My Last Baby

My youngest girl turns 1-year-old today!  It is astonishing how fast the time went by with her!  I so vividly remember the details of her pregnancy, it really seems like it was just a few weeks ago.  The story of her entry into the world is certainly an intense one.  My family has been encouraging me to write it down so we can remember (or hold it over her head when she is a snotty teenager).  I think now is a perfect time to record the story of the last baby I will ever give birth to.

First a little background.  I stunk at being pregnant.  It’s not that I had a hard time getting pregnant or even maintaining the pregnancy (thank God), but if there was a condition, symptom or discomfort to be had during pregnancy, I had it.  I would joke that the Nun’s would show a picture of me during pregnancy to get new recruits.

With all three daughters, I was sick all day, every day.  There was no feeling better in the second trimester, no relief from anything at all.  With my first daughter, I developed PUPPS right before she was born and it got worse after delivery.  PUPPS is very similar feeling to the worst poison ivy you could possibly imagine.  The second made me so sick I could barely drive and was constantly having to stay home, have someone drive my oldest to school for me and I was hospitalized a couple of times because of the vomiting.  In addition, I also developed Chloasma which is a darkening of the skin, sometimes called the mask of pregnancy and I lost over half of my hair a few months after delivery.  Super fun right?  A few months after baby two was born, we decided we needed a bigger house and it was time to buy the family farm. We signed papers the end of May and moved our little family into the house I grew up in.

Enter pregnancy number 3…

On Father’s Day, my mom’s family held a reunion.  Which had loads of yummy desserts and what not to eat, and I was still nursing a six-month-old, so of course I took full advantage and ate everything I could get my hands on.  Later in the evening while I was out doing chores, my husband, the dear that he is, looked at me and announced, “You look pregnant.”  He is still alive for those wondering.  I am pretty sure I called him a jerk, or something appropriate for saying such a thing.  He left to run an errand and I thought to myself, I’ll show him!  I happened to have a leftover pregnancy test in the bathroom.

Imagine my surprise when that little positive line showed up before the control line! Holy Shit! Now, what?!?!  So, of course, the first thing I did was snap a picture and send it to my dear friend who also was expecting a surprise baby (we did always want to be pregnant together after all… what were we thinking!).  I then did what any self-respecting wife would do.  I left that test right on the back of the toilet and waited for him to see it. It’s not like I was going to outright SAY he was right.  When the big moment finally came, the man of the hour came out, looked at me and said, “You are joking right?” Me being the sweetheart I am said, “Yeah, I drove all over town to find some pregnant woman to pee on that test for me.”  Then, we did smile and hug.  The decision had been made for us, we were having another baby!

The next morning I called my midwife’s office and told the receptionist I was pregnant again and needed an appointment.  She asked if I knew how far along I was, and I responded I had no clue.  She asked when my last cycle was, to which I responded, “April 2014.”  There was a long pause, “Is this Emily who just had a baby a few months ago?” How sweet of you to remember, yes it is.  Oh my, let’s get you in for an ultrasound to see how far along you are, how does next Monday look?

Well you see, next Monday was a problem, my co-worker and I were heading to Vegas for a Veterinary Technician conference on Saturday.  They squeezed me in early Thursday morning, and I made some lame excuse why I was going to be late for work.

Thursday morning I walked into that office like I owned the place, I mean I should at least have my name on a chair as much as I had been in there the last year.  They took me back for my ultrasound and asked the usual questions and I relayed the above story.  The technician got to work, and nothing.  There was nothing to be seen on that ultrasound.  To be honest, my heart sank a little.  Yes this baby was a surprise, and one we weren’t sure we were ready for, but every time I had an ultrasound in the past, BAM! there was a baby.  The technician assured me that it was very likely that we were just too early to see the baby, and as long as nothing happened I should come back in about a week to check again.  In the meantime, go get some blood work to check hormone levels.  Ok, no problem, I’ve done the bloodwork before.  Went and had that done, and went home and packed for my trip.

The weekend passed, and then Monday morning, while I was in a lecture I got a call from the OB office.  There was a problem on my ultrasound and I needed to call them right away, or if I felt sick in any way I needed to seek emergency care…

WHAT THE HELL KIND OF MESSAGE IS THAT!!!! (I love the midwife that called and left it, don’t get me wrong, but I am a million miles from home…)  So I called back ASAP, and after a little phone tag was able to nail her down and find out what was going on, after assuring her I felt fine.  There was a cyst or growth on my left ovary, and they were concerned about an ectopic pregnancy.  I was about in tears.  I felt fine!  There was no way I could get home TODAY to have more bloodwork run or anything of that nature.  However, I was in a facility full of people who I knew were more than capable of saving me should I collapse.  I promised to go get bloodwork as soon as I got home, Thursday.

And I did, the problem was, that was Fourth of July weekend, and I couldn’t get in for the second draw on Saturday or get my results…. Finally Sunday, I couldn’t take the suspense anymore, I had hay to bale, I was emotionally drained from waiting to die at any minute and worrying about the little life I was carrying.  I called the midwife on called and begged for my labwork. She very sympathetically pulled up my numbers, and they were great!  I was very pregnant!  Ultrasound first thing Monday morning!  Ultrasound #2 showed me a tiny little egg sac of a baby, yea!! Then a long pause… Now what, I thought thinking to myself.  Then I saw the little heartbeat, it was very very slow. Not to be discouraged my ultrasound tech assured me that it was likely so slow because we caught it just as it was starting to beat.  Well, that’s some encouragement. But I was still hesitant to become excited.  Regular check-up routine.  A few weeks later, it was time for that pivotal appointment when you HEAR the heartbeat for the first time… NOTHING…search, search, search, AH! There it is! (In the most awkward and uncomfortable place on my abdomen possible I swear).  The nine-week ultrasound showed us a perfectly healthy little fetus.  Time to be excited and spread the word (since I was already trying to hide morning sickness), but I did so sneakily, we had pictured done of our other girls in their baptism and confirmation dresses and sent the proofs to our families to see which ones they liked best.  In the mix was one of both girls holding a sign saying “One was great, two are fun, surprise there’s going to be another one!”  And God bless my oldest when she heard the news, “WHY?” And my boss, she got a very large bottle of wine with the news.

My pregnancy proceeded about how I expected, miserably.  I had to take Zofran every day just so I could get out of bed and only vomit a few times.  I got HUGE, much bigger than I had been with the other two.  I heard a lot of, “It’s the third one,” “The third pregnancy is always the hardest,” and “it’s because they are so close together.”  It didn’t matter what the reason was, at about 7-8 months I couldn’t lift my 15-pound toddler without crazy pain, and this is a girl who thinks little about throwing 80-pound bales of hay.  By 9 months my mom had put me on couch arrest and pretty much took over caring for my toddler during the day because I just couldn’t do it.  I left work the middle of January because I couldn’t make the drive or do anything functional at work.  February and my due date passed, and March came.

One Wednesday, about a week past my due date I was SICK (oh, and my oldest daughter had come home Friday from her dad’s vomiting.  SO I also had a laundry room FULL of vomit covered clothes and bedding). I had been fighting some bug (not the vomit bug praise the Lord) for a couple of days but it finally just kicked my butt.  My mom came and took the toddler as usual and then brought her home and hung out for a little while.  She left to go home and I called her right back.  My fever spiked moments after she left and I was done.  It was going to be at least an hour before my husband got home and I just couldn’t keep myself or the kid alive that long.  She came back on the condition I called the doctor’s office.  That conversation went like this:

Hi, this is Emily, I think I am dying.

Hi, Emily, what’s going on now?

I have been sick the last few days, now I am running a fever and I have a crazy pain on the right side of my rib cage near the bottom.  I have an appointment tomorrow.

Hmm, Well, I hate you to go sit in triage and just be sick.  Take a couple Tylenol and try to sleep.  If you feel worse at all or can’t sleep call me back.

Ok, done.  Sleep was not a problem… I relayed this to my mom, took my Tylenol and curled up in bed.  Just in time for the phone to ring.

Emily?

Yes?

I called the Doctor about you…

(oh boy)

We decided that you need to go into triage, just to make sure everything is ok.  I called him, and he agreed with what I told you and then called me back and said he had a bad feeling about leaving you at home and I agreed.  I’ll meet you at the hospital.

Ok, I’ll be there as soon as I can.

Just about this time my husband pulled in, I put on “clothes” told him to get the hospital bag and we were leaving.  My mom took the baby home to sleep and await further updates.

I said as we left the house. “By GOD I am not leaving that hospital without a baby!”

We entered triage and they hooked me up to the usual monitors, Midwife D asked me the usual questions to figure out what was going on, thought I might be having a gallbladder attack (AH! That makes so much sense!) and needed some blood work.  Now, bloodwork sends my husband running for the hills, so he exited stage right and went to find some dinner (it was about 8 PM).  Midwife D asked permission to check and see if I was any more dilated than I had been last week, and “stir the pot” to see if we could get things moving.  Sure, I was going to have that done tomorrow anyway.  Dilated about the same.  Rest for a little while, here’s some water, we will be back a little later.

Ouch… hmm that contraction hurt a little more than the ones I had been having…Oh, yep, I think I might be in labor, we’ll see if it lasts. (By this pregnancy I was used to world-class Braxton Hicks contractions)

About that time, the nurses and Midwife D walk in.  “What happened? You are not the same woman I left in here a few minutes ago.”

I think I am in labor.

You think? Look at these contractions! (the nurse showing me the strip of paper from the monitor)  It’s official you get to stay.  We are going to go find you a room.

Now I am madly texting everyone to let them know I am in labor and being admitted.  (It is important to know here that my other two labors lasted 5 hours and 2.5 hours respectively).  The nurse starts running through all the regular admission questions, any major medical issues, do I want blood products if I need them (uh yea save me please!).  And arguing with the nurse that I needed a smaller sized catheter because they just hurt too damn much.  I wasn’t going to take any pain medications because I didn’t plan to be in labor that long, she can always add a bigger one if I was lying.  Ok, deal.  Do you want me to call Midwife L in?  She does like to catch the complete set you know, yes sure, I hope you aren’t offended?  Not at all!  Best wishes and see you soon.

The wheeled me over to my room, because I was now no longer able to walk because the contractions were so strong and I was already miserable from being sick.  Time to call Mom.

Mom arrived around 9-10 ish, I really can’t remember because I was in the process of being eaten alive by wolves and heartburn.  Midwife L arrived shortly before Mom I was. dilated to like 6-7, but the baby is still way high, move this way to try to bring her down. I know you don’t like it, but you are in about the worst possible position to have a baby, you have to move….

Lots of gentle words, encouraging words (not from me, I sounded more like a drunk sailor), not a lot of touching, because I hate that.  My husband was lurking somewhere in the background because this was much more graphic than the last delivery he witnessed.

Then midwife L finally looked at me with her sweet face and told me, the baby is still face up, but I know you can do this, you’ve done it before.  Time to really push.

I heard the midwife call for a rolling chair and remember thinking “Really? Now is the time for an office chair? Glad you’re comfortable!”  As it turned out, the intern that was attached to my primary nurse fainted and was hauled out of the room on the rolly chair, but I didn’t know that until much later.  And I remember Midwife L and Mom talking about that the baby might be born with the amniotic sac intact, and then a little astonishment as the baby spun around at the last second.

And push I did… and pushed, and pushed and finally got the announcement that the head was crowning!

“YOU THINK!” I hissed or screamed or in some unkind way hollered.  “GET THIS THING OUT OF MEEEEE!!!!”  PUUUUSHHHHH, POP! Next thing I knew a giant-sized baby was laying on top of me.

Dad do you want to come out from the corner there and cut the cord?

That thing is huge!

That is one of the biggest cords I have ever seen!

This is hard to cut!

We’re going to clean the baby up now is that ok?

Yes, please, go ahead.

WHOA!!!  She is almost 10#!!! Go grab another scale, she worked this hard she deserves a full 10-pound baby!

She is what?!?!?!  See I told you all I was huge!  How did that happen?

You must have gotten late-term diabetes or something?

If she needs anything do it.  I know big babies sometimes need glucose or formula.

Ok, good to know, we will see how she does nursing first.  She is doing really good.

And then there is that little moment of quiet.  The nurses have cleaned up and are mostly out of the room.  My mom who was also exhausted headed home to let my Dad know and get some rest before coming back in the morning.  My mother in law snuck in even though she wasn’t supposed to, (for her health, as she was going through chemo treatments and had a weak immune system, we were glad she did!)

So maybe an hour passed and the nurse came back in to check on me and asked if I was ready to try to use the bathroom.  Sure, I said, can I take my shower while I am up?

Not a problem, it’s easier to “go” sometimes that way anyway.

So I take my shower but just can’t pee.  Oddly I am still having contractions, not intense, but defiantly contractions.  I told the nurse and she gave me a look of concern.  My husband and his family were out in the hall waiting for me to finish up.  The nurse started walking me back to my bed, ” I don’t feel good.” And down I went.  They got me into the chair by my bed and Midwife L suddenly appeared along with a couple other nurses.  I don’t remember the numbers but my blood pressure had tanked.  I can remember Midwife L yelling to get the bed put back together so they could get me on it.

Then all hell broke loose.  I can’t remember so much pain and fear combined in my life.  I was bleeding massively because my uterus wasn’t contracting like it was supposed to be.  At some point they must have coded me because a million people were around me, some pushing (might as well have been standing) on my abdomen trying to get my uterus to contract, others drawing blood, the nurse I had argued with about the catheter was now putting a huge catheter in one arm while another nurse worked on the other.  Medications were being stabbed into my legs and put in my rectum.  I was screaming… the pain, the fear, it was all I could do, scream and cry and panic.

I have a pretty high pain tolerance, I mean I just delivered an almost ten-pound baby with nothing.  Now I was frantic.  This was a totally different beast.

I remember my husband asking me if I wanted him to call my mom.

Did I? I don’t know?

Midwife L looked at him, and very frankly said: “If it was my daughter I would want to be here.”

Either an eternity or almost no time passed and my mom appeared.  With the sweetest most determined look on her face, I have ever seen.  I relaxed almost immediately.  Sometime after that, the OB showed up and announced I needed some sedation and a D and C.  THANK GOD! Finally some relief, please sedate me!

Then a new wave of terror and fear as they wheeled me to the operating room.  I remember Midwife L praying over me, which calmed me like a cool breeze and then on to the table and lights out.

(while they were performing the procedure, I would like to note here that my husband and I knew a surprising amount of the staff that assisted in my adventures here.  It really was a big comfort to know that I had friends or at least people who knew me taking care of me)

I woke up some time later, which turned out to be at least a couple of hours and was carted back to my room.  Ahh, a couple of minutes of snuggle time with my baby and can I please eat now?  I haven’t eaten in like two days.

The lab work as not good, we are going to start a blood transfusion, are you feeling ok?  This was the first of two  I lost nearly three liters by the time I was done

Yes, I’m tired and hungry.

Well, let’s wait before you eat too much, here are some cookies, though.  Let’s check your tummy.

(Cringe!!! Oh I knew it was going to hurt!)

AHHHHH!!

Out squished three apple sized clots.

I lost it.  Tears were running down my face and I could barely breathe.

Don’t cry!  I’m so sorry.  Let me go get Midwife L.

Midwife L comes in and looks at the situation, instructs the nurse to keep putting pressure on my abdomen and she will be right back.

Not much time passed and another OB from the office comes in to inform me, that they can try a procedure that will likely not work to save my uterus, or I can have an emergency hysterectomy.  Since I was planning to have my tubes tied anyway….

Take it, take the left ovary too while you’re in there.  It looked weird on the ultrasound and I want it gone.

Ok, as soon as the OR room is open we will come get you.

Call Dad. (My poor Mom had tried to go home to sleep and take care of my toddler yet again).

If things go wrong, or you have questions ask him. I want Dad in charge of my decisions.

Now in the meantime, it is mid-morning or afternoon-ish and after recovering from my first procedure my husband had called his friends from church and some family had started to trickle in to show support and of course, see the baby.  Mind you, I have seen this new creature I had produced for less than two hours total at this point.  Honestly, I don’t really remember her at all the day she was born.  My parents brought my oldest daughter to see her new sister while I was gone in surgery.  We all agreed it was best that she didn’t see me looking so terrible, I was white as a sheet and a mess from being worked on constantly.  My parents picked her up after school and brought her in to meet her sister and took her away before I came back to the room.

With visitors whispering softly in the hallway, they lift me onto the gurney that is taking me to the OR, my husband goes with me as far as he can.  Midwife L stays with me while I waited in triage and even stayed with me through the whole surgery so she could report to my family as soon as I was in recovery.

I remember becoming awake in the recovery area, they took a GIANT needle and did some sort of nerve block in my abdomen and hauled me back to my room.  My husband and parents were there waiting  my sister was babysitting the toddler in my moms place.

It was finally over.  I was hooked up to my second transfusion, and a variety of other fluids.  I was brought my baby and something to eat at long last. Well, I just had, had surgery for a second time that day, so “something” was like pretzels.

I was so helpless.  I couldn’t even lift my baby. I hated it, but in the morphine fog, I didn’t do anything except falling asleep.  I asked them to remove the morphine the next morning because I wasn’t using it and it didn’t help anyway.  Tylenol, Motrin and icepack, please.

Midwife J came into visit, OB G who did my first procedure and assisted in the hysterectomy came to visit.(Actually, all of the Midwives and Doctors from the practice came to see me at one point or another)  Midwife D came in a little later “to talk me into drugs”, why won’t you take more pain medication? You have just gone through so much!  I don’t need it.  The ice pack is helping the most.  I am really ok.

How are you mentally?

I am good.  I am just so grateful you were all here and did your jobs right and saved me.  I am ok, my baby is OK.  I’m just happy.

Midwife D tears up, “You could be so angry.”

I don’t even think I could be if I tried.  I am too grateful.

The baby was indeed doing well, however, in the midst of all my trials, she was having her own.  Her glucose had crashed like I had feared when she was very firstborn.  She also had an odd rash all over her body.  To be safe her doctor started her on IV glucose, antibiotics and antivirals until the tests came back.  I remember the nurse came in at one point and said to me, “I have never seen Dr. S so mad and defiantly never heard him yell before!”.  Dr. S was furious at the lab taking more than a day to get the results back on my baby.  He wanted to get her off meds if she didn’t need them or start specific treatment if that was the case.

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This is the first view I really remember of my baby after my hysterectomy.  I know I held her and nursed her before this moment, but cannot recall it clearly.

Everything came back perfectly normal for my baby, she was maintaining her glucose just fine, was nursing and taking a bottle great, and was taken off all her lines.  I’ll tell you, it was really tricky for about half a day while we were both hooked up to all sorts of machines.

One of the doctors showed me a picture of my uterus during surgery.  It was a horrible looking thing, clearly it had been having a bad time.  I had placenta accreta, where the placenta had grown into the uterine lining and also a very larger hemorrhagic polyp (basically a blood filled cyst, that kept getting bigger).  I was indeed lucky that they found this in the hospital.

I was disconnected from everything about a day later, and then it was time to walk.  I think that first time standing and the first couple steps were the hardest thing I have ever done.  I don’t know if every woman who has a C-section experiences that, but I hope not.  I was so weak, and it was so painful.  It took me literally hours to inch my way to the edge of the bed to stand.  But it got easier, and I got stronger and by discharge day I could walk all the way across the room all by myself. I could stand and change my baby in her little basinett..  We were going to make it.

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A very early morning selfie on day three.  I realized I did not have any pictures of me and my new baby.  This is the only photo I have of us together in the hospital.

And we did.  Thanks to the amazing support of my parents who basically moved in with us those first two weeks, my husband’s family and my friend who brought us meals.  The pain for me went away quickly, I was down to taking Motrin only a couple of times a day with in two weeks and nothing shortly after.

The hardest part for me was being weak.  I could barely even lift my baby even after several weeks.  I couldn’t do my farm chores the way I expected to be able too.  I could barely do anything without being exhausted.  But I did.  And soon, probably sooner than most I was back to normal.

People occasionally ask if I am sad I can’t have any more babies and the answer is no, not really.  My quiver was full with this one, so it was ok.  Being alive for my girls now is what is most important.  Lately, now that it has been a year, my biological clock occasionally reminds me that I still have one ovary that could produce a baby… but those moments pass quickly, very quickly.  I am thoroughly enjoying the fact I don’t have periods and never will again.

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A year later there is no stopping this girl!  We are always on the go!

If you are someone who had to face an emergency hysterectomy, I understand the fear and likely pain you went, though. It is not an average C-Section and you are not over exaggerating the pain or the emotional toll it took on you.  There was no preparing for this moment and if you were like me, you just went through an entire labor and delivery and at least one major surgical procedure (if not more!).

It takes a lot of time to really feel normal again as a woman.  I spent hours Googling side effects of a hysterectomy (will the incontinence last forever???) and reading other women’s stories, many of whom were angry (and possibly rightly so).  You may have read this and think I am nuts for feeling lucky that things went as they did, but I will tell you, if that polyp had ruptured at home, during pregnancy or after, I would not be here.  There would have been no one to save me.  And in my case, most of the weird side effects went away quickly, being in “the mood” came back after a time, and other than a very ugly scar, that is well below any line I would ever consider wearing a bathing suit at after three kids, I don’t think about it every day.  My body feels normal, my mind feels as normal as it ever did, but it took time.

If I can offer advice for you in this situation, let people pray for you.  I could feel all the members of our church and my parents’ church praying for me.  The prayers of my family and friends.  It was a subtle feeling, but a lifting one and I strongly believe a major part of my recovery.

Even though it’s been a year and I remember it all vividly.  I remember almost every single nurse’s name, I remember the food I ate in the hospital, I remember crying and screaming at my husband for not understanding what I just went, though, but they don’t haunt me.  They are memories of my strength physically and emotionally.  They are testaments to my survival and my faith.  These moments have a purpose to who the future me will be.

If you are going through or have gone through something like this, hang in there.  You can do it and I will be praying for you continually.

Roxy’s First Lamb; A Tale of Sheep Midwifery

The most powerful devotion in the world is that of a new mother toward her miracle, her closest allies are her midwives.

Roxy’s story starts as a beloved 4-H lamb, owned by a young boy in his Aunt’s 4-H club.  Since Roxy was a ewe (female), the young boy was able to convince his devoted, farmer Gramma that Roxy should be kept to have lambs for future 4-H projects.  What fun it would be to have lambs born on Gramma’s farm!

There was a catch. In order for all of this to happen, the boy and his Aunt (his partner in crime) must take care of Roxy and be there for the birth, even if it meant spending a night on the couch. The deal was made and Roxy became an expectant mother.  As the long anticipated day drew nearer Roxy was as cute and round as one would expect a pregnant sheep to be.  She also complained and grunted regularly about her condition (some of it was clearly for extra attention and treats).

 

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Roxy’ the expectant mother, expecting treats.

 

One day while making the usual rounds, the family noticed that Roxy was prolapsing. A prolapse is when an internal organ (such as the uterus, vagina or rectum) protrudes outside of the body.  This caused quite a bit of alarm because they had seen how bad a uterine prolapse can be. After some consulting and many pictures of the problem sent to other farmers (thank you iPhone!), it was determined that it was not a uterine, but a vaginal prolapse, which while scary was not as devastating.  The decision was made to build and put Roxy into a special pen that would keep her rear end elevated, thus relieving the pressure of the unborn lambs and reduce the prolapse.

 

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The family showing off Roxy’s new pen.  While her space is small, it elevates her rear end and reduces the pressure on the prolapse allowing her to recover.  Tess, the white sheep is there for company.

 

While the pen was being built and Roxy and her pen mate (for the company) were moved into the garage to make monitoring her easier, Gramma was busily baking three batches of cupcakes and a regular cake, provisions for to make it through the blessed event’s sleepover.  In the midst of getting places ready for her guest to stay, and wading through the extra barn clothes in the entryway, Gramma made sure to check in on Roxy every two hours.

Since Roxy’s pen was rather small in order to keep her correctly elevated, and her roomie Tess could be a little moody, the young boy would take Roxy for regular walks all the next day.  The prolapse was improving!  His Aunt was able to borrow a Siri-cam so Roxy could be monitored constantly without being disturbed.  This first night of the “slumber-party” was very exciting, but it was tainted with just a little fear that the prolapse would cause a problem.

Then another night passed into morning without a lamb being born.  Gramma’s puppy had an appointment with the veterinarian; they would ask the doctor what they should do if there were no lambs by then.

Morning and the veterinary appointment came and Roxy was still the same.  Armed with slightly graphic pictures of the expectant ewe’s rear end, the family asked the doctor what they should do.  While the veterinarian was confident Roxy could have her babies around the prolapsed, sooner was better than later.  The veterinarian gave the family a couple of injections for Roxy to induce labor.

With a shortage of larger animal veterinarians, farmers must often be very capable, and able to follow the directions and treatments a veterinarian prescribes.  The veterinarians must be adept at making decisions based on the description and trust the farmer to describe what is wrong correctly.

The family arrived back at Gramma’s farm and gave the injections, with the promise of lambs in the next 12-72 hours!  The boy made sure Roxy was comfortable and the family settled in for another fun night of cupcakes and slumber party.  However, 72 hours later, the fun was wearing thin because there was just no indication these lambs were coming.  Did they just imagine she was pregnant? What was wrong?

 

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Roxy about 30 hours post induction, no sign of labor.

 

This is when Gramma got brave and decided to check Roxy for dilation like the veterinarian had explained to her.   Slowly and carefully, feeling like a child sneaking out of her parents’ house, Gramma, checked Roxy and felt nothing.  With her head and heart pumping with adrenaline, she slowly removed her arm and felt relief that she hadn’t hurt Roxy, but disappointed there was still no sign of these lambs being born.  Another night passed and the next day, more confidently Gramma, the sheep midwife, check her patients’ cervix once again.  Still no dilation—but she could she manually dilate her? Even just a little? Yes! Three to four centimeters! And just behind that some tiny little lamb feet and a nose!  Perfect position for a lamb to be born in, surely this would get things started.  The sporadic contractions would become regular and end the emotional, physical and mental anguish.

Gramma had been so worried about her patient that she hadn’t dared to leave the house all this time.  They passed another evening by watching YouTube videos of lambs being born to prepare and educate the young boy, he wanted to be able to help Roxy if she and her babies needed it.

In the morning Gramma finally had to leave the house, after so many nights of the boy and his Aunt and Uncle sleeping on an air mattress in her house she was running low on supplies for the unending sleep over.

 

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Gramma making sure the hardworking sheep team had enough to eat.

 

Faithful to the social media following, they reported Roxy’s uneventful status yet again and followers continued to cheer on Roxy and the family, waiting encouragingly and impatiently to see graphic birthing pictures followed by adorable lambs.  Everyone wanted to see the young boy holding up a brand new life in triumph.

But after so long of being practically paralyzed by worry for Roxy, time made Gramma and the family have to resume some of life’s daily activities.  With the lamb-cam rolling and burning up the Wi-Fi, they went out to eat.  Gramma and Aunt and Uncle continued to take shifts during the night to check on Roxy via lamb-cam every two hours.  They would count contractions and pray for a safe delivery.

Finally, the amniotic sac appeared one morning, a sure sign that labor was imminent and the lambs would be here soon!  Emotions and spirits soared again, but with so much disappointment over the last several days, there was a lot of silence amongst the family. The young boy waited anxiously.

The day passed and Roxy did not go into labor, so they called the veterinarian again, and took Roxy in. On the phone the doctor had not sounded hopeful for the babies, so as the drove the family started to prepare themselves for a C-section, something sheep do not recover well from.

Filled with grief, and disappointment, they journeyed the long one hour drive,  Gramma’s car being the emergency vehicle. The young boy and his Aunt helped Roxy in the back and braced her throughout the ride. Being positive was difficult, so a lot of the time it was silent.  They were grasping on to anything that could still give them hope: “I felt them move” the Aunt said to the young boy, “I think she will be OK”.

The boy would say encouraging words to Roxy and Gramma was thinking silently to herself, “what am I going to do if this little boy gets brokenhearted?” If we can save Roxy, she will not have babies to feed, can I find an abandoned baby that needs a Momma?, I shall ask the Vet!” That’s it, I have a plan, I will be ready and we will forge thru….I am ready to handle what is about to happen. Gaul, I can’t believe this is really happening… where did we go wrong? We have one sheep to give birth and it is going like this? Should we have left Roxy out in the barn, and not care or try? At the first sign of her prolapsing, should we have looked away and let nature take its course?

 

They shared that anger that comes from grief, born of the sacrifice the entire household has endured only to come home with no babies. Where was the baby reward that they were looking forward to? Then the guilty feeling and blaming themselves for getting so wrapped up into this, it is only a farm animal.

 

But farmers, like Gramma, immediately come to their own defense, reassuring themselves they are not just farmers. We LOVE our animals, and they will always get the best care we can give!  Just because a production farm maybe rich and can provide more expensive care doesn’t mean they love their animals more than the poor hobby farmer.   And just because the hobby farmer only has a few animals to love, doesn’t mean the farmer with dozens cares any less.

 

Shortly after arriving, the veterinarian also found that Roxy was not dilated, but was able to spread her cervix that three to four centimeters like Gramma had.  Feeling the lambs the doctor declares that the lambs to not seem to be alive any longer.  This is now an emergency.  The veterinarian suggests an ultrasound, to try to help make the decision if a C-section would be worthwhile,  if they could have live lambs, it might be worth the risk.  The ultrasound did not show signs of life, but sometimes can be misleading.

 

The decision was made to try to pull the lambs manually and at least give Roxy the best chance at survival.  The emotionally spent family, tears rolling down their cheeks, gathered what composure they had left to continue as midwives to Roxy.  The veterinarian gently proceeded while the young boy paced nearby looking for distraction and talking to the animals nearby. His Aunt and Gramma continue as midwives with the vet.  Carefully the veterinarian extracts a body and it was ALIVE!  Covered in birthing goo and squirming on the ground was a live lamb!

 

“Quick! Get it inside and get someone working on it!” The veterinarian cried as she began to search for the second lamb.  Gramma, scooping the newborn in her arms and pressing it against her body ran into the clinic hollering for help in a voice she could scarcely recognize, stomping through the halls in her muddy boots begging for fast assistance to save the life in her arms.  A staff member appeared and took the precious life to give it the support it needed to continue.  Knowing the lamb was in good hands, Gramma ran through the now mucked up hallway back outside to help with the second if she could.

Just as she reached Roxy a second, bigger, lamb was pulled, with a large gush of blood.  But this lamb too was alive!  Gramma again scooped up the messy but precious bundle and rushed inside, a little less frantic but still nervous as they helped the lamb.

 

Roxy had lost quite a bit of blood and had a cervical tear, but was doing very well.

 

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Roxy at the veterinary clinic after not going into labor on her own.  The veterinarian delivered her babies which despite the odds were alive.  She lost a bit of blood but was doing very well.

 

 

The family stopped to praise God for helping the doctor safely deliver Roxy and her lambs. Before going home the veterinarian explained to the boy that Roxy would need injections to help her recover and taught him how to give them, which he faithfully committed to memory.

 

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The Midwives with Roxy and her twins.

 

Once home, they in earnest set the lambs to nursing, they had tried a little at the clinic and on the way home.  The first lamb, a ewe was nursing well, but the second, a ram, had no strength.  The family geared up to help again, supplementing with bottles and milking Roxy for the colostrum.  A neighboring farmer came to teach the family how to tube feed the ram because he did not have the energy to suck.  Placing the lambs under a heat lamp, they again set their alarms for every two hours to check on the new sheep family.

 

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Encouraging the ewe lamb to nurse at home.  The ram lamb was not strong enough to show interest in nursing and had to be tube fed.

 

Soon the heat lamp wasn’t enough for the ram, so they added a heating pad and they continued to force nourishment into the weakening body.  Now even in their laps, he couldn’t hold his head up.  While they agreed to take shifts, the Aunt stayed the whole night in the garage with the lamb, never setting him down.

 

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The first few hours of providing supportive care to the newly born ram lamb.

 

Having known more than her fair share of maternal loss, I can only imagine the tender words and pleas of encouragement she whispered to the baby in her arms.  Like so many farmers, they have soft hearts; we pour every spare ray of our souls into these moments begging for the life to keep burning in our arms.  Bargaining with the Lord may be a sin, but I believe God forgives those farmers and parents begging to save a life that is not our own.

 

Gramma checks in around 2:00 A.M. to relieve her of her duties.  “No,” she whispers, “I’m alright.”  You see, she knew the time was almost gone.  Around 4:00 A.M. warm in loving arms, the ram lamb passed into forever sleep.

 

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Roxy’s little ram lamb.  Rest in peace little boy.

 

Heartbroken, the family continued to rejoice in their healthy ewe lamb and Roxy, who was doing very well.  Had the family never intervened or “let nature take its course”, Roxy would have never survived.  She was diagnosed with a condition known as Ring Womb, where her cervix would never dilate.

 

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Roxy and Sweet Pea

 

Now, Roxy and her little girl Sweet Pea, continue to do well.  The boy named the lamb Sweet Pea because she is really a sweetie.  Roxy will never have another lamb and after the boy gave her the injections as instructed she is eating hay like crazy.  Roxy will be Gramma’s herd of wool producing sheep, her only job will be to eat and grow wool, not have babies.

 

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The young boy and his girls, Roxy and Sweet Pea on Gramma’s farm.  Both are doing well and eating like champions!

 

“The Transcending power of both life and death has given this little farm a beautiful appreciation of what we have and what is within our hearts.” —Gramma of WheelyCoolFiber.

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