We have a brand new litter of very healthy french bulldogs. This makes me happy, because PUPPIES. But even happier is the fact that Margo made this happen naturally. I had high hopes of her, of all dogs, being able to give birth without medical intervention. That hunch was a good one.
When we were deciding on the french bulldog as a possible addition to the family, research told us that the breed as a whole doesn't do much on it's own. We learned that c-sections were a very common thing, and we were okay with that because we had experience with C's with the corgis. Not our choice in birthing puppies, but not a bad choice either. So we knew, going into this adventure, that surgical births would be a thing for us. And yet, my vet and I agreed that giving each girl a chance to have puppies on her own might be a good idea. Two out of three dogs ended up in emergency surgery, so we know to schedule them in the future. But Margo is the exception. Good old Margo.
Good old Margo can also let herself out of her crate at will. I am working on teaching her that when I put her somewhere, I expect her to stay there, but dogs are like kids and live for the moment you turn your back so they can then do that one thing you said not to do. And much like a toddler, Margo is ridiculously proud of her misdeeds. She'll greet me at the door, prancing like a unicorn, and smiling from ear to ear, because she is that proud of herself for escaping from the prison I locked her in. Zero concept of shame, right there.
I knew Margo was in labor Saturday morning. She shredded the pillow I had in her crate and she was panting profusely. I also know that labor takes a long time, and it being her first litter, it may take even longer. I had an errand to run and figured I'd run out immediately to get back and have the rest of the day to hang.
If there's one thing I've learned over the 15 years of raising dogs, it's that I know nothing.
Turns out, Margo is one of those lucky women who don't mess around when it comes to childbirth. When she decides she's having children, she gets the job done and doesn't dawdle. As I was heading home from the errand, Josh called. "You need to get home. Now. Margo is having a puppy on Luke's coat."
I probably don't have to tell you that I panicked a whole lot, as I was driving. Of course, it was far more like I PANICKED A WHOLE LOT, OHMYGOSH. There is so much that can go wrong. There is so much that you can't describe to someone. There is so much that you just have to learn from experience. THERE IS SO MUCH, and I wasn't there.
"You'll need to get the scissors from the big yellow whelping box on top of the shelves in the laundry room. They need boiled. Don't put them in the pan because they're nasty. Just pour boiling water over them."
"Mom, ain't nobody got time for that. This puppy is here."
"OHMYGOSH!!! OHMYGOSH!!! Okay, don't panic!" (I said pretty much to myself.) "If she doesn't get the sack off the puppy you'll have to do that. It'll suffocate if not. Give her about 20 seconds to get the job done. If not, intervene."
"The scissors. But if they're not sterilized, don't use them. Infection can happen. Rip it. You can do it."
"Mom, that's gross."
"Yes, it is. We're talking life or death here. It needs done. There's no argument about it. And the cord will need cut. She should also do that. The scissors will need boiled."
And then I lost phone service because we live in the mountains and I went over a hill and around a turn. OHMYGOSH.
Turns out, the boys did a pretty good job of things. I had a beautifully live puppy when I got home, they moved Margo and her new daughter back into her crate where she belonged (silly escape artist) and were cleaning the floor where the mess happened. (Birth is messy, yo.) I'm proud of those boys.
"That was the nastiest thing ever. I almost threw up. For real."
I guess it really is nasty. I stopped thinking about that a long time ago. I've actually taken my dinner with me to a nursery crate and set my sandwich aside for a minute as I assisted mama, sneaking bites in as I can. Clearly, very little puts me off my food. And Margo feels the same way. I've not had a mama eat as heartily as she does postpartum. But I'm not complaining. She birthed 3 incredibly healthy and strong babies all on her own this weekend. And they're absolutely darling.