Sunday, September 29, 2013

Shards To A Whole: Chapter 210

McGee-centric character study/romance. Want to start at the beginning? Click here.

Chapter 210: Abby and Penny

Abby hates this. Tim and Jimmy are looking at her like she's being a petulant child because she doesn't want to automatically jump to letting the doc hack her open to get Kelly out.

She can see Jimmy backpedaling, trying to figure out how to manage this, because, of course, he's all 'c-section-no-big-deal.'

Major surgery, bleeding all over the place, maybe never have babies again, maybe instant menopause, no big deal. Ten days and then you're all better. Yeah, he might heal up from being castrated in ten days, too, but that wouldn't mean he was better!

Fucking men!

And yeah, Jimmy's pretending he gets it, but she can see he's with Tim on the whole get this kid out as fast as possible, screw the consequences, we'll pump you full of antibiotics and drugs and who cares what you wanted as long as it's taken care of nice and tidy?

There are times when having men for your two best friends is an issue.

Granted, she's not sure Breena or Ziva would be much better right now, either. Breena flat out told her that the whole 'bonding' thing is total crap, and that when you've got a little lamprey eel attached to your boob every three hours, for two solid months, you're bonded. Literally.

And she just has a hard time seeing Ziva getting excited about any particular path for getting a baby out.


Okay, maybe this is a little whiny, but it's not what she wanted!

She's not sick. Pregnancy isn't a disease, it's not a 'condition' to be 'managed.' And she should be allowed to be sad about not getting the fantasy. And it's not insane to think that wait and see might actually mean wait and see so maybe we don't need to schedule the c-section right this minute (Jimmy) or go on bed rest (Tim!).

But mostly, she's scared. She doesn't want a c-section, at all. Twenty to forty percent infection rate. Triple the rate of maternal death. Increased rates of blood clots, heart attacks, uterine embolism. None of that sounds like something she wants to sign up for if she can at all possibly avoid it, and it sounds like this is something she can avoid.

Then Gibbs and Ducky and Penny were there, and Gibbs is holding onto her like she's a life preserver, and she's fairly sure she's never seen him this scared.

Tim's on her right. Gibbs is on her left. And being clung to by 300 plus pounds of terrified male is not helping her composure at all, and if they don't back off and just let her breathe she's going to snap and do something really rash.

This was not going well.

Penny was sure that Jethro could take on a machine gun nest, armed with only a pen knife and Hoorah attitude, without blinking. He'd go, do it, and that'd be that. And if he didn't make it back, then he didn't make it back, and that would also be that.

But he can't kill this. He can't fight it. And it's not danger to him.

She knew from Ducky that he's got bad personal history with this sort of thing, too.

So, it was understandable. It made perfect sense. The problem is, Tim's holding onto not panicking by his fingernails, and scared Jethro next to him is not helping that control at all.

And last but not least, you didn't have to be a forensic psychologist to see that Abby was about to melt down. Pregnant women are rarely known for emotional fortitude, and with two of her best guys one the edge of panic, and the third treating her with kid gloves and lots of concern and she's about to start yelling and crying.

Penny smiled gently at Ducky, and he nodded at her, aware that she's about to do what Grandmas have been doing pretty much since the invention of Grandmas, and that's slapping some sense into people who are being silly.

"Jimmy, could you scoot over a bit?" Penny asked, and then settled in front of them, sitting on the coffee table. She then leaned forward and gently whacked Tim and Gibbs upside the back of the head.

"No one's dying. Not today, not tomorrow, not two months from now. So calm down, both of you." Then she handed her phone to Tim and Abby. "This is from Gladys. She's the head of Obstetrics at John's Hopkins. Which means that she's one of the top five obstetricians in the world. And if I knew any of the other four, I'd have cced them on the email, as well. She's thinking watch and wait is good advice. Basically, exactly what your OB said to you. It's a borderline case, and likely won't cause any issues. That little girl is going to double in size between now and when she's ready to come out, if not more than that, so there's a lot more growing that's going to happen, and your placenta will likely be out of the way by the time you're ready to deliver. But no doctor, let alone one in a high risk specialty like OB wants to get sued. Everyone is being cautious because one or two lost cases and jerk your malpractice insurance so high it puts you out of business."

And right that second, Abby loved Tim's grandma more than anything. The look on Gibbs face was worth having to go through this whole thing. No one besides Franks had ever head-slapped him, and he didn't know how to deal with it.

But she was going on like she hadn't noticed the look (Shock, outrage, anger, and mostly more shock, but, and this was Penny's plan, fear was gone, or at least shifted to the side.) he had aimed at her.

"There's only one thing a woman is designed to do, and that's squeeze out babies. And Abby's going to be fine, so is Kelly. I've done it." She looked at Gibbs. "Your wife did it," she turned to Jimmy, "and yours, too. It's not fun. It isn't easy, but it's what we're built for, and these two," she petted Kelly, "are going to come through just fine."

Then she turned toward Abby. "And you are going to stop pouting about a possible c-section and get down on your knees and thank both God and science that they're available because if you need one, it will save your life and your daughter's life. And that's all that matters on this.

"I've done this four times, and I can tell you, there's no magic in doing it any given way. You don't get a medal for no meds or no interventions. Anything that gets you and Kelly out of this in one piece is a godsend and should be treated as such."

"That's not the problem," Abby starts, though it actually is part of the problem, sort of, well, at least, giving up on an ideal is the problem, "it's so much riskier."

"No one's talking about you having one for kicks and giggles. And so much riskier is, according to Gladys, for healthy women without other complications, three out of 100,000. So if your OB says get one, you get it."

"I've seen thirteen out of 100,000."

Penny is done with this.
Penny shoots her an I'm done with this look. "And did you look into the maternal mortality rates for women who need c-sections and can't get one? Did you research how many babies die when they get into distress and can't get out fast?

"You're a scientist, Abby, start acting like one and get into the data. That thirteen number includes all c-sections for all reasons, including the ones where they did the c-section because the mother was dying or already dead. You want Gladys' email, and I'll happily give it to you. You can talk it through with her, but you know that anyone can mess with the data any way they want to make it prove whatever they want. And I want you to get out of panic mode and into data mode and realize thirteen out of 100,000 is about your chances of getting hit by a car driving home from work, which you do every single day without a whimper, so calm down about it!"

The next bit was aimed at Tim and Jethro. "And if the OB says it's okay to try for a vaginal birth, and that's what Abby wants, you two support her in it. A c-section is more dangerous, it's not easy, it can take a long time to heal up from, so avoiding it if at all possible is a good plan.

"So, we all on the same page? Abby and Kelly will be fine. Baby's coming out however the highly trained medical providers you have hired to provide you with their expertise think will result in the best outcome. And we're all done panicking. Right?"

Jimmy smiled, saluted, and said, "Yes, Ma'am."

She's still staring at Tim, Abby, and Jethro.

Jethro nodded first, then Abby, and Tim finally yes, "Yes."

"Good. You get any new ultrasound pics?" Tim rubbed his eyes, got up, grabbed Abby's purse, and found the shots, handing them to Penny.

Unlike the previous ultrasounds these were 4-d and provided enough detail to see what Kelly actually looked like. And unlike the previous ultrasounds, they'd been vastly too scared to really look at them.

Penny gazed at them for a moment, then handed the clearest of the face shots to Gibbs and said, "What do you think, Jethro, Tim's lips and Abby's chin?"

He stared at the shot, his arm around Abby, hand resting on her tummy, feeling Kelly squirming around. He closed his eyes, resting his forehead against her temple. "Yeah, Penny."

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