"Did I cause this?" Getting past the stigma of miscarriages

Mireya Villarreal

This article, "Did I cause this?" Getting past the stigma of miscarriages, originally appeared on CBSNews.com

Mireya Villarreal is a CBS News correspondent based in Los Angeles.

I can still vividly remember the moment I had my first miscarriage. I was standing on the ridge of a scorched hill on the outskirts of Yosemite National Park in July 2017. 

The massive wildfire we were chasing had moved miles away into the mountains, too far to see, but you could still smell its presence. The once beautiful landscape that you read about in books was charred and depressing. That ridge was where I had my first miscarriage.   

I had trekked 45 minutes to the top of this hill, and was drenched in sweat, but determined not to give up. 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, and now there was no guarantee we'd make it on air because other news was breaking.  

I'd never been to Yosemite before.  We didn't grow up poor in South Texas, but we certainly weren't rich. We took family vacations during the summer, but like most Mexican families, it was often in a car four to six hours north of home.  

When we got to the top of the ridge, I should have felt a sense of accomplishment. Look what this tiny Hispanic woman from Edinburg, Texas, did: I climbed this mountain with a male production crew, covered a major story that would affect thousands of people's lives, and now I'm going to fight to get this story on . Instead, I was cringing in pain. It was excruciating. It was like someone was taking a knife and stabbing my abdomen, right near the C-section scar from my first son.  "You must have eaten a bad burrito for lunch or some bad Mexican food on the way here." I'll always remember those words, uttered by a coworker who had no idea I was pregnant. I knew if I told any of the men on that crew what I was going through, they wouldn't understand.  I'd get that look — "Oh, you poor woman" — and then word would get back to my managers. So I kept everything to myself.When I was pregnant with my 3-year-old, I remember being exhausted the first few months, but I was never in pain. In fact, I never even got nauseous. I was only nine weeks along this time around. I had told my husband, a few family members, and a few female coworkers. And now, the bleeding wouldn't stop. There were no bathrooms close by and I was worried I'd bleed through several layers of clothing and then everyone would see the pain I was going through on my bright yellow fire-retardant suit.  But it didn't. And for that, I'm thankful.

My 3-year-old son is amazing. I had to see a fertility doctor to make him happen — it took nearly four years. But he brings me so much joy. Being a mother is such a gift.  And his unconditional love gets me through some really tough times.  

In the past eight months, I've had two more miscarriages.  Each time I've been on the road for work. And each time I go through one of them, the same feelings I had during the first miscarriage resurface.

I recently sat down with Alanis Morissette for an interview airing Tuesday. Her songs conjure images of my high school teenage angst. She's 45 years old now and just had her third child. She's open about having several miscarriages and admits this is the third time she's battled postpartum depression.

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. 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.

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?"

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. 

I want to have more of that joy in my life.  I want to have a bigger family. I want to have more children.  And I would go through a hundred more miscarriages if it meant having another child like my 3-year-old.

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