Mum writes children’s book while in labour – just hours before traumatic birth
A mum wrote a children’s book while in labour – just hours before delivering her daughter in a traumatic birth.
English teacher Jo Harte, 32, came up with the idea for ‘Do You Know the Colours of the Rainbow?’ while she was pregnant with her first child.
She wrote the story between contractions, when she “had some time to kill”.
With a busy lifestyle, Jo said the opportunity to sit down and get writing didn’t arrive until she was in hospital waiting for her daughter, Isabella, to be born in September 2017.
She and husband Ben, 37, were inspired by a mischievous magpie that visited their garden and stripped the branches off their tree to build a nest.
Nicknaming him Marvin, the couple from Thatcham, Berkshire, decided to write a book featuring the bird.
“We had discussed the idea a little while before Isabella was born,” Jo said. “Ben would read to Isabella every day while she was in the womb.”
“We always said we would write our idea down one day as we both love children’s books.
“When we had some time to kill in the hospital waiting for Isabella to be born, we seized the opportunity.
“We drafted the story together in a notebook I had in my hospital bag.”
Jo went to hospital on a Sunday to be induced and spent the following two days drafting the story.
She continued writing it on Monday evening and carried on into Tuesday because she couldn’t sleep on the noisy ward.
Meanwhile, the determined mum went through three failed inductions, five unsuccessful attempts at breaking her waters, and had to be placed on an oxytocin drip.
Despite having contractions, and gas and air, there was no sign of the baby – and that meant Jo had plenty of time to focus on her book.
She said: “I needed something to take my mind off things.
“Ben was really good throughout the whole experience and kept me busy with lots of chat and of course writing the book.
“I was so impatient for Isabella’s arrival – she had kept us waiting long enough – so I was distracted by that, but my husband kept me grounded.”
At last, four days after arriving in hospital, baby Isabella was born via C-section. But there were more complications.
Jo said: “I was waiting for the cry, but it never came. Ben wasn’t anywhere nearby and I panicked.
“It transpired that Isabella was a meconium baby and had to be resuscitated at birth.
“She was rushed into NICU and incubated on oxygen until she was able to breath by herself.
“I wasn’t allowed to see her until late afternoon on Wednesday and the first time I met her she was all tubed up and incubated.”
Isabella made a full recovery – and went on to become one of the main characters in her parents’ book.
The story also features a character called Harry, which was their choice of name if the baby had been a boy.
In the book, teacher Mr Brown tells his class all about the colours of the rainbow.
Students Isabella and Harry draw their own rainbows, but when they return from lunchtime they find their artwork has mysteriously disappeared – and it looks like mischievous Marvin the magpie is the culprit.
The book has been flying off the shelves at Waterstones.
Jo is delighted – and was also thrilled by the way the book’s illustrator managed to capture Isabella’s likeness.
She said: “It was amazing to see the draft we wrote in the hospital come to life and be completed with beautiful illustrations.
“The illustrator has captured her perfectly and a lot of people who have read the book [say] how well the images have characterised her cheekiness.”