Momma’s note: Last year, during a somewhat complicated birth (Scotch again,) I was on the phone with Kathy Sullivan from Jasper Pine, the woman we got most of our goats from who has been a mentor of sorts. As she was trying to explain what I needed to do to assist Scotch during her birth, I panicked! I handed the phone to my oldest daughter (nicknamed “Bunchkin,” which is the only name we use on the blog) who not only has much smaller hands than I have, but is also calmer and more level-headed crisis than I am!!! (It’s pretty awesome to watch your children grow up and come into their own strengths! She says she’d like to be a midwife some day… when she isn’t being a violin teacher, symphony performer and photographer. ;)) Bunchkin was able to follow Kathy’s instructions perfectly and calmly and afterwards she asked if she could be in charge of delivering the goat kids from now on. Since then, she has been in charge of checking for dilation, and helping with complicated deliveries, a job I was all to happy to relinquish to her! Last night, we had our most difficult delivery yet and thanks to the calmness and confidence of my two oldest daughters, everything went smoothly! Here is the birth story, in their words:
About a week ago, Sudoku had her babies. She was our second-to-last goat so we knew that Scotch was next to kid. We started impatiently checking her ligaments several times a day. The ligaments hold the goat’s hips together and when the hips have to part for the baby to go through, the ligaments will go away. On Friday the 29th, we knew that this was going to be the day because her ligaments were very soft. After you’ve been goat farming for a while, you just know that this is the day. I (Bunchkin) got it right every time this year! Then, toward the evening while Daddy was making dinner, I checked on her one last time and she had lost her ligaments completely! I called everyone to come and check and Momma said they were still there a little bit, but thought she would definitely kid sometime that night. We had missed Sudoku’s kidding even though we slept in the living room with the window wide open and set an alarm to check on her, we slept through the alarm and didn’t hear her through the window. We definitely didn’t want that to happen this time! Twice before she came to live with us, Scotch had had four kids die, so we needed to be there just in case to do all that we could to get the babies breathing. Also, Bundle and I had been waiting all year to deliver Sudoku’s babies, and then we missed her so we knew that Scotch would be the only one Bundle and I could do together. This was my (Bundle’s) first time delivering a baby goat and I was really, really excited.
We asked Momma if we could sleep out in the pen with her, but she didn’t feel comfortable with that, but she did say that if we took our dog out there with us, we could sleep in the van. So me, Bitty, Bundle and our dog posted up out there in the van (daddy and the boys slept out in the living room with the window open so they could keep an ear out for us.) We set an alarm, checked on her twice and on the third time, there was a ton of goo, and it was dripping. All of our goats, when they’re about to kid, have very thick mucus and that’s when we know that they’re very close to giving birth. I (Bunchkin) didn’t know what to do about it so I went and asked Momma about that. She said it’s a tough decision, because it could still be a long time (since she wasn’t having very much contractions,) but it could be any time now because all of our other goats delivered right after they had mucus. Momma said that if we get really tired, we could check her cervix.
So we went out there and talked it over. After about ten minutes, nothing happened and we were getting sleepy! So I (Bunchkin) decided to check her cervix. What it means when I say “check her cervix” is that when a goat is going to give birth, her cervix is opened. The cervix is the opening to the birth canal and it’s always closed until the baby is ready to be born. Then her hips will spread apart, and the cervix will open. You check it by putting your hand in there and then you keep pushing against her and if you can get further than your knuckles, you know it’s all the way open. When it’s all the way open, then you can take your fingertips and feel for a kid. If you can’t feel anything, it might still be a little while. In this case, I felt something!
At this point, I pulled my hand out and she started pushing hard! I sent Bitty in, because of how hard she was pushing. Momma came rushing out but nothing happened. After about ten minutes, Momma said she was going to go back inside with Pumpkin (our baby sister,) and to come get her if there was a kid or a bubble. (Sometimes, the babies will be born in the amniotic sac and when they’re born in the amniotic sac, you’ll see a bubble right before the baby comes out. It looks like a small red water balloon.) She had two contractions, on the next one we could see a bubble so we sent Bitty running. Before Momma got out there, the sac ruptured, which was no big deal, that’s normal. Then Momma came out there. Usually, the baby should come after you see a bubble, about two second later. But she had four more contractions and nothing happened. So Momma wanted me (Bunchkin) to check to see if the baby was twisted or upside down, etc. So I ran in, washed my hands, checked my fingernails, and got the lubricant on. When I put my hand in her vagina I couldn’t feel anything at first, so I kept pushing a little bit and felt a foot! But it disappeared! So I pushed against her a little harder and felt it again, but I could only feel one, which is not normal. There are supposed to be two hooves underneath the baby’s head. I kept searching a bit, but couldn’t find the second hoof. It was kind of a battle. I would try to feel, and the baby would back up. Scotch would push, and it would come forward, and then it would back up again. During all of this, I ruptured the sac, which was no big deal but it was kind of cool to feel it bust like that! The next time Scotch pushed, I grabbed one of the baby’s feet and tried to move it to try to get to the other foot. Now I had my hand all the way in there so the kid couldn’t go anywhere. I started searching for the other hoof. Nothing! I asked Momma what she wanted me to do, and she said we’ve got to find it!!!
What happened was that it’s leg was all the way back. (I actually didn’t know it, but it was coming out backwards. That’s why everything kind of felt funny.) When I found the thigh (I thought it was the shoulder,) I followed it all the way up to the hoof, told Momma that I’d found it, and she said to cup it so that it wouldn’t tear Scotch’s uterus, so I cupped it and pulled it forward. Then I pulled my hand out and waited for the next contraction so we could get the baby. Right after I took my hand out, there was the baby! She was born backwards, I was actually feeling back feet the whole time! I grabbed a towel, cleared its nose out, and Bundle dried it off. We gave it to its momma (she was very happy) and it was a girl!!!
Then the next baby was coming! But something was wrong. We would see a bubble, and then it would disappear, and it would come out again, and then disappear again. This went on for probably about five minutes, and we thought this one might be twisted, too. So I checked her again and definitely felt a nose but no hooves! I kept feeling around for a good little while, asked Momma what she wanted me to do, and she said that Scotch couldn’t deliver the baby if the two hooves weren’t underneath the head. So I kept feeling around and felt a hoof, but I couldn’t pull it forward! I wasn’t sure what to do. By this time, Scotch was pushing HARD and the head started coming out! WHY wasn’t this hoof coming out??? The baby was trying to breathe, so we pulled the mucus off, but the baby couldn’t breathe because it’s neck was being choked, and it was turning purple. At this point, I just knew I had to get it out! So I started following the head and found the shoulder and found a place where I could get a good grip of the baby and yanked it out! It still wasn’t breathing so I started swinging it a bit. (If you tip the baby upside down and swing it by it’s hocks, it will clear the mucus out, because it’s being swung.) It was still choking and coughing, so I took it out of the pen where I had more room and spun it as fast as I possibly could and by the time I brought it back its heart was beating and it started to cry.
While Bunchkin and Bitty were trying to help dry the baby off and help the momma lick it off, Scotch started pushing again and I (Bundle) saw the baby’s tail and two back feet. I thought the tail was the nose, so I thought the baby was in the right position (it was in the caul so it was hard to see.) The baby’s feet had come out about halfway, so I grabbed it’s feet and when Scotch pushed on the next contraction, I pulled it down toward her hocks. (if you pull a baby straight out, it can hurt the momma.) The baby’s butt came out, I kept pulling, I pulled it completely out, I ripped open the sac and cleared its nose and then gave it to Scotch. I (Bunchkin) did what we call “stimulating” it, which is when you rub it really hard with a towel. I (Bundle) asked Bunchkin if I could take over and I finished drying it off and gave it to it’s momma. Both of the last two were boys.
As we were talking it over, we realized that the last two boys were probably trying to come out at the same time and that would make sense, why I couldn’t get the hoof… because it didn’t belong to the goat we were trying to deliver!
Another interesting thing is that when Bunchkin was checking to make sure there were no more babies, she saw something brown that we’ve never seen before. She picked it up and asked Momma what it was, and Momma said she wondered if it was a goat placenta. Me and Bitty started looking at it and we saw that it was the head of a baby, and the spine, the rib, and one leg that had two hooves attached to it. Me and Bitty figured out that it was a miscarriage baby. A few months ago, we gave Scotch some herbs for worms that weren’t supposed to be used on pregnant goats, but we had to give it to her because she had really bad worms and we think this might have been a problem. But we’re extremely thankful for three healthy kids!
The first baby might have made it, but the second and third and maybe even Scotch definitely wouldn’t have made it if we weren’t out there. So even though it was kind of uncomfortable, it was very worth it to sleep in the van!!! (It was very adventurous, too.) And now we have a little girl from Scotch, which we wanted!
*Momma’s note again: I am certain that if I’d been in charge of Scotch’s birth, things would not have gone nearly as smoothly as they did. I’m so proud of them!!!