Monday, July 26, 2010

The Journey of Childbirth?!?

Well, not exactly childbirth.  Tonight as we were talking and waiting for dinner to be prepared, one of our hosts, Willeminah, ran past us with a flashlight.  I followed out of curiosity and it took me to the barn where the cows were held.  Willeminah was there and she asked me, "Have you ever seen a calf being born before?"  I said no, but now she had me hooked.  As I looked down I saw a cow laying on the ground in utter misery.  Then I looked to where the calf was starting to come out and I saw a man stooped over the cow yanking at what looked like two small legs.  Ever time he pulled, the cow's eyes would widen.  I knew she was in pain, but I also understood that this was a part of the whole labor experience. 

As time passed Willeminah started to get worried.  Apparently, the calf's nose had come out at the beginning, but then receded back into the mother's body when the man pulling let his hands slip.  Willeminah was worried that the new born might suffocate and as we have learned, cows are very valuable to this family.  Willeminah called for a second birthing specialist, who arrived shortly after.  He was an older gentleman who clearly knew more than anyone else in the room.  He started yelling orders in Kenyore (the local language) and eventually there were four men around the cow's vagina.  One man opened the birthing canal with his hands while two grabbed at the calf's legs and started rhythmically pulling.  The older man just kept yelling and it was obvious that he too was worried about the calf's life.  

After several minutes, the head emerged.  But to everyone's horror, the tongue was hanging out of the calf's mouth.  A wave of emotion hit me and others standing around me, because we feared the worst for the baby.  The older man just kept yelling to pull but there were no signs of life as the calf's head emerged.  I heard some Kenyore mixed with English and the word "miscarry" and I put the rest together myself.  The men had to get the calf out of the mother's body, or she would die, but I feared that it was too late for the baby.

The men pulled and pulled until the entire body had came out of a hole the size of my head and the older man immediately pulled the calf away from the mother.  Other people brought in buckets of water and began to wash the calf's body.  I was thinking to myself, "what are you doing?"  However, to my surprise, I heard a tiny cough and the body of the calf started to twitch.  It was alive.  The men looked relieved and we all quickly congratulated Willeminah on the new addition to her livestock.  This wasn't a human birth, but it seemed just as emotional.  It's one of those moments where you say to yourself, "Now I've seen everything."

I just experienced the journey of childbirth. 


Valerie said...

Patrick! Thats so cool! Im glad you got to watch, I bet it was kinda gross, but beautiful at the same time! I had bottle calves growing up, their mother would die in childbirth and I would feed them powered milk every day. So cool you experienced that!