A CBS News anchor who was chasing wildfires has revealed that she suffered a miscarriage while on assignment.
Mireya Villarreal was nine weeks pregnant with her second child when she was sent from her station in Los Angeles to cover the Detwiler Fire on the outskirts of Yosemite National Park in July 2017.
She was standing on the top of a burnt ridge to interview firefighters when she felt a stabbing pain in her abdomen.
Moments later, she realized she was bleeding – and knew that she was miscarrying.
In a first-person account for CBS This Morning, she discusses her struggle with guilt and how she felt ‘ambition and selfishness’ had led to her miscarriage
Villarreal has since suffered two more miscarriages, but is sharing her story in the hopes of breaking the stigma dispelling the shame that she says she – like other women – was left with after losing a baby.
Mireya Villarreal was nine weeks pregnant with her second child when she covered the Detwiler wildfire near Yosemite National Park in 2017 (pictured)
She was interviewing firefighters on a burnt-out ridge (pictured) when she felt pain in her abdomen and realized she was bleeding
Villarreal said she immediately knew something was wrong that day in Yosemite, because she had never felt this kind of pain during her first pregnancy.
‘When I was pregnant with my three-year-old, I remember being exhausted the first few months, but I was never in pain,’ she wrote. ‘In fact, I never even got nauseous.’
However, when one of her male co-workers saw her holding her stomach in agony, he told her that she likely ‘had a bad burrito for lunch or some bad Mexican food’.
She was on assignment for one more day before she could see her OBGYN to confirm she’d miscarried.
‘Then the questions all women ask themselves after a miscarriage popped into my head: “Did I cause this? Was it my fault?”‘ Villarreal wrote.
Villarreal visited her OBGYN after her assignment was over and confirmed she had miscarried the baby. Pictured: Villarreal with her three-year-old son
Any loss of a baby before 20 weeks of pregnancy is considered a miscarriage. At nine weeks, Villareal was well within that window.
Though she knew she was pregnant, many women have not yet realized they are when they miscarry.
It’s hard to count how many occur in total each year for exactly this reason.
For women who do know they’re pregnant, between 10 and 15 in 100 pregnancies end in miscarriage, according to March of Dimes, a nonprofit that works to improve the health of mothers and babies.
Miscarriages can occur due to several reasons including chromosomal abnormalities with the fetus, problems with the uterus and cervix and infections.
Stress is also a risk factor for and may even cause miscarriages.
Villarreal said she felt she’d perhaps overworked herself and wondered if that could be why she ended up miscarrying.
‘On this trip, I started with two days in Arizona covering a flood that swept a family away,’ she wrote.
‘With less than four hours of sleep, I jumped on a plane to Northern California to cover the Detwiler wildfire, knowing I was pregnant and not feeling well.
‘My ambition and selfishness led to this miscarriage. No doctor will ever convince me that’s not true. And that’s okay.’
Villarreal said it took her a while before she was ready to talk to someone and sought therapy.
‘All these feelings brewed inside me for months before I got help. I was worried about talking to a professional because it would mean I was weak and I had failed,’ she wrote.
‘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.’
Villarreal (pictured) said she felt guilty because she believed that the stress of her job had caused her to lose her baby
She has had two more miscarriages since then, but said she wants to break the stigma that comes with talking about the topic. Pictured: Villarreal during a reporting assignment
Villarreal said that she still feels guilt, but that she wants to break the stigma surrounding miscarriages.
She and her husband are still trying for another child – and she’s had two more miscarriages in the last eight months – but she’s determined to give her son a sibling.
‘Someone recently told me: “Why can’t you just be happy? Some women never get to have kids. Can’t you be happy with what you have? Isn’t it enough?”‘ Villareal wrote.
‘Here’s the thing: No, it’s not enough. And it’s okay to say that. It’s okay to want more for whatever reasons you may have.’