for people who love the littlest dairy goats
Been there, done that! If you did some damage to the kid, odds are good it was probably dead already. I once had a ribs first presentation, and I freaked out. When I found a leg, I started pulling before I had a clear idea of where all the kid's part were located, and the skin started tearing where the leg attaches to the body. Then I really lost it. I eventually got the kid out, but it was dead, and I was afraid I had killed it. My oldest daughter who had just walked in the barn, visiting from college for the weekend, was convinced that the kid had been dead for awhile already. Lucky for me, we have a friend who is a pathologist, so I gave him zero details about the situation, and only said that I had a kid born dead, and asked him how you determine how long ago a baby died during the birthing process. He is a human pathologist, but the very first thing he said was that a baby that's been dead for awhile will have thin skin that is easily torn. So, whew! I felt much better about that. The other thing I've learned is that if a kid has been dead for awhile, you can rub their hair off with your fingers. I did a vaginal check on a doe that was having trouble, and when I pulled my hand out, my fingers were covered with hair. And these things mean the kid has been dead for days, not minutes.
I spend a lot of time at births on my knees, so I sit back on my heels sometimes. I've noticed that newborn kids will dive between my legs a lot. They are born with an instinct to want to put themselves into small spaces. It works for getting themselves born (heading into the birth canal) and for nursing (getting under mom) and for staying warm and hidden from predators (getting into small spaces). Almost every single challenging birth position I've ever dealt with, involved a kid that had been dead for awhile. The only challenging birth position live kids have presented me with is two kids trying to be born at once, which thankfully has only happened twice, so less than 1% of the time. However, that could certainly happen with one or two dead kids also. I'd especially see it happening with two dead kids because then you only have uterine muscles trying to push out these inanimate objects.
If I saw a foot out for half an hour with no visible progress, I'd have been trying to figure out what to do also. That is normally not a good sign. But one thing about birthing is that every birth is truly unique, and we cannot go back through time and play it out differently, so it doesn't do any good to wonder what would have happened if ______. If the kids were born dead that soon after you tried to help, then there was nothing you could have done to change this particular outcome. Kids don't just die instantly inside a doe. If the kids looked healthy and normal, the doe could have been in labor a lot longer than she was letting on, and the placenta had started to separate. As a vet professor explained it to me after a c-section with quads that were all in vastly different states of life or death, the placenta starts to separate at one end, and each kid is attached at a different spot, so when their area detaches, they lose their life support. In that case, we had a kid born dead, one that died five minutes after birth, one that needed an hour or so of TLC, and one that was born perfectly fine. Regardless of whether the kids are born, the placenta will start to separate within a certain number of hours after a doe goes into hard labor.
So, as Rachel said, don't be hard on yourself. You do what seems right at the time, and you learn from your mistakes. As I said in my previous post, the most important thing I've learned is to not panic. That is one bit of advice I think is true in 100% of birthing situations. Other than that, every situation is unique.
Thanks Rachel & Deb.
As odd as it sounds, I hope they were dead, because then it wasn't my fault. Overall we've been having a pretty good kidding season. I think we had some pretty bad nutritional deficiencies the past couple of years that we're getting under control thanks to all the information that Deborah has provided, both here and in her book.