Being on bed rest is a drag, but one artist isn’t letting it get her down. Instead, she’s using the unexpected downtime to create something beautiful.
Kristen Somody Whalen struggled with infertility for seven years, but even after finally achieving a viable pregnancy, it hasn't been smooth sailing. Now in her third trimester, the expectant mama has been prescribed a month of bed rest due to premature rupture of membranes, a condition that complicates 3 percent of U.S. pregnancies annually and is the leading cause of preterm labor.
Whalen is currently in week three of her month-long stay at Stony Brook University Hospital in New York, and she has a lot to show for it—namely a stockpile of paintings to add to her watercolor-and-ink series “Flowers with Legs.”
Whalen began painting flower women two years ago while on a shoot for her day job as a high-profile New York City fashion photographer. According to Today.com, the series has allowed her to combine two of her passions: fresh flowers and designer shoes. And now, her newest additions have a (no surprise here) pregnancy-inspired twist.
"Nothing inspires me like fresh flowers," Whalen explains, adding that "it was so satisfying drawing the shoes. It felt like they were mine."
There’s a therapeutic element to the art as well, Whalen says. It helps entertain her and keep her mind off of outside stressors—a particularly useful outlet during her years of infertility.
“The art helps me to really stay peaceful…. It’s sort of my alter ego, like, ‘Here’s what I wish I was doing right now!” Whalen says of the series, which features paintings of pregnant women kickboxing and skydiving.
With only one week left on bed rest before her doctors feel it’s safe to induce labor, Whalen is hoping to have a say in her son’s birthday. She'd like it to be June 7, and serve as an annual reminder of the seven years she spent trying to bring him into the world.
"It's only been three weeks, and I feel like I've grown so much as an artist, just because I have time," Whalen says. "I can't wait to put [my art] in [my son's] baby book and say, 'Look what Mommy made while you were in her belly in the hospital.'"