We FINALLY saw an early contraction around dinner Sunday. But Secret held out all evening, and we checked every half hour till bedtime - nothing. I awoke at 2 a.m., but was just too tired to drag out of bed. At 3:30 I caved, and went to check. A small, golf-ball sized bag of fluid was protruding. I stared sleepily at her for 10 more minutes, and went back inside to nap. At 4:30, she had gotten no further, was pushing pretty hard, so I called the vet.
She said I needed to go in and check. Keeping in mind that every minute waiting at this point meant a lessening chance of a live birth. Great.
With enough lube to bury a small pony, I felt inside and just met head. Nope, those sharp edges were teeth, not hooves. Damn. I massaged, coaxed, felt around, tugged - but no feet. Pushed the head back down, and the next contraction brought a hoof forward. Something to grab onto, at least. But no amount of pulling produced any further progress, and still no second hoof.
So, back in it all went. I felt desperately for the second hoof, but nothing. Wait a minute - there it was, at the very tip of my finger, but still out of reach.
And then, a very strange thing happened. Our lambing jug is no more than a corner carved out of a large poultry barn. Basically, one huge chicken coop. And at the moment, we were sharing that morning space with 40 or so chickens, chicks, and roosters. I strained to reach further, the ewe bellowed in discomfort and pushed, and every chicken in the place started simultaneously to cackle. I was surrounded by a chicken cheerleading squad.
Somehow, I managed to hook my finger around the crook of a folded hoof, inched it forward, and I could finally pull on two hooves. Just as suddenly as it had started, the crowing stopped. I pulled, the ewe pushed, and out came a gush of fluid, lamb, and sac. We had been at this for almost an hour. I was sure it was another stillbirth. And then the little thing convulsed. I rubbed it all over, swiped at its mouth, and ran in the house for towels. I grabbed up that limp bundle and began rubbing it vigorously, praying that the ewe would come over and help (or at least show interest) but it was just me and him. Another call to the vet, who recommended swinging him by his hind legs. (That seemed rather insulting to a little fellow who had just been through so much, but I did as I was told.) Wheezing, wobbling, and still pretty limp, he stuck with it. The ewe was in a daze, and completely unable to connect the events of the last few hours to anything I was doing. She sniffed at him once, and sidestepped the whole mess. I propped him up on his chest so his lungs could expand more easily, and watched. It was as if he drew some sort of energy from deep inside, willing himself to pull his floppy muscles and rubber bones into some semblance of a functioning creature.
By this time, the usual morning routines had begun in the house, and DH came out to see what I was up to. He held the ewe's harness, and I propped the little thing up to nurse. A few sips, a few sips more, and lots of protest from the ewe, but we got the baby through a proper breakfast.
Every kitchen towel I owned had been spent in the process, I was out a pair of sandals (believe me, there are some experiences Tevas are NOT made to withstand) and I literally stumbled off to shower, and somehow when I wasn't looking, the teenager named him. She posted on FB, so there was no going back.