Yesterday I woke early and got dressed before anyone else was awake. Pete had taken the late shift, so the early trip to the barn was mine, to see if Melissa was in labor. We knew her due date and had been watching her closely for days.
She wasn't in labor, but I checked her over and felt that she would begin soon. She was so big and her udder was so full she could scarcely walk. Her breathing was loud and buzzy, just like late pregnancy last year (when – as Pete described it – her "phone is set to vibrate" on every exhale).
It was nearly time.
And so when Lupine and I left for work (she likes to go with me on Tuesdays now and again) we told the boys to call us when active labor began. We didn't want to miss it. Lupine most of all.
The phone rang around 1 PM. It was time to come home. We packed our bags quickly and headed out the door, one part nerves two parts excitement.
Melissa began pushing shortly after we arrived. I mixed up a bucket of warm molasses water for her to drink and Pete, Lupine and I sat quietly in the straw, observing, while Sage drifted in and out at the edge of his comfort zone. Finally, it was time to check her progress.
Last year her first kid was breach and stuck and therefore stillborn. We called the vet but before he arrived Pete helped deliver her kid himself because of the pain Melissa was in with each contraction. The vet arrived moments later and helped deliver the next two kids because, he said, if the first is breech they often are all stillborn.
We knew that if we hadn't been there last year we would have lost all three babies and their mom as well.
So this year were going to keep a very close watch.
We checked her and – darn! – the first kid presenting was breech. Not again! Worry and disappointment rushed in. But this year we knew what to do, and I was so thankful when Pete grabbed his gloves and set to assist. I held her head in my hands and talked to her and Pete did his best to gently help her deliver this buckling. Our fast action made all the difference and he was alive. We were stunned and thrilled!
Pete checked her again and the second kid was also breech but Pete was able to straighten it's legs for a less traumatic delivery. And the third (captured on video here) was also breech, but presented beautifully feet-first on her own. (Thank goodness!)
In the end we had three strong, beautiful goat kids in the barn, and one attentive, patient (and likely relieved) mama seeing to their needs. We were elated that all three survived and that it was a much easier birth for sweet Melissa than last season.
We helped the babies latch and nurse, making sure all of them got that precious colostrum, and fell in love three times over in an instant. Two boys and one girl. Happiness to the third!
We named them Pinecone, Pepperpot, and Tiptoes, after some of our favorite children's books.
Watching Melissa labor – watching any animal labor – is such a gift. I was amazed by her strength and her patience and determination. I can't imagine delivering one breech baby, much less three in one go. It was hard work but she did it. (I do think some arnica is in order this morning.)
This goat is my hero.
And just like that – with a dramatic triple finish – the farm baby season is officially over. Nine lambs and three goats, all alive, all strong, all thriving.
What a difference a year or two of experience can make.
I am grateful.