DISCLAIMER: NCIS and its characters are the property of CBS, no infringement intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: I don't pretend to be any kind of expert on this subject... but I wondered what I could write for the "birth" prompt, this popped into my head and the idea wouldn't let me go. So I hope, if you happen to know this sort of thing, don't punish me too hard. And if you don't know jack about it... um... well, we're in the same boat so you shouldn't worry to much about the details. ;-D
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
The Special Agent, the Goth and the Baby
Kate moved away from the window, holstering her weapon as she returned to Ensign Hartwell's side. "It's all right, they'll get him," she assured the frightened woman. She couldn't stop herself from looking at the woman's very pregnant belly, worried about the way she was breathing.
Elaine Hartwell had contacted NCIS two weeks ago, worried about threatening letters arriving in her mailbox without a return address or stamps. The team had investigated and learned that a lieutenant Hartwell had served under had become obsessed with her. He'd gone UA after she went on maternity leave and Gibbs had assigned Kate to watch over her.
She'd spent the entire day at Hartwell's condo, following her around as she tidied every little nuance, dusted every flat surface and spent thirty minutes debating on whether or not to change the dust ruffle on the bed. The true excitement had started about an hour ago, when McGee had called from the corner to report a suspicious vehicle circling the block.
Gibbs and DiNozzo had arrived and followed the car. Last report had them in pursuit of the vehicle. Kate, with nothing to do but sit and wait, watched as Hartwell shifted uncomfortably in her chair. The contractions had started as soon as McGee reported the suspicious car. Likely stress, but... She walked over to her and knelt by the chair. "Are they getting closer together?"
"Yeah," Elaine said.
Kate withdrew her cell phone and hit quick dial, glancing towards the window and praying for headlights to wash across the room. "Come on," she muttered.
"You've got Abby!"
"Where the hell is Ducky?" Kate demanded.
"Whoa, Kate, chill. Ducky had a little problem."
Kate groaned. "Don't tell me..."
"Great." She looked warily at Hartwell and said, "Abby, if I needed to call an ambulance..."
"How far apart are the contractions?" Abby asked. Kate asked Hartwell and reported to Abby. "Well, before you call the ambulance, you may want to call Marty McFly and go back in time about half an hour to when it would've made a difference."
Kate groaned and massaged the bridge of her nose. "Abby, this baby is coming."
"Too bad Gibbs isn't there..."
Kate frowned. "Why?"
"He's a... never mind."
"Gibbs is a midwife?"
Abby laughed into the phone. "Hey, don't use the expression around him, but he did help deliver a little girl once."
Kate laughed and turned back to Hartwell. "If I call him, do you think he could walk me through this?"
"In the middle of a high-speed chase? Doubtful."
"Damn it, Abby, I don't have a lot of options here!"
Elaine cried out, clutching the arms of the chair. Abby said, "Ooh, I heard that. Do you have any idea how far she's dilated?"
"I don't even want to know how I'd find that out," Kate said.
"Is she wearing a skirt?"
"Kate, your mother did tell you where babies come from, didn't she?"
Kate cast a panicked look at Hartwell and began to pace. "I cannot deliver this baby. Abby, I... I'm not a midwife, I'm not a doctor. I'd screw it up!"
"Special Agent Todd?"
She looked back at Hartwell and saw a wet spot forming in the seat under her legs. "Abby... her water just broke."
"Okay, first, Kate... calm down. Get Ensign Hartwell to the bathtub."
Kate said, "Okay, hold on." She put the phone in her jacket pocket and reached out with both hands. "Can you stand?"
Hartwell groaned. "Sure, why not?" She took Kate's hands and leaned against the agent, crying out as she rode out another contraction. "My first son... was an easy birth if it's any consolation..."
"Very little," Kate admitted. "But I appreciate the thought."
She walked Elaine down the hallway, pausing for the contractions, and flipped on the light in the bathroom. The entire room was pastel blue, mirrors facing each other over the sink to create a feeling of depth. It threw Kate off at first, but she got past the disorientation and soldiered on.
She fished the phone out of her pocket with her free hand, holding it to her ear. "Okay, we're at the bathtub. Should I ask her where she keeps the bubble bath?"
"Start the water and get her into the tub."
"Water birth," Elaine said, motioning at the faucet. "Start the water."
Kate helped Elaine step into the tub and turned on the water. "Hot or cold?"
"Warm," Abby said. "It needs to be as close to body temperature as possible; it's best for the baby." Kate turned the hot and cold faucets about halfway, making sure the water wasn't hitting Elaine too hard. She turned the phone on speaker and set it on the edge of the tub, stepping over the lip and kneeling between Elaine's knees. "Okay, what now?"
"See how far she's dilated," Abby's echoed voice said from the speaker. Kate started to groan at the prospect and Abby added, "Suck it up, Kate, it's only going to get worse."
Kate flashed an apologetic look at Hartwell, who said, "Don't worry, Agent Todd, I know it's nothing personal."
Kate blushed and closed her eyes, putting her hand under the ensign's skirt. She felt for a moment and then gasped, hunching her shoulders. "Um... i-it's about six or seven centimeters...? Maybe a little more?"
"Okay, Kate, just remember that birth is natural. The body will do what it has to do. Just keep Ensign Hartwell calm, keep the baby safe and everything else will work itself out. Okay?"
"I'll take that as an okay. When she reaches nine centimeters, she's going to be in the transition stage. She's going to feel panic and you're going to have to keep her calm. Okay?"
"Okay," Kate managed.
"Okay," Abby said. "Okay, when it's time to start pushing, don't let her push at the height of the contraction..."
"I'm sorry," Elaine said. "Agent... Sciuto?"
"I've had a baby before. I could help her out with some of this."
"You're about to be very distracted, Ensign Hartwell. I just wanted to make sure Kate knows what to do."
"Okay, yeah, you're right... I'm sorry."
"Okay, Kate? How far now?"
Kate sighed. "I don't know. A little farther than last time...?"
"About nine centimeters? Kate, this is important."
Kate closed her eyes and focused, trying not to think of what she was doing and just focusing on the details. "Yes. Nine centimeters," she said without hesitation.
"How's the water?"
Kate looked around, noticing her condition. The water hitting between her shoulder blades had soaked her windbreaker, her hair plastered to her head. Her slacks were dark brown and her gloves were like a second-skin. Kate would make Abby pay for suggesting a water birth. It's about waist level on Ensign Hartwell."
"Okay, you can probably shut it down now." Kate reached back and thankfully stopped the spray. She shivered in the sudden cold and turned back to Elaine. "Okay, Abby... she's fully dilated..."
Elaine was doing rhythmic breathing, hands tight on her thighs, knees spread. "Okay... okay, what were you saying about pushing?"
"Not at the height of contractions," Abby said forcefully. "Kate? Stay calm. Take a deep breath. She doesn't need a crazy person kneeling between her legs. Just breathe. Focus. You with me?"
"Yes," Kate said calmly.
"Okay, Elaine, can you hear me?"
"Yes..." Elaine said, eyes closed and face red.
"Push only between contractions. We don't want the baby born too quickly."
"Speak for yourself," Kate said, brushing her face and pushing Elaine's skirt out of the way.
"Blow through your mouth. Just like in your Lamaze class."
Elaine nodded and said, "Okay."
She began to push and Kate watched, panicked and frantic and horrified at what she was being asked to do. And then... "Abby!" she cried.
"Calm, Kate, calm!"
"The head!" Kate said, keeping her voice calm. Her eyes were wide, her hands instinctively going to the round, red bubble suddenly appearing underwater. "Sh-should I... Abby, you have to--"
"Just let the head ease out! Put your hand underneath it to cradle the skull and neck, do not let that baby float, Kate!"
Kate was almost panting now, the baby's face now visible. She swallowed hard, letting the baby float into her hand. The head was so tiny, filling her palm entirely. She swallowed again and said, "The head is out... I-I'm holding the head, Abby..."
"Gently, gently guide it towards the bottom of the tub until one shoulder is out. Then lift the baby towards the ceiling for the other shoulder."
Kate did as Abby instructed, glancing at Elaine to make sure she was all right. She was breathing regularly, red-faced, well-versed in the practice. Kate, seeing the other woman's calm, forced herself to remain level-headed. "Okay. Okay. Okay. The shoulders are both out, Abby, I don't think he's breathing, what do I..."
"Be very careful, hold him gently but firmly, do you understand?"
"Yes, Abby, he's almost out! Elaine, he's almost out!"
She responded with a nearly imperceptible nod of her head. Kate lifted the baby out of the water when it was fully born, using her gloved fingers to brush the mucus and blood away from his nose and mouth. "Rub his back if he doesn't cry," Abby instructed.
Kate rubbed in a slow circle and, suddenly, the baby came to life. It opened it's mouth and keened to the world at large. Kate gasped, eyes wide at the little body in her hands, amazed at it, amazed she hadn't screwed it up. "Hey!" she breathed, smiling at him. "Abby, should I cut the cord?"
"No! Nothing you could have would be sterile enough. Wait for Ducky. Open Ensign Hartwell's shirt and lay the baby on her abdomen. He needs her body heat right now."
Elaine unbuttoned the bottom part of her sweater and bared her stomach, letting Kate place the baby on her skin. Kate wiped her eyes, exhaled sharply and looked at her watch. "It had to be longer than that," she marveled.
"Nope," Abby said. "Find some clean towels. Fluffy, green ones, if you can."
"Why green?" Kate asked, getting out of the tub.
"I like green."
Kate laughed. "Towels?"
Elaine didn't look up from her baby's face. "In the hallway... there are cabinets."
Kate plodded in her wet shoes into the hallway, finding the cabinets and withdrawing the biggest, greenest, fluffiest towel there. When she closed the door, she saw Ducky and Jimmy Palmer come around the corner. They froze when they saw her, taking in the sight. Kate handed Ducky the towel and said, "In the tub. The baby is fine."
They went past her and she went out the front door, taking off her shoes and windbreaker and draping them over the hood of the medical examiner truck. The sedan pulled up and DiNozzo exited the driver's side. She groaned at the thought of him seeing her like this, but there really wasn't anything she could do.
"Kate," he said, looking her up and down.
Gibbs joined Tony on the front walk and looked Kate over as well. "The baby come?"
"Yes, Gibbs. Abby walked me through it. Did you get the lieutenant?"
"Metro took him," Tony said. "Offered to escort him back to NCIS for us."
Kate nodded and brushed her hair out of her face. "Am I going to have to beg for a ride home?"
Gibbs smirked and said, "DiNozzo, stay here with Ducky. Come on, Kate, I'll take you to change."
Gibbs' idea of change, it appeared, was an NCIS sweat suit taken out of a random locker. Gibbs invited her to sit in on the lieutenant's interrogation, but she kindly passed. Kind of hard to play the heavy while swimming in your clothes. Instead, she headed to the lab. Abby was at her desk, flipping through a magazine. She looked up at the sound of the doors and said, "Kate! How was your first delivery?"
"Nerve wracking," she said, leaning against the table. "I could never have done it without you. Thank you, Abby."
"It was my pleasure," Abby said. "She didn't name the baby Todd, did she? I find that so... hokey."
Kate smiled. "I think she named him Paul."
"Paul Hartwell," Abby thought. She shrugged and said, "So. Think you'll be able to sleep tonight?"
Kate exhaled. "I held a brand-new baby that I helped deliver in my hands tonight... I don't think I'll be sleeping this week."
Abby grinned. "Dinner?"
"We'll go dutch?"
"Deal," Abby said.
Kate turned and headed for the elevators and Abby said, "Hey, Kate?"
Abby gave her a thumbs-up. "You rocked."
Kate made twin pistols and fired them at Abby. "I rock with you at my side."
"Ooh, and don't you forget it."
Kate laughed and waved over her shoulder as she headed to the elevator.
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