Ten and NOT Counting
Thursday, December 3, 2009

I'm sitting on the floor next to the crate my MacGyver built for Bella and her puppies. 

I apologize for the crappy photos. I would only let Tori take two pictures. The puppies' eyes are beginning to open and flashes can be damaging to their new sight. Julia is trying to protect one of the pups' eyes in the one picture. 

I'm sitting here because, Bella must have not shown up for class on the day they taught Proper Care of Your Puppies.

She's not a bad mom. In fact, she's doing a hell of a lot more than I would ever do. Like for instance, there's the fact that she not only stimulates them to make a doody by licking their tiny little behinds, but then she eats their poops. 

I definitely draw the line there. As much as I love my kids - No. 

She does everything she's supposed to be doing, she just does it like I would envision Paris Hilton would mother. 

Which leads me to why I'm sitting on the floor next to the pen. She throws herself down in here, like, "Do you see this? I've now got 5 of these freakin' furballs and they're nursing the life out of me!" And when she flings herself down, there's usually a few pups underneath her. 

And that's not even the worst part of it. 

They let out their little baby cries as she's smothering them and she doesn't even budge! She just looks at me like, "You hearin' somethin'? Cause, I'm sure not."

I've been having to rescue puppies on a regular basis. 

Then, there's the taking care of them part of things. She's really not into it. She's more about the socializing, ala Paris  Hilton. 

On Thanksgiving, we had a beautiful day. Our house was overflowing with friends and family. I figured Bella would be nervous about all the people and commotion, so I closed off her room and taped a note to the doors asking folks to give the Mamma and her pups their space. 

Well...as soon as the doorbell rang, Miss Paris Hilton was up, out of that box, greeting everyone, hanging around the kitchen in the hopes that turkey bits would fall to the floor and just in general, making sure she was the IT girl of the party. 

I tried to have her hang with her pups and be all motherly, but no...she was more impressed with the bright lights and turkey droppings. I finally had to enlist someone to sit with her and stroke her lovingly, showering her with compliments, telling her what a good girl she was for feeding her pups instead of partying all night long. Ahem, Paris Hilton. 

When there's not any action to be found, Bella does take pretty good care of them, except for the almost-smothering them thing. 

But, I promised you a birth story. So, for today, I've decided to intertwine my birth stories with hers. That way, you know every SINGLE intimate detail of my life, Internet.

An editorial note: In case I skip over this fact. I did not eat my placenta unlike Paris. Just wanted to make that clear.

Bella labored all night. She didn't seem to be in any pain, just restless and panting. I stayed up with her, rubbing her ears, stroking her back, letting her know that I was feelin' her.

Bella did it right. Her man was nowhere to be found. In my opinion, men do not belong in the delivery room. 

OK, OK-HANG ON before you women get red in the face with outrage, let me explain myself.

It's not that I'm all, "This is Woman's Work and a man needs to just be let alone to be a man, y'all." 

No. If someone had invented a simulated womb so a man could crank out the babies, I would have shoved My Hubby to the front of the line. 

But, since that will NEVER happen until women take over the world, let me just say, for the record, that men are just dang annoying and completely in the way when it comes to birthing babies. 

Take for instance my labor stories. 

With the Odawg, my water started leaking and I was having scattered labor pains. Since it was my water, the very thing that keeps the baby protected, I was instructed to get to the hospital ASAP. It was my first time having a baby and I was scared witless. We lived 45 minutes from the hospital and my biggest fear was I wouldn't make it time. 

Was that ever a laugh. 

But, at the time, I had no idea it would take 22 hours of labor to bring my first child into the world. All I knew was, we had to GO, GO, GO! 

As we pulled out of the driveway, My Hubby suddenly slammed on his brakes and bolted for the house. I figured maybe he'd forgotten the new video camera or the insurance card or something vital.

He came back with a Blockbuster video. 

I was all, "What do you think you're doing?"

And he said, "I don't know how long this is gonna take and I don't want a late charge. It's just a few miles out of the way."

He incurred a late charge and a stream of invectives upon his head. 

My second child was a picture perfect birth. I had no problems... except for My Hubby. I had my Tori at a hospital with a fancy birthing center. It was in the pioneer days of big screen TV's. The only ones people had access to, were the displays at the store that cost $10,000.00. No one actually owned one. Everyone was waiting for the price to go down. 

But, my birthing room had one and when we walked in the door, I thought My Hubby was going to break down and weep. There was one slight problem, though...The remote was fastened to the railing of my hospital bed. 

I spent my time laboring while My Hubby sat next to me, in a trance, unable to move his eyes away from that glorious screen, commanding me every few seconds, "Change the channel. Change the channel."

It would take him more than a few commands to realize I was in the midst of a labor pain. When the channel wouldn't change, he would look over and sayyyyy: "Oh, when you're done with that, can you change the channel?"

My friend Debbie will vouch for this story. She was there.

And speaking of Debbie, I was also there at her daughter’s birth. Her husband, the other-brother of my hubby is a football guy. He was a college quarterback. He coaches the sport. He lives the sport.

And he was in that delivery room acting like this was the biggest football play of his life. He was coaching her with these, really, really, reeeeaaalllly annoying commands of “PUSH DEBBIE, PUSH! COME ON, NOW! PUSH!”

It was not my place to whack him in the head.

Besides, I thought to myself, maybe Debbie wants to be talked to like she’s a quarterback delivering a football. I stood there quietly wanting to put my hands around her hubby’s neck and squeeze.

Debbie’s OB was a woman and afterwards when her quarterback went to spread the news, the doctor, Debbie and I were talking. We were all commiserating on what we thought was the worst part of labor. And that’s another reason I think woman should only be allowed in the delivery room. Debbie’s doctor HAD an opinion. She knew what her worst pain was. A male doctor would only look at you blankly or say the most painful part is the insurance paperwork requirements.

Debbie confessed that one of her most painful moments during the birth was Rob’s coaching. I was all, “I know, right?” I wish I’d known. I would have shoved his big quarterback self out of there and coached her correctly, the woman way.

On my third baby, when my labor pains grew to a consistent state, I called my sister to come over and babysit the 2 little ones. She was a 20-something with an active social schedule, so I was grateful that she cancelled everything to come running. It was evening time, so I told her to pack her jammies.

By the time, we were on our way to the hospital my hubby noted that I hadn't had a labor pain since we'd been in the car and I was all, "Hey, I'm the expert here on MY body. It's just that I was running around getting ready. My body's just relaxing, that's all. Shut up and drive. I know what I'm talking about."

Turns out, I didn't. 

They sent me to labor triage because I didn't LOOK like I was in labor. Triage examined me and announced they were sending me home. I was all, "Nuh-uh! I've got a babysitter!"

Thanks to my insistence and the fact I refused to leave the hospital bed, they called my doctor who gave me a plea bargain. He told me I could stay for an hour and in that time, if I didn't go into active labor I was going home. 

Having a babysitter means everything. 

I asked the triage nurse where I could jog, that's right, jog. 

She pointed me to the mother/baby floor. Boy, did the nurses on that floor have some good laughs. I jogged. I did jumping jacks and leg lifts. I sprinted the stairs, all the while my hubby leisurely walked 100 yards behind me, shouting, "Can we go home? I'm really getting tired?" 

They sent me home. 

I labored all night on the couch, waiting as long as I could, mortified that they'd send me home again. The next morning I walked into my doctor's office doubled over, LOOKING like I was in labor. (They wanted me to come in for an exam first, before wasting everyone's time again at the hospital.) 

My doctor examined me and found me to be at 7 centimeters, which for those of you who have not had children, feels like um....I don't know, like all your fingernails are being pulled out one at a time at the same time someone is stabbing your eyeballs with an ice pick. Kind of like that. 

As my doctor confirmed that Yes, I would now be allowed to go to the hospital, I asked him one important thing: How long for the drugs?

He said very off-handedly because he has NEVER had a freakin' baby that- NO, it was probably too late for that. 

I grabbed his arm and growled the urgency with which I needed drugs. 

He plea-bargained again with me, telling me he'd make me a deal. A deal? If the anesthesiologist could meet me at the elevator door than I could get the nectar of all things good and lovely- an epidural. 

And then, then, THEN! The doctor, inexplicably turned to My Hubby and asked him what he did for a living. Like that mattered at that moment!  He and my Hubby proceeded to start up a lively and lengthy discussion on the fact that insurance companies hold doctors hostage when it comes to medical decisions. 

I believe they had some valid points, but, Helloooo! An epidural was waiting. For me. At the Elevator. Of the Hospital. Just a few feet away. Nirvana. And they were freakin' discussing insurance ethics!

I finally let out a good, long wail. And the doc turned as if seeing me for the first time and said, "Oh, I guess we should get you to that hospital." 

Epidural man was waiting for me. But, that insurance talk cost me a pain-free labor. Those drugs didn't settle in until after I pushed that baby out, feeling every ice-pick moment of that pain. 

I think it's not just the daddies who need to go, if you get what I'm sayin'.

After an all night labor, Bella had her first pup early in the morning. The Hubby was getting ready to take Julia to school and I was settling Bella into her whelping box, confident in my dog-birthing abilities. 

The first one came out. If you are not aware of this, Internet, puppies are born in sacs. The mother tears the sac open, starts licking the puppy to get it going and then chews off the umbilical cord and eats the sac and placenta. 

Like I said, I love my kids, but if somebody told me I had to do that, I'd be all, "Um, do you have anyone I can like, pay to do that part, because-Nooo!" 

So, the first one came out, delivered pretty effortlessly. I thought, this was going to be a piece of cake. 

Shows what I get for thinking. 

Bella took one look at that sac and tried to jump out of the whelping box as if to say, "What the HELL have you all been putting in my food?"

She wouldn't even look at it. 

I knew I was in trouble. As I tore open the sac and started briskly rubbing the puppy, I told my hubby I needed him to stick around. I was not going to be able to do this by myself if she was going to reject her puppies. 

It ended up being the best move of the day. I had an incredible helper who didn't bat an eye, who rolled up their sleeves and got bloody and messy and stayed in that whelping box all day with me, helping birth puppies, helping them nurse, keeping a cool head as we brought baby puppies into this world. 

And it wasn't my Hubby.

It was my Julia. 

The power of women-it is in the strength and courage of our hearts, no matter the age. She was a midwife like no other and afterwards she told me how much she loved it, how she would never forget it, how she was now certain, she wanted to work with animals for the rest of her life.

She and I helping bring life into this world. 

I knew exactly what to do when Bella balked and I apologize for the TMI, Internet, but I picked up the torn open sac as Julia was rubbing down the puppy and gave it to Bella for sniffing. 

The smell of birth brings out the instinctual necessities in a dog and it was all she needed. She set to work, chewing the umbilical cord. 

She must have missed the Umbilical Cord Chewing Class, too. 

Amazingly, dogs know to chew the cord to exactly the right length. At least, most dogs do. Bella chewed her pup's a little too close. It began bleeding immediately. 

At the same time, another pup was being birthed. I knew the second Bella tore open the sac, that this one  didn't look good. It was big. Much bigger than the other one. And it was still. 

I whisked it away from her and I will give my hubby props for this, I instructed him how to resuscitate a pup and he tried everything, even mouth to mouth when all other attempts failed. 

I am sad to say, we weren't able to save him. He was beautiful, perfectly formed. It wasn't until later that I realized his umbilical cord was not there. Perhaps, with his girth, it had broken off a few days before. We buried him in the back yard under the protective boughs of our grandfather oak. 

As The Hubby was trying to bring the puppy to life, I was trying to staunch the flow of bleeding from the other puppy. When I realized, it wasn't stopping no matter what I did, I pulled out my handy-dandy birthing book and found out that puppies can die from improperly chewed off umbilical cords. 

Thank God we humans clip ours. 

My book said a hemostat would stop the bleeding. 

Ummmm....In our college days, we might have had a hemostat or two around the house, you know, just in case one of our friends chewed off an umbilical cord a little too closely. But, we haven't worried about that sort of thing for years. So, we had no hemostat laying around. 

I sent my Hubby up to our local pharmacy for one. 

While I was still trying to stop the bleeding, another puppy was coming and my little Julia handled the whole thing like a pro. Bella delivered, chewed correctly and started nursing her baby. 

As one life arrived, the one in my hands was quickly ebbing away. Her cries were becoming softer and softer and as Julia announced another one was coming, I was on the phone, tearily pleading with My Hubby to hurry. 

He told me later, the line for checkout was long and of course someone at the front was getting their card declined. It's always the way.  He said he yelled, "I have a dying puppy! Can I please cut to the front of the line to buy this hemostat?"

I'm sure that's the most unique excuse they've ever heard for line-butting. 

He made it home just in time. We clamped that puppy and the bleeding stopped immediately. She's now the liveliest one of the bunch. The first one to open her eyes. The first one to begin to walk. 

And thank Heavens for the Hemostat. Bella chewed the last pup's too short, again. And that was after she decided in between birthing pups that it might be fun to go outside and run around and fetch her ball and roll in the grass. 

I'm not kidding you, Internet. If she wasn't my own dog, I might just report her to Dog Social Services. 

But, as those pups came into the world, Bella should have been grateful, it was Julia and I helping her birth her babies, instead of some male dogs. They probably would have eaten her pups. 

I'll cement my case by telling you this little gem: I was in my 22nd hour of labor. I had been pushing for almost 3 hours. At about the 14th hour of my labor, I started vomiting...profusely, unable to even catch my breath as my Hubby held the bed pan out as far as his reach could extend, looking the other way, in total revulsion, the whole time I puked. 

Because I could barely breathe, my baby's heartbeat began to slow down to dangerous levels and when that happens, alarms go off, people come crashing in the room, oxygen gets slapped on you, and there is a burst of manic activity where you are injected with a local, so that you won't feel it when they cut you open to yank your baby out. 

The much needed oxygen stopped my vomiting. My baby's heartbeat went up and most importantly, my Hubby did not have to be subjected to any more of my puking. 

All good. But, thanks to the local, I could not feel anything below my waist. So when they were instructing me to push, I was like, "Push What?" It's hard to push when you have no feeling. 

So at my 22nd hour, a completely fatigued shell of a weary woman, I was trying to do what I was told, but I felt like I was on the losing end of a long, tough battle. There was a circle of nurse faces around me, angels really, coaxing me to push, telling me how brave, how strong I was, telling me I could DO this. I focused on their faces. It was what got me through. 

And then my darling, wonderful, supportive Hubby standing there with the nurses, burst out with, "COME ON, PUSH! YOU'RE NOT PUSHING HARD ENOUGH!"

I forgot about the team of nurses, the doctors, the neonatologist on hand because of the long labor, the interns, the hordes of medical people in the room. I focused on his face, that face that put me in this position, that had no earthly clue how hard this was, that kept zooming in on my face with his stupid, new toy during my labor pains and I yelled with all my outrage and might, "SHUT THE F@#*K UP!!"

You could hear a hypodermic needle drop, the place was so quiet. Within seconds, the nurses began to assure him I didn’t mean to say that, it was the pain talking.

I looked around at those sweet nurses and said, “I meant every freakin’ word of it.”

Those words empowered me to use all my reserve strength and might to push that baby out.

I am convinced we need to go back to the days of midwifery, where woman got each other through the fierce battle of bringing life into the world..but, with modern drugs, of course.

Bella, Debbie, Julia and I all can vouch for this.

Today's Definite Download: I've decided for the month of December, we're going to do Christmas songs. I've had my Ipod on the Christmas genre as I put up all my holiday decorations, a painful process, indeed.

I'm starting with a great Christmas song you might have never heard before. It's by the fabulous, fabulous Run-D.M.C. "Christmas Is." This is one of my kids' favorite Christmas songs. When they were small, we would blast this on the stereo and dance around the family room to this kick-ass song.

It's a lovely song, full of the theme of giving. "Give up the gold. Give up the gold. Give up the Gold on Christmas. Yo!"

Reverend Run, full of goodness, even before he was the honorable Rev. Download the amazing Run-DMC for a Merry, Merry Christmas. Yo!


Aunt Becky said...

Dave actually--shockingly--stepped up to the plate and went to bat for Mimi's birth. Trust me when I say that I am both shocked, amazed, delighted and flabbergasted.

I say this because he SLEPT through Alex's labor. On the couch. I was ALONE through my whole labor. It was AWESOME.

Suzanne said...

Hi! I made it over here from, well, to be honest I have no idea where I was last. I'm blog surfing ;-) I LOVE this post. I'm sitting here at work- not working- obviously and laughed out loud (unfortunately with a mouth full of iced tea) when I got to the part where you screamed at your husband to Shut The F*#K up! Oh have I been there! I wanted mine in the delivery room because if I had to do, so did he. But he was more of a problem than a helper! Thanks for starting my day with a great laugh!

Joann Mannix said...

Hi Suzanne,

I don't know if you'll see this, but I have no other way of contacting you. The blog link you have on your profile doesn't work.

Thanks so much for reading my loooong post!

And yes, it was one of the most definable moments of my labor. It epitomized his part of the experience. An F bomb never felt so good!

Thanks for stopping by. Let me know if you have a working blog link. I'd love to stop by.

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