I had just left work, on my way to Tesco, when Yorkshire Grandma called me to suggest that I hurry home, as Ruby was ready to have her puppies. I said that I would rush around the store to get my essentials and then I would be home to fulfill my midwife role. When I got back, Ruby was lying in her ‘nest’ in the utility room so I dropped my shopping bags on the floor and went straight to her. I decided not to say hello to Joshua as then he would want my full attention, and Ruby was my priority last night. I could hear Joshua in the kitchen, but I stayed quietly sitting on the floor of the utility room, reassuring Ruby who was panting heavily. I really wanted a cup of tea and a cushion in there, but I did not want to blow my cover, so I made a cushion from coats.
Yorkshire Grandma took Joshua upstairs for a bath, after he had eaten his tea and so I was able to slip out of the utility room for a few supplies, including my mobile phone.The first puppy was breach and I spotted his tail sticking out and so I called the vet to ask for advice. The advice was that I needed to become more hands-on than I had expected! Sadly when I got this large puppy out, he did not survive, so I realised that I needed professional help to try to save the rest of the litter. So I called the vet back and arranged to meet her at the surgery, where she examined Ruby, while Yorkshire Grandma was in charge of Joshua and my husband was on his way home. The next puppy was close to being delivered but she discovered that his head was too large for Ruby’s small pelvis and he too presented in the wrong position. Despite trying to resuscitate this second pup, it also had no heart beat, which was heartbreaking.
We knew from her scan that she had a least three puppies, and so the vet made preparations to perform a C-section in order to have the best chance to save any remaining puppies and to avoid any more pain for Ruby. I stayed with the patient while she made surgical preparations, but I shouted to her that more contractions were coming. Before she could prepare, Ruby delivered another black pup and I assumed that it too had not survived,so both Ruby and I jumped when it squealed. Ruby gave it a quick lick, but was very wary of this squealing bundle of fur. I held it closely while the vet set up an X-ray to determine what might be going on and it identified another two puppies , so the Cesarean was back on and I was sent away home, as I was warned that it would take a couple of hours.
When I got home at 10 pm, Joshua was already asleep in bed – so I had not seen him at all since school. I updated my husband and Yorkshire Grandma and enjoyed a very welcome cup of tea and slice of toast, then I paced until the vet called at 11.50 to tell me that the surgery had gone well and that Ruby now had three black puppies, but that she was slow to come around from the anesthetic. She said that she would call me back in 20 minutes for me to come and bring the new family home. So I made my camp-bed up in the hall and put clean towels in her bed, in readiness. Time passed and she did not call me back, and my imagination kicked in, so after 50 minutes of waiting, I called her. She told me that Ruby was exhausted and did not want to wake up. I suggested that she might perk up when she saw me, so I was allowed to drive down to see the sleepy mum, who had to be carried to the car on a blanket, and three tiny black puppies. I was told that she had milk and that they had fed already but they needed to feed every two hours from her! So they fed noisily at 1 am when we got home and then I set my alarm for 3 am and 5 am.
What an emotional evening, these puppies ,and the two non-survivors, have already made a big impact on our family in their short lives.