Celine Dion: her story, her dream

French-Canadian chanteuse Celine Dion wrote in her memoir, My Story, My Dream, that she never thought her life would fall apart without a child. "But even so," she wrote, "I was waiting for it, looking for it and making it part of my plans." Soon after she and manager René Angélil married in 1994, the couple decided to start trying to become pregnant.

Dion was young, in her mid-20s, healthy and active, and had no reason to believe that becoming pregnant would be a challenge. But after several years of trying, she was still not pregnant. After a year of regular, unprotected intercourse without a pregnancy, couples are advised to seek help from a doctor to conceive.

Then, in 1999, Angélil was diagnosed with cancer. Since the couple feared that chemotherapy and radiation might affect Angélil's sperm, they froze some for future use. It was at this time that they discovered that Angélil's sperm count was very low and lacked motility. Approximately a third of all fertility problems have a male factor component, and in Dion and Angélil's case, this was true. If they wanted to become pregnant, they would need the help of assistive reproductive technology (ART).

The family took some time to focus on Angélil's health and returned to their fertility treatments some months later. A procedure called intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) was recommended. This pinpointing method begins in the Petri dish, with a woman's individual eggs each injected with a single sperm. If fertilization occurs, the successful embryo is then implanted into the uterus. Dion gave herself daily injections to prepare her body for in-vitro fertilization (IVF) and to stimulate her ovaries. Eventually, 18 eggs were extracted from Dion's ovaries, and the ICSI process began.

One day, after 38 rounds of chemo and radiation, Angélil was told that he was cancer-free. And on that same day, Dion's fertility specialists surprised her with the words she'd been waiting for: "You're pregnant, Celine!"

On January 25, 2000, Dion gave birth to son René-Charles Dion Angélil. She mentioned that she would someday like to give René-Charles a little brother or sister. Aside from potential difficulties due to her age (Dion turned 40 in March 2008), this was still a possibility. During their initial fertility treatments, Celine and Rene had decided to freeze their unused embryos, in case they'd like to have another child someday. Cryopreservation is now offered by many fertility clinics.

Celine's wish to provide René-Charles with a sibling came true in December 2010 with the birth of fraternal twin boys, Nelson Angélil and Eddy Angélil. She became pregnant after the sixth attempt at IVF.

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