Warning: This is a sad story, but it has an (almost) happy ending.
Yesterday, Summer went into labor just before 12 PM. The placenta of the first kitten came out first – usually the placenta comes out after the kitten – and she wasn’t having contractions. I found out later that the first kitten’s shoulders got stuck in the birth canal, and the kitten was separated from the placenta, and that threw off the rest of the normal birthing process. So I bundled her up in a carrier and rushed her to the vet. What happened afterwards is truly a miracle story.
First, the vet tried giving her an oxytocin injection to get her contractions started. She did have some contractions, but the kitten didn’t come. We gave her some time, and the vet came and looked at her again and said that the first kitten was in the birth canal, so she didn’t want to give her any more oxytocin. The vet decided that Summer needed to have a C-section because labor wasn’t progressing normally and the first kitten wasn’t coming (they were going to spay her at the same time too).
She told me that I could watch them do the C-section if I wanted to. I did. They took her in the back and I waited for what seemed like forever, and finally they told me that I could come back and watch (I couldn’t be in the surgery room, but there was a window I could watch through.) Both the vets and almost all of the vet techs were there – one of the vets did the surgery, and the others were taking care of the kittens, rubbing them and trying to get them to breathe. They were very weak – they were hardly moving or breathing – and I started thinking that none of them were going to make it. One of the vets kept coming out and trading kittens with the vet tech that was standing next to me outside of the surgery room. Sometimes she said they were seeing very faint breaths. Then one of the little orange ones that the vet tech was rubbing started moving and squeaking! From then on we knew that one was going to be okay.
We kept rubbing the others and putting them close to packs of warm fluid, trying to get them to breathe (mostly it was the vet techs doing this, but I was rubbing the darker orange one at one point). I don’t know how long we kept doing that, but finally one of the vets came out and said that none of the others were coming around, and it had been long enough that if they were going to, they would have. She asked me if I wanted to see them. I said yes, and she laid the three little ones next to each other on a towel and brought them out for me to see. One orange, one little calico, one gray and white tabby.
At that time Summer was coming out of surgery, so they brought her out and put her in a cage while she woke up. She looked pretty groggy, and I was petting her and talking to her gently, when I heard one of the vet techs shout. One of the kittens had taken a breath! Everyone sprang into action – rubbing the kitten, putting her close to the warm fluid, breathing into her mouth, and piping little droplets of glucose into her mouth. We started watching the other two again, and we realized that the orange one was breathing too! As the vet rubbed the orange one, it started moving and meowing.
We placed the two orange ones with Summer. She was still pretty out of it, and she was pretty growly at the vets, but she started nuzzling the kittens a little bit. I kept going back and forth between Summer and the two orange kittens, and the little gray tabby that the vet tech was still trying to revive. Finally that little one started breathing and squeaking, too.
We never did get the little calico to respond, so we lost that one – but I am still in awe that three of them survived. It was amazing to watch them come back to life. One of the vet techs started crying and said she had never seen anything like this before. If I could turn back the clock and chose whether or not to take Summer in, knowing what she would go through, I would.