May 14, 2015 § Leave a comment
It’s 1 am on May 14th, and I can’t sleep.
I am floating. Celebrating. Rejoicing.
Tonight (technically it was yesterday, I suppose), at 9:20 pm, I watched this precious baby girl come into the world.
We didn’t think it was going to happen then. In fact, around 8 I was preparing to get some sleep before midnight, which is when I thought the labor would start.
I left the ranch this morning at 11:30 and was back by 2:30. I set up camp in the trailer our ranch worker kindly put outside Rain’s stall in the breezeway and settled in for a long night. Around 6 I went and got a pizza for Jim and I but every other moment, I was waiting.
Around 8 or 8:15, when the ranch was dark and all the other horses still, I heard Rain pawing and groaning in her stall. Every five minutes I’d get out of my little bed to try to check on the momma. We had the baby cam, but about half the time it doesn’t work and won’t connect, and tonight was no exception. Every time she saw me she’d stop.
So rather than having her see me and get scared during the early stages of labor, I changed tacts and tried to watch her on my iPad using the baby cam app but that didn’t work out. So a little before 9 pm, after hearing her pawing and groaning for almost an hour, I went into the house where Jim was watching her on the one monitor we have that’s hooked up to the camera and actually works.
“She’s really restless,” I said as I walked in. Then I looked at the monitor. “She just went down!”
“Yeah, she’s been doing that for a while. Let’s stay in the house a while – right before is the time she needs to be alone.”
We pulled up chairs and watched. I called Bre, our ranch manager, and told her to book it down to the ranch. My mom called and asked how everything was going, and right as I started to answer that Rain was down and seemingly groaning, Jim jumped and pointed. A hoof. A foal hoof.
We both ran out to the stall – me abruptly hanging up on my mom (sorry, Mom!) and Jim flipping on the barn lights – and saw Rain on the ground, sides heaving. She stood up once and flopped the other way, groaning quietly. The hoof we’d seen on the monitor was still peaking out.
There I was thinking we were in the early stages of labor, that it would be another few hours before any real action happened.
There came the head.
There it was.
I gasped when I saw it – it absolutely knocked the wind out of me. Jim grabbed my hand as we watched it slowing, steadily sliding out, wrapped delicately in its milky sac. We stood there watching Rain in complete and total awe as she pushed and pushed and pushed until that tiny, perfect little head was followed by its tiny, perfect little body. Then that body met the earth and Rain groaned again and lay her head down and rested and that little body lay quivering in the straw.
Out of nowhere.
Out of nothing.
There that baby was.
There she was.
Mere minutes after we’d run out of the house to make sure everything was okay.
After so much waiting. After so much excitement and anticipation.
There she was.
I didn’t think to even touch my camera for a few minutes. I was in absolute shock. Not only at the abruptness of it all… but the indescribable, calm, natural beauty of the birth.
That little girl nibbled at the sac, the straw, the air within moments. Her nose quivered as she took her very first breaths.
Watching her attempt to take her first steps was unbelievable. Such a tiny, helpless little thing not even in the world an hour ago, to be thrusting herself upwards attempting to walk. I simply have no words.
I have no words for the moment I touched her soft, soft neck and she looked at me with liquid brown eyes.
I have no words for the gentle – gentle – nickers Rain gave her baby as she encouraged her to suckle.
I have no words for the way that sweet little filly finally stood on her own and jumped, kicked, and bucked with the pure joy of being alive.
I never understood why everyone called it “the miracle of life”. To me, being born was the most ordinary thing in the world. Just another event that occurred on a daily basis.
I see now.
Our Sunny is a miracle.
As I watched her in amazement tonight, the song “With Arms Wide Open” kept playing in my head.
And to me, the words are perfect.
I sang them to little Sunny before I left at midnight. I will sing them to her for the rest of her life.
With arms wide open
Under the sunlight
Welcome to this place
I’ll show you everything
With arms wide open
Now everything has changed
I’ll show you love
I’ll show you everything
With arms wide open.
Oh, sweet girl.
Welcome to the world.
April 27, 2015 § Leave a comment
For those of you following along on my Facebook and Instagram accounts, you know that we saved a pregnant mare from slaughter two and a half months ago at my ranch. We have been eagerly anticipating the arrival of her foal for ten long weeks, and now – as of April 27th at 9 pm – we think we are mere days away.
I can’t even describe what I’m feeling now.
I didn’t go through an excitement phase when we first got her. I don’t think most of us at the ranch did. When I found out about the mare – Rain – she was 36 hours away from slaughter. The owner of the ranch and I were so scared for her and desperate to get her out of the hands of her kill buyer that honestly, when we brought her through the gates, I couldn’t be excited for the new beginning we were going to witness. All I felt was relief. Baby? I constantly wondered as I’d look up and see her eating contentedly in her stall. What baby? All I could think about for a long time was how close we’d come to not being able to save her.
The vet came out to examine Rain a few days after we got her and said she hoped she wasn’t pregnant, as we had been told, on the grounds that Rain was too skinny. After an examination, however, the vet confirmed she was. I and one of the volunteers that had stayed for the visit actually jumped up and down and shrieked. But again – all I really felt in place of happy anticipation was relief.
Over the past few weeks, Rain gained a lot – a LOT – of weight. Soon it became pretty obvious that she was eating for two. Not to mention, she sure got comfortable in her new home considering she’s learned to yell at anyone passing for food!
A few weeks ago we had our former vet and one of our dearest friends come out to visit. He kindly looked over Rain for us and gave us more information about newborn foals and advice about what needs to be done when he/she gets here than we could have ever thought we needed. I took notes about what to do with the placenta, how to make sure the baby passes meconium and what to do if he/she doesn’t, and the type of Chlorhexidine we need to dip the baby’s navel.
And these past few days? I swear Rain got bigger whenever I turned around.
Last week we set up our baby camera that connects to our smartphones and tablets via a free app (head over to the Tierra Madre Horse Sanctuary Facebook page if you want to access it, too!). The three of us that will be present for the birth (the owner, the other ranch manager, and me) are taking shifts waking up in the night to check the camera to see if anything’s happened since most mares give birth in the middle of the night.
Tonight I packed a little bag with a change of clothes and some food that I can grab at a moment’s notice and run to my car with should I get a call in the middle of the night or see something happening on the camera myself.
And now – finally – as I watch Rain on my iPad and look at the alarms on my phone for me to wake up and check the camera and look over to my packed bag, the excitement is kicking in.
In the last few days Rain’s udder has swollen up and the baby has really started to move downward. The time is coming soon.
I’ve felt that baby move around inside her for such a long time that it never really sunk in that he or she was eventually going to come out and join the world. I don’t think it will really sink in until I see that baby for the first time with my own eyes. But for now, I am finally feeling the excitement. It’s amazing how much we all already love this precious little foal, and we haven’t met him or her yet.
Rain has done an amazing job carrying this baby and I am in awe of her. I am in awe of her strength and her grace and the fact that she walked onto our ranch a miserable mare and has turned into the happiest, sweetest, most gentle spirit in the world. Her baby has no idea how lucky he/she is.
Hurry on out, little girl/guy. The world awaits you.