Well, it finally happened! After 147 long days of waiting, Karen finally gave birth to a healthy, beautiful doeling on June 18th! The labor and delivery was textbook, and I couldn't have asked for it to go any better. She was showing signs of passive labor the whole day - her ligaments were gone, her udder was full and tight, and you could tell she was occasionally getting some contractions. She was however, being her typical self and pushing everyone else around, gorging on hay, and showing no signs of slowing down. I kept my eye on her and was popping in and checking on her every hour or so throughout the day without any signs of her progressing.
During my evening chores, when I was doing my feedings and milking Audrey I noticed a long, gloopy string dangling from her backside. This was right about the time that the skies were parting, a torrential downpour started, and lightening and thunder was cracking and shaking the barn. She was losing her plug which meant that it was time for me to hunker down because babies were on the way! She almost instantaneously started showing changes in behavior. She was clearly uncomfortable, bedding down, getting up, pawing at the ground, and occasionally pushing her head against the wall to brace herself during contractions. I didn't know how long it would it would take, but I was mentally and physically prepared to be there for the long haul and sleep in the barn if need be. In between the cracks of lightening and rumbles of thunder, she bedded down for the final time and started to push...
Only a few minutes later and after a few good pushes, the baby was out! A beautifully marked, healthy, strong, and perfect doeling. She immediately was looking to nurse, and Karen had the instinct of a natural mother. She started to clean every inch of her while I cut her umbilical cord, dipped it in iodine, and gave her a couple of pumps of Nutri-Drench. When Karen quickly started to pass the afterbirth, I knew that she was the only one in there and we could spend all of our time doting on her one perfect baby.
The mother and child bond between Karen and her daughter was instantaneous, and a bit overwhelming... I cried. Karen is a bit of a diva, and I had this idea going into it that she wouldn't be a good mother. I thought that she would surely leave me with a bottle baby or babies, and she just didn't have it in her. Boy, did she prove me wrong. It came as naturally to her as breathing, and she knew exactly just what to do. She has been a rockstar mom, and has done everything right from nursing to keeping June's butt clean. First fresheners don't always have the natural instinct for allowing their baby to nurse, because they haven't done it before and just don't know what to do. Not Karen. I helped June get a few good drinks of colostrum right after being born and in no time she was freely nursing with no complaints from Karen. I can't help but feel bad that I doubted her abilities.
The placenta can take a day or so to drop, but she lost hers within an hour of giving birth. And yes, I let her eat it. Retained placenta can be caused by a selenium deficiency, but because I give Karen (and all my goats) a supplement that includes selenium, I attribute its quick release to the supplement. In some cases, active labor can take hours from the time they lose their plug to the time they deliver. In Karen's case, the whole process took less than an hour. I couldn't have asked for a better labor and delivery for my first kidding, and I personally attribute it to the Molly's Herbal's Pregnancy Tonic that I gave her daily. The herbal supplement is formulated for quick labor, preventing miscarriage, strengthening the uterus, and aids in colustrum/milk production. After this experience, I will be giving this herbal supplement to all of my pregnant does from here on out.
The original plan was to sell Karen's babies. We already brought on Ruby, Audrey, Alison, and Phil this spring, and thought that going from two to six goats was enough this year. As it turns out, we decided not to stick with the original plan :) Karen is our first baby whose first baby is June, the first baby born on our farm (chickens don't count). She is a perfect, beautifully marked single kid that just happened to be a girl. All of the signs pointed to keep her, so that's what we decided to do! We already are in love with her, she has her mama's sass and sweetness while boasting a personality too big for her body.
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