Journey to Iris: Celine Gabriel-Lim shares her IVF story

Celine Gabriel-Lim shares all the highs and lows of her In Vitro Fertilization story

People always tell me how brave I am for being so open about my in vitro fertilization (IVF), but what they don’t know is that it took me years to develop the courage to talk about it. I didn’t tell anyone, not even family.

Celebrity Mom Celine Gabriel-Lim

At first, I thought it was because I didn’t want to burden people with my problems. That it was far easier to tell everyone that everything was okay and babies were just not the priority for my husband and myself than to explain that actually, we had already seen three of the best doctors in the Philippines and had undergone countless tests and procedures, but our results were always the same— inconclusive; everything was normal.

Looking back, however, I think it had less to do with the thought of burdening people and more with the fact that I wasn’t ready to accept that we had a problem far bigger than ourselves. That for the first time in my life, I was helpless and not in control.

Infertility can be a very lonely journey. A lot of people going through it don’t want to talk about it because most people don’t really understand it. They think that the problem is “you’re working too hard” or “you need to make time” or “you need to relax and have some wine”. If only it were that simple—because, believe me, we made the time and chased that wine all the way to the vineyards of South Africa and Tuscany. In the end, none of those worked.

People are usually curious about how many times we tried before we succeeded. Well, to be perfectly frank, by the time I had opened up to people, we had already been through a miscarriage, two failed Intrauterine Inseminations, one IVF cycle that resulted in three failed embryo transfers with two doctors in the Philippines, and an IVF cycle that resulted in one failed embryo transfer in San Francisco.

I remember my breaking point vividly. Our first IVF procedure in the Zouves Clinic in San Francisco resulted in a negative pregnancy and I couldn’t believe it. We had such high hopes after a year of preparation and after leaving our families, friends and our work to get help in another country—from no less than one of the most famous infertility doctors in the world. That failure was particularly a very bitter pill to swallow. I didn’t sleep much that night. Instead, I stayed awake until the wee hours of the morning, hiding my tears from my husband.

But those tears must have washed away all my fears and defenses. I woke up the next morning with a heart bursting with the desire to tell my story. I wanted to let people know about the challenge we had been dealing with in secret, in the hopes of reaching others going through the same experience and letting them know that they are not alone. So I prayed to God to help me find the right words. That night, through my blog, I shared it with the world.

I cannot count how many people have reached out to me since then. Even up to now, over a year later, I receive messages, daily, from people telling me about their own struggles. People I don’t know have come up to me in the most random places, telling me that they were moved to tears after reading my post.

Of course, by now, everyone knows that eventually, we arrived at a happy ending. Two weeks after I published my story, we did our second IVF attempt with Dr. Christo Zouves, and another two weeks later, on Valentine’s day, we found out I was pregnant.

On October 10, 2017, our beautiful little girl was born and she has since filled our days with happiness unlike any we have ever experienced before.

Someone once told me that now that we have our daughter, I must feel that everything was worth it. The truth is, I felt that way even before God granted me a successful pregnancy. Somewhere along the way, I discovered that my journey was a gift and it gave me a new perspective on what it really means to live and to love. With that realization, my painful experience was transformed into one of beauty and purpose.

Now, I pray that my story will continue to inspire others going through their own baby journeys. I also pray that our sweet Iris will remind them that there is always hope after a storm.

To read more on the story of Celine Gabriel-Lim, visit her website.

Words and photos: Celine Gabriel-Lim