The “Nothing Compares 2 U” singer first became a mother in June 1987 when she and then-husband John Reynolds welcomed their son, Jake. However, O’Connor claimed in her 2021 memoir, Rememberings, that her record label had pressured her to get an abortion after she found out she was expecting Jake. She ultimately refused.
Three years after Jake’s birth, O’Connor conceived her second child. She ultimately decided to undergo a medical abortion in 1990 due to her relationship struggles.
“I didn’t really want to. The pregnancy had been planned, and I was madly in love with the father of the child. However, things didn’t really work out between us,” O’Connor recalled in a 1991 interview with Spin Magazine. “We were fighting. I was on tour, and I was feeling sick all the time. I didn’t know what to do, and he wasn’t really interested in the child. So I was left with the decision of whether or not to have the child, knowing that the father wasn’t going to be around. I decided that it was better not to and that I would have a child at a later stage when his father would be around and involved. I didn’t feel that I could handle it by myself.”
She added at the time: “It took me a year to get over it, but it was the right decision. I just believe that if a child is meant to be born it will be born.”
After O’Connor and Reynolds split in 1991, she found love with Irish journalist John Waters. The pair welcomed daughter Roison in March 1995 before their eventual split. The Grammy nominee also shared sons Shane and Yeshua with exes Donal Lunny and Frank Bonadio, respectively.
Shane died by suicide in January 2022 at the age of 17. “My beautiful son, Nevi’im Nesta Ali Shane O’Connor, the very light of my life, decided to end his earthly struggle today and is now with God,” O’Connor wrote via Twitter at the time. “May he rest in peace and may no one follow his example. My baby. I love you so much. Please be at peace.”
Keep reading to meet O’Connor’s four children:
Amid O’Connor’s first marriage to Reynolds, who produced her debut album, they welcomed son Jake.
Jake became a parent himself in 2015 when his partner, Lia, gave birth to a baby boy. “OMG! Am literally hours away from the greatest dream of my life coming true! #Granny,” O’Connor wrote via Facebook that July, hours before the little one’s arrival. “This for Lia and Jake and their little angel, who flew about with me in Vegas last week as I was singing the Foggy Dew.”
O’Connor and Waters split before getting involved in a contentious custody battle of daughter Roison. They settled the case in 1999 when O’Connor agreed to let Roison, then 2, reside with her father in Dublin full-time.
O’Connor gave birth to her third baby, son Shane, in 2004, whom she shared with folk singer Lunny.
In January 2022, Shane was reported missing in Newbridge, Ireland, after the 17-year-old was allegedly on suicide watch. O’Connor confirmed his death several days later.
O’Connor welcomed her youngest son with Bonadio in 2006.
If you or someone you know is in emotional distress or considering suicide, call the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline at 988.