Chapter 231: Kelly Marie MceGee
“You want me to stay home?” Tim asks.
Abby shrugs. It’s June 16th, she’s been having annoying contractions all night, one here, another there, three in four minutes, two hours of nothing, six more in an hour, nothing for two more hours, one every twenty minutes, nothing.
Pretty much the only thing that’s happening is she’s not sleeping and she’s irritable and annoyed.
They’re not even hard enough to hurt, not really. Just enough to jolt up the adrenaline, with “Now? Are we ready, now? Is it hospital time, now?” But they always keep petering out before three hours of somewhat steadyish contractions.
“Go. Catch bad guys. No reason for both of us to be sitting here going stir crazy.”
“Okay. You get to two hours of them, let me know.”
“Trust me, if it looks like we’re getting close to go time, I’ll text.”
“Good.” He kissed her, petted Kelly, and headed toward the Navy Yard.
They’re on day two of an active case. Which is kind of interesting because Gibbs won’t let him leave the Navy Yard. To some degree it makes sense, the crime scene is in Appomattox, which isn’t exactly a ten minute drive away. But he’s never been quiet so firmly tied to one place.
So, Ziva and Draga are off in western VA, picking up “Alvin Burns” aka Patrick Harper, their current number one suspect for the guy who pulled the trigger. He’s searching through Harper’s financials, finds something hinky, and then gets to sit there and wait until Gibbs and Tony go fetch Dick Sharpe, who may indeed be the lynchpin of this whole thing.
Since he’s the one who found the money trail, he’s the one who’s getting to run interrogation on this one.
Sharpe doesn’t exactly have the hardened criminal look. But Tim doesn’t exactly look like a veteran cop, either.
Pretty much they’re two tech guys, in a small room, with a table between them. Tim’s got what looked like a murder but was rapidly turning into a drug running deal gone bad. Sharpe wants to make sure Tim never gets the confirmation on that.
|Time to play.|
Time to play.
They spend a good hour of just messing around. Getting their feet wet. Sizing each other up. He’d gotten confirmation that Sharpe does get paid for something, but he’s sticking to the story that he’s an herbologist producing homeopathic remedies.
Tim’s cell chimes.
He pulls the phone out of his jacket, looks at it, hopes that his eyes lighting up looks like excitement about the case, and tucks it back in. Then he stands up, leans forward on both of his hands, towering over Sharpe, stares him right in the eyes, waits a second until he sees the fear, and says, “You are so fucked! Harper broke,” and slowly walks out.
Behind the mirror, Tony fell off the stool he was leaning against.
Tim runs in a second later. “Two straight hours of contractions. Let him sit for an hour, and then hit him with a prisoner’s dilemma. I’m out of here.” And runs back out.
Tony looks at Gibbs, eyes still wide. “Have you ever heard him say that word?”
Gibbs nods, bright, wide smile lighting his face. “Couple times. Never in here, though.”
“I wasn’t even sure he knew what it meant.”
That got a laugh out of Gibbs.
Half an hour later, he’s back at his house, and Abby’s contractions were still limping along at one every nine minutes. The bag is packed. The crib’s set up. Car seat is installed. All that’s left now is actually driving there.
She’s talking to Dr. Draz on the phone as they head toward the hospital. Almost baby time!
For Tim, there’s a very surreal sort of calm to parking and walking in. It’s an intense awareness of this being the last thing they will ever do as people without children.
Standing in front of an elevator, fairly heavy bag on his shoulder, left arm wrapped around her waist, her head on his shoulder, waiting, all of it wrapped in crystalline stillness.
They’d filled out all of the paperwork, all of the consent forms, everything, weeks before. If Abby had needed to get in and get treated fast, neither of them were willing to wait to have all the forms filled out.
So it’s done.
He’s leaning against the treatment table, watching her take her street clothing off. Each thing she takes off he carefully folds and places in the bag.
Then she puts on the gown (opens in the front) and they wait again.
“Okay, Abby, you’re at three centimeters dilated, zero station, and Kelly is ready to go. You’re going to get rolled over to the OR, and Dr. Flanen, the anesthesiologist, is going to get you set up with an epidural. Tim’s going to stay here with me, get changed into scrubs, and in about fifteen minutes we’ll all be in the OR getting Kelly out. About ten minutes after that, you’ll be saying hello to your baby,” Dr. Draz said.
One of the nurses handed Tim a neatly folded pile of scrubs, and he was about to leap off and set the world record for stripping off and getting into surgical scrubs when Abby stopped him, holding his hand.
“Not allowed to wear any jewelry in there, right?”
Dr. Draz nodded.
She took off her wedding and engagement rings and handed them to him. “Keep ‘em warm for me?”
“Yeah.” He slipped them onto his right pinky. They’re a little snug, but not so bad he’ll have a hard time getting them off. He kissed her. “Have ‘em back on you in an hour.”
She sighed. “I hope so.”
He kissed her again. “It’s going to be fine.”
“It really will.”
“Sure.” She didn’t sound sure about that. The nurses were waiting to roll her toward the OR, so she reached up, gave him one last kiss, he squeezed her hand, and petted Kelly gently.
“See you in a few minutes.”
She nodded, tears in her eyes, and it was killing him that she was that scared and there was nothing he could do about it.
But they took her off, and he may not be able to make her less scared, but he can get changed very, very fast, so he did. It probably didn’t help anything, but he was standing there, outside the OR, a few seconds faster than he would have been otherwise.
A few minutes of standing there later, a cheerful looking woman in pink scrubs with little purple hearts all over them heads out and says, “Mr. McGee?”
He nods. Not like there are any other soon-to-be-dads out here. Of course, one guy in blue scrubs looks a whole lot like every other guy in blue scrubs, so maybe it’s not an entirely stupid question.
“Hi, I’m Beverly Carter. I’m the pediatric nurse here.” She holds out a small strip of plastic then takes his right hand in hers and begins to fasten the id bracelet above his watch. “You, Abby, and Kelly are all going to get one of these. Kelly’s has a little tracker in it. It’ll make sure she can’t leave the maternity ward with anyone other than you or Abby.”
He looks at it, and it’s got Abby’s info on it.
“Everything look right?”
“It’s Abby’s information.”
“Yep. We do everything here based on Team Mom. Yours has a 2 on it, right?”
He looks again. McGee, Abby, 2. “Yep.”
“Okay, good. Abby’s almost all prepped. One of the nurses will head out in a minute or two and fetch you.”
“Hold tight. It’ll be show time soon.”
And after two of the longest minutes ever, another nurse did come out, this one in blue scrubs, like his, and ushered him in.
He knew he was scared. He knew he was nervous. He didn’t realize how bad it was until the wash of relief hit when he saw Abby was smiling, and talking, and joking, and actually, she was in a damn good mood.
“McGee! You’re here.” She’s smiling brightly at him, just absolutely grinning from ear to ear.
He wonders at that for a second, she hasn't called him McGee in... months now, even at work, but, she called him McGee for ten years, and she’s probably pretty high right now, so if that’s what comes out, it’s what comes out. Not like it isn’t his name.
“Yeah, baby.” He’s standing next to her, petting her face. She’s strapped down on the surgical table, arms extended, tubes all over the place, and if it wasn’t for her smile, that would be making him panic, but she’s in such a good mood she’s giggling, and it’s catching, making him smile.
Another nurse offers him a rolling stool, so he can sit down next to her, so he does. Face close to hers, lips against her temple, hand twined with hers.
“They gave me morphine,” she sings.
“I take it you’re liking it?”
“Oh yeah. This is fabulous. I can’t move anything below my chest, and that was trippy, because I could feel it happen. Like first, I couldn’t move my toes. I kept telling them, move toes, move, but they wouldn’t. And then it was my knees, and then thighs and stomach and that was just really weird, but then everything stopped hurting, and oh my God! This is just sooooooooooo good! I forgot how good not hurting was, this is just perfect, and I love it, and I’m going to figure out how to go back in time and slap myself upside the back of my own head because this is so good and I can’t believe I was freaked out about it, I mean how could something that feels this good be freaky? Breena tried to tell me about it, but I was too scared to listen and God scared was dumb—“
“Oh right, yeah, probably a good idea. Look!”
He has no idea what she wants him to look at, but the only direction she can see is up, so he looked up. There was a poster of butterflies above them.
“It’s sooooooo cute!”
“You know what?”
He didn’t think it was possible, but the grin on her face got even wider. “Jimmy can write us prescriptions for more morphine.”
Tim’s getting a little nervous about that. What with the fifteen or so other people in the room. “Umm… Yeah.”
“He really should, because this is so great, McGee, you’ve got to try it!”
“Okay, Abby. Just, not right now.”
“Oh. Good point. When we retire. We’ll do Burning Man and try everything and it’ll be so much fun.”
“We’re ready to start,” Dr. Draz says.
Tim nods, not sure what he’d say to that, but Abby’s happily babbling away about getting this show on the road and how that phrase came to be in the first place and it’s it kind of weird that people say things like that even though there is no show, and he just sits there, lips pressed to her temple, fingers twined with hers, letting the words wash over him, keeping an ear on the quiet things the docs are saying to each other as well.
“I love you.”
“Love you, too.” He kisses her. “Love you so much.”
She giggles at that. And months of tension break. He feels it crack. Six weeks of fear and worry and this is it, they’re here, in the hospital, and sure, things could go wrong, but he can feel in his gut that it won’t, the worst is over, the worry is done, and from here on out this is going to go right.
He starts to giggle with her, squeezing her hand, hard.
“You’re laughing,” Abby says.
“Yeah. You were, too.”
“I was?” She looks really confused by that.
That makes him laugh a little harder.
“Yeah, you were.”
“Huh?” she laughs a little more, and he kisses her lips.
“You’re going to feel some pressure now, and we’ll have her out in about a minute,” Dr. Draz says.
“Okay.” Abby’s smiling, then looks startled. “Oh, that’s trippy. I can kind of sense I’m moving, but I can’t feel it. Sort of like my brain knows but my body doesn’t. Oh my God! This is so cool!”
Tim laughs at that, too. Which set Abby off. When she took a breath she said, “The first thing Kelly’s going to hear is us laughing.”
He feels the tears in his eyes, and makes himself laugh a few seconds longer, and then stopped dead when he heard a small, squeaky cry.
Abby inhales fast and hard, holding his hand, fingers curled tight into his. He looks up from her face, wondering when they’ll get to see her.
“Time of birth?” Nurse Carter asks.
“Not quite yet, she isn’t all out. Your little girl’s pretty eager to meet you. One more second... Got her. Time of birth, 14:14.” Then Dr. Draz was holding Kelly where they could see her, over the drape and saying, “Hi Mom! Hi Dad!” She’s kind of grayish and squawking, unhappy about this, and before he can do more than register one very fast image, of a tiny face screwed up and crying, Nurse Carter came around, took Tim by the hand, and gathered Kelly up in a soft blanket, taking both of them to the warmer.
|Not too pleased to be out.|
Carter’s rubbing the grayish goo and blood off a Kelly, and she’s yelling, staring at both of them, looking really confused, and Tim stood there, staring, astounded that she’s really here, tiny, and bright pink, and loud, and wet, and… just… here.
His hand was hovering over her arm. “It’s okay, you can touch her.” He traced his finger down her arm, feeling how soft and warm and a little damp she was, and that seemed to get her attention. His eyes focused on hers, and hers pointed in his general direction as five tiny fingers closed around his and she stopped yelling.
Her head tilts a little, like she’s taking him, or maybe everything, in.
He wipes his eyes with his free hand, aware he’s crying because he’s having a hard time focusing on her. Then Carter says, “Do you want to cut the cord?”
This strikes his as a weird question because it looks pretty cut to him. There’s like, four inches of it still attached to Kelly, though there’s a clamp right where her belly button will be, and another one at the top of the cord.
Tim shakes his head. His voice isn’t going to hold for saying anything right now, and her hand is curled around his left index finger, so he’d have to let go to cut it.
She’s all dried off, cord trimmed flush with the clamp, and has a little tag on her ankle.
“Okay. We’ve got to weigh her. Did you want to get any pictures?”
That got Tim’s attention, broke through the feel of her fingers on his, of this first moment of touching his daughter. He gingerly started to pull his hand away, but she wasn’t letting go, so he took her wrist in his right hand, staggered that it’s the same width as his thumb, and holds her hand in place while he pulls back.
He reached back to pat his pocket for his phone, and realized he wasn’t wearing his jeans, so he didn’t have it with him.
So he watches as they weigh her, carefully put a diaper and onesie on, a tiny little cap, and wrapped her into a tidy bundle. Maybe it took two minutes, maybe three, but very soon he was standing there with a person so tiny her whole body could rest against half of his chest.
He stands there, holding her, not sure what to do next. Carter takes him in hand and leads him back to Abby, skirting the doctors who are stitching everything up and finishing off the surgery.
He sits back down on the stool next to Abby’s head. Her eyes are closed and she’s humming gently. Red Hot Chili Peppers if he’s right, and absurdly he’s wondering when she would have heard them last, not like they’re on either of their playlists.
He kisses her again, tries to think through the easiest way to do this, because he’s really, awfully, heart-clenchingly nervous about possibly dropping Kelly, but then he remembers that Abby can turn her head to the right, and… yeah, that’ll work.
|Abby, open your eyes!|
“Abby, open your eyes and turn toward me.”
She did, looking pretty glazed, but she saw Kelly and lit up fireworks going off on a starless night.
He scoots close enough so she can kiss and nuzzle Kelly. She does for a moment, and Kelly squeaks at it, then starts sucking on Abby’s nose. That made her laugh. Made Tim laugh, too. He gently pulled Kelly back, cuddling her against his chest, and offered one of his fingers for her to suck on, which she did, vigorously. And then leaned and slouched enough so she was still face to face with Abby.
Carter saw that and said, “Might have a hungry girl there. Once you’re all stitched up and back in your room, I think she’ll want to nurse.”
Tim’s really, really tempted to say, “Ya think?” But he doesn’t. Carter doesn’t need him channeling Gibbs.
Abby’s got her lips pressed to Kelly’s forehead, whispering, “Can’t wait to hold you.”
Eventually, and Tim’s sort of fuzzy on how this happened, and Abby’s really fuzzy on it (if you ask her one minute they were in the OR and the next they were back in their room, and while she’s got a good excuse for that, he doesn’t, but he still doesn’t have much detail beyond that) they were back in their room, having ascertained that Kelly was six pounds two ounces, eighteen and a half inches long, in possession of ten fingers and ten toes, murky blue eyes, and that, once it was dry, her hair (not that there was a whole lot of it) would probably be sort of dark blondish.
It took a bit of manhandling, but the nurses got Abby onto the bed in their room, little bassinette/warmer thing for Kelly to sleep in next to her, explaining to Tim that they’re supposed to keep track of every time Kelly nurses and each diaper they change and that’s what the paperwork under the bassinette is for.
But finally, Abby was settled, sitting up, and he wants to be able to snuggle up and sit behind her for this, let his body support hers, but between the IV tubes, the catheter, the fact that she still can’t feel anything below her chest, that’s not going to happen. So he hands her Kelly, and kind of half-leans, half-perches one hip on the side of the bed, (It’s not wide enough for him to lay next to her if she’s in the middle, and she’s in the middle.) stroking Kelly’s cheek while Abby holds her for the first time.
Her lips are pressed to the top of Kelly’s head, and she’s inhaling deeply, babbling about how tiny she is, and how warm, and she just smells amazing, and so, so tiny, she certainly didn’t feel that tiny when she was on the inside, and Tim kisses Abby’s forehead, basking in this.
Eventually he pulls back enough to realize that maybe some pictures would be a good idea. So he hunts down his jeans, finds his phone, and begins to take pictures of Abby and Kelly snuggled together.
Kelly starts crying again, which makes both of them a little nervous because now that she’s here they’ve got to figure out what to do, but after about two cries and some fairly determined wiggling from Kelly, the idea that she may want to eat comes through loud and clear.
Tim takes Kelly from Abby while she gets herself clear of the gown she’s in. Which Kelly did not appreciate. Moving further from the food was not something she wanted to do, so the crying got louder, but a few seconds later Abby had her breast out, and the pillows Tim had given her arranged into something that would hopefully be useful for nursing, and after that Kelly was in her arms, found the nipple with no problem and very enthusiastically nursing.
“How’s it feel?” Tim asks Abby, watching Kelly gulping away.
“Really weird.” She thinks about that. “Ohhh… not sure I like that.”
“You know how your foot feels when you sit on it too long and then get up?”
“It feels like that.”
Tim winces. “Ow.”
“Not really ow, but, hot and tingly and just weird.”
He snaps a few more pictures. Then notices there are thirty-five messages on his phone, (Five from Gibbs. For a moment he wonders if there’s a Marine Grandpa getting ready to storm the hospital.) so he hunts through the pics he’s just taken, found one he liked (not a nursing one), and sent that to his entire family list with: Kelly Marie McGee 2:14 6/16/15 6lb 2oz. Abby and Kelly are doing fine. Kelly’s having her first meal.
When he looked up from his phone, Abby was gazing down at Kelly, eyes filled with happy tears, gently stroking her very tiny ear, as she suckled away.
Screw it! If half of him ends up hanging off the side of the bed, so be it. He gently got himself onto the bed with them, half-sitting/lying on his side (and yes, his back half was dangling off) but he could rest his lips on Abby’s shoulder, offer his arm as additional support for Kelly, and just hold both of them close.
And eventually there would be the whole: when do we switch sides thing, and does she need to be burped in between, and wake up Kelly, please wake up and finish nursing, you’ve only done one breast, but right now there’s just this golden moment, wrapped around his girls, with no fear and no pain, just awash in perfect, content love.