We’ve seen Alanis Morissette through nearly every phase of life and now she’s opening up (even more) about pregnancy and parenting. In a new profile with Self, Alanis talks about being pregnant with her third child at 45 and every other part of the process including the struggle of getting pregnant, the births of her two other children, postpartum depression and the grand collaboration that is parenting.
We also learn that Alanis can make even having to pee sound like music, she’s very into telling her birth stories (buckle up!) and she’s pretty pumped that Jagged Little Pill is still a masterpiece 24 years later.
On Getting Pregnant
Alanis shared the struggle she and husband Mario “Souleye” Treadway (who we learn she calls “Souleye”) had getting pregnant a second and then third time and how much work, research and heartbreak went into it.
“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.”
“I had done tentacles of investigation on everything, from hormones to physicality, every rabbit hole one could go down to chase answers,” she continued. “I have different doctors who laugh at the thickness of my files. So, for me I’ve tried every different version from heavily self-medicating, to formal allopathic medications, to now.”
While Alanis obviously wanted to be pregnant again, she admits putting your body through that is a wild experience, both physically and emotionally.
“It’s this whole chemistry of emotions,” she said. “Hormones and chemicals that are just coursing through your body. It [can] be triggering, or flashbacking, or re-traumatizing.”
“There are so many ways pregnancy can affect you,” she continued. “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].”
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On Giving Birth
It seems Alanis loooves a good birth story and she has two of them—son Ever, now eight, and daughter Onyx, almost three. Both her children were natural births at home and Alanis was super-candid about the whole thing from being in “literal sh**” while it’s happening to not knowing how to comprehend pain like that. Considering Ever was an intense 36-hour labour, we’d say she knows a thing or two about it (she got a break with Onyx who was born one hour after her water broke).
Unfortunately, Alanis had trouble “getting over the wave,” as her doula put it, and spent a lot of both births overwhelmed and yelling “HOW DO I? How the f*** do I do it?” During her second birth, her doula was late and she had to figure out how to talk herself through the labour (and talk Souleye through supporting her).
“I felt I was the coach,” she said. ‘She’s coming, you don’t have to manipulate anything, the next contraction she’s coming out, I guarantee it.’
“Hearing [Souleye’s] voice was so beautiful,” she added. “Hearing him say okay, breathe in.”
In the end she had two gorgeous babies, but in both instances she also immediately felt the effects of depression.
Canada’s prodigal daughter has spoken in depth about the postpartum depression she experienced after her first two pregnancies. After her first, it took her more than a year to seek treatment because she figured she could push through the negative feelings. After her second, she still waited four months before acknowledging to anyone else she was experiencing it again.
Alanis says she’s got a fool-proof contingency plan this time around.
“The first time around I waited,” she said. “And now 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. I snowed a lot of them as I was snowing myself [the last two times].”
Of course, after you have a kid (or three), you’re really just at the beginning. Alanis is prepared for that part too (as much as any parent can be prepared for anything). She’s got a collaborative mindset and a mom motto to match.
“There’s constant negotiation,” she said. ““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.”
She continued her parenting talk by sharing the core of her parenting style: uncrossable boundaries.
“I talk about this with my kids a lot, the four boundaries,” she said. “Being: 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.
“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.”
We’ll be pocketing that little technique, thanks Alanis!
If parenting is a collaboration, the person you need to be most in-tune with is your partner. Alanis shared how Souleye takes on the role of “provisioning” rather than “providing.” It’s essentially the same, but the word holds less of the patriarchal connotations tied up in the latter and suggests more of an emotional support than just a physical one.
“In our situation, the currency of provision just looks different,” Alanis explains. “It might look like: Actually, just, if you don’t mind, I’m going to verbally ventilate for three hours, that’s a huge provision. He’s with the kids right now, that’s a huge provision. Especially around pregnancy, if I need something at any given time, if at 4 p.m. I need probiotics he’s like ‘I’ll be right back.’ So that’s amazing.”
Basically, she did it first (which is not a great claim to fame when it comes to sexual assault). Alanis’s song “Hands Clean” is essentially a pre-Me Too call-out and she released it 15 years before the Weinstein New Yorker piece kicked off the whole movement.
“I was just talking about ‘Hands Clean’ yesterday,” Alanis said when asked about it. “And how some people know what that song’s about and other people just don’t know? Just singing along and I’m like…that’s the story of rape, basically.
“It was a grenade for you,” Alanis said to the interviewer. “Because you were listening. [But] it wasn’t a grenade for some. And the people who were addressing it at the time, they weren’t being very supportive. Still now, women are sort of being supported. It—and I—were just straight-up ignored at best. Vilified and shamed and victimized and victim-attacked at worst. There were moments where around the #MeToo era where people would say, Why are people waiting so long to speak up? And I was like really? But then also I lovingly reminded a couple of them oh, but you do remember me saying something 15 years ago, right? Word for word about this and do you remember what happened during that time?”