Alanis Morissette announced back in March that her sweet family of four would be growing when she and her husband, Mario “Souleye” Treadway, welcome another child come late Summer, but in the meantime, the 45-year-old mom of two is getting personal and vulnerable.
In a thoughtful interview for Self’s June 26 digital cover story, Alanis reflected on the births of son Ever and daughter Onyx, postpartum depression, pregnancy, and more.
On the emotional and physical aspects of pregnancy:
“It’s this whole chemistry of emotions. Hormones and chemicals that are just coursing through your body. It can be triggering, or flashbacking, or re-traumatizing,” Alanis noted. “There are so many ways pregnancy can affect you. I was ready for the ride. My first two pregnancies have been gradually becoming more proprioceptive, more attuned to the subtleties that are going on in my body.”
On suffering miscarriages after having her second child:
“I. .. felt so much grief and fear. I chased and prayed for pregnancy.”
“Between Ever and Onyx there were some false starts. I always wanted to have three kids, and then I’ve had some challenges and some miscarriages so I just didn’t think it was possible,” she said. “I. .. felt so much grief and fear. I chased and prayed for pregnancy and learned so much about my body and biochemistry and immunity and gynecology through the process. It was a torturous learning and loss-filled and persevering process.”
On birthing her first two babies at home:
Although both Ever and Onyx were born at home, Ever’s birth was particularly difficult (read: 36 hours long with 12 hours of “intensity”). Onyx, on the other hand, came to be after an hour-long process from the time Alanis’s water broke to the delivery. But her birth was difficult in its own way. An hour of intense labor means Alanis had little time between the action to relax herself and think about the task at hand – oh, and since it all happened so fast, her midwife wasn’t there.
She said, of birthing alone with Souleye: “When I had a millisecond of reprieve, I would have to blurt, ‘Open the door!’ or ‘You’ve got to open the door between these next two contractions because they’re going to be coming, and the door’s locked and we’re going to probably be busy.'” She added that she felt like she was her own birthing coach, but that right before Onyx made her entrance, hearing Souleye next to her, supporting her, helped get her through. “Hearing his voice was so beautiful.. . hearing him say ‘Okay, breathe in.'”
On experiencing postpartum depression:
“For me I would just wake up and feel like I was covered in tar.”
Alanis dealt with bouts of postpartum depression after both of her children were born, and as she’s expecting number three soon, she’s thinking about how to handle the potential symptoms this time around. “Not singularly relying on myself to diagnose myself is key. Because the first time around I waited,” she said of her PPD after having Ever. “For me I would just wake up and feel like I was covered in tar and it wasn’t the first time I’d experienced depression so I just thought, ‘Oh, well, this feels familiar, I’m depressed, I think.’ And then simultaneously, my personal history of depression where it was so normalized for me to be in the quicksand, as I call it, or in the tar. It does feel like tar, like everything feels heavy.”
Although seeing a doctor after suffering through her symptoms for a year and four months pulled her out of her first PPD experience, Alanis still waited four months after having Onyx to share how she was feeling post-birth. So now, she’s attempting to be as prepared as possible for her post-birth experience with baby number three. “This time I’m going to wait four minutes. I have said to my friends, ‘I want you to not necessarily go by the words I’m saying,’ and as best as I can, I’ll try to be honest, but I can’t personally rely on the degree of honesty if I reference the last two experiences.”
On her parenting (and life) philosophies:
“There’s constant negotiation,” Alanis said of parenting. “I live for collaboration and negotiation. Our whole philosophy is win-win or there’s no deal. Or it’s win-win or we’re not done. Souleye, Onyx, Ever, and I – all four of us win. And that takes a minute.”
And in order to parent – and really live – successfully, Alanis touched on what she calls her “four boundaries.” She explained: “I talk about this with my kids a lot, the four boundaries being: You can’t tell me what I’m thinking, you can’t tell me what I’m feeling, you can’t f*cking touch my body/you can’t do anything with my body, and don’t touch my stuff. And those are the main ones. Literally if ever there’s a little moment between Onyx and Ever I’ll just go ‘Which of the four was it?’ You can’t slap her, you can’t grab his things.”