By Teresa Michaud

On February 17th, Umay went into labour right on schedule. Umay is quite small but she is a bundle of energy. I like to call her ‘My Little Powerhouse’. She is still young and will grow some more. Angora goats do not reach their full size until the age of three or more. I had been anticipating this day for sometime now since it was going to be our first ‘grand baby’ born on our farm. The animals were fed and ready for the night when Umay began pushing. Two days earlier, I had placed her in a comfortable little pen complete with a heat lamp for the baby. I had everything that I would need with me for the birth although I had forgotten my wristwatch on the counter in the kitchen. I had taken it off to scrub my hands and nails. I did not want to leave her to go and retrieve it. I stayed with her through each contraction. With each push, I hoped to see the familiar bag with two little hooves inside appear. I could tell that she was not pushing very hard. She was just going with it and hardly straining. She got up several times to shift her position. Raymond came in and I was surprised to learn that it was near midnight. We decided to go to the house for a bit.

I woke up with a start. I looked at the clock it was 3AM. We had fallen asleep! Poor little Umay! I ran to the barn. There she was still in the same spot but now she was pushing very hard. It looked as if she was just pushing against a wall. I knew that I would have to go inside of her and see what the problem was. I scrubbed up again with soap and rinsed with a mixture of water and proviodine. With gloved hand and loads of KY-Jelly, I ever so gently went inside. With each contraction, I added another one of my fingers then the hand. I felt no hooves and no head anywhere. I went lower and felt a backbone. This was not good news! I could feel ribs, okay so which way is the baby pointing? Now I felt a hollow space below the ribs - oh no. With the next contraction, I felt hips and a long tail. Just as I suspected it was breech. There was no way to turn the baby. The body was too long. I tried as hard as I could to grab the hind leg but my fingertips could not reach past the hock. The baby was lying with its feet underneath itself. She would never be able to push that baby out of there. Her life was in grave danger!

I ran back to the house to get Raymond. I began to panic as I described the situation to him. He told me that he needed me to stay calm if we were going to succeed but I could tell he was very scared. I prepared fresh supplies for the delivery. I cried all the way to the barn. Raymond was with Umay. He suggested I try again and he would coach me since my hands were smaller than his were. We had to raise Umay’s hind end in order to move things around. We worked at it for sometime. By now, I was afraid for Umay. She ceased hollering and was now just moaning. She was exhausted. I suggested that Raymond try. As we switched places, I described to him how every thing was positioned. An hour went by, he pulled out a long hind leg and then another. We were quite sure that the baby was dead. It never moved. During other births, you could sometimes feel a small tug as you moved a leg. At least we might save Umay. He pulled the baby. We pulled it out as far as the shoulders and then it would go no farther. It was really stuck. The umbilical cord, still attached, was white. I worked the skin around the body as Raymond freed the elbows and finally the head. Umay collapsed in exhaustion. The baby lay still. It was a big chubby boy. Raymond swiped the baby’s nose of any mucus, just in case. He gently pushed and rubbed his little body trying to see if he could stimulate him. The baby sniffed out. “He’s alive!” We both shouted in unison. We were still not sure that he would live. I grabbed a clean towel and we began working on him. Finally, he was breathing easily on his own.

I dried him off and laid him under the heat lamp. The rooster crowed. It was 6AM. We lifted Umay and placed her over near the heat lamp so she would see her baby. I offered her a pail of warm water and she was very thirsty. The baby stood up, walked around clumsily and fell. Umay took notice and spoke gently to him. He fell asleep and so did she.

I returned an hour later to feed the animals. I heard Umay call out, as she usually does, when she hears me coming with the feed. She was still lying in the same spot. I set her grain next to her where she could easily reach it. She took two bites and fell asleep with her nose in her feed. Poor little thing was exhausted. I could see that she had cleaned out. I left the placenta there for now. I wanted her to rest.

Two hours later, she was up. Although the baby was completely dry, I watched as she excitedly licked him off and talked gently to him. She just loved him. Raymond came in and asked me what we should call him. I looked up at him and answered, “Willing Spirit”. He nodded. “That’s a good name.”

Willing Spirit