A CREATIVE mum shielding with her newborn daughter has penned a children’s book to encourage other parents to find the positives in lockdown.

Jen Harper’s first child Heidi was born on February 12, but has spent the first few months of her life in their Headington home as dad Charlie is undergoing chemotherapy for an auto-immune disease.

The situation has added to the normal challenges of becoming a parent, but the couple are determined to look back fondly on a stressful time.

Inspired by the everyday activities she enjoys with her daughter, Mrs Harper has written ‘Heidi Stays Home’ about a baby who learns that being alone does not mean you are lonely.

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The 28-year-old, who works for Science Oxford, hopes the uplifting tale can bring some cheer to people whose support network has been taken away in lockdown.

She said: “Nobody goes into parenting thinking you’re going to be doing it in isolation.

“We’re lucky we’re both home and we can spend a lot of time together, but we were worried about Heidi missing out on things.

“It’s been hard, especially at the start.

“We wanted to think of a way to explain this time to her without it being negative.

“There are so many children that won’t remember this and there’s a lot we can learn.”

Oxford Mail:

Mr Harper was diagnosed with vasculitis, a chronic illness which involves inflammation of the blood vessels, in March 2019.

The couple were told the chemotherapy might affect fertility and began trying for a baby, while the day after their wedding last August was spent in the Rheumatology Day Unit at the Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre in Headington.

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Mrs Harper had a scare of her own while in labour with Heidi, contracting pre-eclampsia – a pregnancy condition characterised by high blood pressure and organ damage.

Her body started ‘shutting down’ and doctors at the John Radcliffe Hospital had to perform an emergency c-section.

Mr Harper, a medical statistician at the Churchill Hospital, began his second round of chemotherapy when Heidi was 17 days old and goes in for his fifth surgery next week.

He has been fitted with a tracheostomy – a tube in the windpipe – and has to press a valve to speak.

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The family have been shielding since lockdown was imposed in March and have been keeping Heidi entertained with activities including painting, writing to family members and decorating their windows.

Mrs Harper has documented this through photos that have been illustrated in the book by her sister-in-law, Kharis Brown.

She said: “I don’t think there’s anything other people haven’t been doing, but we’re getting to the stage where the rest of the world is going back to normal and for us it’s not.

“We’ve been working hard to create happy memories, so that we remember this time as a period of opportunity, rather than one of fear.

“It’s about trying to see things through fresh eyes and discover what her interests are.”

'Heidi Stays Home' is available as an e-book on Amazon and in print from blurb.co.uk.