Mireya Villarreal of CBS News is based in Los Angeles. Joining the network in July 2015, her reporting is often featured on CBS This Morning, CBS Evening News, and the network’s 24/7 streaming news service, CBSN.
The journalist recently shared her own personal story in the hopes of removing a painful stigma attached to a devastating loss.
A story in July 2017
As a successful reporter, Villarreal is required to travel to various locations in order to cover national newsworthy events. In an essay she wrote for CBS News, Villarreal describes reporting on the wildfires of Yosemite National Park in July 2017. “I had trekked 45 minutes to the top of this hill, and was drenched in sweat,” she wrote. “The mountain had been scorched by the Detwiler fire in Mariposa County and we were embedded with a group of firefighters. It took us more than 24 hours to convince the crew to let us interview them.”
Knowing that delivering this story would help to warn thousands of people of impending danger, Villarreal did what all top-notch reporters would do and pushed forward despite having an obvious physical complication. “I was cringing in pain… It was like someone was taking a knife and stabbing my abdomen, right near the C-section scar from my first son,” she revealed, referring to her 3-year-old.
Villarreal, who was nine weeks pregnant at the time, was actually experiencing a miscarriage. “I questioned whether this was really happening. Was I really having a miscarriage in the middle of a wildfire with no one around to help me?” she wrote. “Can I save the baby? Can I get a doctor to come up to the top of this hill and check me out?”
The CBS News correspondent started to question if her own actions could have caused the loss. “Then the questions all women ask themselves after a miscarriage popped into my head: Did I cause this? Was it my fault?”
Wrestling with self-blame
With the news industry being so competitive, Villarreal shared that she has always pushed herself as a journalist. After her miscarriage, she began to see hard work and ambition as something else. “My ambition and selfishness led to this miscarriage,” she revealed of her feelings in her story. “No doctor will ever convince me that’s not true. And that’s OK.”
Villarreal noted that while many factors can cause pregnancy loss, that information is not simple to locate. “For some reason, in this situation, finding data and stats wasn’t easy,” she wrote. “Blaming something or someone for the loss isn’t that simple. Sometimes, your body can’t handle the pregnancy. Sometimes, it’s chromosomal abnormalities with the fetus. Food. Trauma. Stress. Sometimes there is no explanation – it just happens… And the reality is, for every woman it’s different. And yet, I still felt ashamed and guilty. I blamed myself then and still do.”
At first, Villarreal kept her pain to herself and shut others out. “In the beginning, no one could say anything to comfort me. I was angry at my husband for not caring enough. I was angry at the doctor for not having answers. I was angry at my coworkers for going about their days like nothing had happened, even though most had no idea,” she revealed. “More than anything, I was angry at myself. All these feelings brewed inside me for months before I got help.”
Despite being afraid that she would be seen as “weak,” the journalist realized she had to get help. “All of those emotions affected who I was at work and at home… I needed to talk to someone,” she shared. “Through therapy, I’ve realized that grieving the loss of this child was important, no matter what stage of the pregnancy I was in. But forgiving myself is just as important and something I’m still working on… But I’m no longer ashamed. I’ve moved past the stigma to help myself and help others.”
Unfortunately, the CBS correspondent revealed that she has suffered two more miscarriages in just the past eight months, both times while being on the road for work which prompted old feelings of guilt. Villarreal found comfort in a recent interview with Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter Alanis Morissette, who shared that she is dealing with postpartum depression for the third time after recently giving birth to her son, Winter.
“I asked her if there was ever a time when the pain and the heartache was ever too much. Was there a point when she thought, no, two kids is enough,” Villarreal wrote. “Without taking a pause, she said absolutely not. She knew the difficulties that came with pregnancy, but she was willing to endure them all for the joy on the other end. She looked off into the distance and said exactly what I had been telling myself all along, ‘Isn’t that crazy?’ Thank you for that Alanis. Thank you.”
Villarreal ended her essay vowing to not let her fear stop her. “I want to have more children,” she said. “And I would go through a hundred more miscarriages if it meant having another child like my 3-year-old.”