Check In: The longest night yet (part 1)
Many of you read Thursday’s Placental Experience post in which my friend Carl and I delivered a strapping buckling from lovely momma Fergi. It was an amazing experience. When I left Carl’s that night, Fergi was up and about, caring avidly for her new baby.
The next evening, after a few worried phone calls from folks at Carl’s house about strange behavior from Fergi, I headed over to his farm to check things out for myself. I told Kim and Don that if they didn’t get a call from me, everything was fine. I didn’t change into my chore clothes and I didn’t expect to call.
Upon inspecting Fergi, though, it seemed that something was definitely amiss. She was still actively in labor. I called Kim and walked the quarter-mile to the end of the driveway to meet her, enjoying the sunset and night air as I went. Sometimes the only thing a person can do is breath and wait.
Kim arrived, assessed, and concluded that the information we gathered externally wasn’t enough to help Fergi. Putting your hands inside a doe can introduce dangerous bacteria and germs, so it’s really something that should only be done in a worst case scenario. Unfortunately, this was a worst case scenario. Fergi had now been in labor for 24 hours and was obviously exhausted. She needed help. With Kim’s guidance I slid my hand into Fergi’s birth canal up past my wrist. It was warm and wet and slippery and there was something hard and round in the way. Another baby.
Kim started guiding the tiny body out as we both coaxed and encouraged Fergi to keep pushing. It took time. After what felt like a very long struggle, Fergi gave a final push that allowed the lifeless body to slide out of her and onto the barn floor. A bloated, pink jumble of limbs, flesh, and empty lungs.
I’ve seen and held dead things before, but not in a situation where the thing that’s dead is meant to be taking its first deep breath and looking out into the world for the first time. Eyes resting on new colors and shapes. But my brain didn’t fully register the depth of what my eyes were seeing… there was still work to be done. Fergi was still struggling, clearly exhausted but also obviously not done birthing. Was there another dead kid inside of her? How many were in there? How longer could this go on for? And would Fergi make it?
Check back on Thursday for part 2.