On Friday we saw that Melissa the Nubian goat was soon to begin labor.
She was huge and I guessed she was carrying triplets.
We gave her fresh hay and water and tucked her into a quiet "birthing room" in the barn reserved for animals needing a little space from their herd mates whether for illness, birth, or learning the ropes of nursing their newborns.
By the time active labor began we hunkered down in the barn to support Melissa how ever we could.
Lupine was the first to run to the barn after dinner and didn't want to do anything but crouch beside the goat, speaking soothing words, and ask us questions about anatomy, labor, and delivery. She held Melissa's head while she labored and coached her gently along.
No matter how many times Sage ducked into the barn to invite her out into the firefly-studded darkness to jump on the trampoline or play hide and seek, there she stayed beside Melissa.
Our midwife child.
We had never attended a laboring goat before. The only kids born on our farm were born when we were away, so we didn't know how the process differed from the now more predictable lambing.
But we all noticed right away that it was different.
It was more familiar to me. More like the experiences of my own during birth.
Melissa was focused and working hard, yet she would nuzzle us or lay her head in our hands between contractions. She was vocal when her birth became more difficult and tugged at my heat with her primal sounds.
It was a difficult birth.
As she pushed, we soon could see that the first kid was in a breech position (the worst presentation for a goat). Because the umbilical cord becomes pinched during a breech delivery for goats, if the water has already broken (it had) the kid rarely survives delivery.
I ran to the house and made an emergency call to the vet who came right away to help.
Pete ended up assisting the first delivery before the vet arrived, but despite his heroic efforts the kid could not be resuscitated.
Yet there were still more babes to come, so there was hope for a happy ending after all.
The vet arrived, and by eleven PM we had one tired mama and two strong (achingly sweet) kids in the barn.
One boy, one girl: Uno and Brighty. (Lupine named the stillborn kid Swallow because a barn Swallow danced above us just before she was born.)
After the kids were born and labor was done, Sage also joined us in the barn, falling quickly in love with these two magical babies. We made sure they were nursing, then stumbled up to to the house and the four of us collapsed into bed just before midnight.
And me? I'm mostly thankful. Thankful for this strong mama, for capable help, and for the many lessons we learned by her side in the barn. And for finding our way, one, two, or three new babies at a time.