Last week Peaches and Poppy were quickly approaching their due dates and their obvious discomfort made hopeful that we would be seeing some cute goat babies running around soon. Peaches due date was Sunday April 17th and Poppy's due date was Thursday April 21st (both based on a 145 day gestation for Nigerian Dwarfs). The entire week last week was spent in complete anticipation for the first signs of labor. Each day came and went with no goat babies until Friday morning I woke up and went out first thing to check on the girls. I saw Peaches tucked in the back of the goat barn and she didn't run out to greet me like she usually does in the morning so I was anxious to see if she had her baby. However, when I climbed into the barn with her I realized that she had 1 precious little baby goat that didn't make it :( I was so sad for her and so confused. I came in and got Bryan and we sat out with Peaches in confusion then we did our best to explain to Henry and Addie what happened as their two little faces stared at us in confusion as well. We called our vet and he was tremendously helpful! He explained a lot of situations that we were completely unaware could have been possible (now we know). His thoughts are that the baby was probably still born due to being in the birth canal too long. With first time "fresheners" (first labor) a goat may respond to the contractions by trying to avoid them and therefore not pushing (because the pushing makes it hurt worse). If the baby is stuck in the birth canal too long then there is the strong possibility of a still birth. We were so grieved to hear this, but we learned a very priceless lesson. On top of the sadness of Peaches loss we were also very concerned because she was not delivering the placenta. The vet explained that since she didn't have the baby to nurse on her it wasn't stimulating her uterus to do the proper contracting and her body just stopped laboring. That morning we immediately began milking her to help her expel the placenta and to relieve an extreme amount of pressure she had built up! The first milking she gave us almost 4 cups of milk and has consistently given 3-4 cups per milking ever since. We are milking her every morning and every night and like our vet recommended we are also milking her a little bit many times throughout the day to help keep her uterus contracting until the placenta is expelled. She is also on some medication to avoid infection and get her past this. Our plan was for the goats to nurse their babies until a few weeks after I had my baby and then we would start the daily milking later in May. Well, this obviously has not gone according to "the plan" but its really working out quite nicely. And milking is much easier and faster than I expected it to be...more on milking in another post :)
Bryan and I were determined to be with Poppy for her birth to help her so this same thing wouldn't happen again! We talked over various signs that could have told us that Peaches was in labor and the major signs showed up in Poppy that night - She refused to eat her dinner (which is completely out of character for her), doing alot of pacing, would not lay down for bed, and her udder sack had significantly filled up and hardened throughout that day. I went to bed early assuming that I would be up at some point! Bryan stayed up and monitored the situation and told me he would wake me up if anything happened. I was sound asleep and suddenly heard the back door fly open and Bryan yelling "Its Happening!!" then the door slammed. I flew out of bed (as fast as I could "fly" being 37 weeks pregnant), threw on my boots, grabbed my gloves, and ran out the door...glancing at the clock on the way by seeing that it was 1:30am. As I was scrambling to get myself out the door I kept hearing Poppy's extremely loud cries of labor and this made me all the more anxious to be by her side!
In a matter of moments I was out the door and Bryan and I were standing there in utter confusion looking at each other saying "Now what?"! With every contraction Poppy would have she would cripple down to the ground or try and get away from the pain. It was very obvious in those moments that our vet was probably completely right about Peaches labor. We were seeing Poppy cry out in pain and back up or try and walk forward. She was doing everything against the contractions except PUSH! Time was passing and she wasn't progressing. All the research we had done said that her animal instinct would kick in and she would birth the babies...but in the back of our minds we knew what happened to Peaches baby. Finally I couldn't take it anymore and I got down on the ground to hold Poppy. The next contraction came and she cried out and fell into me with her head over my shoulder. Bryan came behind her to brace her body and she had a great push! The whole time she was laboring, Peaches was standing behind me quietly "talking" to her, it was very precious and sad all at the same time. Then with the next contraction and a hard push she had her first little baby!! Bryan and I were SO excited but still nervous if the baby was alright and what we should do. It felt like an eternity and the baby wasn't breathing. Bryan kept trying to put Poppy's nose down to the baby to get her to clean him up as well as forming the bond...then moments later the baby sneezed and let out the cutest little cry. We all took a huge sigh of relief!! Then we sat there wondering..."well, is there another one? Ummm, how do we know? Ummm how long do we wait?". A few minutes passed and I ran inside to get our "goat book", I flew to the chapter on birth and there was nothing about how long it might take for the next one to come out. I tried to Google it and found nothing...then I heard Poppy scream...YEP, here it comes!! I ran back out and sat right down with Poppy and she pushed hard and out came #2. At this point we thought for sure she was done since we were told that a first time freshener usually only has 1 baby...we thought 2 babies was great! Then without hesitation Poppy let out another cry and pushed out baby #3. Three Babies!! She immediately began cleaning them up and we hear 2 more little sneezes and 2 more little cries. All 3 babies were ok. This whole process only lasted about 20 minutes. Poppy did great forming a bond immediately with each of them and accepted all 3 babies wonderfully. We were told there could be a serious risk of abandonment with a first time mommy having more than 1 baby. They were all nursing within moments and not even 15 minutes after birth they were standing up and stumbling around. Bryan and I were slightly in shock at this point :) What an amazing experience! We sat in awe for almost 2 hours just watching the babies and Poppy. Bryan had been up all night so he decided to turn in for the night and I said I would stay up for a little bit longer to wait for the placenta to be delivered. About 5am Poppy delivered the placenta and she was already well on her way to being a good mommy!
Here is a picture of Poppy and her 3 babies about 10 minutes after their birth. You can see Peaches is in the background very much involved...shes going to be a great "Aunty Peach"
We gave Poppy time to get her babies all cleaned up and each of them had their first nursing. Then we moved them over to the goat barn shelter. With all the excitement of the evening we didn't think to check the weather forecast and within 5 minutes of moving them it started to rain! We were very grateful we moved them to the shelter before the rain started.
This all just goes to show that we have little to no control over life and our plans! We have been tremendously blessed this past weekend to learn the highs and lows as well as the risks and rewards. As much as it grieves me that Peaches lost a baby and is now going through a lot of changes and discomforts, I am grateful that we were able to learn from her situation and help Poppy get through her first labor with 3 healthy babies.
I have so many stories and pictures to share from these few days of goat babies! I look forward to sharing them with you all...assuming I can get myself inside to type them all instead of sitting outside holding those precious little balls of fluff!!
Sarge is extremely intrigued by them as are they curious about him. He is very good with them! It is funny to watch Sarge sit in the backyard and have 16 little baby chicks running all over him as well as 3 tiny baby goats jumping around him. Sometimes he looks annoyed and other times he just looks like a proud grandpa :)