From the beginning of this goat pregnancy journey, I’ve told Paolo that Pasqualina would deliver while we were there; even after Margherita and Carmelina did their things all on their own, I assured him: there would be no morning surprise with Pasqualina, who I raised with a bottle and who is much more emotionally attached to us than the others.
Yesterday morning we saw Pasqualina’s whitish mucus that signals that birth is coming, probably within 24 hours. I had a feeling she was going to go in the afternoon, though, because Pasqualina also started showing some really pronounced signs of labor such as being *much* more vocal throughout the day. Normally she’ll bleat maybe five times a day; yesterday she was *screaming* when we were out of sight and especially when she heard Paolo in the Ape nearby.
By 1 pm, she also had a really noticeable arch in her back, ligament loosening around the tail, a pretty solid udder, and hollowed out sides as the kid dropped into position, so I had a feeling she wasn’t going to wait until the next morning.
I was in the pen with her on and off, and then around 2 pm came home to work for a bit. At 5 pm I was on the phone with my mom and I told her I had to go, because I thought Pasqualina was getting ready. I just felt it.
I arrived at the pen. Within a half hour, her contractions started. In fact, at 5:10 I filmed a video of the other two kids playing (you’ll see it soon!), and by 6 p.m. we had another one.
Pasqualina started by laying down and getting up a few times (another telltale sign that labor is beginning). At one point she was on the ground, and started kicking and kind of flailing, so I went in the pen and sat in the corner on a stone we have in there for such purposes. She came right over, plopped down next to me, and rested her head on my lap. I pet her for a minute or so, and then a contraction came.
She shot up and walked around a bit so I took the opportunity to go get my camera from outside the pen. As I unzipped the case and removed it, she wailed in my direction, so I hurried up and assured her I was coming; she wailed again at me as she flopped down next to the rock, head where my lap should be, obviously.
I took my place next to her.
I was stroking her head and neck as she got some more nasty contractions, some for which she threw back her head and just screamed. So scary to see your baby do that! But from reading all the stuff I’ve read, I knew that was normal, so I just took some deep breaths and hoped she’d hurry before my Zen wore off.
At this point, she hadn’t passed her water. Paolo had gone off somewhere before she started doing all this, but was coming right back…I could only hope within the next 15 minutes, because as it turned out, that was all this was going to take.
Paolo’s friend was there, though, and he has some goat-birthing experience, so that was good; he was standing outside the pen as he’s definitely more of a hands-off guy (generally that’s the method here), and in fact, said at one point that it’s best to leave her alone, but I was having none of that. My baby wanted me there with her, and I knew that. No doubt in my mind.
After a particularly loud wail, I went around to the other side of her to see what was happening and there was just a small bit of yellowish white mucus there, much like she had had in the morning. With the next contraction and wail, I saw the beginning of something.
At this point I was expecting the red bubble they talk about, behind which you’ll see the amniotic sac. Well, she was laying on her side (what I’ve found out is the “diving position”), so I wasn’t going to see all that much anyway, but this bubble was definitely not red. It was yellowish brown and it BURST with the next contraction. I was fast enough to get out of the way, thank goodness, because that was pretty nasty.
Aaaaah…she relaxed for a bit. I walked around to her head, petted her some, offered her some water (no thanks), and within a minute or two, she was ready to push. Just as she was giving her first groaning push, Paolo arrived. Phew.
Out came the tip of a foot, hoof down. Looking good so far. Kids should be born with two feet first and the head, so at least I knew the kid was facing the right way as the hoof was toward the ground. Phew again. I took some photos.
After another couple pushes, the next foot peeked out. To be honest, it looked a lot like a nose to me, but what did I know? Upon closer inspection, second foot indeed.
Now we had two feet showing at their tips, so we’re waiting on the head. She gave a couple good pushes, and out came about half of the head. Immediately it was moving around, twitching the nose, etc., amniotic sac already broken, but still gooey all over the face, of course.
Now, let’s be clear here. Although I knew I’d be in the pen for the birth, I was completely convinced that I would just let her do her thing unless she needed me. But as soon as I saw that little head, I reached in and cleaned out the mouth and swiped around the nose a bit to expel some goo.
As I moved around to the front of her and gave her some encouraging words, Pasqualina gave a couple half-hearted pushes. She just looked so tired and the kid barely seemed to move with those pushes. So I decided that with the next contraction, I’d give her a hand, two even. OK, camera down. Time to get to work.
I got behind her, grasped the kid’s legs tightly (what a slippery little sucker!) and waited for the next wave, which came within seconds. I pulled when she gave a good hard push so that the kid was halfway out then, its little face making all kinds of adorable movements as I continued to scoop out the goop. With the next push, we got her all the way out (she was so snuggly warm!) and Pasqualina stretched to lick her immediately. I positioned the kid up a little closer to P’s face, being careful not to damage the umbilical cord, and the bonding began.
From the time she was out, the little thing was flailing around with those spaghetti legs, looking for Mamma’s licks. So aware and lively and already curious! It took a bit for the umbilical cord to snap, but when it did, it did so really well, so this one looks to have the right amount of cord there instead of a long, hanging bit.
Pasqualina’s afterbirth was already coming out behind her, and indeed, she ended up passing the placenta entirely as she walked around within a couple hours (as is normal). She had some fresh blood and goo coming out after the placenta passed, but all that stopped by 11 p.m. when we checked on her for the last time last night; she and her kid were huddled together sleeping. By that time, Pasqualina had already eaten a bit of hay and several lemon tree leaves that she loves so much, freshly picked by Paolo.
Not too long after that, the kid squatted to pee, so I was able to announce, “E’ femminuccia!” It’s a girl, which is great news for us because we really wanted to keep another girl for milk and Pasqualina’s breed is the best of the three for milking purposes.
This morning Pasqualina had a little bleeding and passed some more afterbirth type stuff, which they say is entirely normal. She’s eating and drinking and is a very attentive mom–as are all the girls.
In all my reading about goat births (and I’ve been doing a lot in the past few months), everything says, your instincts will kick in. You’ll know what to do.
If someone had told me I’d *have* to step in and do what I did, I’m sure I would’ve been nervous and anxious and all the rest. But as soon as I saw her struggle in the slightest, there was no hesitation, no fear, and no being grossed out. It’s hard to put into words how wonderful this experience has been.
What an incredible honor that they’ve let me be a part of this, especially this little darling, who decided to come while we were around. Mwaaaaah!
(And yes, those are “goat berries” on the ground around her.)
P.S. I do apologize if certain things are too graphic/lengthy for some, but I’m recording as many details as I can remember for future reference; they say does often deliver similarly, so by keeping track of this now, it will be easier to spot any abnormalities in the future. I have lots more to say about Margherita and Carmelina…and of course, about the kids’ names, so thanks for staying with us!
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