hips, not in the birth canal. I pushed the kid on the right back and pulled the head of the kid on the left forward. I could only locate the second kid's left foreleg, but head and leg was enough to pull it free. It was alive! "It's breathing!" I called to Dr. Tanja and Sean. Sean grabbed the second kid in a towel and brought her to Rachel's head where she began cleaning her baby immediately. I did not see any of this. I was busy with pulling the third kid free. This one was also alive. I laid it on a fresh towel. I felt around once more to make sure there wasn't a fourth kid waiting. There wasn't. Adrenaline is a strange thing. My arm and back ached from the pressure of contractions biting down on my arm and the strain of pulling the kids free. Unable to keep my feet under me any longer, I sat down on the chair and started to shake from head to toe and cry. I was fairly useless from then on.

Sean took care of cleaning up supplies, gathering towels and equipment. He made sure both kids were able to latch on. We waited for about an hour and then, Sean took me inside. Before we went inside we took a look at the kids and was very happy to find two does born. The one who died was also a doe. Three does!

Sean set his alarm for the next bottle feeding for Bailey's boys and we went to bed without dinner.

WARNING: This video might upset some readers. It does not show the birth because of the complications, we could not record it. It shows Rachel in distress and labor leading up to the birth and then, wet kids newly born. It finishes with day-old kids.

I'd like to say the rest was smooth sailing, but it was not quite. Because Rachel's placenta detached, there was a concern as to whether her milk would be the necessary colostrum or milk. Sean stripped some test milk from both sides. One side looked thick and creamy yellow, like colostrum does. The other side looked white like milk. We are sending off samples to the University of Maine for testing. We want to make sure that the milk has no dangerous bacteria in it. In the meantime, we gave the kids colostrum paste as a protective measure. We are taking all of their temperatures to watch for any signs of infection. We don't think it likely, but because of the rough delivery, it is possible and warrants some additional measures.

It took 36 hours for Rachel to expel her placenta.
Within the 48 hour time frame, but longer than we like.
Originally we told you that we had three does delivered. We were wrong about that. In the light of day and without the stress, we took a better look at the new kids. The second one born, Honey, (she has ears) is indeed a doe. The third kid born, Luka, (lamancha-earred) is actually a buck. The little kid that died was a lamancha-earred doe, colored like Luka.

I am happy to report that this is Day 3 and everyone is behaving normally. The kids are up and active. They found their leg springs this morning, which was a delight to watch. Rachel has passed her placenta and is eating with a good appetite. She is a doting mother, as we have come to expect. This will be Rachel's last kidding for us. We had scheduled her to breed this fall for next spring as her final kidding, but since she got pregnant a year early, she is officially retired- if she will cooperate and stay away from Asher!

As you can see in the video, Bailey is alert and interested in life. Her scouring has subsided and she is eating with an appetite again. She is still limping on her right foreleg, but we are hopeful of a full recovery for her. I have more images and a post about her tomorrow. I'll also repost this video for those who wanted to skip this post.

Thanks for being with us through the good times and the rough times.
We appreciate your warm wishes and prayers for wisdom as we make difficult decisions.
~Sean & Sonja 

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