Chapter 233: Coming Down
The thing about morphine is that it feels really good. It’s a good painkiller too, which is why they use it for major surgeries. What’s not obvious is how much pain it’s killing. The other thing that isn’t obvious is how much of that euphoric feeling good is because of the morphine.
So, on the day Kelly was born, Abby was feeling super-duper spiffy, and really, was awfully impressed by how great she was doing with this whole just-had-a-baby-thing. Yeah, she was sore. (Especially her right shoulder, that really hurt. They told her that was a side effect of trapped air in her abdomen, but she was on morphine so the idea of air trapped in her abdomen and having to wait for it to be absorbed didn’t bother her, at all.) And no, she didn’t even want to think about doing anything that involved her abs, but for the most part this was nowhere near as bad as she thought it was going to be.
All in all, really, she was feeling awfully good.
Which is why morphine is an especially nasty double edged sword.
So as the morphine began to wear off, Abby didn’t opt for nearly as many of the other painkillers as she should have. Because when the nurse asked about her pain on a one to ten level she figured she was at a two, so she didn’t need much to deal with this, right?
By the morning, everything in the universe sucked. There was not an iota of morphine left in her system, whatever they were giving her to combat the pain was fighting way, way, way out of its weight class, the chemical euphoria the morphine provided had gone, and the tsunami-sized waves of post-partum baby blues hormones were starting to crash into her.
So, in the course of one day, she had gone from everything is as good as good can be, nothing hurts, new baby, wrapped in ecstasy and love to the entire world and everything in it is one horrible drudge of unrelenting physical and emotional pain.
The nurse came in again, once again asking about pain levels, adjusted the dosage she was on, so supposedly soon she’d be hurting less, but then, because apparently this women was utterly insane, she unhooked Abby from all the tubes and asked her to get up and walk around a little.
So, she did, and fucking God that hurt! While she was up, tottering around a little, she got to see the vast, bloody mess that was the pad she’d been lying on, and the idea of exactly how ruined her body might be came crashing into her.
She felt the tears in her eyes, and the nurse smiled at her gently, said to her, “Do you want to get a shower? You’ll probably feel a little better when you’re all cleaned up.”
Abby nodded, numbly, and headed toward the bathroom. Shower did sound good, but as she stood in the little bathroom, slowly peeling off her gown, she got to see how she looked.
And burst into sobbing tears.
She just felt ruined. That’s the only word for it. There’s an image of a woman she has in her mind, the woman she is, and this beaten down, swollen, bruised, blood smeared, exhausted body staring back at her in the mirror is not that woman.
It’s not even a ghost of that woman.
Or her shadow.
It’s just the used up dregs of a destroyed vessel.
She’s staring at the wreckage of her body, feeling like every shred of her intrinsic Abbyness was gone. She doesn’t even smell like herself. There’s this cloying, sweetish blood smell that’s suddenly making her want to rip her skin off in an attempt to get away from it.
She heard a soft knock on the door, and wanted to say stay away, but couldn’t get her voice together well enough to do it, so after a second Tim stepped in, and she winced as his eyes hit her body, not wanting him to see this ruin of who she used to be.
He smiled gently at her, and pulled her into his arms.
Tim heard the crying about a minute after Abby slowly, carefully headed to the little bathroom attached to their room. The nurse had said she could get a shower, and she certainly wanted one, so in she had gone.
And he remembered the thing about baby blues, and even if he hadn’t remembered if from their somewhat shortened series of Lamaze classes, both the nurses and Dr. Draz have mentioned it in the last day so he gets that her crying might be normal, but just because it’s normal doesn’t mean he wants her sitting alone in a room crying.
He looks at Gibbs (who had just come back in. He has a tendency to wander off whenever one of the nurses or doctors is doing anything with Abby) and his daughter and says, “Can you…?” holding Kelly toward him.
“Tim, snuggling a baby girl is never going to be a job I’ll turn down. Especially if it frees you up to deal with the crying woman.”
He knocked gently on the door. “Can I come in?”
No answer, just quiet sobbing. He decided that was a yes.
So he eased the door open and found Abby standing in front of the mirror sobbing. “Hey.” He took one step to her and wrapped her in his arms, holding her and petting her back.
She cried harder, and he didn’t ask what was wrong. His best guess, that she does look like she was hit by a truck, isn’t going to be helpful at all. Holding onto her, being there, cuddling against her, that’s helpful (or so he hopes.)
After several minutes of that, she starts to pull it back together, calming down a little. He kisses her forehead. “You still want to get that shower?”
“Want some company? I’ll wash your hair.”
She nods at that, more tears starting in her eyes. He lifts her face and kisses each eyelid. “Love you so much.” Then he reaches over to turn the water on and quickly strips out of his clothing.
He looks down at the bandage over her wound. “Does that need to come off before you go in?”
“Just the top part.”
“I don’t know.” She carefully peeled the pad off the incision site. It didn’t look nearly as bad as Tim was afraid, about six inches across, two lines of skin pressed closed with a collection of small pieces of tape. It was… surprisingly bloodless. Which given the blood on her legs, the yellow, bruised scabs on her arms and back from the IVs/epidural, the stippled, purple-blue bruises on her skin where they peeled off the tape that had held those tubes in place, the scarlet stretch marks, which apparently decided to come out in force all over her belly and hips and breasts over the last twenty-four hours, and the fact that everything is swollen and puffy, StayPuff marshmallow puffy, (he’s actually still wearing her wedding and engagement ring because she’s so swollen she can’t get them back onto her own fingers) was actually a nice surprise. Good to see at least one of these things wasn’t a total horror show.
He tested the water, “It’s good,” and stepped in, helping her in. It’s not like it’s a hard climb or anything, but an extra hand is probably useful.
She sighed when the water hit her.
“Yeah. Feels good. I feel like someone beat the hell out of me, and this is good.”
For a long minute he stood there, holding onto her, letting the water slip over both of them, just feeling her in his arms. He looked around, didn’t see her soap or shampoo, and realized it had to be either on the sink or still in the go bag.
He started to step back, but she followed, so he spent a few more minutes just hugging her, but eventually she said, “Did I forget the soap?”
“I think so. I’ll be back in a minute.”
Gibbs looked mildly surprised when he hopped out of the bathroom a few seconds later soaking wet with a towel around his hips, but didn’t say anything when Tim snagged the go bag, rummaged through it, grabbed a scrubby and three bottles, and vanished back into the bathroom.
He stepped back in, balanced the toiletries on the handrail, taking the shampoo in hand and pouring some into his palm.
“Wasn’t there something you were going to be doing now?” she asked, leaning against him, sighing with pleasure, relieved to see some things, like his fingers rubbing into her scalp, still feel good. Still feel like her.
“Doesn’t matter. I’ll get round to it sooner or later.”
She smiled at that. “Kelly sleeping?”
“Maybe. She wasn’t making any noise and was snuggled on Jethro’s tummy.”
“Okay.” Another long sigh from her.
“Yeah. Nice to know at least my hair’s still mine.”
He doesn’t quite get that, but doesn’t exactly know how to expound on that either. So he lets the water rinse away the shampoo, and grabs the scrubby, “Do your legs for you?” He figures it can’t be easy to do anything that involves bending right now, or using her abs, and he’s fairly sure washing her legs has to involve one or the other of those options.
Kneeling down, washing her legs and feet, he’s coming face to face with what “moderate bleeding” means, and is trying to not freak out about it, because while the docs and nurses have all said this is normal, and the pads Breena brought for Abby were certainly awfully thick, the idea that this much blood might be coming out of Abby is making him want to hyperventilate, and he’s fairly sure that isn’t a good thing for anyone.
So it wasn’t the most thorough wash ever, but he got the job done, stood up fast, and asked, “Did you bring fresh clothing in?”
Abby slumped a little more, just one more layer of everything sucks on top of all of the other ones, and he kissed her.
“Painkillers, baby, anyone would forget.”
That got a nod out of her.
And once again, he headed out, wrapped in a towel, grabbed the go bag, and then smiled. Once he was back in the bathroom he said, “At least you remembered to pack fresh clothing. Totally slipped my mind.”
That got a little laugh out of her as she stepped out of the shower.
“You feeling a little better?”
“Little. Can you get my legs and feet again?”
“Sure.” He gently dried her off and helped her get dressed.
When she was dressed, he said, “Go snuggle with Gibbs, I need a minute,” and if she took that to mean he needed some bathroom time on his own, that was fine, that was better than fine.
She nodded and headed out, and he quietly let himself melt down over how much blood there was. Smears of it on her legs, and a pink ring around the drain in the shower, and the wet, red stains on the towel, and it was just a whole lot of blood. And he knows she’s fine. He knows they keep checking her iron levels, and he knows it’s supposed to happen, but it’s still a whole lot of blood, Abby’s blood, all over the place, and it’s just really, really hard.
He’s shaking all over and wants to throw up.
And eventually he got his breathing back to normal, and got over the desire to throw up, got himself dressed again (in the same clothing) and headed out, finding Gibbs on the sofa, little baby girl sleeping on his chest, bigger girl leaning against him, arm around her shoulders, also asleep.
Gibbs looked at Tim, caught the fact that he was feeling pretty low right now, and said, “Go home for a bit, get some fresh clothing. Take Jimmy, I think he’s in the waiting room. I’ve got ‘em.”
Tim nodded. “You need anything?”
|In the waiting room.|
Tim shook his head. “Helped her get washed off.” He swallowed hard. “It was a lot of blood.”
Jimmy nodded, smiled gently, very much understanding the pain of seeing your love hurting, damaged, and unable to do anything about it. “Yeah. I know. It’s normal.”
Tim nodded back. “Gibbs told me to go home, get some clean clothing.”
“Good plan. I’ll drive. We’ll get some more food on the way back. Bet Abby’ll want some real food soon.”