J had some errands to do and some projects to attend to. I decided to exercise. Before I knew it, it was already noon. Since today was one of our really hot days (over 90*F) I went out to hose down the alpacas. I spent a lot of time hosing down the entire herd, but spent extra time with Victoria and Maddie given they are so very pregnant. Everything seemed normal so after hosing them down I went inside the house for lunch.
I had checked outside a few times throughout the day, but it was at 2:30 p.m. that I looked outside to see Victoria trying to pee but not really peeing. Then she walked over to another poop pile and while she strained, only a few drops came out. Either she had a urinary tract infection or she was in labor. And given typical labor for alpacas is between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. this was late in the day and could be cause for concern.
I talked myself into it being false labor. Yeah there was some straining but she'd stop and go eat. And she didn't seem dilated like a lady in labor should be. I decided it was due to the heat and went outside to hose them down again. If that was enough to distract her and make her behavior stop, then it was false labor. If hosing her down doesn't stop it, well, she's either in labor or in trouble.
Hosing her down didn't stop the behavior. She would let me hose her down, and stood by me for awhile, but then she'd go over to the poop pile and pee a couple drops. I watched this for a bit, but knew she was in labor.
Rule of thumb with alpaca labor is that you should see progress every 20 minutes, if not, you need to intervene. It was now almost 3 p.m. and no progress since I first notice her at 2:30 p.m.. I was beginning to worry about a uterine torsion and all sorts of other things that could be happening. I tried calling J but couldn't get a hold of him. I called the kids outside to help - and by that I mean just be with me :)
By this point Victoria was laying on her side. This was a very bad sign. During normal birth the dam strains over the poop pile, and baby starts coming out. Nothing about this was following the normal textbook version.
I was praying for a baby part to appear - that would mean a clear birth canal, no uterine torsion. It seemed like forever but out appeared a baby foot! Phew!!! No torsion. But we are supposed to be seeing two feet and a nose poking out. We have had 18 births on our farm, so I'm not new to this. But I've never been the main lead on a difficult birth, and that's what this seemed like it was going to be.
Finally Zack had gotten a hold of J and he was on his way home. I knew it could be some time though and I was conscious of the 20 minute rule. And I was worried that the foot didn't look right. Was it a front foot or a back foot? What is facing the right way? I'm not good with direction so I had a hard time visualizing how this foot attached to the cria inside. In time another foot appeared, which seemed like a good sign, but then I saw an ear. Oh no!! This is not the right presentation.
I don't remember all I did, there were several times I helped try to readjust the cria coming out. I know at one point I had Zack hold Victoria by the neck so I could push the cria back in and move it around so that it could be in a better position to be born.
I also remember I mentioned to Zack that the baby does not seem right. It was not moving. Every birth I have seen the cria moves. Usually a little wiggle of a leg or something. This cria was completely still. In addition, the toe nails on the cria seemed strange, like the cria wasn't fully developed. I came to the sad conclusion this was a still birth. Zack and I had quite the discussion about what this means. There was a point earlier on I was about to cry and I said to Zack, "I have to hold it together." Then there was this point when it was getting to me again and Zack said, "Mom, we have to hold it together." Yes. It was about saving Victoria: she is in labor, in pain, and needs our help. Just then I was able to maneuver the cria enough that Victoria could push the cria's head out, even with it's ears coming out first rather than it's nose! I remember seeing this happen and I said out loud to Victoria, "you can't do this, you have to let me move it more" but she did it anyway. I don't know how and I can't imagine the pain she endured. It was amazing to see. I am still in awe of her.
Just about then J arrived. I explained that it was a still birth, but that cria had been stuck, I had gotten the head out but labor is stalled. I was very concerned about Victoria. She was losing strength, trying to cush and lay on her side.
J came over and looked at the situation. He pulled the membranes of the cria and the cria gasped breath!!! J said, "it's alive" in a very calm tone. I could hear Zack behind me gasp and exclaim, "it's a miracle!!!"
After all that the cria is alive! Neither Zack nor I could believe it. Zack said he was laughing but with tears :)
When Victoria did not seem to even be pushing anymore, J helped the cria get the rest of the way out. We then could see it was a reddish brown male - looks like a boy version of Victoria.
Since during the birth the cria's lungs didn't really get squeezed like they do during a normal delivery, J grabbed the cria's legs and swung him up side down to get fluid out of his lungs. J then rubbed him in a towel to help dry him off.
In no time he was trying to sit, and demonstrating a strong suck reflex. He was born around 3:50 p.m., sitting on his own by 4:05 p.m., standing by 4:50 p.m. and nursing by 5 p.m. In just over an hours time he went from a difficult delivery to nursing.
Here is the handsome devil:
Here is my hero, Victoria, who did incredible things today:
Victoria and her new cria seem to both be tuckered out by that birth:
We named this new cria: OHVNA el Diablo
OHVNA = Oak Haven Alpacas
el Diablo ~ has a few meanings:
- first of all it is a car, the theme for Victoria's offspring
- J was thinking we needed something to do with this horrible heat wave
- I was thinking about something along the lines of a miracle, given the birth experience
- el Diablo = "the devil" which we thought captured the heat wave (hot like hell) and the fact he was a bit of a trickster being so still during the delivery that I thought he wasn't alive
- plus being a reddish brown = red devil
What an emotional roller coaster this birth has been! I have never had so much go on in such a short time. He's still a young newborn and as we have learned they are fragile. The first three days are especially critical.