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, but it’s a space that doesn’t exist. I can’t be both fertile and infertile, our language doesn’t allow for it. So, this is the space I have created for myself. This is where I live. Forever fertile and infertile. A mother to six, a mother of one. I am childless, and with child. Barren and fruitful. Pregnant and then not. Lucky, 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 a bicornuate 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 preordained 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 days of early motherhood, but months of severe post-partum anxiety and post-tramatic 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.