Once in a thousand years -
A midsummer night drama in five parts
|Characters:||Stina, the Husband, the Manchester terrier-mother Dessi, Dessis' daughters Carmencita (Cita), Maj på Malö and son Rönnerdahl, Maarit, amidwife from Sarfsalö, Kerstin from Grankulla, Kirsi and Jamppe from Villähde|
Part 1 Telephone call Krämertskog/Villähde
|- Why not try with Maj
Stina and Kirsi, joint owners of Carmencita, a Manchester terrier, have to admit, towards the end of April, that the wedding which had been arranged for and taken place between the beautiful Carmencita and the gigolo Ready, the latter especially imported from Sweden for the sole purpose, had not resulted in the happy family event they had planned for.
|So, when the kind and
modest (in her own eyes) but equally beautiful sister Maj
enters her season, the idea strikes them both
- But how to get her shipped to Villähde? And back. Before May Day.
Part 2 Helsinki - Villähde - Helsinki
|April 25th 29th,
1999 (as told by Maj)
I am writing to you and to all of those who could benefit from this story or be warned by it. This is what actually happened to me, Maj på Malö, when I was chosen to pass on our genes to future generations.
It so happened that my lofty sister Cita, champion, would you believe it, had not managed to become a mother, not even after having spent two weeks with a boy named Ready. But I dont suppose you can call her miss, either. Not anymore. Anyway, as usually it was I who had to pay for her failure, it was I who had to produce the puppies requested, and I had four days available!
It all started on a Sunday afternoon (day of rest?). Mother, that is mother Stina, decided to drive me to Villähde. It was terribly warm and I panted and was uncomfortable, but she appeared to take no notice. But, we had travelled just a few miles along the motorway to Lahtis, when she stops the car and out she goes to do something to the antenna. So, when she opened the door and I felt the fresh air in
|my nostrils, what could I
do? What would you have done, dear reader? Exactly. I
jumped out of the car.
But can you believe it? As if they owned the road, three lines of cars were speeding along from Helsinki towards Lahti. I did not hesitate in crossing the road in two seconds but those road hogs managed to drive over my leash, one I was particularly fond of. Having reached the other side I shouted and warned Mum, but she just threw herself out among the cars and even made one of them stop. He was most worried about me and my well being, but eventually we managed to calm him down. Mum hugged me and called me sweet names, apparently she had been worried by something.
Then I had four lovely days in Villähde with Ready. He proved to be a real gentleman, one who knows how to treat a lady. It was only too soon that I had to return back home. And there waited Rönnerdal who demonstrated a jealousy of the most offending kind. He obviously is not quite right in the head. I mean, he is my brother isnt he? It was by shear luck that I avoided a miscarriage.
Part 3 Veterinary reception
|- Two embryos, but why
don´t you look in next week again to make sure. It could
- It is more. It is five, says the Husband, getting the report.
- Well, at least three, maybe four, says the vet.
- As I said, five, says the Husband.
Part 4 Krämertsskog
|- What if the delivery is
due at Midsummer, the Husband suggests. That makes about
two months, doesn´t it, which should be the normal
period of time.
- For this breed, 58 days. So, it depends on which of the days in Villähde was the one of conception. If the first copulation was the effective one, she is due on Wednesday, June 23, if the second, it would be Thursday, that is the day before Midsummer Eve.
|- Then, Midsummer Eve it
is, said the Husband. Have you informed Kerstin that our
traditional Midsummer festivities at Nystuvu will be
somewhat different this year?
-It is of course possible, Stina meditated. But the probable thing is that it happens on the Tuesday night, when you are in the city and I am all alone at our summer cottage, not counting the dogs. But Kirsi has promised to try to come, and I have also spoken to Maarit, in Kärpe. Annika tells me that she has had ample experience delivering both horses and dogs. I must have a midwife.
Part 5 Helsinki -
- Did you see that blood stain, the Husband asks. It looks very much like those from their periods to me.
- It can´t be, Stina objected. None of them is due.
- In that case, it would be Dessi, says the Husband. And it is going to culminate at Midsummer. We shall have Maj giving birth, Dessi in season and Rönnerdal in full attendance.
Stina consults her note book. Dessi started her previous period at the end of January and cut a month from her normal cycle at that time. She obviously intends to do the same thing now. That´s how it will turn out, meaning that only Cita would be about normal for Midsummer. Did we really send our Invitation Card to Kerstin?
|Wednesday 23.6. At eight o´clock p.m. Stina (at Sarfsalö) informs the Spouse (in the city) that Cita seems to have got a sting or a bite to her nose. The nose has swollen to one and a half of its normal size. But it seems the bite was high enough not to make the throat swell. She at once got 2 Cortisone pills and water applied a few times by injection in the throat, which was very dry and sticky. Stina would rather have taken her to the vet in Porvoo, but the Husband having the car in Helsinki and, after all, how could she leave Maj? The Husband would not mind driving there to be of some help, not that he can tell how, but he is occupied with an order which must be ready on Thursday evening. At 10 p.m. Stina calls to tell that perhaps they will manage somehow. Cita has had some palpitations of the heart, but the swelling has decreased.|
Thursday, June 24 (58. day after the second copulation)
|Stina calls the Husband
at his job. Cita had had a rather unstable period at four
oclock in the morning. The swelling had moved to
the right side cheek, which was hanging like a
superfluous breast. Right now she is lying down in a box
looking lousy, resembling a hippopotamus. The vet had
ordinated by phone one more cortisone pill, and water
injections to go on. Maj is her usual self.
12 oclock. Cita eats and appears a bit more cheerful.15.20 Maj starts some frenetic bedding and tramping. Maybe she is already in labour. 20 minutes between the spells.
|At 16 hours she drinks a
The Husband arrives around 7 p.m. In his opinion, Cita looks like a moose, not a hippopotamus, at least not sideways. At 21.20 her temperature is 37.3 and she pokes about and in circles at 15 10 5 minute intervals.
Kirsi calls at 10 oclock, finds it too early to come around, so everyone is going to bed. The Husband with Cita, Dessi, and Rönnerdal, Stina with Maj.
Friday, June 25., Midsummer Eve
|Between 3 and 5 in the
morning Maj is having trembling-fits and is ill at ease.
At five she also starts panting, every five minutes for
periods of 10 - 15 minutes. Stina calls Kirsi at 6
oclock. Kirsi is not in a position to come at all,
since her three kids have caught chicken-pox, all of them
fretfully complaining about everything. But Jamppe, her
husband, will come instead. He arrives at 9 oclock
from Villähde and the Husband leaves for the Summer
Market Place with his photoes and pictures and things to
take care of the midsummer sales from their stand between
10 and 12.30 and to buy lettuce, fresh potatoes, fish
etc. as ordered from the Market Place and from the
At 1 oclock the Husband returns. It is 29 centigrades in the shadow. Since the arrival of Jamppe nothing has developed with Maj and it begins to look as if everything will be postponed. She looks a bit tired, though. So does the Hippopotamoose.
|Jamppe is not in a
position to stay for longer than up till 3 oclock,
but at that time Kerstin should have arrived. As a
precaution Maarit from Kärpe is contacted. She tells us
that she is prepared to assist us, if needed, up to 6
oclock, but then she is expecting guests.
15.15. Kerstin arrives together with white wine and champagne to celebrate the occasion. Jamppe is released leaving us some final advice. After all, there is nothing to be afraid of. Deliveries happen all the time, without the slightest complications. Everybody agrees that everything will turn out fine. Why, both Stina and Kerstin are educated nurses, arent they! And both have given birth themselves, havent they? Of course they will manage. And as the whole event probably will not occur until in the evening, perhaps not until the next day, Midsummer Day, the meal is begun in peace and quiet with traditional fish courses preceded and accompanied by sparkling wine and white wine.
|The unbelievably beautiful weather combined with the unusually silent and peaceful setting, this year inexplicably void of motor boat noises, likewise of car traffic to the beach, and also lacking any sign of life at the neighbours, would make this day of Midsummer Eve the summit of perfection, were it not for a practically incessant, shrill barking and whining from Nystu, the place of the Pauls, where a lovesick Rönnerdal runs like a train after his mother, wherever she moves. and she does not give a damn.|
The Husband makes coffee since nobody would yet care for barbecue stuff. Stina goes with Maj to the puppy room, not so much as a necessity, but rather because it would be nice to have it done with at the outset of the evening.
18.00 A thin skin suddenly appears from Maj and goes back in and the out again. Quick as lightning Maj bites at it, the amnion bursts, the water breaks and the puppy remains inside.
Total panic. At the same moment Kirsi calls and the Husband explains the situation. Kirsi tells him that the main thing is to stay calm, not to start panicking. The best thing to do would be to call the vet and check how much time there is left for the puppy to come out before suffocating. It should be something like half an hour from the breaking of the water. Anyway, Stina should carefully try to help it out as soon as possible, using her hands.
Stina works her way in, turning and trying, even feeling a tiny paw, but the puppy only withdraws.
The Husband tries to call a vet, using a list, prepared in advance. After all, it is Midsummer Eve.
-This is the veterinary reception Zoo and Zoo Our visiting hours are from . Midsummer Eve is closed. In case of emergency, please call 040 -You are calling a number which for the moment is impossible to reach. The number is not in use Beep, beep, beep.
- I can´t get anybody on the line, complains the Husband. Why not try Maarit anyway? Perhaps she could leave her guests just for a few minutes , enough to tell us whether we should leave for Porvoo at once or not. Let´s hope that Rainer´s cab is available, we have had some wine, after all.
- Why not drive to Porvoo once and for all, suggests Kerstin. As I understand it, this Maarit is not a veterinarian, is she, and she is more used to dealing with horses than with dogs. I must call Lotta and ask her opinion.
Meanwhile the Husband calls Maarit. It is a quarter past six in the evening. Well, says Maarit, as a matter of fact they have only just sat down to eat, but she would only be too glad to come and offer her help, for what it is worth. How about the Husband meeting her at the Village Center to show her the way.
Kerstin calls her daughter Lotta, who is a veterinary student. Lotta suggests visiting a vet, but not without first checking whether they can receive us or not. Should they be performing an operation, for instance on a cow, it would be no use showing up.
Kerstin is sitting with Maj while Stina once more is trying to reach a vet. Having listened to the usual variety of melodies and presentations on opening times from all veterinary receptions in Porvoo and Lovisa as well as from the Small Animal Clinic in Helsinki, she finally succeeds. A reception in Porvoo tells her that Morelius in Sibbo is on duty today. There a kind and helpful lady by the name of von Renteln is answering her call. She wants to get all available phone numbers and states that they are prepared to receive us. But please call before starting!
The Husband concludes that he has to drive and meet Maarit anyway, her being already on her way. And perhaps it would not be necessary to drive all the way to Sibbo after all. It is quite a distance for the mother.
At six thirty Maarit has arrived. She asks for rubber gloves, cooking oil and desinfectant. She radiates confidence and competence.
She feels her way delicately with two fingers the opening has proceeded somewhat and identifies the same paw as Stina did. This little "baby" is trying to come out feet first, she says cheerfully. Now we only have to coax it out from there.
Breech presentation! Of course. And naturally it would be the first puppy, the one that should not be allowed to lie that way. If it got caught, the other ones could not come out and the mother would be in danger.
- Now we have no option but to get to Nickby as soon as possible, says Kerstin.
|- Now we have no option
but to get to Nickby as soon as possible, says Kerstin.
The Husband calls von Renteln and briefs her on the situation. We are there in about an hour. You are welcome. We are expecting you.
Maarit is doing her best. Good girl Just a little bit more. Yes, there it comes And out comes a tiny little wet lump, a rat shaped like a seal. Enchantingly ugly. Is it alive? Sure. A nice little lady this one!
Stina, the Husband and Kerstin can not believe their eyes. They had all been convinced that the puppy would be dead and Maj in great danger.
It is 19.40. The Husband calls Nickby. - Listen, we got some help here, and now it seems we might manage without visiting you after all. But could you still be prepared, please?
- Sure, but do call before starting out!
Stina calls Kirsi to tell the joyful news. And a girl at that. Now the rest will work by itself. When Dessi had her puppies they arrived every 20 minutes.
By eight oclock nothing has changed. Maj has no contractions and no pains. What is up? She is rather tired, says Maarit. If she is not strong enough to join the efforts, may be you had best visit the vet after all. But I must try to get out the second one before starting, otherwise she will have it in the car.
The Husband walks to the phone. It looks as if we had to come anyway. The mother is losing her strength. So, in about an hour
- Now the second one is coming! shouts Kerstin. A boy. It is 20.25.
Stina and Kerstin prepares for the drive. When Stina is picking up Maj, a blopping sound is heard and the third puppy has arrived. It is 20.35. This is also a boy. Stina reaches for the bottle of nail polish to put a mark on him. She looks closer at the previous two. Which one was a girl? Also Maarit takes another look. The all have Yes. Definitely. They are boys, all three of them. Well, it is sure to turn out all right. The girl will come eventually.
- It is we again. From Sarfsalö, the Husband explains on the phone. It looks as if we
- need not come, von Renteln fills in. How many are they now?
- Three, and they are all well. The mother has recovered as well.
- Did she have ultra sound? Sure. There should be at least three, may be four.
- Well, determination by ultra sound is not always a ver secure way. You should be prepared for even more than four.
- We are. Myself, I believe there are five.
Maarit has received a number of calls from her family during the course of the evening. She finds that she could just make it to lay the table for the second round of guests who have arrived some minutes ago.
The gratitude of the Nystu people towards Maarit is too big for words. The Husband walks her out to the car and just as she enters it, a call from Kerstin reaches them, - The fourth boy
It is 20.43.
The fifth and last boy comes at 21.10.
The home people, Kerstin included, start to breath freely. No more puppies arrive and everything reverts to normal.One can again pay attention to Rönnerdahl barking in the wake of Dessi and the hippopotamoose Cita who just lies down.
|Stina, who has been awake
since three in the morning, starts feeling a bit rotten,
but the Husband declares that certainly the traditional
midsummer sauna must take place and, what is worse, they
haven´t even had the main course yet. He intends to
The sauna is prepared at ten oclock and the Husband is the first one to have a bath.He is finished in half an hour and attends to the grill while the ladies take their bath. At ten thirty they sit down for the meal once more. Kerstin is of the opinion that Cita´s state has changed for the worse since she arrived and, on second thoughts, the Husband agrees, as does Stina.
The Husband calls Nickby. This is the Small Animal Clinic on Sarfsalö Everything is fine on the maternity ward, but the polyclinic faces some problems. The sister of the new mother is snake-bitten and we can not persuade her to drink. She eats, though. Our dogs will eat in their death bed, we think.
|- If she eats, there is
no danger. But try to get water into her in some way. You
can give one more cortisone tonight and I shall phone a
sulpha prescription to Porvoo, if you only call me back
tomorrow morning and tell me of any developments.
The Husband gives his report at the dinner table. We were told to try to have her drinking in some way. He fetches a bowl of water, but the hippopotamoose only sniffs at it.
They put down the plates on the floor for "washing" And the Husband pours some water into the one being washed by the hippopotamoose. She licks it unintentionally and Kerstin tries putting a few slices of meat in the water bowl, and look! The hippopotamoose gobbles it up greedily. The problem is solved. In a quarter of an hour her unhappy look is gone and even the swelling has gone down a bit.
At this point even Rönnerdahl has grown tired of his wooing and peace settles upon Nystu in the last Midsummer night of this millennium. It is one oclock.
|The famished new mother succeeds in
getting too much to eat too soon and on Sunday everything
comes out again from both ends. It is a matter of four
days on a diet of oatmeal before the balance is restored.
The appetite is fine all through.
And in books about dogs they say that you should not wonder if, for some time after whelping, the mother looses her appetite!
The snake-bitten aunt gets her medicine from Porvoo after Midsummer. Neither has her appetite diminished at any point.
Towards the end of the week after Midsummer, the "heat running exercises" end for this time. Also Rönnerdahl has preserved his appetite all through and so has his mother.