Here are two ultrasound pictures:
Today was also x-ray day, to check on the number of puppies - since numbers from ultrasound can be unreliable - and to measure the size of the puppys' skulls in relation to Portia's pelvic size. The good news is that the x-ray showed three puppies, as we suspected from the ultrasounds. The bad news is that two of the puppys' skulls are already too large to pass through Portia's pelvic area. So that means that Portia will need to have a cesarean. This is in spite of my being very strict with Portia's diet, in the hope that the puppies would not get too large. (In fact my repro vets were encouraging me to give Portia extra food.) Since Portia is going to have a c-section, I now can feed her extra food as it does not matter how large the puppies get.
This time my repro vets saw (via ultrsound) significant movement in the puppys' GI tracts. And Portia's progesterone level was 0.4. Here is Portia while we were waiting on her progesterone result. So my repro vets said it was time, and they took Portia off to get an IV catheter inserted so that anesthesia could get started for her c-section. I signed the necessary paperwork consenting to surgery. At that point I left and took my other dogs to my petsitter, then went to have a late lunch while I waited. Just as I was finishing lunch, I got a phone call - Portia was out of surgery. There were two boys and one girl, and everyone was doing well. So I hurried back to NC State.
Here is my first view of the puppies. The two boys have collars on. All the puppies were tube-fed with serum from another dog. For the first 24 hours or so of life, the puppies GI tract will allow large molecules to pass into their blood stream. So it is important that they get antibodies into their system. Usually they get this from their mother when they nurse, but the serum is just a backup method in case they do not get sufficient from Portia. After that the puppies were encouraged to nurse to get some of Portia's antibodies. Notice that Portia's belly has been shaved and that you can see her incision from her c-section. Here is another view of all the puppies after they had nursed. Portia, the puppies, and I then began the long drive home, with the puppies in a partially-covered box (so I could keep an eye on them). The box had a hot-water bottle wrapped in a towel to help keep the puppies warn.
We arrived home just as it was getting dark to find the house warm. (I had turned up the heat before we left, as the forcast was for a cold night). I weighed all the puppies. The boy puppy with the black collar - whom I will call "White" - weighed 175 grams. The boy with the green collar - whom I will call "Green" - also weighed 175 grams. (I suspect my scale rounds to the newest multiple of 5.) The girl weighed only 100 grams.
I then put Portia and the puppies in my whelping box (really a nursing box) that I had placed next to my bed. (The red light is from an infrared lamp used to add heat to the whelping box.) I fed Portia some cottage cheese. (It will be important over the next several weeks while Portia is nursing to keep her calcium level up.) At that point, I tried to get the puppies to nurse. But neither Portia nor the puppies were having anything to do with my attempts. Portia did not want to lay on her side. I had to wrestle her over. Then went I picked up a puppy, Portia rolled over. If I put Portia on her side and held her down, then I could not get a puppy to nurse, in spite of holding the puppy right at a teat. I was getting very frustrated. And then the infrared light bulb went out. (The bulb blew.) All Portia wanted to do was have the puppies tucked up underneath her, and the puppies seemed fairly content with that arrangement. So I made an emergency trip to town to pick up an infrared heating bulb. (Lesson for future litters. Have a spare infrared bulb on hand.)
When I got home it was evident from the full bellies that Portia had fed the puppies. She gave me a look that seemed to say "I do not need your help to nurse puppies. Your job is just to pay the bills and bring me food and water." So I said fine and turned in for the night.
The puppies have lost a little weight today, which is normal in the first 24 hours after birth. The boys are each down 10 grams and the girl is down 5 grams. Mostly the puppies are quiet and have round bellies, so they must be nursing sufficently.
Initially, Portia did not leave the whelping box for ten hours before she went outside for a quick potty break. Now she is leaving the puppies more often. When she does, I turn on the heat lamp to keep the puppies warm. Here are Green, Girl, and White. And a bedraggled looking Portia with her puppies.
What I like to see of course are the puppies nursing. Here is the Girl nursing. (Note that you can just see her tongue where she is sucking on Portia's teat.) I weigh the puppies in the morning and evening. As of this evening, both boys have gained five grams over their birth weight. But - worrisome - the Girl has kept the same weight for the past 48 hours - five grams below her birth weight. She seems to be getting nursing time. Her belly is round as if it is full, and she is not crying. Every time I check on the puppies, I make sure the Girl is near the rear teats which have more milk. This evening I started supplimenting her with Esbilac - a puppy milk replacement - fed very slowly via syringe. The Girl has a strong suckle reflex and sucks the end of the syringe as I slowly push the plunger.
I brought two of my dogs (Tami and Siri) home from my petsitter. Portia was initially happy to see them, but then not happy when they wanted to go into my bedroom to check out the puppies. I have put up a gate to keep them out of the bedroom. Portia just barely tolerated it when Tami and Siri came to sleep on my bed for the night.
Green has pulled ahead of his brother in the weight race game.