Life in a Northern Town

A Sassy Nanny Birthing Day

'Two goats working on it. Come when you can if you want to witness a birth!'. It's not every day I get a text like that and I wasn't about to miss my chance to experience the miracle of birth as a spectator, not an active participant. I have eaten pounds of Michael's goat cheese and even taken pictures at his farm (read about it here) but I've never attended the birth of baby goats (or anything else for that matter). I grabbed a bottle of champagne (to celebrate the little ones), Tom Kha Gai soup for lunch and bones for Zuzu and Rex, jumped in the car and went off to my very first goat midwifery experience.

You'd think a woman who delivered five 10 pound babies would be an old hand at the birth game, not true. I took one look at the two girls, Lena and Donatella, getting ready to usher their little ones into the world and felt like Prissy in Gone With The Wind when she said, 'Lawdy, Miss Scarlett, I'se don't know nothin' 'bout birthin babies'. Thank God, Michael knows a whole lot about birthing babies and he delivered each one with a sense of hard-won, calm competence. Watching the babies enter this world and literally come to life in front of my eyes filled me with a sense of wonder I haven't felt since I met my own babies for the first time all those years ago.

As we were waiting for Donatella's second boy to arrive, her first decided to stretch his legs and stand up. Michael said he was one of the biggest babies he's seen and he was easily double the size of Lena's boy. He was only about 45 minutes old when he took his first unsteady steps towards Mama— a Herculean feat and so incredibly tender at the same time. It was nothing short of miraculous, witnessing the beginning of four new lives in Michael's barn.

Lena's last baby, a girl, entered this world with a nearly showstopping manuever; she had her head tucked under her back leg which caused a tremendous amount of chaos. Michael tried to grab ahold of her legs but she was good and stuck. I started to get a little panicked but he kept his cool, methodically working to free her head. Time seemed to stand still while Michael tried to get her straightened out (it probably was no more than 3 or 4 minutes) and we all breathed a sigh of relief when the little Miss lifted her head and looked around.

I walked outside to gather myself after the last baby was born. It was an intense afternoon for a woman who up to this point had a) fainted at the sight of blood and b) hated the smell of amniotic fluid— not the most logical choice for a birthing day companion. I stood outside in the sunlight and looked around at all the life Michael has ushered into the world and the lyrics from a 10,000 Maniacs song popped in my head. It was the perfect theme song for a beautiful afternoon spent with a good friend and his goats.

These Are Days10,000 Maniacs

These are the days These are days you’ll remember Never before and never since, I promise Will the whole world be warm as this And as you feel it, You’ll know it’s true That you are blessed and lucky It’s true that you Are touched by something That will grow and bloom in you

These are days that you’ll remember When May is rushing over you With desire to be part of the miracles You see in every hour You’ll know it’s true That you are blessed and lucky It’s true that you are touched By something that will grow and bloom in you

These are days These are the days you might fill With laughter until you break These days you might feel A shaft of light Make its way across your face And when you do Then you’ll know how it was meant to be See the signs and know their meaning It's true Then you’ll know how it was meant to be Hear the signs and know they’re speaking To you, to you