New York lifestyle and fashion photographer Kristen Somody Whalen had a unique way of dealing with the stress of pregnancy – painting.
When Kristen’s water broke 10 weeks early, she immediately feared the worst. Thankfully, she and the baby were both fine and placed on bed rest.
After seven years of infertility issues and a miscarriage, Kristen and her husband Seth did not feel overly optimistic.
“It was heartbreaking,” Kristen tells PEOPLE. “Seeing everyone create this beautiful thing that I wanted so much and couldn’t have.”
Kristen, an art minor in college, originally pursued photography after being told her painting was terrible. She eventually fell back into painting after she spent time in art museums and related very heavily to horses and flowers.
“I found that relating to other people’s painful emotions helped me not feel so alone,” Kristen says.
While on bed rest, Kristen found solace in painting.
“She had a very unique way of dealing with her stress,” Kristen’s nurse Joanne Arnold tells PEOPLE. “Every day she’d get up, she’d open her shades, she’d let the sun shine in her room. She’d get dressed in beautiful, beachy, flowey outfits, and then she’d get out her paints. She’d sit on the top her bed, she’d get out her watercolors, her canvas. She’d have people bring her fresh flowers every day. Her room, if you can picture it, was bright and sunny, filled with fresh flowers, filled with water color paints and canvases and she’d just sit there and paint. It was totally peaceful.”
When Kristen first arrived at the hospital, she immediately sent her husband to get her her watercolors. While in the hospital, she created dozens of paintings, mostly centered around flowers.
Kristen delivered her son on Sunday May 29, and painted her way through labor! The partially competed painting of a horse will eventually be hung in her son’s room.
“When I hold him in my arms everything feels right in the world,” the new mother says.