My Ectopic Pregnancy Story: Part One

It was May 23rd, I was lying in bed watching Beauty and the Baker, a show I became incredibly obsessed with and couldn’t just watch one episode.
I felt a little twinge on my right side by my hip. A slight cramping. I immediately paused the TV and thought to myself, it’s implantation. I just know it. I feel it. The baby is literally implanting itself into my uterus. I can’t believe it worked on our first try. It’s never worked on our first try! I turned the show back on and went to sleep.

The next day Michaela and I took a drive to Montauk to pick up some food from one of our favorite restaurants. She had recently done IUI (Intrauterine Insemination, a fertility treatment) at the same time I had ovulated and we tried really hard not to talk about it in case it didn’t work. I didn’t tell her I was trying and I didn’t tell her that I felt implantation. We got back and watched movies and snacked, which is my favorite thing to do with my sister! We lounge around and make each other laugh really hard. After a wild couple of months, it felt so nice to finally be with my sister, laugh with her, connect, share stories, talk, eat, all things sisters do together.

It’s Monday morning now, and I asked Brandon to go pick up some pregnancy tests. I asked him to put them in our bathroom because I didn't want Michaela to see them. I wanted this whole time to be about her.

Once Brandon got home, he winked at me to let me know that the tests were here. My heart started to race and I felt a tingling throughout my body of excitement but also nervousness, like that nervous feeling you get before you go on a roller coaster. I told Michaela and Brett that I had to go to the bathroom and I would be right back. I went upstairs and I spent literally 10 minutes just trying to peel that plastic off of the pregnancy box. I finally opened it and to even rip open a pregnancy test is like the hardest task of all time. They secure those things like gold is in there.

I peed on two sticks (a digital and a regular) of a First Response pregnancy test. My heart was racing as I watched the screen start to flood with a liquid before it shows a plus sign or a yes (on the digital one). I thought to myself, "how many times have I seen a negative test, of course, this will be negative." All of a sudden, I see a very faint light line appear. I’m thinking "no, it can’t be." My eyes sometimes create a line when I want it badly. But then the digital one a few minutes later popped up saying yes. My heart squeezed! I sat on the closed toilet just staring at them and letting out a mix between a laugh and a cry. I felt so good. For the first time in months, I felt ELATED. I was shaking a bit, I ran downstairs to the basement where no one could hear me and called my mom. “Mom” I said, “I’m pregnant”. My mom started screaming and Danielle (who was staying with her for the weekend) was like “OH MY GOD, WHAT!!!” “Arielle!!! This is amazing, we’re freaking out!!!” I told them to please not say anything to Michaela because I didn’t want to say anything to her until her IUI check-up with her fertility doctor on Thursday. They said of course we won’t. 

I went back upstairs to my bathroom to hide the evidence in case Michaela went into my bathroom and as I was putting the box away, I looked at the last pregnancy test and I took it in my hand and went downstairs. I looked at Michaela and said "Mick, I think you should take a test." She got angry with me. “Why would I take one? I don’t want to be disappointed and the doctor isn’t seeing me until Thursday.” Because I knew we ovulated the same time, I knew her test would give her the answer now too. And I just felt it. I felt she was pregnant this time.

She said, “Arielle stop, I’m not taking the test.” Then Brett looked at me and her and said, “Mick, I think you should do it.” I started to freak out because I was like what if it says no. I’m the biggest asshole of all time but something in me told me it was going to say yes and it was right to do. She grabbed the test from my hand and went into her bathroom and closed the bedroom door. 5 minutes later, she opens the door and cries, “I’M PREGNANT!!!!!!!” Brett jumped up and screamed with Michaela, I tried to chime in like an awkward third wheel but they were so in love and so happy for this moment that I just stepped back and watched them. Crying and hugging each other and staring at the test. Michaela looked at me and was like “HOW THE HELL DID YOU KNOW?”, “I just felt it in my gut.” I said. Michaela immediately said “oh my god, we have to go to tell everyone. Let’s drive to their house.”

We drove to my parents' house where my parents, Danielle, and Michael all were. Michaela told me to film the entire process. From the second we got there, I had my phone out on record as soon as she stepped out of the car. We walked in the house and we’re all just talking. My mom and Danielle are giving me eyes but I’m sort of ignoring them and just smiling because I know what Michaela is about to tell them. 

A few minutes in Michaela says quietly, “I’m pregnant”. Everyone starts screaming and jumping and freaking out. They’re also looking at me like “BOTH OF YOU??” And Michaelas like “huh? No, just me.” I kept giving them eyes like “SHUT UP”. Michaela has the whole video because my mom's reaction was out of control hilarious.

Fast forward to a few days later. I go in to see my doctor to get blood work done. After I see her, I asked Michaela if I could come over and see the new apartment. I couldn’t keep this from her but I wanted her to have that moment the other day. I walked into the apartment and I was not feeling well, so I went into the bathroom. She came in the bathroom to sit with me (we’re weird I know) and she was like “what did you eat, why are you so sick?” I was like, "I’m pregnant." She laughed. Haha, yeah right she said. “No seriously, I’m also pregnant and we have the exact same due date.” I showed her the bandaid and cotton ball on my arm where I just had the blood work. I said “I just came from my doctor to do the blood test.” She freaked out in excitement. I was so nervous, I didn’t know if she’d be mad or sad or upset with me for not telling her or for being pregnant also, or I don't know what. But instead, like the best human being she is, she was beyond happy. “This is amazing, I can’t believe we get to do this together. WHY DIDN’T YOU TELL ME!!” It was such a special moment, that I’ll never forget. My fear was that she would think I was taking away a moment in her life that she had been waiting for and that I had already been through twice before. But it was the exact opposite.

I drove back to the Hamptons on cloud nine after my doctor called and said numbers look great and I’m definitely pregnant. A few days went by and I had to go in for another round of blood work to make sure HCG and progesterone were rising. This isn’t necessary but something I’ve always done because I’m a nutcase and like to be in control. Michaela had her appointment at 9 a.m. and mine was at 1 p.m. It takes a couple of hours for numbers to come back so Michaela got hers when I was going in. Her numbers nearly tripled and looked great. Because I went in at 1 p.m. and it was a Friday, they told me they might not be able to get me my results before the office closes. 

Now it's Saturday and we are doing a photoshoot at my house for the launch of Something Navy. I’m modeling the clothing but anxious for the phone call. It’s 11 a.m. and my phone rings with my doctor's office name on it. I run upstairs and frantically answer the phone, nervous but also thinking I’m overreacting and everything is great. I hear her voice kind and sweet as always and she is asking how I am, any spotting any bleeding? I was confused why she asked me that. I said “no nothing at all, I feel good just tired.” She said “okay good, I’m glad to hear that. Well, your numbers came back and they are a little strange.” My heart sank but also started racing. “Strange how I said?” She said, “well your HCG went up but not as much as I’d like it to go up and your progesterone dropped, I’d like you to come back in on Monday after the weekend so we can check it again. It could mean absolutely nothing but I like to be sure.”

The rest of the day shooting I was numb. I felt like I was out of my body and just taking pictures but my mind was somewhere else. I cried, a lot. Sunday was torture but I tried to distract myself with my girls. Monday morning, Brandon and I get in the car and drive to the city for more blood work. I left the city afterward and just replaying in my head all of the things that could go wrong and praying that this baby and pregnancy was okay. Brandon kept telling me to be positive. As we pulled into our neighborhood in the Hamptons and I get a call from my doctor. I’m shaking. I answer the phone and she tells me that the numbers are getting weirder and that she needs me back in the city ASAP.

Everything went dark. It went dark but I was still awake. What’s happening inside of me right now? Is this baby going to be okay, what is wrong with it? What will they have to do? I had so many questions but I didn’t know how to ask them. I just felt a heaviness in my throat and chest and cried. I kept crying as Brandon turned the car around and we headed back into the city.

I got to the city and she sent me straight in for an ultrasound at Weill Cornell hospital. I walked into the waiting room filled with pregnant women waiting for their ultrasounds, maybe their nuchals or their anatomy scans and I remembered being that girl, twice. Not thinking for a second about why someone else might be there and that maybe they were there to see if they had a normal baby that was going to survive or not like I am going through right now. I kept thinking, "some of my happiest moments were in this waiting room knowing my baby was healthy and getting to see them on the big screen, going home with the black and white sonogram photos"–this was the highlight of my pregnancies. There I was sitting in the corner 6 feet apart from the other pregnant women with my black mask, puffy face and eyes, filled with anger and envy. I also kept wondering why some of them were looking at me. Were they looking at me because they were confused about why I didn’t have a belly and I was sitting there? Were they looking at me because they read about me in the paper recently and hated me? Were they looking at me because they knew who I was and just found out a secret that I was pregnant? I tried to keep my face looking light and happy so no one could misinterpret it and run to a publication and tell them I was a bitch. It was not easy to seem happy and nice while I was devastated and angry but I tried.

They called my name and I jumped up and also incredibly nervous that by screaming my name someone might look up knowing who I was. I wished they said it quietly so that the entire labor and delivery wing couldn’t hear ARIELLE CHARNAS. I walked with the technician wondering if she knew what I was there for. I blurted it out before she asked or said anything. “I’m pregnant but they don’t think it’s normal and possibly ectopic.” She said, “well okay, we’ll check it out.” While I was lying down on the bed with a giant wand up my crotch moving all the way left and then all the way right and pushing down on my belly - I kept staring at the technicians face for a reaction. “Is this your first pregnancy?” she asked. “No, third.” She seemed surprised. I asked her if she was seeing anything. She replied “the doctor will come and speak to you after he looks over the images. I just want to make sure I get everything.”

30 minutes went by and I’m watching her staring at the screen. She pulls the wand out and tells me she’ll be right back. A few minutes later she comes back in and said, “the doctor just wants to me to check one more time on your right side.” My heart began racing. They saw something, I knew it. I felt it. Something didn’t look right. She left again and finally, the doctor came in. He told me that he saw nothing. It was early and he couldn’t even see a sac. He said ideally, we’d like this to be what we call a chemical pregnancy and you’ll just miscarry. We need to do another ultrasound on you in a few days if the pregnancy and bloodwork continues to progress to see what's going on here. I said, “so I have to spend the next few days at home growing an abnormal baby inside of me?” He said “yes.” I asked him if there was any possibility that this could be a normal pregnancy. He felt badly but he said it’s unlikely. 

I went to my apartment and relaxed for the next few days. I had Brandon drive back to the Hamptons and get the kids because I knew I’d be home for a few days and I didn’t want to be without them for that long. We spent three days at home with the kids and it was actually nice. On the third night, I started to feel pain and numbness down my right leg near my hip. I called my doctor's emergency line and told her what I was feeling. She said this isn’t usually associated with an ectopic but the ultrasound is tomorrow and we’ll see what’s going on. I didn’t care what any doctor said, I knew something didn’t feel right and I knew it was from this pregnancy. It was where I felt the implantation a few weeks earlier and I knew it was a baby trying to grow there.

The next morning, I had Brandon drive the kids back to the Hamptons and then back to me (best husband). Nancy drove me to the hospital for another ultrasound. In the room, she asked me to pee before she did the ultrasound. I pulled down my underwear and saw spotting. She began the ultrasound and asked me where the pain was. I said on the right side. She began there. Again, I kept looking at her face for a reaction. She gave me a little bit more. I knew it wasn’t good. She pulled the wand out and said, "you know what… is the left side bothering you?" I said no. She said, "okay, I think we can be done here." She asked if I wanted to speak to the radiologist or if I wanted the radiologist to just send my results to my doctor. I said, "well what are we supposed to do?" She said, "honestly I don’t think we should waste time, I think we should just have the radiologist call your doctor."

I started to panic. She left and I called my mom. I dropped to the floor of the room crying. "Mom, they found something. I don’t know what it is but the technician was worried." My mom kept saying I’m driving back to the city, I’m coming there. I said no, it’s okay. Nancy is outside, the doctor told me after I had this ultrasound to just wait at the hospital until she called me with results. I got into Nancy's car outside crying. We sat in the car in the parking lot of the hospital for two hours. An hour went by and I said if she hasn’t called me yet it must not be serious or urgent. At 2 p.m., she called me.

“Arielle, your HCG is going up even more now but not normal and your progesterone is at 2 (this is really not normal). We found two things on your ultrasound that were not there 3 days ago. We see two things on your right side near your ovary/fallopian tube and we saw an empty sac in your uterus which we call pseudo sac. What is happening is your body believes you're pregnant so it created a sac in your uterus but the baby is growing somewhere else. Not only will this baby never survive, but neither would you if we don’t make some moves."

I felt sick. But then I felt scared. I love my doctor more than anyone and I trust her. She is brilliant and kind and caring. I’m sure everyone who is her patient feels that way but I like to genuinely believe she cares about me! Haha. She told me we could wait it out and potentially run into serious risks or we can act immediately. I was scared and just wanted this to all be over. I told her I wanted to act. She told me to head into the emergency room and tell them my name. She will call and set it all up. Brandon and Nancy were in the car and no one was allowed in the hospital with me obviously due to COVID. I looked at them and cried and told them I was scared. Nancy cried because she felt so badly that I had to go do this alone. I opened the door and walked away towards the emergency room. I looked back once and they both stared and me and nodded their heads.

To be continued...

Illustration by: Sydney Mastrandrea