Alanis Morissette is “Head Over Feet” for her kids, but the process of getting them into her arms wasn’t exactly a “Hands Clean” kind of situation.
The singer described the experience of her home birth with daughter Onyx Solace, now 14 months, to PEOPLE recently — including all the not-for-the-faint-of-heart gory details.
“It was terrifying, but then once we heard her, and once she cried [and] I pulled her up and she started breastfeeding, I was just like, ‘Ah,’ ” shares Morissette, 43. “It gets gnarlier and gnarlier. I think the words Texas Chainsaw Massacre were used when [my midwife and doula] walked in. It’s pretty gnarly, but it’s not meant to be all clean and perfect. We are animals.”
And “pain” isn’t even a strong enough word to describe the agony the singer was in. As she explains, “It’s like an 18-wheeler careening through your whole body. It’s beyond pain. I have a high tolerance for pain … this trumped all.”
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Luckily, Morissette didn’t have to endure the pain for very long, as her daughter was born in under an hour — too quickly for her midwife and doula to arrive in time, meaning Dad Souleye had to step up in a big (and memorable) way.
“Souleye caught Onyx. He was coaching me and I was coaching him,” she says of her husband, whose real name is Mario Treadway (the two also share son Ever Imre, 6½).
“[The midwife] came and we were, all three of us, just kind of stunned,” Morissette adds.
“But I’d seen so many videos of women giving birth in water with dolphins and fields. I knew that the babies, when there’s a low-risk birth, come out in whatever way they come out,” says the Jagged Little Pill vocalist.
“I thought it would take a few hours and it took literally 59 minutes. And she flew out,” Morissette continues. “And then, about half an hour later, everyone stormed in and they had their capes on and they just cleaned up and helped [with] everything. I was just crawling for about two or three weeks because every time I stood up, I was going to pass out.”
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The “Ironic” singer says her daughter has “been snugged up and eye contacted” since birth — something that Morissette doesn’t take for granted.
“There used to be a church-and-state division between developmentalism and attachment theory and then attachment parenting, and they were very divided,” says the mom of two.
“Over the last few years, I started participating in different organizations about the stages of development and relationality, and I begged them to come together because there’s the scientific, theoretical aspect of it and then there’s the direct eye contact, skin-on-skin, smelling each other’s heads … whether you can breastfeed or not, how they were born or not, love corrects everything,” Morissette explains.
“It really is the most helpful thing during postpartum depression,” Morissette adds of love (she opened up in the same interview with PEOPLE about her own battle with the condition). “It scares me that narcissism is [such an] epidemic right now in the west, because one of the biggest healing factors in postpartum depression is a profound amount of empathy.”
“Even if you can’t understand what is happening, in this case, in my body, or your loved one’s body,” she says. “I didn’t choose to have [PPD]. If I could avoid, I would’ve at all costs.”
Morissette admits she’s learned a lot about being a parent — particularly, how not to judge others doing the same. “Before I was a mom, I had a lot of opinions,” she says. “I was one of those horrifying younger women who had a lot of opinions for a woman who didn’t have a baby. And then, as soon as I had a child, I just shut my mouth and just celebrated any way a child comes into the world, any way a mom wants to do it: ‘How can I help?’ “