First let me assure you Getka and her pups are fine. And Ritz is fine. Her litter though, a total loss.
I know some of you have been following both litter pages. in anticipation of the arrival of Ritz's pups. That anticipation and excitement began to change to worry for me by mid week last week.
Ritz's pups were due Tuesday June first. She was happy, healthy, and active -quite willing to give chase to the large birds that dared to land on her property. She wasn't as fast or agile as she is in a more trim state, but still capable of making her dissatisfaction known. She enjoyed a perfectly normal and uneventful pregnancy.
Except she wasn't going into labor.....
Thursday the 3rd, with no signs of impending delivery, I called to update our reproductive vet and was instructed to bring her in for a reverse progesterone test which I did that day. The results of the tests are used by Vets to assure adequate pup development prior to performing scheduled C-sections. The progesterone level remains elevated throughout a dogs pregnancy but begins a rapid decline shortly before delivery. For C-sections Vets look for a number between 2 and 3ng. Preferable closer to 2. For natural delivery the level is generally closer to 1ng. On Thursday, 2 days past due, Ritz's level sat at 8.1ng. I was instructed to bring her back Monday for a recheck and possible C-section. Anxiety and curiosity got the best of me, and I opted for another check Saturday. Level 3.2ng. I again declared my worry and made point of saying yes, but she's sitting at day 67 from breeding and likely day 69 from ovulation. Not much of a response to my worry... was told to expect pups over the weekend. Saturday evening my worry grew to angst, and I feared the litter had already been lost. The emergency was over. As a nurse I was frequently reminded to "watch the patient, not the monitor". In this case the patient was fine. It was the patients within... the unseen and silent ones who were suffering. The ones with no voices. I understand protocols. But I also accept there are times there are valid reasons to break protocol. Protocols generally work well in normal situations. But if some values within a particular protocol don't make sense, the protocol itself, and exceptions, warrant another look. The protocol used regarding progesterone decline prior to delivery is long standing and well accepted. Taken too soon, the lungs of the pups etc aren't developed enough to sustain life. I felt my hands were tied and I was stuck between a rock and a hard place. I assume my Vet shared that feeling.
I still kick myself.... and looking back, I will always kick myself. Over the years I've learned to rely on my gut feelings ie intuition. Should have been more persistent. Louder and more demanding.
Sunday evening I knew in my heart the litter had been lost. No movement and a cooling of the belly. The emergency was over. The window of opportunity lost. In the name of protocol. But the pups still had to come one way or the other.
My thoughts turned to Ritz... get her seen and taken care of before she suffered ill effects. I had called the Vet Sunday morning to let her know we'd made no progress, I feared the litter was a loss and to expect us upon opening the clinic Monday Morning.
Sunday night I was watching TV as I watched Ritz. At 11:15 the TV made a pop sound and everything went dark. As in pitch black! We had lost power. Prior to our power outage we'd had and were still experiencing a pretty robust thunder storm. Ritz is generally pretty calm during a storm but does tend to get a little needy. But that pop from the TV and immediate loss of power that followed obviously stressed her. I made my way through the house using the light of my phone to retrieve some battery operated lights. I set one up for Getka and her pups so she could see at least a slight outline of them in the darkness before she jumped in and out of the box. And when I returned to the bedroom I found Ritz panting and pacing.... obviously way out of sorts. I dimly lit the room with the battery operated lights attempting to conserve as much battery power as I could to get us through the night with at least some light. I began to panic, fearful that she was going into labor and I would have no choice but to help her deliver a litter... and likely a litter of dead pups in the darkness. As much as I had wanted her to go into labor my thought was "not now. Please not now! The light did help and Ritz began to settle somewhat... at least quit panting and pacing. Her symptoms stress induced, not labor induced. Thankfully. But she licked.... constantly licked for three hours straight. With no AC it was getting hot which helped nothing! We regained power around 2 am. What a relief!!! I turned all the lights on, added some soothing music and things began to settle. I think I and she got a couple hours sleep before heading to the Vet. By then she had developed a discharge. Black droplets on the floor. These droplets continued as we were waiting in the exam room of the Vets office. Vet walked in to examine. An examination or further testing no longer necessary as I pointed to the droplets on the floor. She simply stated she would take her in first. Ritz had her C section Monday and is recovering well. While in surgery I returned home to ready a room for the unexpected. I returned Getka and her pups to my bedside and dismantled the whelping box in the computer room. A disheartening task in and of itself. I left only the ottoman, added a dog bed and a comfy chair.
With a good degree of difficulty, I've made my calls to those who were on our reservation list and have spoken to all but one who I've not been able to reach. My preference was to tell rather than have them learn of the loss via written word. But at this point I feel a need for progress. To continue with life as it stands. So for that one... first on the list, I'm sorry if you're learning of this event via the written word. Possibly on vacation? If so, I hope you're enjoying it.
Yesterday was a day of recovery, not only for Ritz physically, but for me emotionally. A time to come to terms with what had occurred over the course of the past week. Getka's pups have been helpful in that regard. I watched some TV as I watched and listened to them. And some joy began to creep back in. I'm very much looking forward to the day when I can begin to enjoy some outdoor excursions with them. They never fail to warm my heart.
I apologize for the horribly long post, but it's one I had to get out of the way in order to clear my mind and then continue with life. As it stands. It may take me a few days to fully get back in the swing of things. Give me a little time. I'll be back in full force soon.
What Could Have Been, and What It Is....
My Sweet Girl Ritz!