The look on her face said it all. She was scared. At that moment, I questioned every time she was in the barn and saw the ugly side of ewes giving birth to lambs. She knew what was about to take place, what should happen and what could go wrong. Did I let her experience too much?
It was the night before my daughter was to go to the hospital. She sat on the bed and began to tear up. It had not been an easy pregnancy. It was not traditional. Her baby boy was big. And just the week before, he turned sunny side up.
Any livestock kid knows delivering when the animal is not in the proper position — head down with legs on each side — is complicated. Not to mention when they are too large to make it through the birth canal. She knew what was to come.
There would be a surgery. She wrestled with questions such as, "Will they break the water or lift him out in it?"
“You know he can’t breathe any of it in,” she said, dropping her head. She’d seen too many lambs born with amniotic fluid in their lungs. It does not go well.
I held her and shared how she has the best doctors in town. They would be looking out for her and her boy. I told her to pray through the scared.
Farm kids know too much
Never once have I doubted the experiences my girls and I shared in the barn. This was the first time I ever wondered, do livestock kids just know too much about life and death?
If you think about it, many parents go through the motions of having a child relatively naïve. Sure, nonfarm kids have books and videos on childbirth, but for most, it is just a story on a page or screen. Farm kids see birth in real life.
My girl watched as ewes got bigger bellies and their udders expanded. She saw some natural births complete with water bags hanging outside, followed by the ewe laying down in labor for hours pushing until finally a lamb’s nose and hooves appear. A few more moans from the ewe and out plops the newborn lamb. That is a good day in the barn.
My girl also was up to her shoulder in a ewe while trying to turn the lamb’s position to help facilitate the birth. She’s seen ewes never present as pregnant, only to find lambs born early and tiny. She’s been on the head of a ewe when I pulled so hard on a large ram lamb that I puked. That is the worst day in the barn.
Teaching them to persevere
Our farm kids know what to expect in many situations. Still, I wouldn’t take one experience away from them — good or bad. I think it equips them to simply deal with what is in front of them and rise above.
So, the next morning, she left ready to face whatever life threw at her. After all, she’s a farm kid who manages the uncertainty and pain, and then picks herself up.
Then she finds the joy, which goes by the name Grayson Robert, who arrived a week early and topped the scales at 9 pounds, 11 ounces. And the smile on her face through the hospital window with my grandson in hand tells me she knows this life’s journey was worth it.