Saturday, November 2, 2013

Shards to A Whole: Chapter 247

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

Chapter 247: Tubby Time

Tim’s pooped.

Three straight nights of all baby all the time has convinced him of two things: A. He does not ever, for any reason, want to be a single parent. B: It is significantly easier to go for a few days with no sleep and then crash and sleep round the clock for a few days than it is to just get little one hour, two hour long naps for days at a time. Three: He will never scoff at sleep deprivation as a form of torture again, and D: His ability to maintain a consistent train of thought is shot to shit.

So, yes, last night was Abby’s night, and he did sleep from basically dinner until right after Kelly’s 7:00 AM feed, and then got up so Abby could rest, knowing he was on duty. Mostly he got himself some breakfast, put some more food on the bedside table for Abby, and then spent the next hour dozing on the bed next to her.

And yes, alternating nights is a lifesaver. He’s fried. Really fried. But he suspects he was a lot closer to insane yesterday than he is now. (When he saw what he texted to Breena, apparently during Kelly’s 4:00 feed on Thursday morning, he decided he was really out of it. Not just because it makes no sense, but also because he has no memory of doing it, at all.)

Round about ten, Kelly started chirping again, so he got out of bed, grabbed her, cleaned her up, and brought her to Abby, who was looking awfully tired, but that haunted, dead, listless look is gone, so he’s thinking that is a good thing.

Tim brought Kelly in for her second breakfast. (Who knew having a baby was like suddenly getting a helpless Hobbit? Breakfast, second breakfast, elevenses, luncheon, tea, dinner, supper. Were it not for the lack of furry feet, she’d be ready to start calling Kelly, Merri.)

Abby rolled onto her side (which she can finally do without pain, thank you antibiotics!) facing both of them. Kelly’s on the bed, laying on her back, kicking and squirming a little, doing what Abby considers her, I-just-woke-up-let’s-move routine.

Rumor has it, there’s a way to do this that doesn’t involved having to sit up, find pillows, and rearrange everyone. Something about side-lying nursing.

Worth a shot.

She scooted a bit closer to Kelly, got her breast out of her bra, and gave it a try.

And once again, Kelly’s giving her that this is different, I’m not sure I like it look. But she’s very much in favor of getting fed, so she latches on and gets to it.

Tim’s laying on his side, watching them, very gently stroking Kelly’s tummy.

“You do that.”

Tim looks up at her.


“She was giving me the I’m not sure I like this, but I’ll try it anyway look. Seen that on you a whole bunch of times. Like, you gave me that exact same look when I was trying to get you to eat fried pickles.”

That got a smile out of Tim. Part of him is thinking that he’s not the only one who needs occasional extra coaxing to try new things, but he’s also actually rested enough to realize that saying that out loud might not be the best move in the history of husband-hood. So, instead he says, “Looks like she’s decided this works. How about you? This comfy?”

“Not sure. It’s different.” Kelly kept sucking away, and Abby lay there, relaxing a little, dozing a little, and eventually decided that yep, she likes this.

“I was thinking…” Tim jerked a little when she said that, apparently he’d been a few steps past just dozing.


“I can do the 1:00 feed. Still want to swap on the 4:00 one, but I can get 1:00.”

“You sure?”

“Yeah. I’m feeding every three hours the rest of the day, and as much as I love the sleep, going from ten to seven without nursing is really uncomfortable. I wake up, and they’re rock hard and ache.”

“Then I’ll fetch Kelly for you for the 1:00 feed. But if you start getting too tired, let me know. It’s really scary when you stop talking, so… just… Whatever you need, I’ll do, but you do have to tell me what it is.”

“Okay. Right now, I need to get into a set routine for this nursing thing, and I think getting that routine will help.”

“All right.”

“And when I am completely fried, and she’s yelling, I will poke you and send you in on feeding duty.”

“No problem. But to be clear, it’s my night for the 4:00 AM feed?”

“Yep. Every other night, one of us gets six straight hours of sleep in a row.”

“I am on board with that. One of the books was saying that usually the 4:00 feed is the one that usually goes first. So, when she starts sleeping that long, you want to swap on the 1:00 feed?” Tim asked.

“Yeah. If it works that way. Breena told me the first feed Molly dropped was the 10:00 PM one. But if she cooperates, let’s get at least one of us a full night of sleep.”

He stretched a bit, and sat up. “I’m actually feeling rested enough that I might want to do something.”
Abby rose an eyebrow. “Really?”

“Well, nothing complicated. I’m still not sure I could type my password in right. But, maybe Kelly and I’ll go get some more groceries when she wraps up. You wanna come? Get out of the house for a little while?”

“Tempting, but… If you’re going to take her out, I’m going to do something wild and crazy.”

“Really?” he asks with a little smile.

“Yeah. Gonna get a shower.”

“Ohh… you wild woman.” Tim ran his fingers through his hair and cringed at how greasy it was. “I’m thinking I should do likewise. I probably don’t need to be quite this scruffy. Don’t want strangers calling child protective services on me.”

“You don’t look that bad.”

“Don’t look that good, either.”

Abby shrugged. Tim stood up, heading toward the bathroom. “Maybe, if the water really wakes me up, I’ll shave.”

“Skip it.” She said as he stepped in.

And having said that he turned around and stepped back out. “Really?”

“Yeah, you’ve told me part of why you’ve never done a beard is because it comes in kind of scraggly, and you don’t want to look like that at work. You’re not at work. Unless you hate it, might as well let it grow in and see what happens.”

He rubs his face, and ten days without shaving means he looks like, well, Tony, on day three, sort of. It’s long enough that it’s not scratchy. The big thing is that while the goatee area is pretty well covered in hair, his cheeks and jaw line has about, from the feel of it, fifty or so hairs, and that’s just not a beard, at all.

But he probably could manage a fairly decent-looking goatee between now and heading back to work.

“Doesn’t bug you?” he asks. He has thought about growing a beard on occasion, but usually by about day five he gives up because it looks stupid (and he runs out of vacation time).

“Nope. It’s not sharp anymore, and especially if you aren’t going to be doing your regular every other day shave, you might as well keep it long and soft.”

“Then I won’t shave.”

That got a smile out of Abby.

When he got out, Abby had rolled to her other side, Kelly was still nursing away, and they were both listening to some of Abby’s music. Abby rocking gently to it. From what he could tell Kelly wasn’t aware of it.

Of course, he’s got no idea how a baby would react in a way to indicate it’s happy with the music being played.

Laugh maybe?  He doesn’t think Kelly’s laughed yet. Coos, babbles, chirps, cries, and occasionally sounds so much like a cat he wonders if the neighbor’s cat somehow got into their house, but no laughing.

It’ll come.

She’s  only ten days old.

He sat on the bed toweling off his hair, feeling a lot better. Clean, somewhat rested, all of his various and sundry basic needs taken care of, and yeah, he’s feeling like a real human again.

“While I was in there, I was thinking of something else we could do.”

Abby looks up at him. “What kind of something else?”

He smiles at her. “Several, but only one is relevant right now. Her umbilical cord stub fell off yesterday. We could try giving her a real bath. See if we’ve got a little swimmer here.”

“Hmmm… We could do that.”

“Yeah, she’s getting a little smelly. And she doesn’t like getting wiped off.” Which is an understatement. She screams bloody murder if you try to apply a damp washcloth to her. Which, on a gut level, Tim sympathizes with. But, they’re not letting her get crusty, so she does get wiped off, and just has to deal with it. “So… tubby time?”

Abby flashed a smile at him. “Sure.”

Technically, Kelly has her own bathroom. (At least for the time being.) They have their own bathroom attached to their room, and then there’s another full bath down the hall between what is now Kelly’s room and the guest room.

That’s the one with all the baby gear in it.

And in a few months, when she can sit up on her own and play, having a bathroom with all this stuff in it for her will probably make sense, but at ten days old Kelly really couldn’t care less if there are tubby toys.

So, post feed, post burp, they’re ambling down the hall to that bathroom, slightly nervous (like all first time parents getting ready to give the baby a bath) ready to try out this whole bathing thing.

And like two somewhat nervous people who, just possibly, went a bit bonkers on the child safety gear, they have a wide collection of things located in Kelly’s bathroom devoted to getting her wet and soapy in the utmost safety.

How it's supposed to work.
And, like two nervous people who have never done this before, they are noticing that, well, the thing with giving a baby a bath in a tub is that, the tub’s kind of wide, and deep, and even if you’ve got this little thing that looks sort of like a recliner for a baby that you can strap the baby into so she doesn’t slip into the water, you’re still in a really awkward position, and it’s hard to get the back wet on a person who’s strapped down, and well, this just doesn’t work.

They didn’t even have to get Kelly into the water to figure that out. Abby had started the water, making sure it was nicely warm while Tim was getting her undressed. She set the tub safety thing up, and just doing that was awkward. The leaning, reaching, twisting thing wasn’t comfortable at all, and wasn’t making her feel like she’d be in a good position to wash Kelly off, let alone grab her fast if need be.

She looked at it, shook her head, and said, “Yeah, this is just not going to work.”

He’s holding Kelly against his chest. She’s doing her traditional, I’m not swaddled, let’s flail around, and seems to be enjoying it right now.

“So…” Tim’s wondering what he solution to this is going to be.

Abby just looks him over. Tim realizes that, having finished his shower less than twenty minutes ago, he’s not dressed. “Okay.”

She takes the baby bath seat out, and he gets in. Water feels good to him, so it’s probably okay for her. He’s cradling her head in one hand, tush in the other as he gently lowers her in.

“This’ll probably feel pretty familiar. You used to spend all your time wet,” he says as the back of his hand and her feet hit the water.

She’s squinting up at him. Not looking particularly alarmed or displeased, but not sure if she likes this, either. Her feet and legs are in, and she kicks around, sending drops flying, one of which got her in the nose, and that got an indignant chirp out of her.

“Yeah, well, if you splash you’re going to get wet,” Tim says while Abby laughs. “Your cousin Molly will very happily teach you that lesson over and over when you two get to the pool.” Then he finished lowering her so that all of her but her head was in the water. She scooted around a little, which Tim found nerve wracking because she’s really slippery and the absolute last thing he wants to do is drop her.

He looks up at Abby when a thought occurs to him. If he’s holding her in place, he’s using both of his hands, so he can’t really apply soap. “Help?”

Abby leans over the side of the tub, cups her hand, and begins to trickle water over Kelly’s head. And while Kelly does not appear to mind the water on her body, she’s finding the water on her head bothersome and lets them know she’s not fond of that sensation by crying and trying to move her head around so she can see what’s happening.

Abby speeds it up a bit, rubbing a tiny dab of baby soap into her hair and rinsing it off fast. Then they try to get the area under her chin, which she also doesn’t approve of. Her head tilts down fast when Abby tries to get that washed off.

Tummy washing got some cooing. Feet were also deemed to be an appropriate washing venue. Legs were met with approval. Hands went over well. Armpits, not so much.

Which left them with Kelly’s back. And it’s not like Tim’s going to just flip her over, face down, in the water. Nope.

He’s been kneeling in the tub, holding her in the water, when something finally occurs to him. He’s got legs. And legs might be a more handy version of that baby bath chair they had. So he rearranges himself so his legs are in front of him, bent up a bit so his knees are out of the water, and he set Kelly on her tummy on his legs, looking over his knees, and said, “So, I’d really appreciate it if you didn’t poop on me, okay?”

Abby laughed at that.

Then she got more soap, rubbed it all over Kelly’s back (also an approved washing area) bum (Tim wonders if that tickles, because she’s flailing at it, but doesn’t sound unhappy) and legs (happy, baby cooing at that).

A minute after that, she was rinsed off, wrapped in a dry towel, and Tim and Abby were feeling like they had successfully cracked the case wide open, caught the killer, and won a Nobel Prize for it.

All in all, it was a good morning.

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