After this upsetting news, let's move on to baby goats! The last you knew, we were here, talking about the possibility of babies being born the night of Tuesday, March 10th—which seems like ages ago in my mind!
Gigi and Alaska had been showing signs of early labor for hours on Tuesday. By 6pm or so, the signs had increased but it wasn't until hours later that they really got going.
My friend Melissa and I thought for sure Gigi would give birth first with all of her carrying on, and if her babies had presented normally, she probably would have! Instead she progressed slowly but in her sweet Gigi fashion, allowed Melissa to massage her back and rub her belly. In appreciation, she gave Melissa many quick "baby licks," what they do to their babies when they are born. Precious.
At 10:30pm Alaska let out a big mama goat yell, announcing to the world that it was time. This was her first time giving birth but she got down to it and her little black and white girl was born in about 10 minutes. She cleaned her up and about 10 minutes later, out came a tiny, blue eyed, black and white boy! Beautiful! Unassisted! Yay!!! Here is Alaska's birthing video!
Right around the time Alaska was done, Gigi was giving her serious mama goat yell and we saw teeny tiny hooves. Praying for a normal presentation, we watched but it was taking forever. After awhile with no progression and realizing I was only seeing the bottoms of feet, I decided to have a feel. Hmmm...should have been nose and front feeties. Instead...feeling further in...were those hocks? Yep. Those upside down feet were back feet. Our first breech ever. Feeling thankful for feet first and not butt first, I worked with Gigi's contractions and pulled out, what looks like in the video (coming soon), the longest baby ever! A boy! He freaked us all out by struggling to breath, mouth open, nostrils wide, fighting for air. Lots of suction later he started doing better, whew. Once dried, we realized how much he looks like his papa, Velvet Kiss!
Gigi's first born, all dry and fluffy
His daddy as a baby!
While all this was happening, Alaska was sidestepping all tries at nursing. Hmmm. That's not good. Brad whipped up some kid formula and tried to get them nursing. They weren't having it. Alaska then decided to completely ignore her babies while eating her placenta—gah—so I scooped them both up and sat with them cuddled in my warm lap, wrapped up in a towel. They were much too cold to truly want to nurse! I learned last year how warm they need to be to start nursing.
In the meantime Gigi had started pushing again and again it was taking forever, very un-Gigi like. After a long while of just a nose in the amniotic sac, the eyes appeared and everything just stopped. I asked Melissa if she wanted to glove up and check it out, she jumped right in with interest. Can't tell you how exciting it is for me when people are just as fascinated by this whole process as I am! No feet up by the head. Well damn. Gigi was just having the toughest time with these births! Melissa carefully searched around the birth canal and felt no feet, shoulders, nothing, just smooth. This sounds horrifying but really, most likely means that the front legs are just back by the body. If you wonder why they have a hard time being born like that, stand in front of a mirror, bend over, put your arms in a divers position. Watch your shoulders. Now, still bent over, put your arms straight back by your sides. Watch your shoulders. See how wide your shoulders are when they are back? This is what the baby looked like inside of G—it was stuck!
We had given Gigi and Alaska warm bowls of molasses water after each baby but since Gigi was struggling so, we gave her more. With the surge of energy and Melissa working with her contractions, together they were able to get just the little one's head out. We cleared his airways and he was breathing just fine. Pretty incredible to see this little head protruding and breathing! Gigi tried and tried to get this baby out and then suddenly just collapsed in exhaustion. There is nothing more upsetting and scary than a mom who can't go on.
I gloved up and went in this time and found what I think was the elbow, maybe a shoulder blade, it's so hard to tell in such a tight slippery space. Ever so carefully, I tried putting a bit of traction on it. It seemed to be moving and then pop! Oh dear God. What in the world was that? It gave me the shudders. I prayed I hadn't broken anything. I tried again with the same result. Oh no. We were all stuck, the baby, Gigi too exhausted to go on, and none of us able to get the baby out. Time for the vet. It was 12:30am.
Our new vet, who had helped us with Laura Longtail, wasn't answering so I left him a message and texted him. I tried our old vet and...he answered! He said he'd be out in 30 minutes. It was the longest 30 minutes. Gigi was laying down and resting. I sat with her awhile, resting my hand on her belly, praying like mad. Please let her be okay, please get this baby out alive. Tears now but just adrenaline then. Melissa and Brad took turns holding baby number one, keeping him warm. Gigi had done a good job getting him clean and fluffy.
Suddenly Melissa said, "Why don't we try giving her more molasses water?" Yes! She guzzled that right down. It was so hard to see Gigi's baby's head sticking out. We didn't know if he would make it at this point. He was still breathing but had to wait 30 minutes before the vet could come and help.
I went to be with Alaska and her babies. Brad and I tried holding her against a wall to see if the babies would nurse. No luck. Brad had dosed the Alaska's tiny boy with a little Nutridrench (a molasses and nutrient mix) and found Alaska desperately wanting it as well. We mixed her up a bowl of it with warm water and she drank it all.
Gigi let out a yell and Melissa said at the same time, "She's doing it!" and, 5 minutes before the vet arrived, out slid little Zest! He quickly went from slippery newborn to trying to stand on his own to nursing, all much faster than his backwards-born brother had!
36 hours old, "Zest" the one we thought couldn't possibly survive.
Melissa kept exclaiming, "Oh! Just look at him! He has such a zest for life!" I suddenly realized that Zest had to be his name :-) Such a perfect one for our little miracle goat.
The vet gave Gigi a shot of antibiotics since we had been inside her a few times and Oxytocin to both moms, maybe it would help Alaska allow her babies to nurse? It wouldn't hurt he said and told us to just hold her against the wall. The babies were toasty warm by then so with me holding Alaska still and telling her how important it was that they nurse, and could she remember her own mom allowing her to nurse? The babies started nuzzling around and latched on. Success! I held her two more times, all the while talking to her about being a mom and what a great mom she was going to be.
I went to check Gigi and her babies on the other side of the barn, just 10 feet away, when I suddenly heard Alaska call out. And again. Loud. I turned to look at her, she was staring hard at me, both babies nursing on either side. It was such an obvious, "Like this, right?" moment that I actually laughed out loud.
I told her, "Yes! Good job Alaska! Just like that!"
Whew. And that's the first goat birthing story of 2020!
I will make a video of parts of Gigi's birth, it was many hours long so I'll have to do a lot of editing :-)
Today is Raven (Alaska's sister and also first timer) and Maple Kiss's 145 day mark. Will we be having more babies tonight? Stay tuned!
Love to all from the Mother Ranch,
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