Long Day’s Birthing Into Night


March 22, 2013

2013 Kids: Day 3
Part 2

Belinda and Kate headed off to the My Future: extended learning program.  I later learned youth spent the better part of the day exploring new duct tape ideas, while also taking some time to prepare and eat a meal during their once a week time of exploring new food opportunities.  Like many rural ministries, I imagine, life is seldom compartmentalized into work or play or this job and that, but rather ministry is a fluid mix of what is and what is about to be.

As they headed down the drive another doe dropped two more kids.  She is an older doe so care for her kids, on my part, was minimal.  Soon afterward another doe gave birth, then another.  All the while, one doe who has been through this many times kept walking around with a slight discharge…hoping, I think, that soon she would give birth as well.  In the meantime another doe gave birth.  7pm rolled around it looked like all the remaining does without kids, except for the doe with the slight discharge, were not going to give birth today.

This last one though was at her wits end.  This seems to happen every year with her.  Her teats are as tight as they can be from milk, her utter is so big she has to walk bow-legged, and the hair on her utter has been rubbed off from her legs rubbing past.  You know she has had it and wants the pregnancy to just be done because as a standoffish doe who never lets you touch her, she now allows you to scratch her back and rub her shoulders.  Yet, as the saying goes, a watched pot will not boil, so I gather up old used slimy towels and head back to the house to get some admin work done that has been left behind during this day of birthing.

Belinda returned from My Future a while later.  We got supper together and ate.  Then Belinda headed out to the barn around 8:00pm while I cleaned dishes.  The phone rang a little after 8:30.  Belinda said it might be best to come out to the barn.

As I came around the corner I could see Belinda and the doe were having problems.  Two feet were out and no head.  A normal presentation has two front legs stretched out with a head nestled between them coming out the vulva.  Such a presentation allows the body to come to a point of sorts, which allows for an easy birth.  Tonight, the hooves and legs are in the correct position, but the head is turned back—not good.  The presentation told the story of why the birth had taken all day, and this far into it meant there was little chance for a live birth.  It also meant the does chances were dropping as well.

It is probably luck, but for twelve years of birthing we’ve never had such a presentation—that we know of (there has been a lot of births we’ve never seen).  If mom was at her wits end hours ago, she was done now.  Belinda took her head.  I ran a finger between the baby and the vulva until I could feel where the neck was bent back.  Everything was far too tight to push the baby back in and turn the head around.  I hooked my finger in the notch created by the head being turned back and grabbed the front feet.  Then I placed one foot on each side of her rump, just above the hock, then pushed with my legs and pulled with my arms.  Belinda pulled.  Nothing happened.  We all pulled again.  Then again.  With the head turned back over the shoulders there is simply lot of area to move through such a small opening.  About the time we began to wonder if the baby would ever come out, there was movement.  Then a little more.  Finally, the head was through and the baby was out.  And dammit, yes, the baby is dead.

Before we had a chance to place the baby on the straw another bag began to come out.  With bag in tack, two hooves came out, then two legs, but no head.  You have got to be kidding!  Another abnormal presentation and a breach this time—everything is coming out backwards!  This time though, the kid came fast and was on the straw before the amniotic sack broke.  Coughing and shaking its head, we wiped birth gunk out of its mouth and placed him by mommas head.  She began to lick and clean him up.

Normally, when a doe is done birthing, she looks a little hollow in the hindquarters.  That was not the case.  We watched as she cleaned up the kid and figured we would hang out for another twenty minutes and see if another kid might come along.  Sure enough, fifteen minutes later, she pushed again.

An intact bag came out, but only with a head, no feet.  It seems like all twelve years of few birthing problems are going to be made up right now, with one mamma—third baby and a third abnormal presentation!  This time the legs are pulled back in line with the body, so like the first, there is no point to the presentation, the area around the shoulders is larger than the vulva and an easy birth is out of the question.  She pushed and the neck came out, but as soon as she stopped, it all went back inside.  Another push and the same result.  The doe is shot by now and energy non-existent.  So when she pushed the third time, Belinda took her head, I grabbed the kids head and neck (the amniotic sack didn’t break) and we all pushed and pulled.  Slow even movement and in a moment the baby was on the straw.  Belinda wiped the nose and mouth and placed the baby by mommas head.

Thirty minutes later we took one last look as we turned to leave the barn.  Mommas everywhere with babies lying up beside them.  Most are sleeping.  A few are chewing their cud watching us.  Lights out.  11pm.

© David B. Bell 2013


  1. What powerful witness to the midwives of new life! And a reminder that birth and change are almost always messy, painful and with difficulty. But at 11:00 PM as the lights dim, the miracle has continued, creation never ends and cooperation is a critical game-changing ingredient. Now that will preach! Thanks Belinda and Dave!


  2. As an old OB nurse I pulled, tugged and manipulated along with you. What work, and what satisfaction! Thanks for all you all do.


    1. I thought a lot about folk doing this work on a daily basis when writing. From one who has made this their life, it is good to hear your words!


  3. Didn’t know you had a new profession as doctors. What an awesome story with some sadness. Keep up the great work. Do you sell the does?


    1. Great to hear from you! We don’t sell the does. Rather, we sell half of the kids when they are old enough. That pays enough to give the other half of the kids away to local families.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s