A year ago today I was up all night with a very pregnant Celeste, taking her temperature and watching as she continually remade her nest in her kennel, then dug fruitlessly in the extra dog bed, then shredded the paper and the pads I had laid out in in the plastic kid’s pool. Neither of us got any sleep, and we were both pretty nervous about what was to come.
At one point I took her out back to relieve her bladder and she booked it across the yard in the pitch black and dove under the 16 foot high, 100 ft long evergreen hedge that runs along the boundary of the yard. I stumbled after the black streak who moved surprisingly fast for having a belly full of puppies, and listened for digging and grunting sounds emanating from yet another nest construction site.
After a hurried trip back inside to get a leash and rolling around in the cold dirt and dropped needles, I extricated Celeste from the hedge and patted down the ground to make sure she hadn’t dropped a puppy in there while I was away getting the leash. Back inside for another 8 hours of unrest and no puppies.
I spent the time re-reading the puppy intensive care manual and birthing books (which will convince you that everything is going to go horribly wrong even in the best scenario) and re-sterilizing the kitchen while Celeste continually re-nested. Dogs have been giving birth quite successfully in the wild for thousands of years, but after digesting the literature I was envisioning a scene from E.R. or maybe House.
Since it was bitter cold outside, Mom rushed off to Radio Shack to pick up a converter that would allow us to plug in a heating pad to a cigarette lighter (which the Jeep has placed strategically in the back cabin) so we could keep the puppies warm on the drive home.
An hour and a fifty minutes later the car was all loaded with the bottom of Celeste’s kennel, the gigantic tub of puppy towels, a heat lamp, a heating pad and car converter, a digital hang scale, gloves, thermometer, disposable thermometer tips, lube, blunt nosed scissors, cotton swabs, dental floss, rubbing alcohol, iodine, camera, extra batteries, and other must have supplies.
I made the call to the vet to let them know that we didn’t have “puppy sign” and would be making the long trip through lunch hour traffic to their office. I hung up the phone and Celeste’s water broke. The light green tinge suggested that the first puppy was imminent. Go or stay, go or stay? GO!
Mom drove the Jeep while I stayed with Celeste in the back, hoping that the last 14 hours of wanting this to go faster could be counteracted with hushed pleadings to wait just a little bit longer. We were “almost there” for the entire trip, and when it was finally true we were still without puppies. After we rushed Celeste, the kennel, and the box of supplies inside to the exam room that was waiting for us, Mom took off to get some food (we had skipped breakfast and lunch nervously waiting for puppies) and by the time she got back with some drivethru, Celeste had delivered three puppies.
For all the waiting and anticipation, I didn’t even notice that Celeste had delivered the first puppy until she already had it cleaned and nursing, and I was staring intently at her the entire time. She had been cleaning herself pretty regularly, and when she kept her head buried under her leg for a little longer I decided to take a look and voilà!
The demure silence of the moment was broken by me dancing around the room broadcasting the arrival of the first born, so when I popped my head out into the waiting room to announce the puppy, the receptionists feigned surprise and the vet techs came in to clean the puppy and tie off the umbilical cord.
Everything went well and there were no complications, just six beautiful Border Collie puppies and some tired but relieved humans.
We packed up the puppies in the preheated tub and said our gracious thank yous to my wonderful vet and his doting staff, and made our way back home at a snail’s pace through the start of a snow storm that dumped several inches and made our investment in heating pads and car adapters well worth the effort.
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