My kitchen has been offically commandeered by various whelping supplies (click here for a description of most of what we use, though some of this has changed since I originally posted in 2007). I won't get my kitchen back until the pups are placed in their forever homes around Memorial Day weekend (the end of May). The kitchen becomes puppy-rearing land as part of the pups' socialization process.
Truth be told, I wouldn't have it any other way (who needs a kitchen??).
And Elsie grows more uncomfortable, by the day. Bless her heart.
So we wait.
How will we know when she's getting close to labor and delivery?
- She'll start nesting (check -- already happening).
- Her belly load will seem to drop, or get lower (check -- she's there).
- Her milk will "come in" (check -- the jugs are flowing!).
- Her temperature will start to drop (check -- this has started).
- Her temperature will drop below 99.0 (normal for canines is 101.7). The lowest temp we've seen in the past couple days has been 99.4. Once she drops below 99.0, she should go into labor within 24 hours.
- She'll stop eating (nope... she's still ravenous).
Then, when she enters Stage One Labor (or "pre-labor" as it's also known), she'll start non-stop panting, she will keep asking to go outside (the urge to push feels like the need to go to the bathroom), and she'll become very restless. After all this happens we'll know she's moving into Stage Two (active) labor when the pups will start arriving any time (and we'll be able to see contractions).
I will say, it can be difficult to wait. Especially when the waiting includes knowing things are going to get a whole lot crazier (or more painful or worse or exhausting) before what we're waiting for arrives.
I'm learning, though, that that's just part of the bigger picture. The waiting, and what comes between waiting and arrival, makes the actual arrival a greater joy, a bigger celebration, a more welcome relief.
This waiting, and the pain of labor and delivery, is all part of the greater work of producing new life and new joy for puppies and families yet unknown.
It's a good thing.
I know that, of course. And that makes the waiting and wondering and struggle to get there okay.
But someone forgot to tell Elsie.
'til next time,