Wednesday, February 10, 2021

GRAPHIC: Becca Gives Birth

Becca with her kid
Plans changed.

We thought I was going to make two double batches of soap and then work on some lotions for delivery to our friends at Tiller & Rye in Brewer, ME. Sean thought he was going to frame in and install a door in Bucksport, ME. Nope. By 8 am, plans changed. 

Becca was in active labor, pushing. A few days earlier than I had planned, but nothing to worry about. A quick check showed perfect placement; nose and hooves getting ready to greet the world. Larger than I would like to see in a goat of her size, which made me think she probably had only a singleton coming. I HATE singleton births. In my experience, 9 out of 10 times, a single kid is larger than kids born as twins. As such, they often require assistance. Sometimes that assistance is not enough and the kid or the mother is lost.  

First Milk.
Still, Becca is a pro at this and I was aware of the potential risk, but I wasn't overly concerned. Within an hour, and with very little help from us, Becca delivered a strapping, healthy son. Like Tabby's son, Riker- he was a monster in size and was quickly able to stand, walk, and nurse. 

Julia in labor
Just as Becca was finishing her delivery, Julia went into labor. Julia is a two-year-old, first freshener. (A first freshener means that this is her first pregnancy.) First pregnancies always make me nervous. Complications can happen to any goat, but I always worry more the first time through. I think it has to do with (1) the uncertainty of what might happen and (2) past bad experiences with unproven does. Does tend to follow trends, like whether their milk comes in early or later or how long they labor. With record keeping, (and barring fluke occurrances) you can almost map out a delivery. As to the second point, our worst experiences seem to come from young, inexperienced does. Julia worried me so much more than Becca. Would she have ring womb (failure to dilate)? Would she have kids in bad positions for delivery? 

My gut felt wrong. We messaged our local group of goat folks and asked neighbor, Shea Rolnick from @Knotty Goat Soapery to be on stand by. Sean called our veterinarian, Dr Caputo of Belfast Veterinary Hospital to let her know we might have a problem. Then, we waited. 

The first stage of labor can take some time. Does will sit and stand- seemingly unable to find a comfortable spot (I remember this well from my own pregnancies!), stare off into space, may want to eat or go off food. Until they start actively pushing, there isn't a lot to do. We try to keep the doe as comfortable as possible and wait with her. Around noon, Julia was still in the first stage and seemed to be making slow progress; her vulva was opening and a small stream of mucus started.  Knowing we could still be hours away, Sean and I went inside for breakfast and to warm hands and feet. We continued to check on her every few minutes. 

Around 1:30, Julia began to really dilate and actively push. We could just see a hoof. It was big. Too big really, but we weren't overly concerned yet. 30 minutes later, we messaged Shea asking her to come out. Julia continued pushing to no progress. I gloved up, slathered on lots of lubricant and carefully felt inside to feel what the situation was. I felt the right front hoof and head just above that. I slipped fingers along the other side, but couldn't feel the second hoof. Not perfect, but still maybe workable. I was most concerned with the kid's size. Normally, I would begin attempting to pull a kid, if I can, but concerned about the size, not wanting to put Julia through unnecessary pain if she was going to need a C-section at the vet, and knowing that a second opinion was only minutes from arriving, I decided to wait. 

Shea arrived and repeated my exam. She was also concerned with the size of the kid presenting. She attempted to pull the kid very gently, just trying to see if there was any wiggle room and quickly ascertained there wasn't. We were Veterinarian bound. 

At the Veterinarian
We carried Julia to Sean's van and drove the 20 minutes to Belfast. They took her in immediately. We waited in the parking lot. We explained we were willing to pay for a C-section if needed. About 40 minutes later we got the call telling us that the kid did not survive, but Julia thankfully did. 

Julia was sent home with pain meds, an antibiotic and instructions for watchful care over the next 72 hours. Back in the barn, Julia settled into her private stall and ate grain and hay with a decent appetite, but not her normally voracious vigor. That is to be expected with the pain meds she was given. 

It is always heartbreaking when we lose an animal- even one we hadn't truly met. We'll spend the night examining all the decisions we made; it is easy to second guess each one. And, we'll balance that with visiting with sweet, healthy kids and our beloved herd. 

Becca & Healthy Son
For those keeping track. We have had seven healthy kids born to five mothers; and one mother with a lost kid. By our count, we have ten more deliveries for 2021 before we can breathe easy. I hope the rest of them are as easy as the first five were. 

Thanks for visiting with us tonight, Friends. 
Sean & Sonja

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