First Kidding!

*warning: graphic
Saturday morning David came down from milking our goat Song with the report that he thought Amelia (our pregnant goat) was in labor. We had been penning her up at night in a little room that we built for kidding. When David tried to let her out she didn’t want to leave the space. She also had some other telltale labor signs. Alex and I quickly mobilized and got dressed out of sweatpants and into barn clothes. I practically ran up the hill to the barn with Lili in my arms I was so excited. It was dark in the kidding room and took a moment for your eyes to adjust to the dim light. Amelia was softly panting shifting positions in the small space. Using a flashlight we checked her out and realized her labor seemed to be unfolding quickly.
David had already gotten out our 3-ring binder with the birth instructions. I sat on the milking stand and nursed Lili and read about what to do during the birth process simultaneously. Ema had gotten this detailed information complete with pictures from a farm in Virginia called “Fiasco Farm”. It said the first thing to appear would be a small white hoof. It instructed the birth assistant to grab the hoof and pull out and downward during a contraction. When the second hoof appears to grab that as well and pull alternatively on each leg until the torso is out. When the baby slides out onto a clean feed bag the birth assistant should pick the baby up by the hind legs and hold it upside down and swing it to start the breathing and the heart. There were pictures to accompany the instructions, and I will say they were intense. All in all, I was thrilled to be there, but a bit intimidated by the whole thing as well.
The plan had been that Ema, Michelle, and I would be the labor assistants, and David, Alex, and Jason would watch the kids. We had felt like Amelia might not want six adults and five kids crowding around her. But our plan went out the window as we scrambled to prepare for the birth. Ema was in town when the birth started, and Michelle and Jason’s phone had been accidentally turned off. Alex took Lili for a nap walk, and I raced up to J&M’s to alert them. When I got back to the barn it started to thunder and rain. We have a metal roof and the sound is deafening when it rains. There were a few minutes during the rainstorm that it was just Amelia and me and the train-like sound of the rain in the barn. I sat in the hay and comforted her and watched her have a few contractions. Having just have had a baby six months ago I really felt like understood those contractions. The connection between us Animals- human and goat- felt close as I watched her in labor.
When David and Michelle showed up the birth picked up even more. I put on some pink plastic gloves that went up to my armpits. Amelia was restless and was getting up and down. We would scramble to follow her around with the feedbag to put under her and the flashlight shined on her backside. It had the effect and feeling of a single spotlight shining on the curtain before a play starts.
Finally something started to appear. Only it was black. I was expecting a white hoof. With each contraction this soft dark thing would peep in and out. We stared nervously. I poked my gloved finger in and swirled it around. It felt soft.
“I don’t know it might be a face” I said. Another contraction revealed that was the case. A small black nose and mouth and sticking out tongue protruded and stayed put. We all tried to stay calm but quickly realized we had no idea if we needed to intervene or let it be. David ran home to call our Jayme, out neighbor and goat-guru. Meanwhile I had reached my hand up Amelia to try and see if I could feel the hooves. Yes- I reached my hand up inside of a goat. It was crazy. And difficult to tell what was what. And scary as the seconds ticked by in doubt. Michelle pulled on some gloves too and went in. She found some hooves and was able to maneuver them closer. The rain had completely stopped by this point and there was this sense of timelessness as Amelia tried to push with the goat face just sticking out of her seemingly stuck, and Michelle and I staring at the predicament then each other for a way through.
“Kelcey, take a deep breath” was what Michelle said to me.
Jason and David showed up with the news that Jayme was on her way. I put on a fresh pair of gloves and went back inside. This time I felt the hooves but they wouldn’t budge. I pulled out. I went back in after a few contractions and got hold of one of the hooves and pulled it out. Amelia started to spin and I stayed attached to her backside with my hand grasping the foot that was now sticking out of her. With the next contraction I pulled and the baby gave to it and started to slide out. Jayme walked though the door instructing to “pull down”. I pulled the baby goat out and onto the feed bag and picked it up by its slimy back legs and started to swing it sideways. Jayme jumped in and showed demonstrated how to swing it by supporting its head and propelling it forward. She put it down on the clean blanket Michelle had set up and Amelia immediately started to lick it. The goat sputtered and moved and Jayme announced that “You have a live one! Let’s see what it is…”
She turned the goat over and said “It’s a boy.”
We all repeated her “It’s a boy.”
The baby was quickly shifting from a long slimy creature to a fluffy and dazed baby goat.
Then the barn filled with more people. The kids, Ema, and Karen all crowded in. Someone said “His name should be Thunder!”
We were hoping she would have another baby, but Jayme said she may not as she was taking so long to lick off Thunder. But, then she got up and started to contract again. Ema donned some gloves and got behind Amelia. A huge bubble of sack came stretching out and we all watched in wonder. Then the second baby squeezed out, and Ema guided it to the floor. After it was swung, and it’s airways clear, Jayme turned it over to sex it and announced “It’s a girl!” and the barn erupted in cheers. We named her Rain.
It was the first birth I remember seeing (aside from Lili’s) and it was beautiful. Birth is a strange combination of miraculous and mundane.
We stayed with the new family for a few hours. We helped the little ones start to nurse (more difficult than you would think) and watched Amelia deliver, and then proceed to eat her afterbirth. It was pretty amazing and also incredibly gross. I imagined her afterbirth would look like an organ, but instead it was like watching her slowly slurp up a chopped up jellyfish. As I said, it was gross.

Lilikoi and I just got back from visiting Amelia, Thunder, and Rain. The babies are almost identical: mostly white with black racing strips down their backs. We watched them learn to stand and then walk yesterday, and this morning they were starting to play. I don’t know if life gets any cuter than spending time with two brand new baby goats and a six month human baby.


nancy said...

just amazing....made my day!

Adam said...

Wow. Sounds like quite the experience.

I remember watching our lambs being born when I was a kid (not a goat kid...ehhhh...). The thing that always amazed me was how quickly they could stand (though fairly wobbly), and then play, and run, and jump.

I don't remember swinging them around though! That's crazy! Is there a reason why they need that? Wild goats don't get swung. Is it a farm thing, or is it actually necessary for domesticated goats, for some reason?

Kids are cute.

Nene & Papa Randy said...

So excited! Very awesome! I wanna be there! So proud of all you continue to accomplish!
Mom (NeNe)

Daisie said...

Many congratulations! X

Linda said...

Very cool post!
I loved reading about the adventure. Can't wait to meet those little goatakids! Very cute.


Anonymous said...

Wow, what an incredible tale! You guys are my heroes! Also, I loved the birthday cake story...