Singer and songwriter Alanis Morissette has opened up about miscarriage, pregnancy, birth and postnatal depression in a candid new interview as she prepares to welcome her third child.
Mum to eight-year-old Ever Imre, and three-year-old Onyx Solace, whom she shares with with husband Mario "Souleye" Treadway, Alanis, 45, told SELF that her journey to motherhood has not been easy.
"Between Ever and Onyx there were some false starts," she said. "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."
What followed was a period of grief and fear and what the singer calls "a torturous learning and loss-filled and persevering process".
"I chased and prayed for pregnancy and learned so much about my body and biochemistry and immunity and gynaecology through the process," she said.
When she took charge of her health, Alanis noted that something "shifted".
"When I [...] chased my health in a different way, from multiple angles—[including, among other things] extensive consistent blood work monitoring to trauma recovery work to multiple doctor and midwife appointments to many tests and surgeries and investigations, things shifted."
At 44, she discovered she was expecting her third baby.
"There are so many ways pregnancy can affect you," Alanis said, adding that she was "ready for the ride". "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-traumatising."
Both Ever and Onyx were born at home - Ever after a 36 hour labour and Onyx after just an hour. But although the labour was short, her midwife was delayed and she found herself solo pushing - and "managing" her husband through it, too.
"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 said, explaining that she became her own doula.
"I felt I was the coach," she said of Onyx's delivery, adding that she spoke to herself using reassuring words, like "she's coming, you don't have to manipulate anything, the next contraction she's coming out, I guarantee it."
Having spoken candidly about her experiences with postnatal depression after both Ever and Onyx were born, Alanis also shared her plans around preparing for and managing PND a third time around.
"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,'" she said. "And then simultaneously, my personal history of depression where it was so normalised for me to be in the quicksand, as I call it, or in the tar. It does feel like tar, like everything feels heavy."
But a year would pass before she asked for help.
The singer recounts reaching out to her doctor and asking, "If I stick this out, will it get better?"
"No, honey, the opposite", her doctor said.
The second time, Alanis waited four months. This time, she won't wait at all.
"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," she said.
As she transitions to being a mother-of-three, Alanis admitted she still finds it strange that she's a mum. "I still have moments where it feels like it's not dawning on me that I'm a mother," she said. "But when I look at them, I just think I'm so responsible for you."