It's their birthday, and we know that because we scheduled the c-section for 9AM that morning. Mom had x-rays done on Day 58 to check mom and puppies for a natural delivery. Lacey's pelvis was too narrow and the puppies heads too wide for a normal delivery, called free whelping, thus the need for assistance.
Thursday night, Lacey had her last food and water at 9PM and then got a good night's rest before heading to the vet Friday morning. Right at 9AM, we got her started with an IV catheter and fluids. Once she had received her prescribed amount, she was given a Propoflo induction, entubation, and Isoflurane gas anesthetic. Her belly was shaved, scrubbed, and prepped while I got the incubator all ready off to the side, with oxygen and all the other necessary equipment ready to revive pups. When Lacey was opened up, we saw that all 3 pups were in the same uterine horn, which is very unusual. This means it would have been a c-section regardless because the uterus would have become too tired to continue the whelping naturally. Good thing we were already at the vet. When the time came, I "caught" the first puppy, which was a black tri boy. Two techs got the second (cream/white girl) and third (cream boy) puppies. Because of the medications used, they were awake, crying, and breathing on their own within 60-90 seconds. I got my boy settled in the incubator and got the other one so the tech could get back to Lacey. While I worked with the puppies, the vet spayed Lacey and got her all ready to wake up. By reducing the anesthic agents, by the time the last suture went in, she was waking up, swollowing, and her trach tube was removed as she was placed in my arms. I held her in my arms with a towel and heating pad while she woke up. The pups were right next to me in their warm nest, snuggled in quietly together. Lacey got about 100ml more fluids and then we disconnected the fluids but kept the cath in while I introduced mom to her new pups. Since she was still under the affects of the medication, she was never left unattended with the puppies. I held her in my lap while I put the puppies on her nipples. All three immediately started nursing and we remained sitting there for as long as they stayed "plugged in." Once they were done, the vet gave them an exam to make sure all was well, they went back in their incubator, and we ensured Lacey was OK to go home. The vet examined her, took her vitals, checked her color, made sure she would stand and walk, and then we removed her catheter. She had already received several injections for pain management and preventative antibiotics. We got her meds to take home, paid the bill, and packed everyone in their seperate crates to bring home. Moms and puppies never ride together because anesthesia can make them hallucinate, etc. and can cause things to happen which are fatal to the puppies.
Once home, Lacey settled into her bed with the puppies next to her in their incubator. She was disoriented and uninterested in the puppies. This was her first litter and she had not gone into labor, so the natural hormones released by the body were not in her system yet. She had received an oxytocin injection and once the pups were nursing good, this would hopefully resolve. Meanwhile, it's my job to keep the pups warm and fed and Lacey comfortable. We arrived home and were settled by 11AM. I got myself a drink and popped the top on a can of beer for Lacey to help bring in her milk. This is an old school technique that has saved many a breeder from hand raising puppies. The beer is allowed to go warm and flat sitting opened on the counter (I try to do this the night before the surgery if it's scheduled but I forgot.) and the mom is given 3CC every 2 hours for a minimum of 3 days. I can't explain why is brings in milk. Something to do with the malt and the fact that mom is more relaxed, but it has never failed anyone who uses it. Over the years, most of the vet's offices I've worked at now give them same instructions. Kinda funny to see the owner's face when told to get the dog a beer on the way home from the clinic.
Anyway, we started the clock for 2 hours feedings. I brought Lacey and the pups the the living room, held Lacey in my lap, and plugged in the pups. They are very slow nursers at this age so it took about 45 minutes for them to have their fill. Lacey's belly was sore so I had to hold her down and stretched out for the pups to latch on. When they are kneeding her belly, I was moving their feet off the incision. Even with pain medication, it can be very uncomfortable for them. I know, I've been there myself. I do everything I can to keep any pain to a minimum for her. Once the babes were done, I put them back in their incubator, gave Lacey her beer, and let her rest while I did the same. This was continued around the clock by setting the alarm. At about 5:30AM, Lacey finally started showing some interest in the pups by smelling and licking them. I was able to sit with her and all the pups in my lap on a towel, without holding her, while she cleaned her babies. It was such a relief to me. After about 45 minutes of bonding, I tried putting them together in the same bed in her puppy pen (3'x3' enclosure with elevated floor and top that closes). Lacey immediately got out of the bed and went to hers beside it. Oh well, we were atleast making progress. I checked on them about 1/2 hour later as I went for more coffee and she was in the bed with them. Yeah!!! She's been there ever since....such a good momma.
The most vital part now is ensuring that Lacey is eating and drinking enough and there's no infection from the surgery. As of now, I'm warming up canned food with water and dry kibble and hand feeding her in the puppy box. That's the only way she'll eat. I force walk her several times a day so she can potty and I change the bedding, weigh pups, and check them over to make sure no cord infection, etc. We're focused on mom for a few days while we try to catch up on some much needed sleep.