July 29, 2011

It's a boy!

I was headed to the county fair with one intention, to see the "Miracle of Birth" exhibit. The exhibit is new to the county fair this year. It has been a huge success at the state fair for years. The exhibit presents animals ready to give birth at any moment. From what I have seen, the animals are usually cows, pigs, ducks, chickens and sheep.

About 5 years ago, I was able to see a momma cow give birth to her calf at the state fair. The calf needed assistance as it was breached. I watched it more for a TV screen because there were so many people, it was hard to see the cow.

Last night, I packed 3 of my kids and myself into our van and headed to the fair. The exhibit had been open since Monday or Tuesday. I heard that most had had their babies, some the night before the exhibit opened. As we walked into the shed holding the pregnant (or new mommas) animals, we were flooded by animals and their babies. There were chicks, ducklings, piglets, calves and lambs. One pig had given birth just hours before we arrived. I would have loved to see that. Another pig had given birth during the early morning hours to 12 piglets!! Can you imagine?!? I was able to pet one of the piglets that was born just hours before we arrived. I wanted to take him home. I admit I would return him as soon as it outgrew that piglet cuteness, though.

As we walked out the back, we noticed quite a few people around a cow that was in a larger fenced in area. Ahhh... the animal birthing center. There had to be something going because you could tell the audience was anxious. We walked over to an open spot. I asked a woman if the cow was close to giving birth and she wasn't sure. After a few moments, a guy walked into the fenced area. He was there to check the cow's progress. To do this, the guy had to gear up... he put on a shoulder length plastic glove (I am glad to not be a cow, haha). The guy put his whole arm into the cow. We assume he broke the water because much fluid gushed from her. He left after that only to return within minutes along with several other workers. He explained that the calf was breach and they would have to assist in the birthing efforts. He said that if they left the calf to come out on its own that it would most likely drown because of being head down in the extra fluid. In fact, he wasn't sure the calf was still alive. They connected some sort of chain contraption to the calf's legs and pulled and pulled and pulled. Soon another worker was helping pull and then a third. Finally, after 5 minutes or so the calf was successfully out. They claimed it to be a bull as they pulled him out so "It's a boy" cigars were handed out (OK, not really). He was very still. They hung him upside down to drain the fluid, it didn't help. They placed the newborn calf on the hay. He was still very still. One of the workers took some hay and poked into his throat. That caused the calf to cough out the fluid. He was going to be just fine. Immediately, he lifted his head and looked around. The momma cow had to be restrained during the assisted delivery so she wasn't able to go to her baby right after birth. After the workers were satisfied with the calf's condition, they returned to the momma cow. They checked her out to be sure all was okay with her insides. Once they were happy with her condition, they released her and she went right to her baby.

Cleaning her newborn calf
A closer view (photo taken by my blackberry... poor quality)

I love babies but it's the actual birth that grabs hold of my heart... animal or human. I wish I could go back in time, I would go to school to be a labor and delivery nurse and then eventually a midwife. I know I could still do it but my family needs me now. Maybe one day I'll go back to school.

Hope you enjoyed my county fair story!



  1. It really was amazing. And to see the mom cow come over to her baby was beautiful. Some people may not see it that way and think that it's just an animal but I imagine they share some of the same feelings we have for our babies.