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"My son was enormous": Kate Miller-Heidke on what women don't tell each other about birth.

“Hey you
Stone in my shoe
I’ve been aching, feeling low
You’re so heavy
I have got to let you go.”

These are the opening lyrics to Kate Miller-Heidke’s song Zero Gravity, which she will be performing at Eurovision this month as Australia’s entrant to the 64th edition of the eclectic song contest.

The song is about Kate’s struggle with post-natal depression following the birth of her first child, Ernie, in 2016; a refreshingly bold choice of topic to tackle while representing our country on a world stage.

Here is her performance in the first ever Australia Decides live TV competition held to choose our national representative. Post continues after video.

Video via Eurovision

Kate, 37, thinks the fact Australia chose her song, which was about something once considered taboo, shows just how true her words are. She is definitely not alone.

“It gives so much meaning to what I do,” the award winning singer-songwriter told Mamamia.

“You can feel really alone in those moments. For me, it was accompanied by this sense of shame for even thinking about yourself and your own problem when you should be focused on your baby.”

Kate describes her post-natal depression as feeling like a dark fog.

“It followed me around… so much of my identity is bound up in singing and writing songs, and I felt like I had lost touch with that essential part of myself. I was half a person for a while,” she admitted.

Kate says the birth of her son Ernie, now two years old, was “lengthy and traumatic.”

“My son was enormous, and he had an enormous head circumference and I am quite small,” she said.

Kate's performance in Australia Decides in February. Image: Getty.
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Kate hasn't publicly revealed the intricacies of her birth, but she did candidly tell Mamamia, "I feel like I stared death in the face. Had I had that kind of birth 50 years ago, I am sure I would be dead."

She thinks for women who are yet to go through the experience of childbirth, the experience is romanticised a bit.

"It is true, it's this beautiful bubble of love. This intense love that you've never experienced.

"But particularly with labour I feel there's this new 'natural birth movement' and the idea of an ecstatic birth where you can basically have multiple orgasms.... I mean those ideas aren't helpful," she said.

On motherhood, Kate described her journey into it as "earth-shattering."

"There was a period afterwards when I couldn’t remember who I was - my old self seemed so ill-equipped to handle the overwhelming task of protecting and nurturing this helpless little creature. I was also grieving for the loss of my old identity, and this came with a powerful layer of guilt for my own selfishness," she wrote on her Facebook.

"I remember my first show after the birth, when Ernie was about eight weeks old. I genuinely didn’t know if I could do it," she continued.

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It wasn't until Ernie turned two that Kate says she woke up and felt somehow better. The fog had lifted.

"It was a feeling of transcendence. It was like how getting back to normal after explosive food poisoning feels like a treat," she joked.

She says her husband Keir Nuttall, a musician himself, was beautifully supportive throughout her experience.

Kate has always found her real emotions are interesting territory to mine when it comes to song writing, so it was almost inevitable she would release her feelings about her experience through song.

"I dig out my sadness or shame or bad feelings and try and examine them in the light. That's part of my song writing process," she told Mamamia.

Zero Gravity is Kate's depression personified. She hopes one day her son doesn't "take it personally," but adds that it "has a happy ending."

"When I perform it I go through a spectrum of emotions. But it ends in an uplifting place, so I find it quite exhilarating."

 

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My heart, who walks around outside of my body.

A post shared by Kate Miller-Heidke (@katemillerheidke) on

Kate will perform and compete against 40 countries in Tel Aviv Israel as part of Eurovision, and admits she's incredibly nervous.

"I'm excited and crapping myself in equal measure," she laughed.

This is the fifth time Australia has been represented at the contest, with our previous entrants including Guy Sebastian, Dami Im, Isaiah Firebrace and Jessica Mauboy.

Eurovision begins at 5am AEST on Wednesday 15 May. You can watch it on SBS.

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