Friday the 13th, Lilly’s Story

By Patricia Bronson

“Mildred is going to have her baby tomorrow, there is going to be trouble, and someone is going to die”.  These words I spoke to my husband on the eve of Friday the 13th of October, 2000.  Robert replied “Don’t be silly Patricia, Mildred isn’t due for two weeks”. 

Mildred is a stately white suri alpaca that Robert and I purchased from Steve and Gail Campbell on the 9thof September, 1998.  As new alpaca owners we arranged for Mildred and her offspring to remain at Ameripaca until we bought our farm.  We bought Mildred when she was “great with cria” and just 20 days after we signed the contract, on October 29th 1998, Mildred gave birth to a white suri male that we named Sir Isaac Newton.  The following year, and once again on October 29th, Mildred presented us with another male.  We named him Taittinger (pronounced Tat-in-ger).  Gail was intrigued by such a birthday coincidence and looked up the birth records for Mildred’s first cria.  Amazingly, on October 29th, 1997, Mildred gave birth to a male cria she named Moses.  You can see why Robert was reluctant to give any credence to my wild forecast that Mildred would deliver on the 13th.  Not surprisingly, Robert was expecting Mildred’s fourth cria on October 29, 2000.

On Friday morning I woke with the feeling of impending disaster.  I could not shake it off.  I went to work, but chose to skip a meeting I was scheduled to attend.  I was determined not to be far from my phone for the remainder of the day.  I was not in my office for 10 minutes before the phone rang.  “Patricia, this is Kim from Ameripaca.  Mildred is in labor and is having problems.” 

I called Robert, repeated the message, and left work.  The drive took 50 minutes.  The excitement I usually felt driving down the long drive to the Momma-Baby barn was replaced with fear and anxiety.  I could see Sue, Angel, and Rob working on Mildred.  I watched for a few minutes.

Sue reported that Mildred had been straining and complaining.  She tried to get to the baby, but the way was blocked.  Sue had sedated Mildred and was rolling her in an attempt to untwist the uterus, without success.  She said she was sorry but had tried everything she knew and could not help Mildred.  She recommended I take Mildred to the University of Pennsylvania Veterinary Center at New Bolton, Pennsylvania

“Pennsylvania?”  “How?”  “Isn’t that a long way to go when you have an animal in trouble?”  These were the words going through my head but the only words that came out of my mouth (as I recall) were “OK”.

At that time Kim joined us in the Momma-baby barn.  She reported that Gail was in Ohio and Ameripaca’s back-up vet was elsewhere occupied and could not attend Mildred.  In anticipation of my decision Kim made arrangements for Rob, a wonderful Ameripaca farmhand, to drive us to New Bolton, and for Mildred’s care when we arrived.  The drive took two and one half hours.  I was either crying or choking back the tears the entire trip.

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