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A Womb in the Shape of a Heart

My story of Miscarriage and Motherhood

Joanne Gallant

248 pages
Nimbus Publishing

An intimate memoir of miscarriage, premature birth, and motherhood from a bold and brilliant new voice in Atlantic Canada

I am the space between motherhood and longing for it, bit it's a space that doesn't exist. I can't be both fertile and infertile, our language doesn't have space for it. So, this is the space I have created for myself. This is where I love. Forever fertile and infertile. A mother to six, a mother of one. I am childless, with child. Barren and fruitful. Pregnant and then not. Luckly, unlucky.

A thirty year old pediatric nurse with dreams of motherhood, Joanne Gallant was confident that she and her partner would conceive soon after they married - it was a matter of when, not if. And yet. Her first pregnancy, a set of twins, is riddled with dangerous complications that endanger her life, and results in devastating loss. After emergency surgery, Gallant is diagnosed with biconuate uterus, a rare condition also known as a heart shaped womb. There is no cure, no pill, no surgery that can alter her fate. What is happening to her now was preordianed long before her own birth.

As motherhood continues to elude her, Gallant and her partner navigate the world of infertility - up until the pregnancy that results, to their astonishment, in the premature birth of their son. What follows are not the blissful, pastel day of early motherhood, but months of severe post-partum anxiety and post traumatic stress; she is sure her son will be taken from her. It is a matter of when, not if. Punctuated by moments of incredible joy as she raises her young son, A Womb in the Shape of a Heart is the intimate story of Gallant's journey through miscarriage and motherhood, holding space for the complicated paradoxes of grief and gratitude, of life and death, and the impenetrable depths of a mother's love.