Dixie Chicks Martie Maguire and Emily Robison open up about their fertility struggles

09/20/2007 at 01:09 PM ET

Dixie Chicks and sisters Martie Maguire, 37, and Emily Robison, 35, have made no secret of the challenges they faced while attempting to conceive their children, finally succeeding with IVF treatments. Martie is now mom to twins Eva Ruth and Kathleen ‘Katie’ Emilie, 3, while Emily has Charles Augustus ‘Gus,’ 4 1/2, and twins Julianna Tex and Henry Benjamin, 2.

However, for the first time, they tell their story in-depth to Conceive magazine — discussing getting their shots while on tour, the difficulty of seeing Natalie Maines‘ easy pregnancies, Martie’s baby plans, and more.

Click below for the highlights.

Issues arise: Both Emily and Martie had always wanted to be mothers, and their health and family history didn’t suggest that there would be a problem achieving that dream. Bandmate Natalie Maines, 32, decided to start her family a year after getting married to actor Adrian Pasdar, and got pregnant with son Jackson Slade, now 6 1/2, right away. The sisters thought it would be just as easy for them. Martie says,

[Our mom got pregnant easily.] We have an oldersister who gets pregnant easily. So Emily and I thinkthere may be an environmental cause for our problems. Neither of uswere very old when we started trying. But we’ve lived very parallellives. We’ve been in a band together since I was 12 and she was 10. Wecan’t help but wonder, did we stay in a hotel near a power plant? Didwe drink the same bad water? Maybe there’s a link.

Emilyrobin_grani_12678773_400Emily’s story: Emily had been married to country singerCharlie Robison for a few years when they decided the time was right to start their family.

We definitely had a plan. But wewere under the naïve assumption that once we started we’d be pregnantthe first month. When it didn’t work that way, I was in shock. After about six months oftrying naturally, we were aware there could be a problem. We had the basic tests done, and everything was normal. So we startedslowly at first, trying artificial insemination to up our chances.

Another year passed with no pregnancies. Emily and Charlie decided to take a more aggressive approach. Emily underwent a laparoscopy, which found that she had mild endometriosis — however, it was ‘nothing that would have kept me from getting pregnant.’ The couple tried for six more months without success — ‘Then wewere ready to just go for it.’

After two years and three rounds of IVF treatment, son Augustus Charles was born on the fourth try, on November 11th, 2002. Emily and Charlie were over the moon with Gus, their miracle baby.

I have nothing but praise for the San AntonioFertility Center. They walked us through every step.


When Gus was almost two, Emily and Charlie decided it wastime to test their luck again — the couple wanted more babies.

The second time was a lot easier. Wewent straight to IVF. We had some leftover embryos, so we did a coupleof frozen cycles, but they didn’t take. Then we did another fresh cycleand put in three embryos. And I got pregnant with twins.

This cycle and pregnancy, Emily was able to stay home, as the Dixie Chicks were no longer touring. Twins Julianna Tex and Henry Benjamin arrived on April 14th, 2005.


Martie’s story: Martie had found it incredibly difficult to watch her little sister struggle with her fertility problems. But when she and actor husband Gareth Maguire decided to start their family while Emily was still receiving her final treatments, Martie never thought she’d face the same issues. After all, Gareth is one of six children — hearty stock.

We weregoing to meet in the middle and have four or five [kids]. All my paperwork said‘unspecified origin.’ We spent three years of active tryingbefore we went to IVF. First I went on Clomid. Then I had some dyetests and found I had a collapsed tube, so I had laparoscopic surgery;the tube wasn’t blocked, just spasming.

We did three IUIs [intrauterineinsemination], and then decided it wasn’t worth doing a fourth, andwe’d go on to in vitro fertilization.

On her first IVF cycle, Martie conceived, giving birth to twins Eva Ruth and Kathleen ‘Katie’ Emilie, on April 27th, 2004. Currently, Martie and Gareth are trying for another baby — she began the IVF process again in August.

Last time we had three embryos left over.I had all three implanted, but none were successful. So now I have togo through the whole retrieval process again. I started with twins, andnow I think I only want one more child, maybe two.

Martie does have a concern about possible leftover embryos, though.

Now that I have children, I see thoseembryos as possible children. So I have to think about what my optionsare if there are leftovers again. I could keep them in storage, andmaybe they will help my children some day. Or I can try to donate themto stem cell research. I don’t think I could give them to anotherfamily. I would always worry: what if it’s an abusivefamily? What if they don’t get enough love?


On doctor’s visits and injections while touring:

Emily: I’m by nature a very modest person, but by the end of that tour, everyone had seen me naked.You’ll do anything when you’re wanting to have a baby. I can laughabout it now, but I called that the gynecological tour across theUnited States.

Ireland02The band was on a European tour when it was time for Martie’s IVF cycle. Martie recalls,

I hadto take the shots on the road and see different doctors in differentcountries. That was hard. I remember once in Scandinaviathere was a doctor whose examining table — with stirrups — looked like itwas in the middle of his personal office. It was the dustiest,dirtiest, non-sterile environment for a check-up.

Otherthings were hard that most people wouldn’t think of. Some of the fertility medications and shots have to be refrigerated,and can’t be in the light. I had to make sure that I had amini-refrigerator in whatever country I was in. And if I ruined a batchof medicine, I had to find a 24-hour pharmacy.

Also, you have to havethe shots within a certain time period, and sometimes we were on aplane then. So I’d have to carry a pack with ice in it. Luckily I hadmy husband with me the whole time. He was the note-taker and theorganizer, and he gave me the shots, too.

On insurance and using fertility treatments: Both sisters feel very strongly about insurance companies and their infertility coverage — or lack thereof. Although because of their careers as Dixie Chicks, they were lucky enough to be able to afford as many fertility treatments as they felt they needed, Emily
and Martie are both aware that lack of funds is a major stumbling block for many couples dealing with infertility. Martie says,

I really have aproblem with the fact that insurance companies don’t see infertility asa medical condition requiring coverage. I do want thereto be some pressure on the insurance companies. It’s such a strongdrive for women, knowing you were meant to be a mom. We would have goneinto debt, done whatever, exhausted all the options, to get there. Buta lot of women have to give up on that dream because they can’t affordit.

However, she adds,

Thank God I live in a time when I can getsome assistance.

Emily remarks,

Probably half our friends are insome sort of therapy for infertility, whether it’s just artificialinsemination, or all the way through in vitro. We kind offeel like it’s epidemic at this point with our generation. And we allhave our theories on why that is.

In the beginning I feltsuch a stigma about it, but then I found out how many people areaffected by infertility, and what a beautiful thing it is that there’sthis technology and science out there to help couples have children.The more people talk about it, the less stigma there is. I never wantanyone to feel that it’s not as beautiful a way to have a child as anyother.

Natalie_cbbOn their bandmate, Natalie Maines: Natalie was always sympathetic and supportive of Emily and Martie, but also felt guilty at the ease in which she conceived while her bandmates struggled. Martie remembers,

She got pregnant with her sons so easily, I think she almost felt guilty watching us — but I don’t think women should feel guilty.

Emily: Natalie was always able to say, ‘Okay, we have ninemonths off. I’m going to get pregnant.’ And she did. [Second son Beckett Finn was born on July 14th, 2004.] ButMartie and I had to start hoping we’d get pregnant, and then it wouldtake a while and we’d be back in the work cycle.

On the lyrics to ‘So Hard,’ off of Taking the Long Way:

Martie: Idon’t think we would have been strong enough to write the song while wewere in the throes of [infertility]. We felt morecomfortable writing about it once we had success.

Emily expounds on the song and what its meant.

Sometimes a title dictates what a song is about. It wasa hard day, and we were having writer’s block. Natalie said, ‘It’s sohard when it doesn’t come easy,’ and we went from there. It started outas a relationship song, but then we decided to apply it to our ownsituation and get very personal about trying to conceive, and how hardit is on your relationship when you have problems.

I do think it crosses a lot of boundaries. And thepeople who know what it’s about with us and infertility write usletters. I think our fans appreciate that we’re real women goingthrough what real women go through. And now they have a song.

The lyrics include:

It felt like a given/Something a woman is born to do/A natural ambition/See a reflection of me and you/And I’d feel so guilty/If that was a gift I couldn’t give/And could you be happy/If life wasn’t how we pictured it.

Source: Conceive Online, original article by Beth Weinhouse; DixieChicksFans.net

Thanks to CBB reader Charlene.

FILED UNDER: News , Parenting

Share this story:

Your reaction:

Add A Comment

PEOPLE.com reserves the right to remove comments at their discretion.

Showing 28 comments

yaosa on

Kudos for them sharing their stories and journey and I appreciate the part of considering environmental factors for infertility. I’ve always felt that this is a factor in so many afflictions.

They have such beautiful families!

Best wishes to them all!

Kara on

I think it’s wonderful that they have spoken out, now and in the past, about the struggles of infertility. My husband and I have had three years of it and IVF is our next step. More women need to speak up and make others aware of the numbers! Kudos to them for speaking up!

Tracy on

It’s lovely that they shared their difficult times. I believe it definitely gives others hope! The only thing that confuses me is why people would look at IVF in such a bad “unnatural” light?! I think it’s brilliant and I wouldn’t mind telling anyone who asked about it! It doesn’t seem like something that should be kept a “secret”, it’s really nothing to be ashamed of!

preesi on

I think its the phytoestrogen in SOY, that they put in EVERYTHING nowadays!
AND the hormones in MEATS and Chicken.

When John Hopkins fed pregnant rats soy protein their male offspring had deformed genitals.
SOURCE: http://www.altpenis.com/penis_news/20030212220803data_trunc_sys.shtml

Maria Bella on

Martie and Gareth are trying for another? Congratulations and good luck to them!

Meka on

Wow they’re really touched me and their so down to earth. I’m glad that they were honest and open about the whole process. Many people are embarrassed to be infertile. and coming from someone that is infertile. Me and my husband have been TTC for 6years….our IVF cycle was unsuccessful.Since i’m young 27, i try to look at the good side of it though. My then job covered 1 cycle of IVF and i have 7 great quality eggs in storage that we can use to try FET which is alot cheaper than IVF. At least i i didn’t get stuck with a $10k bill. So hopefully this time next year i’ll be sharing my story because i plan on writing a book with what i’ve been through to help other women.

Leigh Ann on

I am always happy to see women in the public eye owning up to infertility treatments. There is no shame in seeking help. Unfortunately, our generation is dealing with an enormous amount of health issues including infertility, autism, etc. Environment is the logical cause.

As a woman who struggled with infertility for 12 years…I have known the ups and downs of this struggle. I was never able to maintain a pregnancy and it took a very long time to come to terms with that. Fortunately for us….we explored the idea of adoption. And I am now the proud mother of a 4 year old son. I also have a baby girl coming home in the near future.

I felt cursed for such a long time, but now I know that I had to endure all those struggles to get where I am at today. I can honestly say that I would do it all over again knowing that my son is the end result.

My advice to anyone struggling is to keep the faith. If you truly want to be a mother…you will be. Sometimes motherhood happens in ways we never imagined.

Sarah on

I’m so happy that they are able to open up about it and share their struggles with the world. It’s just something else that shows that celebrities really are like the rest of us. They have the many of the same struggles. I’m currently 15 weeks pregnant w/triplets that we conceived through our second IUI. We also have a 3 year old daughter which we got pregnant with on the first try so we we’re shocked when we had so many issues conceiving we when were ready to add to our family. I also like that they spoke up about the insurance companies. So often infertility is not covered. We were very fortunate that it was covered for us up to $10,000 a year. We would not have been able to afford it if it were not covered and we probably wouldn’t be expecting right now.

silvia on

I love hearing stories of women been successful with IVF. It is so nice to know that it is something that a lot of women go through, and now seeing that also big stars have gone or are going through the samething that once we thought it was something to un-natural to talk about. I am 34 years old and I have Endometriosis, had both my tubes removed, but have my ovaries. I did 2 1/2 years of IVF/FET and was successful on the third tried and became pregnant with identical twin girls, but my happiness was replaced with bad news. One of my girls had full blown Turner SYndrome. I went through weekly ultrasounds to make sure my babies were alive, and when i went for my 24wk u/s my two angels were no longer alive. This happend two years ago, and the pain is still the same. Now I have two beautiful angels waiting to be reunited with their mom when the time comes. I am very happy for the two sisters that never gave up on the idea of been mothers. Congratulations for your little miracles and I have u in my prayers.

Melea on

Soooo happy to see these celebrities sharing their story and journey. Hopefully with their help, woman like myself can get more coverage from the insurance companies. I got so very lucky. I got my insurance company to draw out the $50,000 max infertility limit for another year so I was able to go back and do a frozen cycle, which is the cycle I got pregnant with my son. Stinky job for my husband with horrible pay but amazing infertility coverage with the insurance. Nice trade off, either an okay income or coverage to have a baby. It should never be that way.

Kudos to these woman and kudos to Cigna HMO (Staples the office supply store is where my husband worked at the time in Texas). For other woman that are looking for a job based on the insurance coverage, check here first. And also, your job decides what coverage the insurance company will pay for when it comes to IVF so it’s not all the insurance companies, its the job also.

Colleen on

Let me just say first that I am not trying to offend anyone with this statement. However, an above posted asked why people see IVF as unnatural. The answer is because it alters evolution. During the very long process of evolution(which is a FACT), problematic traits are selected against, infertility being one of them. By using IVF, evolution is being altered, we’re skipping over traits that would be selected against by allowing Dr.’s to overcome those negative traits.

Lissette on

I love them for speaking up about their issues with infertility! I’ve been dealing with it for 3 years now and really admire anyone who speaks openly about it. I dont understand why infertility and IVF has to be(to some people) such a taboo thing!

Liz on

This article really provides insight into what absolute CLASS ACTS these lovely ladies are.

They have beautiful families (include three major cutie-pie hub-mans!) but their real ‘beauty’ comes from not only their willingness to share stories that are very personal for the sake of benefiting others who might be struggling…but also in their vocalizing an important- insurance coverage and fertility treatments. The fact that they didn’t just take their gorgeous babies and say ‘k-thankyou-bye’ but rather chose to put a voice to something that affects SO many women…and the celebrity platform they have boosted this issue with is just the boost it needed to become a relevant subject in today’s health media.

Way to go, ladies on a stellar career and family lives that are so blessed. My prayers are with Gareth (hub-BA! That accent!) and Martie as they trek the journey of second-time around fertility treatments.

KP on

Colleen- let me be the first to say that I am offended by your comments and . IVF is a solution to those women who cannot get pregnant by natural means, typically because they have issues with getting the sperm and egg together. If there is anything genetically wrong with the embroyo- the embroyos don’t implant, or unfortunately, miscarry. The appendicitis/doctor error when I was which left me without use of my tubes has nothing to do with evolution. What is the difference to evolution if I got pregnant at 22 and personally totally unprepared/responsible, or at 37, married to my soul mate, and finanically stable?

Colleen on

KP- Do you even know what evolution is? No, it doesn’t matter if you get pregnant at 22 or 37. Evolution is “Change in the genetic composition of a population during successive generations, as a result of natural selection acting on the genetic variation among individuals, and resulting in the development of new species.” Natural selection chooses FOR positive traits and against negative traits, one of the largest factors of natural selection is fertility. Those who can get pregnant naturally are furthering the species, while those who can’t get pregnant are not. Nowhere in my statement did I say that that is how I personally feel about IVF and infertility. I was just trying to explain why SOME people think IVF is unnatural in response to someone else’s question above.

Anna on


You have the ability to voice your view and opinoin. Just like I have the ability to say that you’re view is rather skewed and I hope that you never have to experience the “denial of evolution” by not having a child should you want one.

For those of us that “evolution”, as you put has denied, struggle daily to come to terms with a change to life long plans and dreams. I was able to get pregnant before my husband had to undergo massive chemotherapies and ultimately bone marrow transplants to save his life.

He’s healthy and alive, but we are left without the ability to now “naturally” conceive our own children. We’re not in a financial position to afford IVF or fertility treatments. It’s not covered by our insurance nor does the state recognize and provide funding assistance.

So we are left with waiting for adoption to happen through the state, and deciding if it doesn’t, can we be happy and complete in our lives without children of our own in it? Try weighing THAT question on your heart. Lose a child to a miscarriage, be denied (physically and financially) from being able to bear your own bilogical child, unable to “buy” a baby through private adoption and spend your days looking at beautiful happy families all around you, that you, at this moment, will never get to experience from the inside.

Then decide if evolution is the correct meaning to your narrow viewpoint.

Lucy on

The problem with your posts, Colleen, is that many fertility related problems are not genetic. Most of those those genetic traits that do lead to infertility would have been selected against many years ago. The causes of infertility that are not genetically related are not problematic in terms of natural selection, because the kids are not receiving any ‘bad’ genes.

Secondly, what about IVF treatments that don’t use the infertile mother’s egg? How is that genetically problematic in terms of natural selection?

mousseauchocolat on

There’s one more thing I’d like to add regarding Colleen’s statements. We mess with “evolution” and “nature” in so many ways that IVF is hardly a major factor. We treat sick children, try to find a cure for cancer and we’ve build houses to keep us warm at night and safe from being eaten by wild animals (and rightly so!). If we want to follow “evolution”, we’ll have to do without all of this and see which of us can outrun the sabretooth tigers. Couples who go through IVF have troubles enough without anyone accusing them of acting “unnaturally”.

Colleen on

Thanks everyone for attacking me when I was responding to someone’s question. Someone above asked why people think it is unnatural, why SOME PEOPLE think that it unnatural. I simply answered her question. NOT ONCE did I say that that is how I felt about IVF! Maybe you should have read my entire posts, both of them, entirely. Then you would have seen that the viewoint I expressed is not mine but that of OTHERS. I was simply answering someone’s question who asked above.

mousseauchocolat on

Colleen, if you read my post, I think you’ll find that not once did I attack you. I was merely pointing out the flaws in the “nature” argument you described. I’m well aware that you didn’t necessarily express your own opinion there. All of which doesn’t change the fact that I think it’s unnecessary and tactless if people (and I’m NOT adressing you here, Colleen) accuse couples undergoing IVF of acting against nature.

Anya on

Everyone is entitled to their own view on infertility treatment. I believe what God gave us we should use and not alter. I think IVF parents need to watch the news and see how many children are out there suffering and dying b/c they have no one to care for them. We need to take care of the babies that are already here before ‘conceiving’ our own unnaturally.

Pam on

Wow, I wholeheartedly disagree Anya. I do not believe it is the responsibility of infertile couples to take care of other children. I think your post was very bold. Personally, I think it’s fabulous people have all the options and routes we do to grow our families in the way we choose, and I don’t think people should be made to feel their way is wrong.

I would be interested to know if you would still feel this way if you or your family dealt with infertility? (Or perhaps you have?)

Molly on

As a huge fan of the Dixie Chicks, i love to hear stories about there family…and i am super excitited to hear martie and gareth are trying again…there twins are such cuties!!!!!congrats to all of them and good luck!!!!

ella on

Really Anya? Why then do we need to alter God’s ways and have all the hospitals about to try and fight all sorts of ailments. Why don’t we all just sit at home and wait to die?? Really just think a bit more broadly before putting it out there. Infertility is a medical condition like any other and we should all be grateful there is a solution to it. Personally I have not tried for a baby yet and have no way of knowing if it will be problematic but I absolutely take comfort in knowing that there is that option should I ever need.

SAS on

Interesting. I’ve never heard that people oppose IVF because it interferes with the evolutionary process. Considering most fertility issues are not genetic, that little theory leaves me scratching my head. I sure am glad “evolution” gave me a developed enough brain to avoid becoming its roadkill.

I can’t think of anything more unnatural than a mother abandoning her children and leaving a stranger to raise them. It’s odd to me that someone is a proponent of one “unnatural” route to parenthood and not another. Oh, and Anya, I’d love to see pictures of your adopted children.

j.brown on

They’ve been through so much in the past few years. Good for them that they were able to have children.

Brandy on

so inspiring and sad for me to ready these stories. I have no tubes and have to undergo IVF inorder to have children. I dont how much longer i can remain my sanity thinking about how bad i want children. does anyone know of ways to finance the procedure.. (is there anyone out there what would be willing to donate financially) im at a loss.. trying to remain hopeful but with the cost of living, i have nothing to put toward IVF…

Mel on

I just happened to run across this and found it interesting that these women struggled through this process. I kind of hate to see people nagging on poor Colleen up there, because the reasons she listed are basically the prime reasons that my husband and I personally have decided not to pursue more complicated fertility treatments. I’m trying basic things like Clomid, but I have a job in a scientific field and I truly feel that perhaps it just might be the case that our traits aren’t supposed to be passed on. I’m not saying that isn’t sad, and a little bit hurtful, but at a certain point, I don’t feel right in forcing nature to do what it seems it might never have been meant to do.

I don’t fault anyone else for doing IVF, and I am glad the opportunities are out there, but it just isn’t for us. My theory is that if it doesn’t happen with minimal treatments, then there are plenty of children out there who need homes and I will be proud to adopt if/when the time comes.