Macmillan has signed The First Breath, a "moving" non-fiction book combining personal memoir with the story of fetal and neonatal medicine by journalist Olivia Gordon.
Non-fiction commissioning editor Cindy Chan bought world English rights from Cathryn Summerhayes at Curtis Brown.
According to the publisher, the work will combine "personal memoir and sensitive, intimate case histories of other mothers’ high-risk pregnancies with extraordinary medical science, from the dawn of fetal medicine to the latest groundbreaking neonatal surgery and the exploding field of perinatal genetics". It will "shine a light on the intense patient-doctor relationship between the parents and the people who hold their children’s lives in their hands".
Chan said: "The life of a child is an incredibly emotive subject and Olivia has a masterful ability to balance the emotion of mothers’ stories with the detachment needed to convey the complex medical science at work in leading fetal and neonatal hospital units. A generation ago, these babies would not have lived. Whether or not you are a parent, the remarkable story of cutting-edge medicine and the dedicated army of doctors and nurses bringing new lives into the world will make this a moving and powerful work."
Gordon said: "A baby in the womb was an unreachable mystery to previous generations. Thanks to pioneering modern medicine, more and more children – including my own son – are starting their lives with an unprecedented level of medical intervention, even before birth. The First Breath will reveal the untold story of a new generation of medical survivors, and reflect on what happens when having a baby doesn’t go as planned."
Macmillan will publish in 2019.