We celebrated Mother’s Day in unusual fashion yesterday…and for a while, we thought we might be mourning instead!
When I fed the goats in the morning and did my regular check of Imogene, it was finally apparent that she had “lost her ligaments”. This is goat language meaning her body was ready to give birth. According to my sources, birth usually occurs within 24 hours.
So Imogene was under close scrutiny as the day wore on. Soon I saw signs of labor: pawing, getting up and down, lots of talking…But mostly it was a “watched pot” situation. It was taking a long time to boil.
When Randy decided it was time to go visit our moms and go get dinner, I went out to check on Imogene one more time. I was starting to think that she was not going to kid when she knew someone was watching. Some mommas just want to be alone.
However, a big string of mucus was evident, and that meant things would be happening in minutes!
Randy, Jess & I went out to observe, and be ready if assistance was needed. From all reports, that was unlikely, and I was counting on that. I had my birthing kit ready nonetheless. By the time Caitlin joined us, Imogene was working hard at pushing, and we were not seeing feet like we were supposed to…We saw a nose and no feet. I went in to see if the feet were caught, but they were not in evidence. This meant that baby was diving in a “Look, Ma, no hands!” position. If both legs were down and back, baby could still come out without intervention, and that’s what happened. But it took a lot of pushing.
Oh my! What a tiny little guy! I picked him up and set him by Imogene’s head and she went to work on him like the good momma she is. She was talking to him with very guttural grunts and nickers. I’ve never heard her make that kind of noise…baby talk!
It’s amazing how quickly these tiny little creatures start trying to get up! So wobbly, but determined, and looking all over momma for that golden spot where the food is. God has created such marvelous things!!
I knew from my research that we should be seeing another baby in 15-20 minutes, and that if we hadn’t by 40 minutes, we needed to intervene. Imogene had a break from contractions, but when they picked up again, she seemed to quickly be distracted by her now squeaking baby, and would give up pushing for tending him. Time was passing. Cait was conferring with Katrina (Imogene’s former owner, and my resident goat expert) and she was concerned as well. Finally, Imogene’s pushing yielded the water bag we expected, and a foot! This looked better!!
But as she strained and worked, and oh! it was the misery!, we didn’t see the nose we needed to see. I began to acknowledge that this was not going to be the easy birth we thought. Maybe my first go at kidding was going to be a tough situation…Both Cait and I took turns going in and trying to figure out how the baby was positioned. We could find no nose, no other leg. For a little while I thought the baby was breech, but then we realized we had a front leg protruding. The head must be folded back, and the baby turned.
Cait said it first: “Mom, call the vet”, which I did immediately. Ten minutes later, I was telling him what was happening, and he asked us to bring her into the clinic, in case a caesarian was needed.
We loaded Imogene and her baby into the crate and headed in, arriving at the same time as Dr. Sauter. Katrina and Sammi, her daughter, joined us in minutes as well. They took care of baby, making sure he kept warm, while Randy and I held Imogene in place while the doc gave her some pain medication, and went in to right the situation.
It was a pretty horrible 20 minutes for Imogene, and I repented many times for wanting goat babies at this cost to her! I was afraid she would drop dead on the spot! Dr. Sauter found that we had rightly recognized the situation. Baby #2 was head back, body turned and would never have come out without assistance. When he was delivered, Dr. Sauter handed him to Katrina who swung him to clear the mucus, and exclaimed, “Hey! He’s alive!” I couldn’t believe it! I figured that after such a long delivery, we would lose that baby.
Dr. Sauter said that the next baby was positioned in the same way, and also needed to be repositioned and pulled out. More misery for Imogene, and she was also upset because she wants to take care of her babies! Baby #3 is extracted, and is also alive! A girl!
At this point, Dr. Sauter, who is sitting on the floor, looks up at Randy and I, who are standing to wrangle Imogene into a somewhat stable position, and says, “There’s another one in there…” I shrieked, “WHAT?” (Poor doc!) I honestly didn’t know that they could have more than 3 babies. Dr. Sauter said that he had not dealt with a quad birth before. Four at once is uncommon!
Baby #4 was in the head back position, and also had to be extracted. But once again, he was fine. Each of us were holding a slimy little baby, drying them off and then getting them to momma, who was feeling much better, and anxious to do her job.
They were all doing so well after the ordeal! In short order, they were adorably stumbling around their mom, trying to eat. Three bucklings, and one doeling…all with great markings. Dr. Sauter gave Imogene some antibiotics, and some pain meds so she could rest comfortably through the night.
Forty-five minutes after we arrived at the clinic, we headed home with Imogene and baby in the crate, and the other three on our laps. (I thought I might have to frisk Sammi and make sure she didn’t sneak one home. ;) )
Everyone settled in nicely last night, and when I checked on them at 3 am, they were snuggled under the heat lamp. Imogene was chewing her cud, and all was right with the world.
I’m thankful we all survived a difficult birth (yes - even me! It was high stress!). Cait was right about making the call…I should have listened to her a little earlier. As we were driving to the clinic, I was thinking NEVER AGAIN, but once all was righted, and everyone was fine, I actually felt my confidence grow. We handled a difficult situation with the best result you could hope for. I’ve learned much about how to recognize a problem, and how quickly to act. I am so grateful for Dr. Sauter’s help and expertise. He came to our rescue on a Sunday evening and in timely fashion for our emergency.
AND now we have FOUR little babies to enjoy. Randy christened them Eenie, Meenie, Minie and Mo for now, but I think we'll put a little more effort into their names. They are hilariously cute, and already are showing the goat mannerism and habits of adult goats – but in such miniature size! And it’s also sweet to see Imogene mother them. She just knows how…
Such a wonder, how it all works together…God is an AMAZING designer!!
This is a Mothers’ Day that I will remember for a long time!