These are the beautiful pictures that Celine Dion thought she 
would never see.  After six soul-searching years she and her devoted 
husband Rene Angelil feared their marriage would never be blessed with
children.  Now, in their magnificent home near Jupiter in Florida, they
cradle tiny Rene-Charles in their arms and the joy is etched on their
faces for all to see.  This tiny bundle of humanity has had a profound
effect on the woman who has sold 125 million albums-more than any other
female artiste in history.  She told HELLO! She will never again return
to the punishing schedule of touring the world's greatest stadiums and
performing to packed houses.  She is determined her greatest legacy will
not be her music but Rene Junior and he brother or sister who will surely follow.
	HELLO! is the first publication to be invited into Celine and
Rene's exquisite Tuscan-style mansion.  There, among the beautiful
antique furniture, marble floors and hand-painted murals, are some
new accessories.  There are toys, teddy bears, a Moses basket, even a
little machine for disposing of nappies, together with so many other
signs that this is no longer just the home of a married celebrity couple.
It is a family home.
	In just three weeks Rene-Charles has filled his parents' lives
and home with his presence.  In the main living room is a day cot and
a small wicker basket stacked with a tiny mountain of soft toys.  In
Rene's opulent study is a grand leather chair with a balloon attached
to it exclaiming: It's a boy!
	On the terrace stands an elegant blue Silver Cross pram.  In
the nursery there is a beautiful antique crib.  Inside sits a hand
-stitched blue pillow with the words "Rene-Charles born January 25th
2001, weighing 6 pounds 8 ounces, 20 and a half inches", which was a
present from Gloria Estefan and her husband Emilio.
	Beside the crib, on a beautiful Louis XVth-style cabinet, is a
card that says: "Merci Papa pour ma nouvelle voiture, je t'aime"
(thank you daddy for my new car, I love you)-a joking thank you for the
blue Silver Cross pram.)
	Celine, still only 32, doesn't just walk into the living room
to greet us-she floats.  For if ever a woman was walking on air, it is
she.  "Have you seen my son yet, isn't he beautiful?" she says.  And
then she repeats it as if to almost pinch herself.  "My son! What a
beautiful phrase, it makes me tingle every time I say it."  And she says
it over and over again during the two days we spent with her and each
time her face glowed with pride.
	Her smile is infectious.  Her mother and father, her sister
and brother-in-law, the photographer and I start laughing because the
pop diva can't contain her happiness.
	For six years she and her 59-year-old husband Rene have been
trying for a child.  As she toured the world she spoke in many interviews
of her desire to become a mother.   Even when Rene fell victim to a
cancer he has now beaten, their resolve was undiminished.  Then she
took the huge step of walking away from showbusiness to follow an
intensive round of in vitro fertilization treatment in the hope that
she would conceive.
	Celine skips over to a gazebo, perched on a terrace overlooking
a waterway that is full of dazzling yachts, for our first photograph.
She looks as though she could have just returned from three months in
a health farm, rather than recovering from the trauma of a Caesarean
section.
	As the puts Rene Junior into a tiny Moses basket shaded by a
silk parasol she says: "I can't explain it to you.  I hardly sleep
because I don't want to miss a second of Rene's first few weeks.  I
guess, like all new mothers, I want to make sure he is all right. 
But I don't feel at all tired, I am so elated and excited by it all. 
I love to watch him stretch out.  His tiny hands poke out the side of
his bed covers.
		"The entire pregnancy has been a dream.  So many people
were wishing us success after the years of disappointment that I felt
as if they were all carrying the baby with me.  I have 13 brothers and
sisters and my mother was sick for nearly nine months with each and
everyone of us.  I was prepared for the worst, but didn't have a single
day's illness.
	"I almost wanted to be sick because it would have been a tangible
proof that I was pregnant.  But I know that in reality I was very,
very lucky.  Like all mothers-to be I read all the right books and did
all the right things, taking exercise, drinking lots of water and eating
healthy foods.  I wanted to give myself every advantage I could."
	They pose for the first picture with Rene cradling his new son
in his arms.  Celine looks at him and loses her composure.  "Look at
Rene.  I have never seen him look like that in all the years I have
known him!  He is not just proud, he is bursting with pride."  Then
she kisses him gently n the forehead, while embracing his face in her
hands.  She has tears in her eyes.
	The baby's birth was not without drama.  Rene explains: "Celine
went for an ultrasound on Monday, January 22 and everything was normal.
The next day she said o me, "I feel as if the baby is not moving as
much as yesterday.'
	"She called the doctor and we went over to see him.  He took
another ultrasound, then told us the umbilical cord was very close to
the baby's head.  He said that bay was ready to come out, so why take
a risk that something bad could happen.  We went in that night and they
started to induce Celine at 11:30pm.  The labour started, but the next
day, after 24 hours of contractions, she had only dilated 2cm.
	"They said the heart rate of he baby was going up, so again
they didn't want to take any chances in case he was in distress.  They
really wanted Celine to have a natural birth, but we were all concerned
that something wasn't quite right and so we opted for a Caesarean
section.  We had both seen a Caesarean on TV the week before, so we knew
what to expect.  I think it would have been a tough thing to watch
without that knowledge."
	The birth was witnessed by Rene and Celine's sister Linda who,
with her husband Alain, will be godparents to Rene-Charles.  "We went
into the delivery room at exactly 12:50am on Thursday," adds Rene."
"The doctors were incredible, fast, efficient an extremely caring. 
Just ten minutes later Rene-Charles was here.  When you consider it took
them five minutes to set up the equipment, it was so fast.
	"The baby came out crying and he had the umbilical cord wrapped
around this neck, but fortunately it wasn't tight.  I t just meant the
doctors had made the right choice, otherwise it could have been a tragedy.
	"I can't remember what I said to Celine, but as she clutched
the baby to her chest she was crying, I was crying, Linda was crying
and even the doctors and nurses were crying!"
	Celine's obstetrician, Dr Ronald Ackerman, and his partner Dr
Steven Pliskow performed the operation.  "There wasn't a dry eye in the
house, everybody was crying tears of joy," recalls Dr Ackerman.
	After Rene helped cut the umbilical cord, Rene-Charles laying
his mother's arms for several minutes before being washed and wrapped
in a hospital-issue blue-and-pink striped blanket, together with a 
woolen cap.
	Shortly after the birth Celine called her mother Therese, who
was asleep in the five-star Hotel Le Bristol in Paris, where she had
gone to film episodes of the cooking programme she hosts on Canadian TV.
	"I heard the baby's first cries on the telephone," said
Therese, 73.  "Celine told me, 'the baby is in good health but the
mother, she is tired.'"  In a later call to her mother Celine added:
"He has Rene's little feet, Rene's toes and the little ears of Rene,
but he has my chin and my hair colour."
	Celine stayed in a green-and-peach decorated maternity room
for the new three days.  I t had a bathroom, dining table and two
foldaway beds that Rene and Linda slept on at night.
	Little Rene slept between his parents and Celine laughs as she
tells me:  "It was really a battle to get a chance to hold Rene Junior,
because his daddy wouldn't let anyone else have a look-in.  His face
was a mixture of disbelief and love for his son.  After all, it is only
two years since he was fighting cancer.  Rene was very involved.  He
slept beside me, helped me with the feeds and changed the baby every
three hours."
	Rene adds: "I slipped out of the hospital to visit Babies 'R'
Us for a bottle sterilizer, a nursing pillow and a baby car seat, only
to find out late that Celine had already bought them all.  I guess I
was just in a daze."
	Celine said the baby's birth left her with only one regret
-that she was no longer pregnant.  "If you are sick and you have had
a hard time, I don't think you are that anxious to get pregnant again.
When Rene contracted caner two years ago, we decided to have some
sperm frozen because we were told the chemotherapy could cause some
problems."
	Tests before freezing showed that Rene's sperm count was already
too low for the most common form of the IVF treatment.  So they tried
a procedure known as intracytoplasmic sperm injection, where a single
isolated sperm is used to fertilize an egg, which is then placed in the
uterus.
	In February 2000, a month after she had announced a two-year
break from showbusiness, they visited a fertility clinic.  In June,
after undergoing a series of drug treatments and invasive, sometimes
painful procedures, Celine received a phone call at home.
	"The doctor, Zev Rosenwaks, told me to get Rene.  Then he said
over the phone's loudspeaker, 'Congratulations, lovers, you're pregnant,
Celine.'  I feel like I have been holding my breath ever since that day.
If they told me to rest I would go to bed for two days.  I wanted to
leave nothing to chance.
	"My mother would ring and say, 'Are you feeling sick yet?'
Everyone was asking me similar questions, so I started thinking, 'Am
I really pregnant' But I really had hardly a problem.  The only one
was when I started to get a strange flickering feeling in my stomach.
Rene felt them with his hand and we were concerned that it was the baby's
heart.  So I went to the doctor, only to find he was suffering form a
bad case of hiccups, which he still gets now after the birth."
	Celine was having problems sleeping before she gave birth.
"It was only because I was so excited, nothing more.  I had my physiotherapist
come in to give some massage on my lower back, but it was nothing bad.
It just didn't matter that I wasn't sleeping well, I wanted this baby
so badly."
	Celine tried playing music to the baby after reading that it
would be good for him.  "I was singing in the shower almost every day.
I also played classical music for him.  But then I almost deliberately
forgot about it, because I didn't want to make too much fuss.
	"I just don't agree with women who complain that they have to
do all the hard work in pregnancy.  I think it is such a privilege to
give a baby its first home inside your body.  This is particularly
true when you feel it growing, you aren't sick and everything is
going
so well.
	"After I gave birth I still felt as if the baby was inside me.
I found myself still massaging my stomach gently.  I kind of miss him.
When he's outside in the world everyone can touch him and see him, which
is normal.  I can't say I want him only for me, but I miss him being in
my body, stretching, hiccupping even.  It was a wonderful, deep, loving,
fulfilling feeling."
	Celine, Rene and the baby have already established a routine.
"I go to bed around 11pm, get ready for my sleep and feed the baby. 
Rene insists on taking him in his arms until he falls asleep.  WE put
him to bed beside me.  He will wake every three hours for a feed, but
he doesn't cry, so I listen for him breathing.
	"The first few days I wanted to know if he was breathing, so
I just couldn't sleep properly.  I would watch to see if the sheets
were going up and down.  Once I could not see the sheets moving at all.
I put my hand under his nose and I could feel nothing.  I jumped out of
bed, but just as I did he let out his long 'Aaahhh' sound, as if to say,
"Mummy, stop fussing about and go to sleep!'
	"He skips meals sometimes, allowing me to sleep, but usually
he feed every three hours.  He seems to open his eyes when he is hungry.
I don't want to spoil him by forcing him to eat when he is not hungry.
	"I used to sleep then hours a day, but not any more.  But it
doesn't trouble me at all.  At 7am I wake and feed him, then Rene takes
the baby and cuddles him, sitting in the rocking chair watching TV.
	Her sister Linda lives nearby and arrives at the house around
10am to help.  "She will bath Rene-Charles while I get dressed.  Then
I breakfast and so does Rene-Charles again!
	"It seems crazy, but I actually miss him when he is with Linda
or my mother.  I have to learn to share him, but I wish I could have
him every moment of the day.  I can't believe how he has changed me
already."
	Celine admits she has given up a lot for he baby, but she has
no regrets.  "I told my husband I can't imagine being involved in
showbusiness with babies.  They have teething problems, colds, earaches,
they need security and a home.  When I am on the road I can't sleep
straight after a show because of the adrenaline.  I wake at noon, have
breakfast quickly while my sister is packing things up, take the plane
around 1:30pm and move to the next venue.
	"You then land in a city, immediately start vocal exercises
and sound checks, then it is food time, followed by stretching, make 
-up and hair styling.  That is no life for a baby.  I couldn't run
around with him under my arm.  I want to be with him, doing things
with him, nurturing him and helping him grow.
	"I haven't even been training for a year and I have to say I
absolutely love my new life.  I have become a housewife and there is
no better job. I cook, clean and look after my husband.  He slices
the vegetables, I cook the food.
	"I would love to sing and perform.  But at the moment there
isn't room in my life and I plan to stay at home for at least another
year.  I won't go on the road again, but I am hoping to sing at one
place, maybe Las Vegas, and live here too."
	As our picture session continues, Celine is constantly whispering
in her husband's ear.  When they think they are out of eyesight, they
steal kisses ad hold hands.
	Despite their wealth, the couple does not have a vast staff. 
Their families often stay in their ten-bedroom house.  Rene said: "I
was only sorry that my two other sons were not able to be here for
the photographs.  Both Patrick, who is 33, and Jean-Pierre, 26, are away working." 
	They did, however, have Rene's daughter Anne-Marie, 23, at the
house for the weekend-and she is the cause of a double celebration. 
She got married last August and is expecting her first child in six
months, so Rene will become a father and grandfather in the same year.
	Children are a familiar sight at the Angelil household.  Celine
has 29 nephews and nieces.  Every year she sends them a toy catalogue,
and asks them to choose whatever they want for Christmas.  Rene's three
other children live in Montreal, but are regular visitors.  Their
father had been divorced for three years when he and Celine, whose
career he had nurtured since he was jut 12, revealed their love to
each other in 1998.  They kept it private, finally declaring their
love publicly in 1992, before marrying at Montreal's Notre Dame
Basilica in 1994.
	"My year off has been a wonderful opportunity to do things I
could never have done otherwise, " says Celine.  "At the beginning I
took Spanish lessons for five hours a day, which is something I have
always wanted to do.  Because II have been performing since I was 14,
it is the first normal life I have known as an adult.
	"I feel as if I have not had a life before now.  Showbusiness 
is not a normal existence, it's fake stuff.  When you are involved in
it you don't realize how far away you are getting from the things
that really count.  This is especially true when you have been raised
in a large family of 14 children with parents like I have, very down
-to-earth people, and then it's like, where is that little town where
I grew up?  Where is the home where we slept three of four children in
the same bed?
	"I had reached 32, had all this success, but all I craved was
some normality and a family.  I love life, seasons, nature, parents,
children, grandparents, family, true values, the smell of toast that
you make for yourself in the morning, my own little coffee, a kiss in
the morning, not room service in some a strange hotel.
	"Just being in your bathrobe until 2pm, or just having no
schedule, has been special to me in this last year.  It has been 
fantastic being so free and I am very lucky to have been able to make
that choice.  Not many people can and I thank God everyday."
	The happy couple is already planning a brother or sister for
Rene-Charles.  Another frozen sperm cell is on hold at the fertility
clinic, for when ever they feel the need to expand their family.
	Celine said: "WE feel like we want to have a second child,
but we are so overjoyed with Rene-Charles that we want to make the
most of him first.  We may wait three or four years."  She pauses for
a few seconds, then adds with a knowing smile: "Then again, maybe we won't wait at all!"


Interview: Phil Hall
Photos: Gerard Schachmes

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