Monday, October 7, 2013

Shards To A Whole: Chapter 225

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

Chapter 225: June 4th

June 4th Jimmy and Breena had their Nuchal Fold test scheduled for the late afternoon.

Tim and Abby took off for it, too.

If there was bad news, they wanted to be there, able to comfort right away.

And if it was good news, well, that's even better when shared.

Same place/different place
So, instead of sitting in their own OB's office (next appointment, tomorrow afternoon) they're in a different OB's office.

Tim's thinking there's got to be a warehouse somewhere that sells OB office waiting rooms. The shape's a little different, and the colors are taupe and mauve instead of taupe and cream, but this is pretty much the exact same place, down to the same magazines.

"You'd think an OB's office would have better chairs," Abby says to him.

They're on this little sofa-like thing. It might be a love seat or a settee, Tim doesn't know precisely what the difference between those things is. She's sitting next to him, back to him, as he rubs gently over her low back and hips. They've been hurting on and off all day, and usually sitting down helps with that, but today's just being obnoxious and it's not really helping at all.

It felt like a lot of waiting. It always does.

"You think they're okay?" Tim asks her.

"Yeah." She squeezes his hand, and maybe she's not sounding all that certain, after all, it didn't seem like it took this long when they got their Nuchal Fold test done, but…

They've got to be okay. They just have to. Please!

When Jimmy and Breena came out, all smiles and soul deep relief, Tim felt the grin spread across his face, and saw Abby hop (well, if she was less pregnant it would have been a hop, it was more of a lurch) up enthusiastically to hug them both.

When they got home, after a very happy, very fun, almost giddy dinner out, she flipped on the TV and settled in front of it, kneeling behind the exercise ball, leaning against it, rocking gently.

"I just can't seem to shake this," she said, forearms crossed over the top of the ball, her head against them. Yes, dinner had been a blast, but her back just kept aching. Not all the time, but enough so that it was really annoying.

"You're pregnant."

She just looks up from the ball at him, flashing her so done with you look. "Thanks, that's something I somehow wasn't aware of."

Tim realized that might have been unnecessarily poking the porcupine, so he retreats. "Sorry. Captain Obvious here. You want me to get you some Tylenol?"


He was back a minute later with a glass of ice water and two Tylenol. "What do you want to watch?"

"Don't care. Just want to veg."

"Okay. Want me to rub your back some more?"


He sat cross-legged behind her, pressing his palms into her sacrum.

She sighed. "That helps. It's been coming and going all day."

"Umm…" He's not really listening, just hearing her voice, paying attention to his hands on her skin, finding the tight spots and working on them.

"Like…" Her voice trailed off as he hit something especially good. "Oh, that's nice."

He smiled, happy to have found a good spot.

"It's not like it's knives in my back or anything. I mean, when I'd get working or paying attention to something else, it'd kind of go away, but it just kept coming back."

He nodded. He'd had that kind of pain before. Low grade yuck that you can banish to the background by keeping your brain busy and then as soon as you don't have something else to pay attention to it jumps back to the foreground.

"A few times, I'd be loading up samples, and I'd have to stop for a minute, but then it'd ease up, and I'd go back to it… Oh, holy shit…"

"Abby?" He was getting a little worried because that 'Oh, holy shit' didn't sound happy.

"I am too stupid to let out of the house. I'm pregnant. With low back pain. That's been coming and going all day."

Tim's eyes went wide as what that was dawned on him. "You mean contractions."

"Yeah. Sometimes you feel them in your low back."

"Well, how many, how long, when?" He sounded awfully panicky as he says that.

"I don't know. All day?"

He leaped up, getting ready to grab the go bag and head directly to the hospital at whatever the highest rate of speed his car can obtain is.

"I don't think we need to race to the hospital this second."

He looked at her like she's insane. "I think we do. I think we need to be there right now!"

"You remember Dr. Draz saying that eventually I'd start to get some contractions, and that that was when we should make sure that we had an appointment for the next day?"

Okay, yeah, he did remember her saying that. And they do, in fact, have an appointment for the next day. But he was under the impression she meant something different by 'some contractions' than what Abby's been having, so he says, "Yeah. Braxton-Hicks contractions. That's like one here, one there, maybe a few more and then they stop. Not on and off all day."

Abby thought about that for a second, and seemed to be focusing on how long she's been feeling this way. "Okay, good point, help me up."

"Thank you."

They live three miles from St. Francis Hospital. Normal drive time (assuming you follow the speed limits) is about seventeen minutes. Tim got them there so fast Abby hadn't even gotten off of holding for the OB that was on call with their practice.

So, it was about nine seconds after walking in that chatting on the phone became something of a moot point, because they were able to see Dr. Draz face to face.

"Lucky thing I'm on call for tonight. Tell me what's going on."

So Abby did.

"How often have they been happening?"

"I don't really know. Didn't put it together until five minutes ago. But, maybe three times an hour for like the last eight hours, maybe all day."

"Okay. Let's get you in a gown and checked out."

This time Dr. Draz did the ultrasound herself, and a quick internal exam as well, took off her gloves, then spent another moment feeling Abby's belly.

"You're at negative two station," she said as she helped Abby sit up. "Which means Kelly's as far away from the cervix as she can get. Half-way effaced, so that means your cervix is thinning out, and you're one centimeter dilated. My guess is this is just the starting round. Sort of like when you turn the key and the engine revs a few times but nothing happens. Your placenta is still right near the cervix." She checked her notes. "You're at thirty-five weeks and four days right now, and we'd really like to see Kelly stay in there until thirty-seven weeks, thirty-eight is better."

"Well, yeah, it probably is, but Kelly seems to have a different opinion about that," Abby said.

"And well she might. But my guess, having seen this roughly seventeen thousand times, is that this is going to peter out. Tomorrow there'll be no contractions. Usually the baby's all the way down before your body gets really serious about trying to get her out. This is just a warm up round."

"So what does that mean?" Tim asks.

"It means you're going home. It means you're going to go to sleep. It means…" she flips through her calendar, "that unless the contractions pick up before then, come 8:00 AM on June 18th you two are going to come in here, and I'm going to deliver Kelly."

"It means a c-section," Abby said, very sad.

"Yes. She's probably about four, four and a half pounds now, and your placenta hasn't moved. It's not going to. With where your placenta is, this kind of warm up labor isn't a major risk for hemorrhage. Real contractions, the kind you need to push a baby out, they are."

"Okay, what else?" Tim asked.

"Pelvic rest from now until then. No sex." She looks at Tim and decides that extra clarification is probably in order. "No orgasms at all. No strenuous activity. No mildly exerting activity. If you don't have to do it, don't do it."

"Can I work?"

"Can you do your work sitting down? You don't have to spend all day, every day lying down, but I don't want you up and walking around all the time, too. So, it's an honest question, if you go to work, will you stay sitting down? If you can say yes to that, then you can go to work."

"How much walking around can I do?"

Dr. Draz thinks about it, realizing that if she comes up with a specific number Tim will get Abby a pedometer to measure it, making sure she takes not one step more than that, but if she's vague about it it'll just panic them worse. "Call it a thousand steps a day, give or take a bit. And the lower you can get that number the better, and no, days aren't cumulative. You do seven hundred steps one day, you do not get to do thirteen hundred the next.

"How about the pool?"

"If you mean, 'Can I go to the pool and lay around in the water feeling cool and not hurting?' Yes. Go, do, enjoy. Anything that helps you stay comfortable is a good thing. If you mean, 'Can I dive and swim laps,' no.

"If your water breaks, you come in. If you have more than three hours in a row of contractions every ten minutes, you come in. If you start bleeding, you come in, immediately."


Dr. Draz checked her calendar again. "We've got an appointment tomorrow afternoon. We'll cancel that. We'll schedule for the 8th, if that works for you?"

They both nod. Like either of them is going to say, "Nope, too busy. We'll just skip it and hope for the best."

"We'll do another one on the 12th, and one more on the 17th, and if everything remains on track, 'round about 10:00 AM on the 18th you'll be holding Kelly."

That takes Tim's breath away. Just that level of specific, this is going to happen when and how, hit him really hard. He's holding onto Abby, and squeezes her tight while inhaling fast.


Dr. Draz grins. "Yeah. So get dressed. Go home. Rest. Come back if the contractions get regular. It's not likely, but it's possible this time tomorrow we'll have Kelly out."

The ride home is quiet. Very quiet.

They get to a stop sign and Tim gently strokes her face. She turns into the caress and kisses his palm.

"How's your back feeling?"

"Just regular sore right now."


Two more minutes and they're home. He crosses to her side of the car to open the door for her and give her a hand out, but leaves her maternity bag in the car, not feeling very certain about the whole go to sleep and everything will just keep going on like before thing.

By that point it really was go to bed time. So they headed to their bedroom, and started the traditional nightly routine of settling down.

He knows this flavor of silence. She's scared. Really scared.

They get into bed and he curls around her, holding her close, her back snug against his chest, his arm under her neck, and his other hand resting on Kelly's baby bump. "Talk to me?"

"I'm so scared."

"I know." He kisses her shoulder. Having a pretty deep basket of irrational fears of his own, he's not about to call her out on hers. But he doesn't want her panicked, either. "But it's going to be all right."

"You don't know that! And even if it is 'all right,' we're still defining all right as Dr. Draz slicing me open."

"I know."

There's anger and irritation under the fear when she says, "And look, I know why we're doing this. I get it. I understand that it's safer to go in, get her out, and get everything taken care of fast. I get not wanting to have uncontrollable bleeding. Okay, I get it. I do. But I'm still scared. And I hate being scared because it's stupid, but I'm still scared and it's still my body that's going to get cut open. It's my spine they're going to shove a needle into. Something goes wrong with this, I may never walk again, may never feel anything below my chest. Lots of women end up with pain shooting down one leg for the rest of their lives after a slightly messed up epidural and a really messed up one..." She shakes her head, and he squeezed her a little tighter.

Tim thought for a moment, holding her, stroking her stomach, chin resting on her shoulder. "General anesthetic?"

She sounds annoyed, not at him, mostly at the idea that there really isn't a better option than an epidural. "More risk for Kelly. The epidural is safer for both of us, and I'll come out of it faster… I know that… But I've still got to sit there and let them shove a needle into my spine. And if I'm not perfectly still or if something gets messed up…"

"I'll be with you."

"Not for that part. Before and after, yeah. But they don't let the Dad in for the epidural."

"Oh." He hadn't known that, and the idea of having to sit out there and wait while someone sticks a needle into Abby's spine hits him pretty hard, too. He's realizing that's not going to be a fun couple of minutes for either of them.

She seems to understand him finally really getting that and says, "Yeah."

He's not sure what to say, so he holds onto her, snuggling her close to him, and hopes his touch is comforting.

"At least we know what's going to happen."

She shrugs at that. Yes, that's a bit of a comfort. Instead of a huge host of unknowns, for example trying a vaginal delivery and ending up hemorrhaging is now off the list of potential outcomes, there's a pretty specific list of unknowns, and a good, hard deadline two weeks from now.

"And we know it's not going to happen any later than the 18th."

She nods.

"Get to see her in not more than two weeks. This time, two weeks from now, we'll be in the hospital, holding her. Maybe you'll be nursing. Maybe we'll be snoozing. But this time two weeks from now, she'll be out."

That gets a little smile. "I know. And I want it. And I can't wait. And I'm still scared."

He kisses her again. "I'd make it better or take it from you if I could."

"I know."

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