Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Peanut's First Night

My daughter Hannah Belle, aka Hannah Belle Lecter, went to the kidding stall yesterday. She was as big as a house and let's just say that the farmer was not expecting her to have a single doe kid.

And she didn't.

But before she had any kids she extended her performance to an all-day marathon. She did some things that the farmer did not like, such as standing with her feet up on the ledge and lying with her neck flat along the ground to push. When the farmer sees these things, the farmer checks to make sure that the vet's number is still on speed dial, because often it means that the kids are in the wrong position to come out, and the mama goat is contorting herself to try to reposition them.

Around here it is called Snow Pea Syndrome - named in honor of my fat sister who had to have a c-section. Hannah Belle wasn't fat like Snow Pea, but sure enough she had some kids coming in the wrong direction.

The farmer went in to fish around after Hannah Belle had been in hard labor for a while, but could not find anything to pull out. There wasn't enough room to go all the way in, so Hannah Belle would have to be on her own. In the process, though, the farmer popped the first bubble, which usually speeds things up, and not too long afterward something finally made its way into the birth canal. It wasn't a foot or a nose, though.

It was a tail. Hannah Belle's first kid was breech, coming out butt first, not a good scenario. But before the farmer could try to reposition the kid, he shot out on his own, like a champagne cork.

He was tiny. Teeny tiny. He was the size of a peanut.

Meanwhile another kid was on the way, so Peanut had to wait. This one came out head first but with one leg back. Since his head was out, there was nothing to do but pull. Hannah Belle did some champion yelling, and finally the kid was tugged out, leg back and all.

He was HUGE. The farmer said, "look, it's Goatzilla." And the name stuck. Goatzilla got up and nursed. He was more than twice as big as Peanut, who still had not gotten any milk. And now Peanut would have to wait again, because another kid was coming.

Nobody knows how this one came out, because she arrived while they were all looking the other way. This was a normal-sized little girl, bigger than Peanut but not a monster. Boxcar Betty is her name. Like so many Nigerian doelings, she was drinking milk within a minute of birth.

Meanwhile, Peanut was finally up, and tottering around unsteadily, but he would not nurse. He didn't know how to suck. After a long struggle where Peanut almost had to go and be tubed, he finally took a little bit of colostrum. But not really very much. The farmer decided to take Peanut inside and make him a bottle baby.

And then something we had never seen before happened. Peanut had a seizure. A few minutes passed and Peanut had another seizure. And so on, until he had had eight seizures in two hours.

There was nothing the farmer could do about the seizures, so the farmer decided to bring Peanut back out to his mother. That was because the farmer thought Peanut might die in the night, and that he would probably rather die out in the barn, with Hannah Belle and Goatzilla and Boxcar Betty cuddled up around him.

After a few hours sleep the farmer came back out, looking grim, to see how Peanut was doing. Peanut was still alive. Hannah Belle had taken care of him through the night. The farmer went and got a bottle so Peanut could get extra milk with honey. Peanut gobbled an ounce of milk. The farmer went back in and brought back another ounce of milk with honey. Peanut gobbled it.

The farmer did the milking and feeding, watching Peanut the whole time with one eye. Peanut did not have any seizures. Hannah Belle nudged him and cleaned him and encouraged him. He stretched like a normal baby.

"Well," the farmer said to Peanut. "I guess you made it through the first night."

Now all we can do is wait and see what happens tomorrow. But I guess that's true every day.

Good luck, little Peanut.