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Goat Short Stories
by Molly Bunton

Matilda's Longer Night
(Her First Kidding)

On Sunday night, Apr. 9th 2006, at 10:30 pm, from looking at the barn video monitor, it looked like Matilda, a first timer, was going to kid at any moment. We had been keeping an eye on her all day.  Her water had broke and she was "hanging goo" which is a good indicator kids aren't far behind.

I went down to the barn and sat with her. She showed signs of labor and the occasional push but it was taking a long time. I sat and waited. Larry could observe via the monitor and I knew he would come down when things really started happening. She was looking forward to having her baby. I can  just see, and tell, things like this after years of studying goats.

Eventually after a few hours I was extremely cold, but could not leave her because it seemed she could "go" at any time. I brought the heater out from the milk room and huddled next to it as I sat with Matilda and tried to comfort her.

Things did not progress well, she tried pushing on occasion but presented no baby. I decided to... how do I put this nicely?... feel inside her, a finger's length, to check to see if the baby was in the birth canal. It wasn't. I sat with her longer. It seemed the baby should be nearing. I checked again. Nothing. I was starting to worry. Eventually I decided I had to go in further. I lubed up and carefully inserted my entire hand. Poor Matilda, since she was a first timer and not stretched out like a doe that had kidded before, it was painful for her. I reached in and finally located the cervix and what I thought must be a head, because of the shape
and feel (round and hard). I could not get in any further to try to find a leg, it was too tight in there. I was not sure what to do. This was not good.

Larry showed up. I asked him what time it was and it was 4:30 am. I could hardly believe the night was almost over. He had been keeping an eye on things on the monitor and had come to help. I explained the situation and he went in. She was really tight. Matilda is on the pudgy side and this was not working in her favor. There was no room in there to work around. Larry could not figure out what he was feeling either and there was no room to get around and try to find a leg.

We discussed the situation and the finality of it was that we had to get the baby out or Matilda would die. There was no way to get a vet do do a caesarian in time. She was getting tired, and in pain. Larry went in again and I held Matilda and comforted her.

Long story short now:... lots of screaming by Matilda... lots of hard work by Larry. There is no room in there and it is very hard to figure out what you are feeling and figure out what to do. We were all very worried. I heard Larry muttering to him self softly as he worked "You will succeed. You will succeed." He had finally managed, through brute force, to get around the round hard object and find a leg and pull it forward. Things were looking just a little bit better.

He pulled and pulled. He figured out at this point that the head was turned back, as if the baby were looking at at it's tail. He hooked his finger around the curve of the neck and pulled. He could not get the head around. The leg was out, and things were still stuck. The leg was lifeless. We decided the baby might well be dead. We had to get it out and at this point it was a matter of saving the mother. He pulled and pulled on the leg and on the neck and finally out came the baby. The head and neck were indeed turned back so that that hard round object we were feeling turned out to be the shoulder. With the head and legs back there is no way the doe could have ever delivered the baby. Feet should be first and head forward, like you are diving.

The baby was totally lifeless and Larry shook it a bit. We thought it was already dead inside it's mother and it looked pretty well dead now that it was out. It is so very sad for a baby to die and you do not want it to be dead. All that work and pain for Matilda... poor mommy.. then I thought I heard an attempt at a breath. The baby was alive, but just ever so barely. We cleared the mouth and rubbed the limp body and I did mouth to mouth (nose) on the tiny baby. Please live... you have to live....

The baby started breathing, weakly and shallowly, but it was breathing It was so very weak. So extremely weak. We showed him to Matilda, his mommy and she began to clean him. Everyone was exhausted but thrilled the baby was alive.

We helped dry the baby off and saw that he was so very weak. He could not stand, or even raise his head. We were afraid he might be damaged by the ruff treatment he had gone through, but we had no choice, he had to be delivered and we did what we had to do to get him out. I gave him some "Power Punch" a goat energy supplement and used a syringe to feed him some of mommie's colostrum. He wanted to nurse, but was too weak to stand.

We gave Matilda a snack and I held the baby to her teat to nurse a little. When we felt we had done all we could, we decided to leave mother and son alone to bond.  We returned to the house to eat breakfast and then came back to the barn for morning barn chores and milking.

Upon our return, the baby was a bit stronger, but still could not stand or really raise it's head. You could tell Matilda was getting depressed. All that pain, all that work, and she so very much wanted a baby, and now the baby couldn't get up or move.

I gave Matilda some of my herbal remedies for pain and also to help her heal and Larry rubbed salve on her painfully swollen backside. He felt badly for the pain he put her through. But, he had done what he had to do. I held the baby up to nurse and he did.

After lunch it was warm and sunny and we decided that mom and baby could use some "sun therapy". We brought them out but Matilda chose to stay in the barn. You could tell she was depressed. I sat with the little baby in my lap. He was stronger. I thought I would try to see if I could help him stand. I set him up and he balanced, wobbled, and stood. wobbled & swayed, wobbled & swayed. He tried to take a step and fell. He could not get up on his own, but he could stand if I stood him up. We went and got Matilda and showed her her son standing and you could see in her eyes how happy that made her. I could feel her happiness.... "My baby... my baby is standing and moving. I have a real baby." I set him by his mother's teat and helped him get it in his mouth and then he stood and nursed on his own. We were all so happy: Mommy, Larry and I. The baby was alive and could stand and nurse.


We put the pair back in their stall and went on with our busy day, we had lots of work to do. At 4:00 pm, 11 hours after the birth I looked at the monitor and saw, to my extreme joy, the baby standing and his mother happily licking him. He had stood on his own! Maybe he really was going to live after all. We were all so happy.

With every hour the baby continued to grow stronger. Now it was Matilda we were worried about. She was very sore and a bit incontinent, but that was to be expected after her ordeal. I continued to give her my tinctures and Larry applied the soothing salve.

Then, to pile a few more logs on the fire, Max, Matilda's grandmother, decided to kid at 7 pm. What a long couple of days.

The next day, the baby was improving and momma was doing better as well. When the baby was born, he looked like a weak kid, but now, as he improved and grew stronger he was evolving into an absolute angel. All goat babies are cute, but not all look like angels. Matilda looked like a sweet little angel when she was a kid, and we could see in Ozzie's face, the face of his mother as a kid. He is an absolute angel and had won our hearts.

Ozzie is the most interesting color; a color we have never had in a goat here. He is a sort of warm gray. Very pretty.

Everyone who meets Ozzie falls in love with him; he is a very special goat.  I'm compelled to pick him up and give him hugs and kisses every time I see him.

"A Mother's Love"
Matilda with Ozzie 32 hours old

Matilda is a very intelligent doe. She taught herself to kindly step out of the way when we are sweeping around her in the barn while she is eating her breakfast.  None of the other goats ever get out of the way for us to sweep.  She has always been friendly and interestingly, she has gotten even friendlier and closer to us since her long night.  She lets me help Ozzie get her teat in his mouth (he tends to favor one side, so I try to get him to work on the other side every once and a while) and has no problems with my "fiddling" with her udder and teats; a sign of a good milk doe.

After all Matilda has gone through and seeing how much she deeply loves her little baby we have decided not to break them up... we just could not do that to her... after all that.

Matilda was supposed to go to a new home in NY state at the end of the summer 2006, but we decided to place Matilda and Ozzie in a loving home where they can always stay together.  Matilda & her wethered son Ozzie now live in NC as much loved pets, and in the company of three miniature donkeys.


"The face of an angel"


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