Alanis Morissette’s life may seem pretty charmed, but a difficult past has impacted everything about her journey – including the way she parents and views her body. Her struggles in getting pregnant for a third time have also shaped her experiences, and having been through two bouts of postpartum depression already, she’s developed a plan for dealing with it a third time around. She talked about all of this, and more, during an interview with Self Magazine.
“Between Ever and Onyx there were some false starts,” she said about the gap between her youngest, Onyx, and the baby she’s currently carrying. “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 […] 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.”
But she told Self she was determined to overcome the obstacles. She dove, head-first into any and every piece of information she could find. She tried every possible alternative.
“I had done tentacles of investigation on everything, from hormones to physicality, every rabbit hole one could go down to chase answers,” she told me. “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.”
She says the experience ultimately changed how she saw her body and personal health.
“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,” she wrote in a follow-up email.
“There are so many ways pregnancy can affect you,” she said. “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].”
But pregnancy at 45 (44 at the time of her interview) isn’t exactly easy either. It’s not ever easy, of course, but as the body ages, the process of growing a baby can seem more taxing on the body and a mother’s emotional state.
“It’s this whole chemistry of emotions,” Alanis said. “Hormones and chemicals that are just coursing through your body. It [can] be triggering, or flashbacking, or re-traumatizing.”
After experiencing two bouts of serious postpartum depression already, Alanis is also at a pretty high risk for going through it again with baby number three. With the first and second bouts, she’d stayed silent longer than she should have, she thinks because she’d initially mistaken her PPD for her “regular, run of the mill” depression.
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 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.”
But when nothing alleviated that heaviness – not music, not service, not even self-medicating, she started to realize she’d need help in overcoming her depression. This time around, she developed a plan while still safely stationed in the joys of pregnancy.
“Not singularly relying on myself to diagnose myself is key,” she said. “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].”
Her physician and midwife are part of a seven person team that will watch and wait, push through her demurrals, rather than simply taking her at her word when she says she’s “fine.”
Having prepared for that potential obstacle, she’s free to focus on parenting Ever and Onyx and prepare for the newest arrival. It helps knowing that her husband, Mario “Souleye” Treadway is just as present in the lives of their children as she is.
“He’s an incredibly modern man, so he has never had an issue with being married to an alpha woman, God bless him,” Alanis said of Souleye. “His mom held down two full-time jobs, his dad stayed home. So there’s nothing unfamiliar about [our situation for him].”
They focus on what they call “provisioning.”
“In our situation, the currency of provision just looks different,” Alanis said. Souleye’s method of provisioning changes by the day, by the hour. “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.”
The couple parents in much the same way, working together to build healthy boundaries in their children while also cultivating a relationship that allows their children to feel safe and loved. As an example, she discussed a recent outing with her son, Ever.
“The other day he said, ‘Mom, can we go for a three-hour walk?’” Alanis said. “So we were two hours in and he asked how long we had been walking and talking. And when I said it had been two hours, he said, ‘Okay, so we have another hour.’ I can’t even believe it. It’s my dream.”
Of course, many point out that she has a lot of