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Postnatal check-in

Posted on Sat Feb 10th, 2024 @ 1:25pm by Lieutenant Tate Sullivan Ph.D. & Lieutenant Commander Kara Starr {Kelea-Salik}

Mission: MISSION 0 - History Speaks
Location: Quarters
Timeline: After the birth of Kara's son
1455 words - 2.9 OF Standard Post Measure

"Knock, knock," Tate whispered with a smile toward Kara. It was an ancient expression but it felt appropriate because she wanted to announce her presence but didn't want to disturb the bundle of joy in her arms. "May I come in? Officially, I'm here too check your vitals, but along with that, I just wanted to stare at your new addition."

Sitting on the sofa a comfy cushion behind her back, and a cosy blanket over her legs Kara smiled warmly as she beckoned Tate inside. “Come on in Tate, you’re always welcome you know that. Come and say hello to Matthew.”

Tate's eyes lit up as she came forward. She was truly pleased to see the little boy, but all teasing aside, she was genuinely concerned for his mother. "He's beautiful and you did so well. How are you feeling?"

“I’d be lying if I didn’t say I was exhausted.” Kara offered the best smile she could muster. “I knew labour could take a long time first time, hell I’ve already had a daughter, but this time it seemed so much longer! I thought second births tended to be quicker.”

"I'm not speaking from personal experience, of course, but I think your experience falls under the category of ' exception to the rule.' I'm sure that wasn't a comfort in the moment, but all things considered, that was one of the most peaceful births I could imagine. I felt privileged to be a part of it, but didn't want to be in the way of such an intimate moment. I'd be lying if I didn't say it was a personal morale boost for me." Sullivan took out her tricorder. She did promise to work, after all.

Kara smiled. “It was good having you there Tate, actually I completely forgot until now that Matthew’s birth coincides with what would have been my nephew Charlie’s birthday. He was...murdered alongside his mother a few years ago.”

Tate looked up from her tricorder in genuine surprise. "Oh, I'm so sorry, Kara. I had no idea." Sullivan couldn't help but feel guilty that she hadn't known, but with so many crewmembers to keep track of, it was genuinely hard enough to care for people after Elysium related trauma.

Kara offered a polite smile. “It’s okay Tate, you weren’t to know. I guess it turns a day of pain into a day of joy again, both for Mattias and for me.”

Tate took a moment to review her tricorder before looking up and nodding. "The older I get, the more I realize no matter how awful the circumstances seem to be, there's always something to be grateful the fact you are doing well according to the tricorder that does not lie." She laughed and turned the tricorder in Kara's direction so she could see the proof.

There was sometimes no substitute for a hands on exam, however, so she asked, "Would it be okay if I did a quick physical exam? I know trticorders and people with their own medical expertise are reliable, of course," she said, referring to Kara, "but I'm learning there's nothing like the peace of mind you get from seeing things yourself, especially in times when tech isn't available."

Kara nodded. “That’s fine Tate, I appreciate you doing all this for me. It puts my mind at rest.”

"I'm glad I can help. I know you know what to look out for, but you also have a lot on your plate and you shouldn't be expected to tend to your own medical needs. That's like asking you to see your nose without a mirror," He added with the chuckle. "I hate to be cruel, but is there somewhere we can set the little one just for a time while I examine you properly?"

Kara nodded. “The Moses basket, just there.” She pointed behind Tate. Let me just...” She moved to place her young son down, gently covering him with a blanket. “He’s tired anyway, he’ll probably fall asleep.”

"Thank you," Sullivan replied. "I promise not to be long. I know new mother should sleep when their babies do." The counselor approached, helping Kara make herself comfortable before running a sterilizer over her hands. Then, she placed them gently against Kara's stomach, palpating it to make sure her uterus returned to its normal size. Even in the face of modern medicine, the human body still responded as it always had. In this case, a woman's belly didn't completely flatten the moment a child was born. "Any pain or other strange sensations?"

Kara shook her head. “Apart from the leftover discomfort of having given birth, no.” She offered a smile.

Tate was pleased to note the firmness of Kara's womb beneath her fingers. It suggested that following the birth, her womb had contracted just as it was meant to do following the arrival of her son, thus controlling any postdelivery bleeding and preserving her future fertility. "You continue to feel after pains for a while longer, particularly as can you breast-feed, but that should ease with time. Speaking of breast-feeding, how is that going? Any discomfort or trouble getting this little one to eat?"

Kara shook her head. “It’s taken a little practice getting the right positioning, but once we had it sorted we kept to it. He feeds well, every four hours over night so at least I get some rest.”

"You're lucky," Tate replied with a smile before shifting her attention to examining Kara's breasts. Milk ducts could become clogged and infections could develop, and while Tate knew Kara would have told her if there was an issue, she wanted to do right by her. A short few moments later, Tate was putting the fabric of Kara's top back in place. "All looks right as rain, physically. I expect you'll need another check-up in a bit, but just let medical know if it needs to be done in your quarters."

Sullivan paused, then offered, "I promise to get out of your hair shortly, but now that I've seen to you physically, I wouldn't be much of a counselor if I didn't ask how you are doing emotionally?"

"Emotionally..." Kara paused. "To be honest it's all been pretty stressful, with the injuries to my legs I've had to rely on Mal a lot more than I'd like. I know he doesn't mind, but at the same time I like to be able to do things for myself."

Tate nodded. "That's understandable. You're dealing with a lot on top of what we were already facing as a crew. It's part of the reason I wanted to be the one to check on you. What would you say if I recommended you and I talk with one another for a few meetings? I don't want you to think the suggestion comes because I don't think you're capable of coping with this. I just know with all of these added stressors, the genuine risk for postpartum depression and anxiety is there, and I'd rather be proactive rather than reactive. I'm thinking some preventative medicine might be in order?"

Kara nodded. "I think that's a good idea Tate, thank you for everything you're doing. I think it's better to be proactive than have a problem creep up on us at any point."

"It seems we are in violent agreement," Sullivan replied with a smile. "No need to thank me, but I appreciate your gratitude all the same. You've done so much to take care of all of us, the least I can do is return the favor." Tate made sure Kara's clothing was back in place and she was comfortable. "Besides, we have to make sure you are the best mama to your littles."

Kara grinned. "Parenthood is new to me even though I already have Ezri. After she was born I just wasn't ready to accept parenthood, especially after what had happened to me. Malakai's sister took Ezri in for me, raised her, although we made sure Ezri knew that I was her mother. It was hard, but now I'm ready to be the mother I never could be back then, I will give both my children the best life they could possibly have."

Tate grinned. Kara's attitude was definitely not indicative of any post-partum depression and that was a good sign, but Sullivan planned to keep a close eye on her. "Well, in that case, I best get out of your hair. I'll reach out in a few days, but in the meantime, reach out if you need anything."

Kara nodded. “I will Tate, thank you so much for everything!” She smiled warmly.


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