Musings Part 6 – Day 66-67: Bittersweet Reality

Going into this there were a few things I KNEW. I knew that whippets were relatively easy whelpers. Had this not been the case I never would have considered it, even for a second. My girls are too important to me to knowingly take that kind of risk. I also knew that no matter how careful you are ‘stuff happens’ so it wasn’t without any risk. I knew that originally I had tons of reasons NOT to breed, but over time they were outweighed by positive reasons TO breed. I agonised for 3 years with the decision to actually go ahead and breed. I researched pedigrees, watched dogs, watched progeny, read every book on breeding I could find and that was recommended, joined a breeding list and sat and read everything that went through that list and basically prepared myself for every eventuality – both positive and negative…

No matter how prepared you are nothing can prepare you enough for when things start to go wrong. I knew they could. I had prepared myself for the fact that they could. But if I’m truly honest with myself, I never really BELIEVED they would. I honestly believed that having done ‘everything right’ according to my vets and breeder friends, and as Teya was in excellent condition, that she would do what almost every other whippet does, and ‘shell them like peas’. I worried constantly throughout the pregnancy (as shown by previous entries) that I was doing things right, that she was okay. Not in a ‘make myself sick’ kind of worry, but this is something that I didn’t do lightly, and I wanted to take no chances.

But again, no matter how well prepared you think you are, when things start to go wrong it’s still devastating…

So here we are, Nick, myself and Tracy (and Teya of course) and we are all excited, and the first puppy is on its way, and Teya is in HARD labour, and it should be coming. We all know that this can take a long time, but after an hour and a half it’s a bit worrying. She’s not pushing quite right – it’s not aiming properly down the canal, and although we can feel the pup in there, it’s not making any progress. Luckily Nick is a human Dr who spent a fair amount of training time delivering human babies, so he has a good idea (on a different scale) of what he’s looking for and is not afraid to do what’s necessary. She is having trouble getting the pup over the pelvic wall. We decide to give it another few minutes, before calling the Emergency Vets (knowing that the vets said the ‘General Rule’ is about 2 hours before the first call and then possibly another hour before really worrying).

Without going into detail that would be too graphic for some readers, we do finally manage to get the first one out safely (though not without some pain to Teya, for which I will feel forever guilty), cord cut, nose and mouth cleared, and rubbed hard and breathing. He’s a boy! A beautiful black brindle boy with white trim and a diamond blaze. And we are relieved and ecstatic, and we believe that from this point on things should be easier as the ‘General Rule’ is that sometimes the first one can be really difficult, but it makes the way for the rest to come easily. Chelsea comes to stand outside the whelping room door to see what all the excitement is and sees the baby and cheers! We clean up the incontinence pads we are using to deliver on, get the fresh set ready, and put him to nurse.

Teya is a FANTASTIC mum right from the get go. The second he is out she forgets all the pain she has just been through, she is right there helping to clean him, wanting to take care of him, we set him to nurse and she is wonderful. I am so proud of her.

She has a couple of small contractions while nursing and we figure she’s just moving the next one down when we look at the other end and see a foot! Everyone kicks into high gear as Tracy takes the boy and puts him in the ready box, and Nick gets to work at the puppy end and I get to work holding Teya. A few pushes, with Nick’s help with each contraction, and the pup is free. We get her sorted, and see she’s almost a perfect twin (though female) to the boy we’ve just delivered. We won’t know it yet, but being breech is most likely what saved her life, and what made her delivery actually so easy.

We put the pair of them on to feed, and right away Teya starts contracting again so we clear them out, and within a few minutes she delivers a stillborn girl. She is much smaller in weight than the others. We try and try, but it is no use. We suspect she has died a day or so before this. She was delivered without a sac. My heart cries as it was another girl, and I am keeping a girl, and I am sad because this might be the only other girl there. She is another black brindle with white trim, but she has a regular blaze – similar to her mum’s. But there is no time to mourn her now as we need to tend to Teya and the live babies.

An hour or so passes, with contractions off and on as the others move down to get in the right place, and then she starts more labour. She is in pain, and things are not going well. We can feel the pup in there, but no matter how hard she pushes she cannot get the shoulders over the pelvic wall. Nick cannot get any purchase to hold it and assist either. Again she has been in hard labour with this pup for less than the ‘General Rule’ amount of time, but it is clear she is in distress, and we need to get that pup out, so we call the Emergency Vets who tell us to bring her straight over. As we are getting things ready Teya gives a HUGE push, which moves the pup, but breaks the sac. Nick gets in as quickly as he can, and now has enough to grab, and gets the puppy out, but she has fluid in her lungs – we just couldn’t get to her fast enough, and although she fights hard for life, it’s not enough, and we lose her on the way to the Vets. This is a crushing blow because not only is she another girl, but she is the most beautiful silver fawn parti-colour. A colour I never imagined we would get with this breeding, but a colour I have always loved. Had all been even between her and the other girl (or girls for at this point I don’t know what else we may have) I know in my heart of hearts THIS was my girl. And my heart is breaking.

Tracy stays with Chelsea and Savannah and we take Teya and the two healthy pups to the vets. I’m now terrified for Teya as well. We know there is at least one more pup in there, as we could see its shape while this one was in the canal. I am praying that we make it to the vets before labour on the next one starts. Nick is still working on the silver pup on the off chance that the vets can do something for her when we get there, but there is nothing they can do and she is gone.

They x-ray Teya and find two more large puppies in there, and make the immediate decision to prepare for a C-section. With the history we’ve just presented they don’t want to take any chances. With a shaky hand, and trying to hold my emotions in check, I sign the forms to let them do this. We leave the healthy pups with them, so they can put them with Teya when they’re finished. They tell us they will call us when it’s over and to come back in 5 hours to pick her up. I am a mess and I need to get home where I can fall apart. Nick is a mess – he is blaming himself for losing ‘my puppy’. I tell him over and over there’s nothing he could have done differently, but he can’t hear me. And we are both worried that as tired as she is (she has been a trooper and I’m so proud of her, but she has exhausted herself) that the C-section could be dangerous to her, and we might lose our Teya as well as the babies.

At home the next few hours blur. Tracy goes to sleep for a while, Nick gets the whelping room ready for the pups and Teya to come home, and I write to the Whippet Boards and our Teya-Watch email list letting them know what’s happened and I am overwhelmed by the immediate supportive response. Not only by our friends, but by people we’ve never met but who have been following Teya’s progress through my ‘musings’.

Almost 3 hours after leaving the vets they phone. ‘Very good news’, they say. Teya didn’t have to have the C-section. They had just finished getting her ready and were literally about to administer the anaesthetic when she had a huge contraction, so they held back and waited to see what would happen. She gave birth to that one relatively quickly, so they waited for the next one. It took them the better part of two hours, with manual manipulation and oxytocin and all the tools and experience they had on hand to get him out safely, but eventually they did. They tell us Teya is sleeping quietly and the puppies are all nursing and content, though the last boy is being quite vocal, and they did bruise his muzzle trying to get him out. He was the largest of them all. She tells me that we have a total of 2 boys and 2 girls, and that Teya is doing very well. We can pick her up in an hour after she’s had a bit of rest. She assures me that Teya is fine and happy (as I worry because she is a mummy’s girl) so I am happy to leave her an extra hour (though I want her home now).

Relief POURS through me. Teya is ok, the pups are ok. I wake Tracy to tell her, I run up and tell Nick who is trying to catch a bit of sleep as he’s supposed to be going to work shortly. I write a quick note to the Teya Watch list and the Whippet Boards thanking them quickly for their support and letting them know that she didn’t need the section after all.

We pick Teya up and Nick has stopped beating himself up over the little silver girl. He realises that if the vet (with all his tools and experience) had such a hard time, then there was no way he (Nick) could have done any better. And for that I am glad. I am crushed at the loss, but glad that Nick is no longer beating himself up over it.

The rest is a blur, Teya is thrilled to see us and anxious to show us her new babies. We pay and sign and go out the door with our new family, tired but truly relieved. We are advised to take her to our vets first thing, and we do. Tracy spends the day with us. Nick goes to work for the afternoon. Emails and phone calls pour in from friends, and strangers, and I can’t put into ‘new’ words any better than what I wrote to the Teya Watch list and the Whippet Boards at the end of that Very Long Day! So please forgive me for changing format…

From: Wendy & Nick Jones Date: 24 October 2007 21:36 To: Teya Watch List; Whippet Boards Subject: Overwhelmed and Teya Pupdate

Wow!  Just Wow.  I am SO overwhelmed by the emails, posts and phone calls from my friends on the Teya Watch email list, and from the Whippet Boards over what's happened with us and Teya over the last 24 hours.  I thought I had stopped crying, but guess not.  But these are good tears, brought on by the beautiful sentiments and kind words by so many of you!  Just thank you.

Today has been a long day (been up over 36 hours now).  We were very lucky to have our very good friend Tracy with us to be a third pair of hands with the birthing, and let me tell you I know we couldn't have done it all without her.  And as a bonus it was down to her that we do have some fabulous pics of the new babies, but please bear with me while I catch up on some sleep before I'm able to get them online.

We have 4 beautiful, happy, hearty healthy babies.  2 boys and 2 girls.  And a very healthy Teya who is revelling in her role of being mum to them.   The two brindles that I described in my last email, and the two babies that were delivered at the vets.  They all have quite heavy black brindling (stripes).  We're not sure what their base colour will be - it will tell over time, but could be anything from a pale fawn to a deep red.  3 of them are brindles with white trim on the feet, tails, chest and a white blaze.  One is particoloured (which means in addition to the brindle she has white patches).

The last boy to be born took a LONG time and ended up with some bruising round his muzzle where they had to pull him hard.  He took a bit of getting into suckling as it hurt his muzzle to do so.  We supplemented him with one meal of lactol from a syringe and he really took to sucking on that.  Within 10 minutes we found him firmly planted on one of the more difficult teats to get to, and he's rarely unlatched himself (even when sleeping) so I guess he discovered the joy of milk is worth enduring a little pain.  Good boy!  He's the biggest, and the only one we had any concerns about, but we are excited about this response and I dont' think we'll be needing to supplement him.

Teya and pups went to our regular vets this morning where they confirmed it was just a very VERY unfortunate set of circimstances.  If they had been presented with what we went through at each stage they would have advised us to do EXACTLY what we did.  If we had brought her into them with the first baby they'd have helped it deliver, and if the next 2 pups came out fast, they'd have put the first baby down to one that was just blocking and sent us home, and we still would have had the same problem with the 4th.  So it's just bad luck.  He gave them all and Teya a clean bill of health and confirmed that we did all the right things given the circumstances.

We took the two who didn't make it with us, and asked them to have them cremated on our behalf.  It seemed the right thing to do.

Thank you again so much for your support all through the pregnancy, the fun, the bad, the stress, and the ‘me making fun of myself’.  I will finish the musings that I started, but I think one of those musings will end up being a bit melancholy, but I promise only the one.  Tomorrow we move forward.

As I said in that email, our vet assures us that we had really bad luck. He says that all the ‘General Rules’ that usually apply were completely wrong in our case, and although hindsight is a wonderful thing, in reality we did all the right things based on the ‘General Rules’. I am instructed that I am not to beat myself up over it (though he knows I will). I can’t promise that I won’t, but I promise that it will only be for today.

Tomorrow Nick will come home with names for the two lost babies. He will call the silver one Aime (Amelia) and the brindle one Sam (Samantha). And another day later a friend will email me the most beautiful poem that she has written to honour their memory, and with that, this chapter is closed and we can move forward with a healthy Teya, and a litter of 4 thriving happy pups.

And Chelsea and Savannah still have their own story to tell…

click HERE for Part 7

© Wendy Jones, 2nd November 2007 (poem © Carol Blight, October 2007)

All Photos © Copyright Chelynnah Whippets and/or their respective photographers and may not be used without permission

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