I had always loved the paintings of Frida Kahlo, but now felt I really understood them and felt like I had a purpose other than being a mother. I felt encouraged to share my work, as daunting as it seemed. My husband encouraged me to do this as he felt it would make other couples feel less alone.
After meeting other women going through this, I was so moved by their stories and their resilience after continued heartbreak. These women understood the never-ending rollercoaster of emotions such as numbness, disbelief, shame, loneliness, anger, guilt and sadness. They knew that even when the pregnancy ended very early, the sense of bonding between a mother and her baby was strong and that they had a right to grieve.
Despite the sadness, I found myself, like many of the women I met, to be very hopeful and positive. We were grateful for what we had and tried not to let it define us, or see ourselves as victims, but we also knew that this had affected us deeply and part of us had changed forever.
It should go without saying that partners, male or female, equally share the pain of this struggle. However, as a woman who constantly felt the physical as well as the emotional impact from ongoing medical treatment, I decided to focus on telling a story from the female perspective. I counted myself very lucky that I had a partner that gave me unwavering support and encouraged me to share my story and the stories of these women.
Whether you yearn to conceive a child and never get pregnant, or get pregnant and it ends in a miscarriage or still birth, the yearning to hold and look after someone is there and nothing can replace that. Like many of these women, you may be waiting patiently for many years to adopt and it still hasn’t happened and you don’t know if it will ever happen for so many complicated reasons.
Myself and my husband knew we had to do something and we always wanted a dog – and knew that we’d get one regardless of having children or not. So, we got a puppy and I realized the power of animals. Of course, an animal isn’t a child or can’t replace a child, but there’s no underestimating the healing power that animals bring to us and many other couples going through this.
As such, I decided to attempt to illustrate this bond with animals, and many pieces in this collection show women with an animal. Dogs are present often, as many women, including myself, have found their dog to be a great comfort during these times. But whether I have included a dog, a bird, a fox, or a falling feather, they all act as symbols of Hope and Life, and also indicate the absence of the longed-for child.