“Giselle, I am so proud of you,” Mom said on December 23 as we wrapped presents together. “You are turning into such a godly young woman.”
“I wish you wouldn’t say that.”
I put my finger on the ribbon she had just wound around the last Christmas present in Santa’s workshop, our family name for the gift wrapping assembly line that we set up in my parents’ bedroom every year. Mom wouldn’t be proud much longer if she knew the dark thoughts I’d been having, or what Brad and I had been doing. Well, she wouldn’t find out unless … oh no, what if we had left evidence in the car?
Mom squeezed my shoulder. “That kind of humility is just one of the many fruits of the Spirit I’ve noticed developing in you.” She stood up from the edge of the bed. “There, that’s done. Let’s get these presents under the tree."
I hardly slept that night. It was Christmas, supposedly a time of joy. But all I felt was emptiness. Maybe it was because the whole Christmas story seemed like a ridiculous fairy tale this year. Or maybe it was just that time of the month like Mom had said the other day?
Wait, when was the last time I’d had my period? I never was very good at keeping track of those things, and I was irregular most of the time anyway. It always managed to sneak up on me.
But this month was different. I’d been sexually active. Could I be pregnant?
A welter of emotion overcame me. Fear of course, but also a surprising joy and affection for the potential life. What if I were really pregnant? Would Brad and I keep the baby? Could I stay in school? What would Mom and Daddy think? Fear began to rise in my heart again.
Stop it, you’re being silly, I told myself. Why was I laying awake fretting about this when I didn’t even know if I was really late?
Still, during the Christmas Eve service the next day, I felt a special kinship with Mary, the unwed mother.
In the week between Christmas and New Years, my stomach that had always bothered me intermittently got much worse. I fought nausea and diarrhea every day. That combined with exhaustion that didn’t seem to go away no matter how much I slept kept me wondering if I might be pregnant. I obsessively checked my panties, but they stayed terrifyingly white. Buying a home test or going to a clinic while I was at home on break felt too risky. What if someone saw me, or worse, if the test were negative but someone found it? I’d be humiliated for no reason.
As I obsessed and analyzed every detail of my body’s functioning for possible symptoms, I alternated between terror and excitement at the prospect that a new life might be growing inside me. I could hardly fathom that I could love someone so much.