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.
About the author
Joanne Gallant is a pediatric nurse and writer. She is a graduate of Mount Allison University and the University of Alberta. In 2019, she was selected by the Writer's Federation of Nova Scotia as an apprentice writer in the Alistair MacLeod Mentorship Program. She lives in Halifax, Nova Scotia, with her husband and son. A Womb in the Shape of a Heart is her debut book.
"For all those living silently through infertility, multiple miscarriages, and other reproductive issues, A Womb in the Shape of a Heart will be a lifeline." — Quill & Quire (September 2021)
"Beautiful, brave and heartbreaking, Joanne Gallant's A Womb in the Shape of a Heart illuminates both the joys of motherhood and the grief of miscarriage in equal measure. With suspenseful storytelling and honest revelation, this is a compelling read."
– Beth Powning, author of Shadow Child: An Apprenticeship in Love and Loss
"This book is a love letter: to the cherished babies the author has lost, to her cherished son who stayed, to her loving husband, to the health-care professionals who guided them through with kindness, and also to herself—the person she was before, during, and after her miscarriages. A Womb In the Shape of a Heart is also a love letter to anyone who has ever experienced the everlasting ache of pregnancy loss. By so generously sharing her own story, Joanne Gallant has opened up a space for us where grief and joy can exist together. Her tender words burrowed into me and found a home, and I'm so grateful she wrote them."
– Jessica Westhead, author of Worry
"Many mothers — people with children as well as those who long for them — will be grateful that Joanne Gallant has shared her story. I know I am. Her debut memoir contains so many of the paradoxes of life: how the greatest joys can be underscored with the deepest terrors, how hope can be so tightly woven into grief, but ultimately, it is the love in this book that will stay with me. Her love for her child, for her husband, for the babies she lost, but also for the vulnerability she reveals in this moving book, which, in another one of those paradoxes, she shows us can also be an act of love."
— Harriet Alida Lye, author of The Honey Farm and Natural Killer
"Joanne Gallant's exquisite chronicle of loss transforms the private anguish of so many women into revelatory beauty. Candid, fierce and embracing, A Womb in the Shape of a Heart is a lyric testimony to the ways hope can both betray and redeem us. Gallant's courageous memoir is solace for those grieving in silence, an elegy filled with wisdom and grace."
— Lorri Neilsen Glenn, award-winning author of Following the River: Traces of Red River Women