On Tuesday, Eliza seemed to be doing fine. She was off grazing with the herd most of the day. Towards the late afternoon, I decided to hose off the alpacas since it was hot and I knew they would love to cool off. Crystal is my water hog. She is a dark brown proven female who has won multiple ribbons for her fleece. She is also one of my favorite girls on the farm. As I was hosing them down, Eliza was standing there as she normally does to get her front legs soaked. Then she went and cushed into the dirt. I took a look at her tail while it was up and she looked to be starting to starting to swell and bulge more in the rear.
A short time later, as I was preparing to paint our nursery I was looking out the window and saw her off by herself. I decided I should go look at her since that was unusual. When I got to the field I could easily see that she was in labor. It was 4PM. I immediately ran back into the house for my cria kit and to grab my cell phone. On my way back out to the field I let my husband know that she was in labor. He came out a short time later. We sat in the field waiting for the cria to come. Since it was after 4PM, I also called and left my vet a message because there is the theory that if labor starts after 4PM then problems could develop - as this is late for them. I wanted to be prepared just in case something was wrong.
As we watched Eliza, we saw the nose to start to come out. Eliza was quite uncomfortable and kept cushing and getting up to walk around. We decided that we would prefer her to be in the shelter in case something went wrong and we had to help her. Rob went to get some grain and put it into the shelter. Everyone, except Eliza went in at first. Eventually, she decided to head in too. Once she was in the shelter area I shooed everyone out while keeping Eliza inside.
At this point, we saw the head emerge put the sack had not broke. I put a call in to our mentoring farm and was told that it was normal and not to worry about it. I also called about 6 other people. We could see the cria's head and one leg in the sack. Rob was getting nervous that the cria would breathe in the fluid from the sack and wanted to break it. I wasn't sure. After some time, I decided to break the sack and see if it would help her get the cria out better. I gloved up while Rob helped Eliza and I ripped open the sack. You could hear the cria start to breathe the air now. At this point, we let Eliza go and waited again. She got one leg fully out and another only partially along with the head. It seemed at this point that she was tired and that the contractions stopped. I was panicking now. I could hear the cria gasping/breathing, but nothing was progressing. I tried to help by pulling the other leg out fully, but could not get the leg to come out. I didn't want to do too much since I didn't want to hurt her. My vet hadn't called back nor had the vet on call. I finally called another vet's emergency number and he called right back, which I thought was wonderful of him since we were not clients of his.
He asked if I was seeing 2 front feet or a front/back leg. I told him it was 2 front feet and that she seemed to have stopped contracting. I also thought it looked like she was starting to tear and I didn't want to hurt her. He said the important thing is to get the neck fully out and to do that I have to unlock the front leg that was locked. He said to wiggle the legs until the one could be gotten out. He said he would call back in 30 min. We caught Eliza again, which she wasn't happy about. I can't say that I blame her. I put on a new pair of OB gloves and lubed up really well. Rob held her and she cushed as I tried to work on the cria. This made it easier on me. I tried wiggling the legs, but nothing. I remembered from our neonatal class last year that sometimes you have to push the cria partly back in in order to work fixing the problem. I pushed the fully extended leg back in. I was really starting to panic since I could see the cria's eyes turning hazy and I knew I didn't have much longer to get it out.
I pushed the fully extended leg partially back in and then reached up into Eliza and started tugging/moving the other leg. I purposely reached inside Eliza slightly in order to get ahold of the leg higher up. After a few seconds, although it seemed like much longer, the leg could be moved out and I pulled the cria's neck out. You could hear it start to breathe much easier at this point and it started moving around. I guess Eliza had another contraction or the cria wanted fully out because next thing I knew the cria come out in one big rush. It was wiggling its back legs as it came out. By this time, Eliza had been in stage 2 labor for 2 hrs. It was 6PM. I was so relieved to see the cria alive and healthy. Within a few minutes this little one was cushed. I knew it would feisty because of all the movement in her abdomen the last few weeks.
We started to clean off the sack and rub the cria down. Eliza was so happy and nuzzling her cria. I felt back for her because I knew that she had torn slightly while I was working on trying to get the cria out. The vet said not to worry about it because they can stitch her back up, but the cria needed its neck out immediately. We were so busy cleaning it off and making sure it was okay that we forgot to check the sex of the cria. We finally looked and saw that Eliza had produced a beautiful male.
The funny part was that as soon as I got the cria out and we were drying it off all the vets that I called finally called back. The one that helped us had his back-up come out to check Eliza over and stitch her up. He showed up around 7:30PM. He didn't see any external tears and said it was probably internal, which they don't fix. He recommended antibiotics and told us to follow up with our regular vet. I am really appreciative to these two vets for their help. My vet, it turned out, was in a dead area and quite a distance away.
This little boy was up and running (not walking) within 30 min. He was looking everywhere to nurse and tried suckling everywhere on Eliza. After 40 min of watching him we decided to help him out. We caught Eliza and I made sure she had milk and the plugs were out. Then I put the cria under her where he needed to be and he eagerly drank.
He is absolutely adorable. He has grey on his ears and a grey spot on the back of his neck. His main body is either a rose grey or medium brown. His face has white on it and he has two white socks on his front feet, although I think they have some grey mixed in with the white.
This was our exciting Tuesday. We have not come up with a name for the cria, yet. I'm looking for something with some spunk since he is an active and adventurous one. This was also our first dystocia and I have to say it is alot harder than the neonatal class implied. When you are in that situation it is hard to work on a dam who doesn't want you to interfere and there is very little room to work. We, thankfully, had a great outcome. I am so thankful my husband was home at the time or else you may have lost the cria. I could not have done it without someone holding her while I worked and as you read I couldn't get ahold of anyone locally to help me. Even the vet I had help me on the phone was an hour away.
In the aftermath of all of this I realize we were very lucky. We got the cria out alive and Eliza is doing well. I didn't think about it at the time, but I am 7 months pregnant. I put myself right in the line of possibly being kicked at without thought for myself or my pregnancy. Luckily, Eliza is not a kicker and did not start. I also dodged a bullet on that one, but we had no choice since I can't hold Eliza (too strong for me) and I have smaller hands than my husband. Maybe our baby will grow up to be a veterinary thanks to my experience while pregnant.