(Editor’s note: Google Mama, the lead camel of the Sacred Camel Herd, recently endured an intensely difficult labor during which she lost her calf. Google Mama herself is recovering and should be fine. The following story of Google Mama’s ordeal is graphic, describing yet another aspect of what’s involved in caring for non-humans, in the Wound of Love. The vet bill has been expensive and, if you’re moved, info on how to contribute is at the end of this post. Please help…)
PART ONE: About a week ago, late one afternoon, one of our much loved camels went into labor. As always, Google Mama was calm and relaxed. For a normal birth the calf’s two front feet should appear first, followed by the nose then everything else. This baby, however, was emerging nose first. I waited a short while to see if the feet would appear. They didn’t.
I brushed the baby’s white, warm, wet, head and slid my hand along his neck and down into the birth canal to locate the fore-feet, hoping to bring them forward. I reached the feet but couldn’t move them. While Google slowly walked about the enclosure her powerful contractions made manipulating the baby very strenuous. Up to my shoulders inside her, running out of strength, my heart broke. I sobbed. It was now clear this wasn’t going to be simple. I tried pushing the small, grumbling, head back into the womb so as to better maneuver the body. Against Google’s contractions this proved impossible.
It was dusk by the time the vet and her assistant arrived. The three of us continued for a couple of hours trying to free the legs, finally managing to draw one of them forward. Though unable to free the right leg we decided to relax our efforts and see if Google might now successfully birth the baby herself. Both legs forward is optimal for birthing, but it’s still possible with just one leg leading. We were hopeful. Through the crisp, moonlit, night I checked on her regularly. As morning spilled over into the valley Google Mama had still not delivered. The baby was very weak now and the little camel died soon after sunrise, his furry, motionless, head protruding from the womb, along with the one leg.
PART TWO: The vet arrived again and we sedated Google Mama once more. With her standing for several hours, and then sitting through the final hour, we proceeded to remove the baby’s body from the womb through the grizzly process of dismemberment. I hope to never have to do this again. Once out of the womb we realized that the little calf was not so little. He was about 100 pounds, long and lanky, and the knee of his retracted leg had been wedged under Google Mama’s pelvic bone the whole time. Babies move around in the womb, changing position constantly. It appears that he simply happened to be in the wrong position when the birth process began.
The vet left again and I waited for the placenta to drop. Within a couple of hours the placenta came out. What followed next broke my heart again. Google Mama’s entire uterus prolapsed. It was huge, about four feet long, 15 inches around; a deep, rich, burgundy drape hanging between her rear legs. It must have weighed 60 or 70 pounds. All that weight pulling on her internal organs would have been unbearably painful. It always amazes me how strong the camels are.
PART THREE: The vet returned a third time. It was dusk again, a little warmer than the night before. Google Mama was sitting down now, the uterus partially beneath her. We drew it out from under her and lay it across a sheet of plastic where we proceeded to thoroughly wash it, stitch up some tears in the tissue, and cover it in white sugar. Sugar is antibacterial and also draws moisture out of the tissue, helping shrink the size of the uterus. Under lamp light we washed and sugared this amazing organ several times over the course of an hour, getting it as clean as possible, drawing its size and weight down by about a third. Through all this we kept Google Mama under further sedation.
The vet and I then proceeded to reinsert the still large and heavy uterus. We first had to neutralize Google Mama’s ability to push back against us so we anesthetized her lower spinal cord. Then slowly, carefully, inch by inch, we pushed the uterus back inside. Because a prolapsed uterus is ‘inside-out’ the reinsertion process returns it to the ‘outside-in’ position. Then with arms deep to the shoulder again I spread the uterus out into the ‘corners’ of the womb.
The vet partially stitched the vulva to prevent the uterus from dropping out again. And I resumed checking on her regularly throughout the night.
PART FOUR: Through the following days Google Mama has been slowly recovering amid pain killers and antibiotics. Each day her strength and appetite improves, but it will be some time before she’s back to normal.
Throughout this ordeal various friends and supporters of the Sacred Camel Gardens were keeping Google Mama in their prayers, and still are.
I’m still in shock. It might take me as long to recover as Google Mama, though her trauma was vastly more than I can imagine. Going through this with her was, and continues to be, a deeply intimate process further informing this “merely mortal” life. Such intimate association with my camel friend’s uterus is indescribable. This organ where non-physical life is transformed into the physical is a mysterious thresh-hold receptacle through which life comes to here to walk about and apparently be “something” for a time. This intimate involvement with such a powerful organ has cracked my awareness, deepening my spiritual resort, breaking my heart, provoking a new understanding of the process of “things”.
PART FIVE: I have to praise our faithful, dependable veterinarian, Lisa Takesui of Lakeport. She approaches the camels with calmness, seriousness, professionalism and real care. Her assistants as well. Much thanks to Fiona Syme, also, who came and stayed long hours with Google Mama, being a simple, nurturing, feminine presence, while the rest of us worked. And thank you to Malcolm Dunshee for being so available to help and serve through this.
Given Google Mama’s prolapse we won’t have her breed again. We don’t want to chance having her go through a repeat of that. Providing we don’t put her on contraceptives (under research) she’ll now live outside the main herd, serving a different purpose here of more direct interaction with visitors who come to the Sacred Camel Gardens. She’ll no doubt, also, be the leader of the small grouping of camels that we have here outside the main pasture. Her depth and sensitivity, her caring and benevolent nature, and her maturity, make her a valuable individual in developing Adi Da’s Vision here, a circumstance where humans can learn from these great creatures about the naturally contemplative life.
Google Mama was given her name by Adi Da, interestingly, just several months prior to Google Search engine’s launch. Because of her “googly eyes”…
Running a project like the Sacred Camel Gardens on the small monthly budget we presently have requires me now to ask for help in paying for Google Mama’s vet bill. Including some follow-up it comes to almost $3,000. We have about $1000 of this already thanks to Sean and Leanne in Louisiana. So we are wanting to raise about $2000 more.
Please Contribute to Google Mama’s Vet Fund:
– online: – please mark for Google’s Vet Fund
Become a Monthly Supporter of the Sacred Camel Gardens:
– online: – choose from one of the category amounts
Thank you !