For Thanksgiving we had our Albany cousins up to the farm for the second year. We numbered 15 for food and fun. We also had a very pregnant alpaca, Maya. The bitterly cold weather ensured that we were all cozily in the house (okay, extra cozy) while Maya held out for a turn in the weather. The next day some of the cousins had gone on to other celebrations, but we were still with Carol and Joe and Leah and her three girls, Katherine, Margaret and Andrea. Big G had to go to work but before he left, and unbeknownst to me, he took the girls outside and showed them Maya’s stomach and the hollows behind her pregnant belly. He pointed out that as of this morning they seemed to be “breathing separately,” which was unusual. “Today is the day, keep an eye on her,” he told the girls.
Like alpaca clockwork at around 9:30 a.m. the girls came running in to tell me it was time. We’d had so many false alarms with Maya that I was in some state of disbelief in the warm house heading up to change out of my yoga pants and t-shirt when Leah said, “You don’t have time to put your bra on.” What? Outside, and braless, I saw the head was already out and ran into the field (okay I fell, flat out, before reaching the field, adrenaline and all; my EMT husband would later admonish me for rushing to the scene). With an audience of 6, plus the herd, and Toby the horse, Maya gave birth to a jet black baby who I helped dry off as Maya bit my ponytail and pulled up, hard. Not your baby, mine, thanks for the help.
As if at the most exciting baseball game, we set up plastic chairs at the edge of the pasture, complete with drinks and snacks and that is where we stayed for the entire day. We watched first steps, first nursing, first poop, being greeted by the herd, first nap (is she still breathing? Yes, cheers). We took video to show the proud human papa who’d known all along he would sadly miss all the excitement.
Later in the day, my cousin’s husband Joe, from his place in the audience, said — “It’s Black Friday.” And indeed it was.
“The main facts in human life are five: birth, food, sleep, love and death.”
― E.M. Forster