In a revealing interview for SELF's digital issue, third-time mom-to-be Alanis Morissette talks all things pregnancy and postpartum depression
In an in-depth new interview with SELF‘s digital issue, the Canadian-born singer opens up about how she and Treadway weren’t sure what their parenting future would look like given their previous heartaches over trying to bring a child into their family. (They are now parents to daughter Onyx Solace, 3, and son Ever Imre, 8½.)
“Between Ever and Onyx there were some false starts,” Morissette, 45, says in the feature. “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.”
The star recalls how she “felt so much grief and fear” while trying to expand her family, explaining, “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.”
When the couple finally welcomed Onyx into their lives via home birth, one person was not there: Ever, whom his musician mama describes as “a highly sensitive person”: “It wouldn’t be okay with him no matter how much I prepared him. He’s such an empath too, and I’m an empath with him.”
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Morissette has battled postpartum depression twice in the past already, and tells SELF she is prepared to do so again — but this time, she won’t wait the four months she did after giving birth to Onyx before reaching out for help, or the 16 months she waited after Ever before speaking with a doctor about her condition.
“And now this time I’m going to wait four minutes,” says the “You Learn” singer. “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.”
“I snowed a lot of them as I was snowing myself [the last two times],” Morissette admits, telling the magazine she has seven people on her team, including her midwife and doctor, to help her through.
“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,’ ” she recalls of her initial reaction to PPD specifically. “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.”
After welcoming Ever, Morissette tried leveraging her music to cope with the difficult feelings, explaining that “Often what had pulled me out of my depression pre-family was service” — service meaning “offering comfort, empathy, validation, support, information, assurance” through her songs.
“So I would just think, ‘Oh I’m just going to go out into the world and serve and then I’m going to feel better,’ but that didn’t do it,” she says. “And then I had my various forms of self-medicating [that also didn’t help]. So, creativity’s not doing it, tequila’s not doing it … and I even sang about it.”
Today — aside from performing, making music and preparing to welcome a fifth member to her household with Souleye, 39 — the “Ironic” hitmaker is navigating the world of parenting two young children, telling SELF that she has taught them to set “four boundaries” that justify conflict and resolution.
“You can’t tell me what I’m thinking, you can’t tell me what I’m feeling, you can’t f—ing touch my body/you can’t do anything with my body, and don’t touch my stuff,” she defines the “main” boundaries. “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.’ “
And Morissette’s husband is “an incredibly modern man” who “has never had an issue with being married to an alpha woman,” the star explains.
“God bless him,” she adds. “His mom held down two full-time jobs, his dad stayed home. So there’s nothing unfamiliar about [our situation for him].”