Thursday, March 20, 2014
Life and death
A sad, sad day today. My goat Coco gave birth three weeks too early. I had no idea it was coming. I sat down at lunch when Kai came running in from the outside, yelling that Coco was having babies. At first, I thought he was joking. When I sprinted out to the barn, I found a dead goat baby in the straw, and another one barely breathing. Their mother seemed confused, but started licking the one that was trying to live. I grabbed it, dipped its umbilical cord into iodine, and started rubbing it vigorously, drying it off and stimulating the blood at the same time. 'Three weeks early', I kept saying. Way too early.
The whole family helped. Steve happened to be home, and the boys kept running back and forth, fetching me the things I yelled for. Towels! Feed sacks to put the baby on! Iodine! Molasses water for the goat Mom! The computer to google info on premature goat births!
We brought the baby inside, right in front of the wood stove, so she would keep warm. She breathed. I milked colostrum from Coco and fed the baby a drop at a time with a syringe. I wasn't prepared for birthing yet, so I didn't have a tube feeder on hand. My friend Jenni came by, which is a big deal because she has lots of kids and lives 45 minutes away, but she managed to help me anyway.
We tube fed the baby, which was a first for me - and quite terrifying, because the tube needs to be inserted into the stomach, not accidentally into the lungs (which will make them drown once you feed the milk into the tube).
The whole time, someone held the little one. Lukas lay down in front of the wood stove with her, stroking her and talking to her. Steve held her while I tube fed her. Afterwards, I put her next to my skin in a sling, like a human baby. She died two hours after being born.
I am sad, very sad on one hand, and also relieved on the other. If she had lived, I would have had to tube feed her every two hours, day and night, possibly for many, many days. I would have had to make a bed for her in front of the wood stove and cared for her around the clock. She probably would have had tons of health issues, having been born so terribly early.
But it wasn't meant to be. As long as she lived, she had people who held her non-stop. I hope she felt the love. She never even opened her eyes.