Monday, October 28, 2013

Shards To A Whole: Chapter 244

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

Chapter 244: A Plan

So, when they made the appointment for 1:30, two days after she was born, they didn’t know that Kelly would want to eat at 1:00.

Which means, in addition to getting Abby calmed down, there’s still the fact that Kelly will wake up soon and want to eat, and it takes her about an hour to eat.

And, if he’s understanding the bits of words he’s getting between sobs, suggesting formula for the next feed is unlikely to go over well.

If it was any other appointment, he’d say fuck it, reschedule, and just let Kelly wake up and Abby feed her.

But there is absolutely no shot, at all, of them missing this appointment. Come Hell or high water, Abby’s getting to the doctor.

So, when Abby inhaled between sobs, he turned her face toward him, and said, “You haven’t failed her, at all. She’s fine, and right now, we’ve got to get moving on feeding her again. She’s gonna want to eat when we need to be heading to the doc’s, so if you could pump now, then you could be feeding her when we’re in the car.”

He stopped after that, hoping he’d not just set off another wave of massive emotional flailing, but… nope… That seemed to go well. A plan of action seemed to be working for Abby. So he hopped up, found the breast pump and a bottle, and she got to it.

He sat next to her, watching her do it, and, since previously, Kelly had always been on her breast when she’s done this, he hadn’t seen how it looks from the outside and… Wow. She doesn’t even need to pump at first, just petting the breast a little and holding the bottle over her nipple sends milk squirting.

It’s really impressive, and he’s awfully glad that nothing of his is that full or swollen, because that’s some highly pressurized milk.

Abby’s not talking again, but at least she’s not crying either.

So… Maybe… Worst it can do is fall flat. Probably won’t make her cry.

“You taste it, yet?” he asked with a little smile, hoping it might lighten the mood.

That startled her a little, and he can’t tell if the you’re insane look she’s aiming at him is because he didn’t just assume she’d tried it, or that he’d even ask if she would.

But after a few seconds of that, she nodded at him and said, “Yes, first day.”

“What’s it like?”

“Sweet. Doesn’t taste like much of anything really.” She’d hit the point where it wasn’t squirting right out, so she took the bottle away, snagged a drop on her finger and held it out to him.

Tim smiled at that and licked it off her finger. “Yep. Sweet. Not much beyond that. Kelly really likes it, though. When I give her formula, she just looks at me like, ‘Nope. Not Mom’s. I’ll consent to eat this ‘cause I’m hungry, but it’s not the real stuff.’”

That got a little hint of a smile out of Abby. He kissed her, arm around her shoulders, cuddling close to her.

“You taste the formula?”

“No.” He shook his head. “Doesn’t smell good to me.”

Mood swings. That’s what the little voice is saying. On one level hearing it again is something of a relief. On another level, she’s not feeling much in the way of a need for an extra narrator to tell her she’s being irrational.

She knows she’s being irrational.

Or maybe not. Five minutes ago…

Well, she knows it now. And, the wasted, despondent, the whole world’s awful feeling has passed, so that’s good. And at least right now she can also feel that Tim asking about breast milk is kind of funny, maybe, if you squint a little. It doesn’t feel funny. She’s not wanting to laugh or anything. But at least she’s a bit aware of the fact that someone else might consider that funny.

She wipes her eyes again, while Tim screws the bottle into the breast pump.

“I hate this.”

He looks back up at her. “I know. We’re gonna get you fixed.”

She rose an eyebrow at him and said, “Last I checked, I wasn’t a puppy.”

He almost spilled the milk he hugged her so fast and hard at that. Then he looked sheepish about it, made sure it was secure, and far enough away that he wouldn’t spill it, and hugged her more carefully. When he pulled back he said, “It’s been a long time since you made a joke.”

Abby nodded at that.

As per standard NCIS operating procedure, they are in the doctor’s office five minutes earlier than need be.

Trying to feed a baby in the car while getting to said appointment was interesting.

All Tim can say on that is that he’s glad he wasn’t the one who was doing it.

Kelly found the whole driving, moving, noise, thing unsettling. Add in hungry on top of that, and she was in a less than wildly pleasant mood. Then Abby got the bottle out, and Kelly was under the impression that bottles are a Dad, or maybe Pop, thing and having Mom, giver of milk, offer her one threw her for a loop. A loop she did not appreciate.

But eventually she did get a little of the milk on her tongue, and decided it was the real thing, and went to work on her bottle.

Thus ending up with her madly sucking away, enjoying her meal quite a bit, right when they got to the doctor’s office, so there was quite a bit more complaining about having said bottle removed from her mouth while transitioning from car seat to stroller.

So, yes, they did get to the appointment five minutes early.

They were also pretty frazzled.

And Kelly wasn’t exactly thrilled with them, either. (Though when Mom picked her up as they were walking through the parking lot and let her finish up her lunch while they headed in improved her mood.)

Janice, the receptionist, took one look at them as they headed in, smiled kindly, and then cooed appreciatively over Kelly, doing a very good job of sounding like Kelly was indeed the most beautiful baby girl in the history of baby girls

Then she dropped the bombshell on them. “Dr. Draz called in a few minutes ago. She’s in a delivery right now, so she’s going to be at least an hour late. If you like we can resch—“

“No,” Tim said it flat and fast. “We’ll see whoever can see us first, and if that’s Draz, that’s Draz, but Abby is getting seen today.”

“Okay. You can wait here, or head to the cafeteria where there’s wifi and snacks. If you want to go, we’ll text you when someone can see you.”

Tim looked at Abby, and she shrugged, very visibly not caring where they ended up. “We’ll try down there, maybe head back up here if it’s too loud for Kelly.”

An hour and twenty-seven minutes.

Okay, it’s not the end of the world, but that was a much longer wait than they had been hoping for.

They went to the cafeteria, got some drinks, walked Kelly around a bit (there’s a pretty nice garden area right outside of the cafeteria) but by half an hour of that Kelly was asleep and Abby was looking pretty droopy again.

So, back up to the Doc’s, and settling into the waiting room. Abby rested. Kelly slept. Tim felt nervous. What if this isn’t something with an easy fix? Worse, what if this isn’t something that has a hard fix? What if she’s just… broken?

But eventually, the nurse called Abby’s name, and there was more cooing about how darling Kelly is, which Tim certainly appreciates, but… He knows she’s the cutest baby girl in the history of baby girls, what he doesn’t know is what’s wrong with Abby and how to fix it, so he’s not exactly focused on how cute Kelly is.

But the nurse gets them set, and they go through the traditional motions of getting Abby’s weight and blood pressure (higher than usual) and asking what’s going on, so Tim told her, and the nurse did seem to think this was serious, writing everything down, telling Abby to get into a gown, and that Dr. Draz would be there in a minute.

Getting into the gown was the first time Tim had seen Abby mostly (she kept her bra on) naked since the day after Kelly was born. He’s not a doctor. Beyond his first aid badge as a Wilderness Scout and the CPR/First Aid training all NCIS Field Agents are required to have, he has no medical training, but even with all of that, he really doesn’t like the way her incision looks.

It’s a lot more red and puffy than he thinks it should be.

He touched it, very gently, and yes, it’s hot.


She just shrugs a little.

“Has it been like this the whole time?”

“Don’t know. Haven’t looked. It’s been sore the whole time.”

He just nods at that. Part of him wants to yell at her for not taking care of herself, scared and angry and tired all want to bubble up and out at once, but he clamps down on it. First of all, that’ll be worse than useless. Second of all, he saw she was sliding away, knew she was drugged, and didn’t think to check, either.


Dr. Draz knocked quickly and came in. Since Tim was already looking at the incision, there didn’t seem to be much need for hollow pleasantries, so she got right to it, which Tim appreciated.

She checked the incision, and when she gently palpated it, Abby shrieked and almost levitated off the examination table. “I take it it’s tender?”

The glare Tim sent her indicated that joking wasn’t going to go over well.

She listened to Abby’s symptoms, made a lot of notes, nodded a lot, and then said, “You’ve definitely got an infection. You might be anemic as well. So, in a few minutes Amanda will be back, and she’ll get a blood sample. We’ll run a full test on it, see how you’re doing. You’re going on antibiotics when you get home, but the CBC will give us a better idea of what sort. We might give you an Iron booster while you’re here. Are you still taking your pre-natal vitamins?”

Abby shook her head. “Don’t think so.”

Tim knows he hasn’t been giving them to her. “No. Should she be?”

“Wouldn’t hurt. We’ll see how her red blood cell count is.” Dr. Draz gently squeezed Abby’s knee. “We’re going to see what’s going on with you, and hopefully some antibiotics and iron will have you feeling better.”
Abby didn’t smile at that. Tim did.

And then Dr. Draz turned to Kelly, cooed over how big she was getting, how pretty she was, and thanked her for being such a good sleeper so she could have that conversation with her parents without interruption.

By the time Dr. Draz was back with the results of the CBC, Kelly was once again awake, and nursing away (which involved some interesting contortions, because there are no pillows here, no arm supports, and Abby’s now got a brand new sore spot on her left arm from the blood draw), because it had been three full hours, and you can’t tell a seven day old, now’s really not a convenient time to eat, how about in an hour?

So, soft suckling sounds went along with, “We’ve got the results back, and yes, your white blood cells are high, red cells are low, and your blood sugar is a bit off, too. We’re going to give you a shot of iron to get your red cell count up, and for as long as you’re still bleeding I want you taking iron supplements and eating high iron food.”

“Red meat; leafy, dark green veggies; milk…” Tim said, making sure he’s remembering what to get correctly.

“Yeah, if it comes from a cow or Popeye sang it’s praises, you’re good.” Draz fished out her prescription pad. “I’m also going to write you a script for Cipro. If the heat and swelling on your incision hasn’t gone down in two days, I want you back here.”

Nods from Tim and Abby.

“When was the last time you ate before seeing me?”

“Food, or anything?” Tim asked.

“Real food.”

He looked at Abby, she’d mentioned having breakfast, but he knows she slept through when he ate lunch, and then there was crying, pumping, and off to the Doc’s…

“Have you eaten anything since breakfast besides that shake?” He’d gotten her a vanilla milkshake at the cafeteria.


Draz made a note of that. “Okay, hopefully that explains the low blood sugar. With any luck, the iron and antibiotics will have you feeling better and you won’t need the reminder, but, you have to eat. Kelly eats every three hours, and you should, too. Some sort of snack, and at least three real meals. You’re down twenty pounds from the last time I weighed you, and yes, I know you’re holding seven of them and that between the water weight and the placenta, that’s most of that twenty pounds, but given how much bigger your breasts are, that means you’ve probably lost seven pounds of fat. That’s too much weight loss too fast.

“Keep eating. A lot. Even when you don’t feel like it. Especially when you don’t feel like it. If you’re nursing and back to your pre-pregnancy weight in a month, something is wrong. As long as you’re nursing you should be no less than five pounds heavier than you were pre-pregnancy.”

Tim and Abby nodded at that, too.

“I want to see you back here in a week. If you’re not feeling significantly better, we’re going to start talking about post-partum depression and how to cope with that. I’m not a fan of medicate first and ask questions later, mostly because anti-depressants are very serious medications, so we’ll start with lifestyle changes, but if medication is where we need to go to get you enjoying being yourself again, that’s what we’ll do. Yes, being upset post-baby is normal. Yes, being exhausted is normal. But you’re supposed to enjoy this, too. So let’s get you back to the point where you can enjoy this.”

More nodding. Tim’s very much on board with this plan. Abby doesn’t precisely look like she thinks enjoying anything ever again is on the menu, but she’s also not looking like it’s impossible either.

“For now, as much rest as you can get. Your friend who came up with the alternate nights plan, go give her a hug from me; that’s a really good idea. Eat. Take the meds. This is a really hard job, and you’re doing it sleep deprived, sick, and loopy from pain medication. That’ll make anyone feel horrible.”

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