My dear friends,
About a week ago Gianna turned one year old. People told me that time would go by so fast once she was born, but I didn’t think it would go by that fast! Since giving birth to Gianna I have watched her grow from a tiny precious newborn to the curious little one year old that she is today. During this past year my baby girl has taught me much more than I ever imagined about love and the humbling sacrifices that go along with growing in authentic selfless love.
Before Gianna was born I wondered what life would be like with my own baby. I had never really grown up around babies and had really only changed a couple of diapers my entire life. One of the very few experiences I remember with a newborn baby was when I volunteered at the hospital in high school. I was able to visit the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) where I held a newborn baby and got to feed her a bottle. This experience had a profound impact on me. If you have ever held a newborn before you would know the feeling. This tiny human being less than 10 lbs in my arms. Never did I lay my eyes upon someone so fragile and so precious. It moved my very being to want to love, nurture, and protect this innocent little one. I could only imagine the feeling I would get when holding my own child as a newborn!
When Gianna was born it was as if my heart had been bursting at the seams to meet her and once she was in my very own arms my heart could not contain itself anymore, it finally burst open. I became a mess and a wreck. I felt as if I had become mad with love for my little daughter who was only a few days old. Tears were frequently within my eyes as we welcomed Gianna into our hearts, our arms, and our home. I remember also telling my husband that I felt like it was our honeymoon all over again. The love between Adam and I increased as now our hearts expanded to love yet another within our tiny growing family, our little Gianna.
Gianna has taught me that time is so valuable. I had to learn to give up what I wanted to do with my own time so that I could love my daughter and tend to her needs. I remember waking up often in the middle of the night to feed Gianna. What a special time this was for us, all alone in the silence of the night. I did not mind having my sleep interrupted by so sweet an embrace with my little one. I knew that this time wouldn’t last long and these sacrifices I offered to our Heavenly Mother who never tires in tending to the needs of all her children.
I wondered if I would ever be able to recognize what each of Gianna’s cries meant. I read in a baby book about how to decipher the cries, but still was clueless as to which cries meant what. However, it did not take long before I figured it out and learned what Gianna wanted based off of her cries. How truly amazing a gift it is that God has allowed mothers to be so in tune with their babies. It is as if Gianna and I have a special language that is exclusive to the both of us. We are able to communicate without using words, but through the deep love of a mother and her child. I know when she is scared, when she needs a changing, when she is happy, when she is annoyed, when she is in pain, and when she is hungry. I tend to think about this special language between Mary and Jesus as well.
Gianna has actually taught me a great deal about the immense and deep love that Jesus and Mary share with one another. Mary knows her Son so well. She learned what upset Him and what gave Him joy. I now meditate on the Crucifixion much more deeply. Our blessed Mother watching her Son, knowing more than anyone in the crowd how much pain and suffering her Son was going through. Oh how tormented her motherly heart must have suffered and ached. St. Bernardine of Siena says, “The grief of Mary was so great that, were it divided amongst all men, it would suffice to cause their immediate death.” Every time that Gianna has to go through some type of pain all I want is for me to go through that pain and even a greater pain if need be so my daughter will not have to suffer. This has also helped me to understand more about the pain of our Lord in watching His children suffer in the ache of their sins. His love so immense that “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds we have been healed” 1 Peter 2:24.
Gianna has also taught me about true joy. What immense joy I have to be able to stay home with my daughter. Although I thought that I would be able to carry on my life the same exact way that I did before, I have learned otherwise. My heart has expanded for my family and instead of seeking thrills outside of the home I am in glee to be at home watching each milestone that my daughter reaches. It seems that almost every week something else changes. Gianna is also my little companion that I get to travel with most places I go. I never liked the feeling of being alone anyways and now I am rarely ever alone. God is growing a community within my own home and what immense joy this gives me!
God sent Gianna to Adam and I to be our little sanctifier. She is paving the path to Heaven for us. Every sacrifice, every no to opportunities we once desired, every act of our will to turn away from what we would like to do while Gianna needs us, every day spent within the home not going anywhere, every sleepless night, every material possession that now means nothing, every chance to travel that we had to let go of due to pregnancy or having a newborn, and every prayer to God realizing how tremendously weak we are to do each of these things is a chance to grow in virtue and be sanctified. Over this past year Adam and I have gone through the huge transition of becoming parents. There have been frustrations, tears, breakthroughs, and triumphs as God continues to use our little daughter as His chisel chipping away at our pride and selfishness.
I now try to imagine Gianna’s cries as her saying, “My dearest mother, I love you so deeply that it pains me to be separated from you when I experience discomfort, pain, or fear. You are my comfort as you hold me close to your heart.” Just as I, a poor banished child of Eve, cry out to my own Heavenly Mother in the pains of my sin. Oh how disheartening it would be if our Heavenly Mother had “other things to do!” I try to imagine this and ask our Blessed Mother to comfort my daughter through me.
I have also meditated and imagined Jesus crying out for me to love Him through Gianna. I answer my Lord and my God whom I love, “Here am I; send me!” Isaiah 6:8. I usually will tell Gianna, “It’s ok baby, mommy is here. I love you.”
“Love your children. In them you can see Baby Jesus. Pray for them a lot and every day put them under Holy Mary’s protection” St. Gianna Beretta Molla.
Gianna has changed me for the better this past year. What a gift she is and how unworthy I am to have her as my daughter. I love you, Gianna. What a special year it has been!