When I heard that Celine Dion was pregnant again, this time with twins, I was really thrilled for her. How many of us, like Celine, have had successful careers and have put off having babies — then run into fertility issues when we finally tried to get pregnant?
When Celine Dion was 33, she gave birth to son René-Charles, and now, nine years later, and after several unsuccessful rounds of in vitro fertilization treatments, she is expecting twin boys. For some reason, getting pregnant the old-fashioned way hadn’t worked out for Celine, now 42, and her husband René Angélil, 68. Just a few months ago, the uber-successful songstress had a miscarriage after yet another round of in vitro fertilization, before at last getting pregnant with the twins she is now expecting. She revealed her healthy-looking bump on the cover of 7 Jours magazine just last week. She looked tired but sooo happy. She must know how lucky she has been– to beat the infertility odds twice and end up with babies in her belly.
Anyone, myself included, who has struggled with infertility, knows how desperate you feel to get pregnant. Desperate. Hopeless as the months go by and nothing works — the ovary stimulants like Clomid, then the IUI (intrauterine insemination) and finally the expensive in vitro treatments. Sitting in the waiting room at a fertility clinic, you can feel the desperation in the air, as you wait for your blood tests and ovary scans. As successful as high-tech in vitro treatments have been at getting a minority of fertility-challenged couples pregnant, they still don’t work for the majority of couples.
Celebrities like Celine may provide inspiration to us ordinary women but, on the other hand, we don’t have the bottomless resources of stars like Celine who can afford the multiple rounds of expensive treatment that usually aren’t covered by insurance. In my case, I was fortunate to get pregnant quickly with no effort with my first child- son Noah, and then daughter Sofia, three-and-half years later. When my husband, Michael, and I decided to try again, for a third child about three years after that, I didn’t expect at 37, to run into any problems. But surprise. Nothing happened. No pregnancy.
After a few unsuccessful months, while my anxiety levels rose higher and higher, my husband and I got checked out. Yup, we had a new problem on his end, that required surgery and a few months of waiting, before we could go for in vitro. If you’ve been through this — you know how I felt. I could think of virtually NOTHING else! I wanted a baby. It didn’t matter that I was fortunate to have two children already. My daughter Sofia, at the age of 3 had had a life-threatening brain tumor and our brush with near-tragedy had just made me more determined to fulfill my dream of having a large family. We investigated adoption — but found out we weren’t eligible for a foreign adoption because we were Canadians living in the U.S. and weren’t allowed to bring in a foreign child. Agencies warned us that domestic adoption would take a LONG time.
You can imagine my distress, when we finally were candidates for in vitro and not only did the treatments NOT work — from the start of the treatment I produced very few viable embryos. But each round of the treatment, produced ever worse results. The hormone injections that my husband had to give me daily didn’t bother me. Nor did the bloating or having to go to the fertility clinic at 7 a.m. for days on end before work. I didn’t find that the extra hormones made me even more of an emotional basketcase than I already was. Lying on the examining table watching my eggs develop was fascinating by the day also wasn’t an issue for me. What was an issue was that I didn’t get pregnant!!! I went through egg removals and embryo transfers but no embryos implanted. It was dismal to count the days until pregnancy tests could be done, and then get the bad news again and again.
It turned out that unfortunately I was one of the 1 percent of women whose eggs reacted badly to the fertility drugs. It was like my eggs were allergic to them. Devastation! I was now almost 40 years OLD and no closer to getting pregnant than when I’d started two-and-a-half years before.
We gave up on the in vitro and the fertility drugs and decided to double up our efforts on adoption. I was so fortunate that my husband was willing to cooperate every step of the way, even though he was perfectly happy having a family of four. Many couples split up over infertility anxiety and stress. And I can understand it — I was singletrack-obsessed, month after month as my period showed up, just as I dreaded. Then one month, it didn’t. Actually on the day it was due, I did get a spot and got ready for the monthly disappointment. But then nothing else came. I was definitely late. By a couple of days, then a week, then 10 days. I was traveling for business and I couldn’t bear to take a drugstore pregnancy test while I was alone. It would have been too depressing to get more bad news. I was two weeks overdue before I got finally got home and worked up the nerve to do “the test.” And miracle of miracles — it turned pink! I was pregnant! Hallejulah! Nine months later, Leilah was born.
So, what happened? All I and my fertility doctors could guess was that on one hand, the positive effects of my husband’s surgery had finally kicked in, and I on the other hand, had also done everything we needed to do, to adopt, so perhaps I was less stressed. We’d actually even been called about a baby that needed a home and we’d said yes, yes, yes but the birth mom decided she didn’t want her newborn son to be the third child in a family.
Three years or so after my daughter Leilah was born, we decided to try again, and quickly conceived our son Sasha. But I will never ever forget how desperately obsessed I felt during those lonnggg two-and-a-half years when I struggled with infertility. My heart will forever go out to moms and want-to-be moms like Celine who suffer from infertility. A baby is the most precious gift in the world. And every day, I give thanks that I have my four babies, no matter how big they get.
Have you faced infertility? What did you go through? How did you cope? Share your comments or if you want to tell your full story — email it to me — firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks!