Birth Again

First, nobody is afraid to talk about birth.

The fact that some folks just don’t want to look at Nicole’s hoo-ha and a turd coming out of her rectum is not an indication of fear.  I don’t want to see her have a bowel movement, either, and that’s a natural process.  Nor do I want to witness her menstrual period in living color.

Shall we have a public conversation about peeing?  Let’s all take close up photos of the process and put them on Facebook.

I have seen more births than Nicole has. (She has actually seen none at all, since you can’t really see very much if you happen to own the vagina where it’s happening.)  It’s a fascinating process, whether it’s human or bovine, but so are sex and digestion and brain surgery.

Not wanting to talk about it endlessly and view fifty million photos of the process doesn’t denote fear. It might just be due to boredom.

She’s going to ride this, though, because it’s her only claim to fame.  It’s her accomplishment.

But her foray into statistical analysis is even more fascinating.

Her math is all wrong.  Math is hard.

Did you get that?  Leaving out fetal deaths prior to twenty weeks gestation (what we call miscarriages, and the medical world refers to as spontaneous abortion), the fetal death rate is about 6 per 1000 pregnancies.

That’s a whopping 0.6%.  Not even 1%.

If you take Nicole’s data, leaving out the miscarriages (if they were in fact less than 20 weeks gestation, something we do not know for sure), she has had one fetal death in 12 pregnancies.  That is a fetal death rate of 8.3%.  That’s almost 14 times greater than the statistical data suggests.

Her attitude is so god damned cavalier. It’s as though that dead baby was disposable.  Oh, gee, you win most of the time, but occasionally you lose one. Oh well. . .

But really, that baby’s death was not an out-of-the-blue, unpredictable event.  It was as easy to see coming as a hurricane on the Gulf coast.

Click image to link to source

The perinatal mortality rate in the grand multipara group was 23.5%; there were no perinatal deaths among controls.

You see, this is the situation.

In the first statistic I cited, a fetal death rate of 0.6%, they are taking all pregnancies past twenty weeks into the database.  All of them. First pregnancies, 4th pregnancies, 6th pregnancies, 12th pregnancies.  They’re compiling the data as though all these pregnancies are created equal.

And they aren’t, of course.

The truth is that a woman’s reproductive organs age.  Time will do them in (I still have all mine and I’m quite sure they are shriveled up and horrible looking).  Live long enough and they will completely quit functioning.

Not only does time do them in, use does as well.  The more pregnancies you have had, the higher the risk to the fetus.

Let me say that again.

Every time you get pregnant, you are faced with a bit of an increase in risk to the fetus.  In those early years, especially if you’re not 35 when you have your first pregnancy, the risk is so slight as to be statistically meaningless.

But it begins to snowball, and by the time you’re a grand multip, the risk of fetal death is 23.5%, or at least, it was in that study.  I’ve seen studies with lower figures, but the risk of fetal death among grand multips is still quite a bit higher than the risk for earlier pregnancies.

Nicole Naugler is not a grand multip.  That’s a woman who has had five pregnancies prior to the current one. That ship sailed for Nicole long ago.

She is a great grand multip.

Yippee.  She’s “great” at something.

The fetal death risk for a great grand multip, by the most conservative data I could find, is four times greater than for women having their 1-5 pregnancy.

The risk gets greater as the pregnancies happen.  It’s a snowball effect.

I wrote about this before. More than once.  People warned her.  Even her humpers expressed concern. Right up until the last minute, people were telling her she needed to see a doctor.

And I will say it again. Nicole Naugler took a massive gamble by having that 15th pregnancy.  She gambled and lost. She could have suffered the ultimate loss and died.

If she tries it again, she’s suicidal. If Joe Naugler gets her pregnant knowingly (and with Nicole, that means if he has unprotected sex with her even once), he’s trying to kill her.



Learning From a Giraffe

As the whole world knows by now, April the giraffe calved about 2 hours ago.

Here’s the video in case you missed it.

The calving was almost identical to watching Frances calve.  The only differences that I could see were that baby giraffe legs are much longer and so is April’s neck. Frances cannot lick her hoohah.

When Frances calves, we allow her to labor from the point where we see the sac or hooves for about an hour.  We leave her alone, just like they did with April, and let her handle the situation.

Most of the time, she does a fine job all on her own.

However, cattle men the world over have learned by experience, some of it bitter, that once you pass about an hour, and if the cow starts showing signs of fatigue, it’s a good idea to intervene. So that’s our cut-off point.

We have pulled two calves.  One was out in the field on a beautiful summer morning. Dave did the pulling.  Jason was there, but remained outside the fence, away from Frances, because Frances hates him (he gives her shots). All Dave did was grab the two front feet, watch for a contraction, and in concert with Frances, pulled out and down as she pushed. It just served to give her a little extra help as she delivered the shoulders. Once the shoulders are out, as  you can see in the video of April, the rest of the baby comes in a whoosh.

But Nicole, of course, is the resident expert on giving birth and didn’t disappoint.


Since Nicole has not given birth in a hospital setting, ever, she actually has no idea how childbirth is handled in a modern hospital. Somebody has corrected me. It seems that Jacob was born in a hospital setting, so she’s had a hospital birth 18 years ago.

With the exception of eating, which can be dangerous and possibly fatal under uncommon but very sudden situations, they pretty much do all that shit.

The word “complication” is an interesting one. Nicole sets herself up as an expert because she has managed to squirt out about ten babies without help.  All this means is that she has easy, uncomplicated births. She’s not superwoman. It doesn’t mean that she’s done it “right” while other women (me, for instance – Nathan was a C-section baby) have done it “wrong.”  She’s just genetically lucky in that respect.  It’s no different than being born, as I was, with naturally curly hair.

The problem with her whole “unless there are complications” is that as long as everything is “uncomplicated,” it looks easy. Watch April.  It’s simple.  Push a while, walk around a bit, and out slithers a beautiful healthy baby.  Simple.

Until it’s not simple.

And when it’s not simple, it is horrendous and that can happen without notice.  Sometimes you know something is going wrong.  But sometimes. . .

Back when I was a student nurse, we had a young woman in labor. I will never forget her. I can still close my eyes and see her face.  First baby. Everyone excited. She was doing great.

She had to go to the bathroom (to pee – it wasn’t the baby), so since she was still in fairly early labor and there was no danger of the baby being born into the toilet, we helped her walk to the bathroom and gave her some privacy.

And then we heard her hit the floor with a thump.

We ran in to find that she had collapsed.

Several of us picked her up, threw her onto a gurney, did some very rapid, preliminary examinations (she was not breathing, almost no heartbeat) and absolutely ran to the delivery room and threw her on the table.

With no anesthesia, nothing, the OB came in and did a very rapid, emergency C-section and delivered a living child.  (In order for this to have happened, that whole scenario took less than about five minutes.  I’ve never been part of anything involving such rapid movement before.)

The mother was placed on life support and then everyone tried to figure out what had happened.

It turned out that she had a brain aneurysm that nobody knew existed and the increased circulation and blood pressure of labor caused it to suddenly rupture. She remained on life support for several days.

I’ll never forget her poor husband sitting in that room with her, holding their newborn daughter and crying.

After a reasonable period of time, and lots of testing, they pulled the plug and he took the baby home alone.  It was tragic and the outcome inevitable. Being in the hospital didn’t save her. But being in the hospital meant that child lived.

So what can we learn about birth by watching April the giraffe?

We can learn all the stuff that Nicole listed, but she left out something really important.

April the giraffe had the best pre-natal care known to the veterinarian world.  The vet, Dr. Tim, was on site, right there, during the entire labor and delivery.  He had everything he needed, right there, right with him, in case he had had to intervene.

The people at the Animal Park did not leave it all to “nature.”  They didn’t just roll the dice.  They’ve had that giraffe on 24/7 video cam for weeks. She’s been examined regularly by the vet.  They were ready for an emergency. They were trained to recognize an emergency. They had somebody there with experience dealing with emergencies.  Oliver was in the adjoining stall watching, but nobody expected Oliver to help or to know what to do if it all went south.

For expectant women the world over, April represents the very best in childbirth.  And Nicole represents the very worst.





Akubras and Accomplishments

[WARNING: I’ve included a few graphic birth photos here. If this might bother you, just don’t read it. They aren’t human. ]

war brides

My mother and father met in Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia at a servicemen’s club.  Mom was a local volunteer. Dad was an American GI. It’s a relatively familiar World War II story. [Note: my mother is not in the photo, but she sure could have been.]

In 1987, my mother went home for the first time since 1946, and I went with her. We stayed three weeks and I got to meet all my Aussie relatives.

While we were there, I bought some souvenirs for Dave and Nathan waiting at home in America.

Among those were three Akubra hats, one for each of us. Here’s one of them.

akubra on stand

inside hat

And there’s the inside of the hat.  Notice the size tag?  It’s upside down (I had to either have the name of the hat right side up or the size).  It’s also metric. In American-speak, that would be an extra-large.

This is Dave’s hat. Nathan’s is very similar and it’s the same size.  Mine is much smaller.

That’s because Nathan and Dave both have/had large heads.  When I bought those hats, I had to sort of guess about Nathan’s hat size. I knew Dave would take something fairly large, but I wasn’t sure about Nate, and in 1987, calling America from Australia to ask about a head measurement was a ridiculous idea, so I guessed.

I guessed that because I had to have a C-section when he was born due to the fact that his head simply would not fit through my pelvic opening (it was simple math – and I know, math is hard – but it was pretty simple), his hat size might be very similar to his dad’s.  I could not have strained harder or worked longer or made up my mind to fit Nathan through my pelvic opening. He wouldn’t fit. The circumference of his head (even if it smushed down a bit as vaginally-born babies’ heads do) was greater than the circumference of the opening.

So I guess that he might need a large hat.

I guessed right.

So, what does this have to do with anything?

Glad you asked.

it is an accomplishment

Nicole is all peeved, it seems, because the post about Dr. Tuteur wasn’t about her.  It’s sort of amazing, really. She insists that I should just write about somebody else or something else, so I did. I thought that would make her happy.

It didn’t, as you can see.

And no, Nicole, nobody thought you should be offended. Nobody gives a damn whether you are offended or not.

But this is just so interesting.

It seems that either Dr. Tuteur or I (I’m not sure who she is insulting here, and don’t care) “can’t handle the biological aspect of motherhood.”  Can’t handle it.  What does that even mean? Dr. Tuteur has four children, so I suspect that she did just fine “handling” it.  I had one, and couldn’t have any more, so I’m an abject failure, I guess.

Nicole believes that conception and birth and breastfeeding are somehow gauges of the worth of a female human being.  Can’t do it?  You’re a failure. Don’t wanna do it?  You’re a bigger failure. Do it a whole lot?  You’re a super success.  Do it without any help?  You’re a bigger success.

Nicole thinks that having 11 children via “natural childbirth” and breastfeeding them is an accomplishment. I was so delighted to find this out that I jumped right up and ran out to the pasture to tell Frances.

frances looking

“Frances!” I yelled. “You are accomplished.”

She gave me that look.  You know, like above.  The what-in-the-hell-are-you-talking-about look.

“Nicole says you are accomplished,” I said. “You’ve had lots of calves. You give lots of milk. You’re accomplished, Frances.”

You see, Frances has had five calves since she came to live with us in 2011, and she had one little bull calf before we met her.  And we think she’s bred again (hopefully).  She pretty much has a calf every year.

She has had actual sex with an actual bull exactly twice.  Both times a one-night stand, which is all cows ever have, since they are only in heat for about 12 hours at a time.

She was with a bull for her first breeding at the dairy. They do this on purpose. The bull is better at breeding those heifers than the farmer is with artificial insemination, and they generally keep a small bull hoping that he will father a small calf and thus make her first calf easier to deliver.

And we think one of our bull calves got her bred a few weeks ago. That was a total accident. None of us thought that calf was old enough to do the deed, but I think he managed to surprise us. It was obvious that they’d had a fine time during the night when we went out the next morning. [It’s okay if she is. We know who did the deed, and he’s nicely purebred and registered and not related to her, but still, it was unplanned.]

Anyway, that’s it.  Every other time, she’s been bred via AI.  No bull, just a farmer and a long straw thing.

Little sperm meet an egg and bam!  you’ve got a baby.

And then, just like in people, about nine months later (283 days to be exact about it, give or take a few), you get this.

feet showing

Those are feet. Front feet. Tops up, bottoms down. The white part is the hoof.  Exactly perfect.

feet head

And a bit later, the head emerges (it’s on top, eyes closed, nose on top of one of the front legs).  Again, perfect position.

Frances with calf

A few minutes later, and a bunch of good pushes, and we have this.  Meet Claire.  Frances is doing her mother thing, but don’t let her fool you. This will last for about 2 hours and then she’s done.

She’s all finished with that part of her “accomplishment.”  She scratches it off the list and turns the new baby over to the nursery staff (me and Dave) and heads for the pasture and the older calves that she can boss around.

Now, how much urging did I have to do to get her to do this?  Answer?  None. How much effort did she have to initiate to get this process started?  Answer? None.  Do you suppose she could have stopped the process?  Answer?  No.

Oh, and she breastfeeds, of course.

Sort of.

Frances milking

Frances is a very modern gal and she prefers it like this, thank you very much.

She produces enough milk, not just for one calf, but for five at a time, plus a pig, plus all the milk Dave and I can drink, plus our butter, ice cream and cheese. Usually, she makes about six gallons of milk daily at her peak. This slowly decreases during a lactation period down to about three gallons a day. We then dry her off for two months and she calves again and it all repeats.

And she “accomplishes” all this with massive effort on her part.  Just massive.  See?

Frances grazing

There she is, working hard.

Frances grazing

And here.  The calves with her are the age she prefers. She is Boss Cow and that’s how she likes it.

She expends no effort at all to do all this. Other than those two nights of bull sex, she does absolutely nothing to have all those calves and make all that milk. She doesn’t cause it and she cannot stop it.  She would and has calved with nobody present at all, although we try not to have that happen.

In the photos I showed, I did nothing but take pictures. I didn’t help her in any way.  In a couple of calvings, we did intervene and pull the calf, but that was mostly because it was midnight and during an ice storm and we were all cold and tired and wanted to go to bed. She would have had him anyway if we’d just waited. [There is some evidence that once the head emerges, the sooner the calf is born the more likely you are to have a good outcome, so pulling them is not a bad idea.]

And obviously, nobody can help her make milk.  She can’t strive to make milk. She can’t keep from making milk. She just eats and sleeps and it happens.

We do not have to go out to the pasture and say, “Frances, you go girl. You just work at it and make that milk.”  Or “Frances, how is that calf coming along? Are you working hard at growing it?”  Or “Frances,  you have to work harder, hon. That calf is not going to grow himself.”

And after we milk, she gets neck scratches (probably her favorite thing in the world), but we don’t say, “Frances, thank you for trying so hard today and pushing that extra bit and making that extra pint.”

Nobody says to the dairyman, “How much milk did your cows accomplish today?”  Or “How many calves did your cows accomplish this year?”  Or “Is this cow really good at accomplishing stuff?”

Giving birth is not an accomplishment.  It’s a natural phenomenon that happens after a female mammal has sex and conceives. Making milk is not an accomplishment. It just happens all by itself.

This is an accomplishment.

carving wood

This is also an accomplishment.


Here’s somebody accomplishing something.

reading children

And here’s somebody else accomplishing something.

dog groomer

But being a brood cow?

Not so much.