Part seven of this peek into a blended family surviving on an alien planet.
Previous installments can be found by searching the Category List for “Monday Musings”
Baby Ginny’s fussing woke Dr. Ben Fortunas. He’d fallen asleep with his chin in one large palm. He snorted at his own foolishness even as he tip-toed—a comical act for such a tall man—into their sleeping quarters.
Cassie rolled over and mumbled, “ya gots herz?”
“K.” She pulled the patchwork quilt back over her head and snuggled deeper into the mattress.
Ben’s lips twitched upward. He opened the bassinet dome and turned off the sensors that monitored the baby’s respiration and heart rate. “Shh, little one. Let’s go out here to eat.” Scooping her up and cradling her in one arm, he slid back out of the room.
As he went through the rote motions of turning on the bottle-filling machine, Ben winced. The water mixing with the formula went through the same filters as the adults’ drinking water. If lorga was making it through those filters, it was certainly contaminating Ginny’s food. With her tiny frame and infant’s metabolism, she’d be even more adversely affected. Lead poisoning could cause permanent brain damage in children. Would the lorga have similar effects?
Once the baby started greedily sucking down her meal, Ben walked to Cassie’s workstation and retrieved her finger-prick kit. Baby Ginny was the only human on Dremiks not equipped with a medical information chip. “And that’s because we didn’t bring a child-sized chip along,” he whispered. “No one expected you, little troublemaker.”
He sat down and shifted the baby slightly so that she was getting less air from her suckling and so he could raise her sleep-sack. With her thigh exposed, Dr. Fortunas pressed the device against her skin. She stopped eating long enough to blink furiously at him. “Entschuldige Schatz. Don’t tell your mother.” He set the tester aside and adjusted the baby’s clothing. Ginny’s suckling slowed. Dark eyelashes started to hide her blue-green eyes.
“Oh no you don’t, little one. Burping time and a diaper change.”
As Ben stood, the blood tester chirped. The screen displayed a complete blood count and mineral levels.
“Huh. Well… huh.” Ben stared at the screen. Ginny Hill showed no signs of anemia, and her blood contained no traces of lead or any other unwanted metals.
“What is it?”
He raised his head. Cassie leaned in the doorway of their bedroom. Her hair stood out from her head in weird shapes. Rubbing her knuckles over one eye, she asked again, “What’s going on?”
“Little Miss Inheritor here is the only human on the planet who isn’t anemic.”
“Well, yeah. I’ve been increasing her iron intake. Premature infants often suffer from mild anemia. Also, it’s not like she had the best diet for the first few weeks.” Straightening, Cassie appeared more alert. “What do you mean, the only human on the planet? We’re all anemic?”
Ginny belched just as Ben started to respond. He motioned with his free hand. “Exactly what it sounds like. I’ll tell you about it later. Much later. Let’s go to bed.”
“Won’t be able to sleep now. My brain’s working the problem.”
“Right.” Ben changed Ginny’s diaper with military efficiency. “Care to bet on it? I say you’re asleep before I get in the bed,” he said without turning around. Once more, he tucked the baby into her bassinet and set the monitors. “Well?”
Cassie didn’t answer—she was sound asleep.
Ben smiled softly as he climbed in beside her.