Around our house, Friday nights have been a long-standing tradition PIZZA and VIDEO night. When both ‘The Hubs‘ and I worked in the automotive industry, after a l-o-o-o-o-o-ong work-week, we looked forward to a no brainer; no planning ‘what to cook’ for dinner – after a 60-mile [one-way] commute!
Initially, Friday nights involved making a video selection between us and our two young children… mostly Disney films. We ordered take-out pizza from a small mom & pop shop [sadly, which no longer exists] and a 2-liter (the ONLY time my kids were allowed to drink ‘pop’). Every now and again, we’d substitute ‘family games’ for a video. Since my father-in-law’s passing quite some time ago, Grandma usually joins us… currently, with or without my college-attending kids.
This past Friday night was no exception. However, after the movie ended around 8:45 p.m., I performed my usual barn-check. I had moved one of my pregnant ewes from the pasture/field where their only accommodation is a shed roof/small structure into ‘a jug’ [a small pen set-up for lambing] in the ‘goat barn’. She was acting ‘a bit odd’ during the day, isolating herself from the rest of the flock.
AS SOON AS I ENTERED THE BARN, I knew there was a new arrival!! I recognized the chortling/cooing sounds made by my ewe, Reece. As I anxiously peeked into the pen, a tiny black life-form lay on the straw, Reece busily working to clean her off. The lamb must have been born only minutes earlier. I grabbed a few towels from my birthing kit and helped with the initial clean-up, making sure the lambs nostrils were clear from amniotic fluid (and, secretly feeling for horn buds). Hooray, it’s a girl!!!
Fast forward about another hour. Reece was up and down laboring/pushing, on two occasions by my count, trying to lamb No. 2. All the while my daughter and ‘The Hubs’ telling me to BACK-OFF, let Nature do its thing!!???
This is where I clearly STRESS… go in, don’t go in… to help the ewe/doe!? Not to become over-anxious and remain calm. Learning/recognizing the signs/stages of ‘normal’ labor versus abnormal/atypical signs. Assisting an abnormal/obstructed labor (dystocia) is required sometimes and is often life-saving, both for mama and baby! Over the years, you become more knowledgeable and confident as midwife. Each and every birth is a new learning experience. I thank the sweet Lord for his grace and guidance through this process!!
Now, back to Reece. I decided I’d waited long enough. I put my gloves on and squirted on lots of lubricating jelly. Katie was at the ready, holding Reece firmly and securely. I proceeded very slowly, massaging my way into her vagina. I immediately detected both front legs in a normal presentation, position for the lamb to come head first, right-side up. I GENTLY and slowly pulled the legs forward and down, followed by the head… and the lamb was on the ground. ALIVE AND NORMAL. Phew! It’s a boy!!! Should I have waited a bit longer???
Reece (who was a very cooperative patient) seemed relieved and no worse for the intrusion! She immediately began cleaning-off No. 2 lamb. We had stripped Reece’s teats earlier and No. 1 lamb was nursing well. We prepared to dip both lambs’ naval with iodine and finally worked with No. 2 lamb to latch-on for a drink of colostrum before we ‘retired’. Katie made a bucket-full of warm water laced with molasses for Reece. I’d be back periodically to check on Reece to make sure she expelled the afterbirth.
As I dottled, I just happened to notice ANOTHER tiny little foot coming out Reece’s back-end! OMG!!! Another lamb!!! Triplets!!!!?? How could I be so stupid!!!! Oh shiitake mushrooms!!! They say if you pull one lamb, prepare to pull them all!?? Mind you, I’m in the barn alone now. Without loosing another moment, I put on another pair of gloves, fished-out the other front leg and No. 3 lamb was born. A GIRL!
WOW! ANOTHER SET OF TRIPLETS!!! NOW, ARE WE DONE!???
Reeces Pieces and her lambs; less than 24-hours old
Reeces’ lambs receive instructions from Mama!