Dixie Chicks Martie Maguire and Emily Robison open up about their fertility struggles
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.
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.
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.
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.
On 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.
Thanks to CBB reader Charlene.