Wednesday, March 24, 2010
At about ten a.m. today, I went out to the barn and saw that Flopsy was in labor. She had a long, thick string of goo hanging down to her hocks, which means birth is immanent. I shoved her in the mama barn, and Rowan, Homero and I sat down to wait. It was soon clear she was in hard labor, and also soon clear that something was wrong. She was straining hard, laying down and pushing, but nothing much was happening.
For those of you who have never seen a baby goat born, they are encased in a thick strong membrane full of amniotic fluid (hereinafter called "goo"). This bag presents first at the vaginal opening as a "bubble." Since the membrane is transparent, you can see the presenting part through the membrane. It should be front hooves with the nose on top - the most common presentation - or hind hooves, bottoms up.
In Flopsy's case, I could see the bubble, but there were definitely not hooves inside. Every time she changed position, the bubble would slip back inside. This is not normal. After a particularly strong contraction, the bubble burst and spilled all it's goo, but still no baby or any part of one. In a very few minutes, while I was dithering about whether or not to go in, another bubble appeared, and also burst, with no sign of a baby.
Very bad. Very very bad. Now I knew she had twins, and that neither one of them was in a position to be born. I had to go in. I lubed up and slipped inside, and all I could feel was a round, hard thing that had to be the head. But no feet. No feet at all. And even the head felt wrong - I couldn't feel the nose. It seemed to be a big, bald ball. I didn't like this at all.
Whatever part of a baby I was feeling, it was jammed in tight. There was no room at all for it to change position. All I could do was try to push the head back in, back into the uterus and out of the vaginal canal, so there would be room to maneuver and look for the feet. But that head wouldn't budge. It was stuck.
At this point, I knew I had a situation beyond my ability to handle. The only good thing was that Flopsy still seemed strong - she was grunting during contractions, but in between, she'd just nibble a little hay and act like nothing was going on. I called the vet and said "I have an emergency - my hand is inside the goat and I can't feel any feet."
The vet told me the only thing to do was bring her in. I said "you can't come out?" He said, "I could, but if I had to do an emergency C-section, we'd have to bring her in anyway."
Thank God Homero was home! He helped me manhandle Flopsy into the van and then stayed behind to pick up the kids at school while I raced to the vet, Rowan beside me in the front seat and Flopsy on an old blanket in the back.
All the way there - a 30 minute drive - she was pushing and for the first time, beginning to sound like she was in real distress. At a red light, I lifted her tail and took a look. Oh my God - I saw an ear. One long, nubian ear hanging out. Now I knew we had one of the worst possible presentations - legs back and head bent back along the neck. The poor little thing was trying to come out side-of-the-head first. It's patently impossible.
Now totally freaked out, I gunned it for the vet's office. Peeling in, I shouted at Rowan "Go in and tell them I'm pulling around back! Tell them it looks bad!" The vet met me at the back door, which is the large animal bay, and quickly calmed me down by assuring me my goat wasn't going to die in the next couple of minutes. We got Flopsy inside and the vet took a look.
"An ear! You don't see that very often!" I held Flopsy's head while he scrubbed up and slipped inside. He confirmed we had a bent-back head, and unfortunately, the only thing to do was use a certain amount of main force to maneuver the head out of the vaginal opening and then pull the kid, legs back and all.
The poor little girl was dead. The vet said it looked like she'd been dead for a a little while. Most likely, with the way her head was doubled back, the force of the contractions broke her neck. If she'd been alive, she could have helped by struggling and getting herself into a better position, but being dead she was simply a cork blocking up the works and preventing her sisters from being born.
Yes - sisters. Flopsy had triplet doelings. The other two girls were born quickly and easily after their sister was removed, and were both big, strong, and vigorous. They wasted no time standing up and finding the teats. They are both exceedingly cute, especially one little girl with a wide white band all around her belly and a plethora of spots.
I know this is a terrible thing to say, but I'm actually glad Flopsy doesn't have three live kids, because she's not a very good milker and I doubt she could nurse three without trouble. Now I have gorgeous twin does - probably very easy to sell. I wish I could keep the little spotty girl.