It was with much anticipation that we awaited the birth of our very first cria on our farm. Sunflower was pregnant and her due date was July 22nd.
I read the Neonatal book and many articles - watched countless videos - asked questions and thought I was prepared. Everything suggested that alpaca births were very easy and that you rarely had to intervene. This was not our case....
Sunflower was fine in the morning when we went down to grain and do our morning chores. When I went back prior to lunch she was out grazing with Ivy and Zinnia. I did notice her rolling but they were always doing that in the dirt and she wasn't due for another 13 days. When she got up I noticed that her vaginal area seemed enlarged and looked like something was going to happen. The excitement in me started; I notified Karl, we ate a very quick lunch and went back to the shelter where Sunflower had moved to.
She was laying on her side and her breathing was different (both signs I had been told to watch for); when she stood up and pushed a little out came a sac about 3 inches long, it wasn't just the water sac as everything I had watched showed, it was covered in a dark red bloody sac with only a small clear area showing. I thought this was odd but waited to see what was going to happen. After about 15 minutes she pushed a little again, she was laying down, and about another 4 inches or so came out. Now some of the red bloody sac had shifted and I could see more of the clear (amniotic) fluid sac. Inside the sac I could see the baby cria breathing but I could not see any feet like I was supposed to. I just wasn't sure that this was right; I made several calls to find assistance but was unable to reach anyone. I tried the vet's office and was unable to get through, once I did they had to reach someone and call me back.
Over an hour and a half had passed since Sunflower first pushed out and it had not progressed any further. She wasn't really pushing, just lying down. I knew this wasn't right - the baby was still breathing and was still inside the sac. Another 20 minutes passed and still the same thing - we tried calling one of the local dairy farmers - no answer. I decided that I needed to do something so I put a glove on and lubricated it and proceeded to examine Sunflower. I was extremely surprised that she did not even move - allowing me to gently feel inside. Of course when I did this the water sac broke and there was the baby crias adorable little face. The legs however, were not out as far as they were supposed to be and they seemed to be above it's little head. Just then the vet called and with Karl being mediator between the two of us I was trying to do as instructed. I got the legs to where they were supposed to be but still nothing. I felt in as far as I thought was safe and tried pulling; still nothing. Sunflower had stopped pushing long before. Karl put on the gloves and lube and tried pulling but again nothing.
The vet said he was on his way (but that was an hour away). Things didn't look good - the little cria was not breathing as well.
Karl jumped in the car and went to our neighbors dairy farm hoping he would find him outside. He didn't come back with our neighbor but with a man I had never seen before. Seems our neighbor was on vacation and this man was watching his farm. When he got here I had pretty much known that the cria was not with us any longer. He confirmed that and proceeded to reach into Sunflower to see what he could feel, he said he was surprised at just how stuck the cria was and that he had to really apply some pressure to get it out.
Once out we were amazed at how big SHE was. Just as the other man was leaving the vet was arriving. He was very sad to see she didn't make it but believed her size had something to do with it. She was 20lbs and very long legged. Sunflower was passing the placenta and he checked her over and said that he felt she was going to be fine.
My heart went out to her as she mourned her little baby girl - we left her alone for a short while and then took her
Karl and I are struggling with the should we haves, what ifs and whys. We also know that "this is a part of farming life" but it still hurts.
Sunflower seems to be healing well and so it goes on........
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