Monday, March 7, 2011

First Kids

Babies are born every second of every day all around the world.  But when it’s your baby, especially if it’s the first one, it seems like the most original, unique, personal and miraculous experience on earth.  That’s how it was for me when my first child was born 15 years ago this month, and that’s how it was when her first child was born.  OK, my 15 year old doesn’t actually have a first child yet (thank goodness), but she does have a first kid.  The goat kind, you know.

When we brought Skittles the goat home through a raging blizzard in January of 2008 (see The Great Goat Adventure – Jan. 29th blog entry), she was newly pregnant with her first kids.  We had waited a long time to bring her home after it took three tries for her to conceive, but now the real waiting began.  January and February tend to drag for me anyhow with the cold, limited daylight hours but that year really progressed slowly.  We were all so excited about having new spring arrivals, and May felt like such a long way off.

When the warm weather finally arrived and Skittles’ due date of May 6th got closer and closer, we decided we should have a plan to make sure everyone who wanted to attend the birth had a chance to.  My mother had recently moved to the area from Ohio and she for sure wanted to be there.  Megan, whose goat it was, wanted to be there no matter what she had to miss.  And May is about the busiest month for school kids with all the end-of-school-year activities, so it seemed inevitable that she’d have to miss something to witness the birth.  My other daughter, Molly wanted to be there, too, but my husband figured he’d see the new babies soon enough, so no need to be “on call”.  The plan was that if Skittles began showing signs of being in labor during the school day, I would call my mom and she would swing by the girls’ schools and pick them up on her way to the farm.  Both school offices were alerted to this possibility and we agreed that a message of “kids on the way” texted to Megan at school would mean go to the office and prepare to get picked up.

You’ve heard the saying, a watched pot never boils?  Well, that’s what it felt like those first few days of May.  Every hour or two I was out in the barnyard checking on Skittles, and although she was big and round and her udder was starting to form, she pretty much looked and acted like her usual self.  Until the morning of May 5th.  That morning, she was real quiet and seemed to be in her own little world.  She didn’t eat a lot and wasn't interacting with her buddy, Springer much.  She just stood by the fence and seemed to be lost in deep thought.  I had a bunch of little errands planned for that day but something told me I should stay close to home, so I put those things on hold.  It was a beautiful spring day and it was easy to keep myself busy with outdoor chores so I could keep an eye on Skittles.  I checked in with my mom mid-morning to let her know she should be on stand-by.

Then around noon, Skittles started pawing the ground, laying down and then getting back up again.  I knew from the reading I’d done about goat labor that this was a sign that things were about to begin.  I moved her into the stall we had cleaned out as her birthing suite and when she started making low groaning noises and something that sounded like a cross between a click and a snore, I called my mom, texted Megan and put the whole plan into motion.  It sure was exciting when 20 minutes later, everyone was home and excited to watch the birth of our first farm babies.

Well, you know how labor can go.  Sometimes it’s a whole lot of hurry up and wait.  So, wait we did as Skittles got up, laid down, pawed a little and then stopped.  A few minutes later she’d groan a little, shift positions and then stop.  The she’d stand up, turn around, lie down and stop.  After about an hour of this, we decided to get comfortable and got some folding chairs, magazines, and snacks and settled in for the long haul.  Molly lost interest and went to play on the trampoline while the rest of us hung out and tried to guess how long it would be.  At this point we wondered if Megan would make it to her band concert scheduled for that evening, which would be a drag to miss, but we had our priorities.

Around 4:00, my goat mentor-friend, Melanie showed up to check in on things, but after waiting and watching with us for an hour or so, she gave up and went home, promising to come back when the babies graced us with their presence.  No sooner had she left, when Skittles started moaning really loud, and pushing and straining, and within minutes, out came a beautiful, perfectly formed tiny brown goat kid.  I quickly checked for the gender and said, “oh darn, it’s a boy”.  Now I know that’s not what new grandmas are supposed to say, but in the dairy goat world, the girls rein supreme.  He was so adorable, though, that we quickly let our brief disappointment go as we helped his mama clean him up and dry him off.   Just as he was starting to try out his wobbly little legs, Skittles crouched down, moaned and pushed again, and before we knew it, there was a little black and white baby.  Again the gender check and this time, cause for celebration – a darling little doeling! 

Megan named the kids Snickers and Milky Way, in keeping with the candy theme, and as she snuggled with the babies and showered Skittles with affection and appreciation, she really did look like a kid in a candy store.  Oh, and she even made it to her band concert, although a little late.

Life Lesson:  New Life is Always Miraculous

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