Faith, Family

Story of a Name: Gianna Rose

Let me begin by saying I’m fascinated by baby names and I love hearing why people give their children particular names. Since I’m such a big fan of the story behind baby names, I’d like to share with you the story behind the name of our sweet Gianna Rose.

As Catholics, we see immense value in honoring Saints through our children’s names for several reasons. First, we believe that the prayers of that particular saint are invoked when the same is said. Secondly, we feel this gives our children a patron, or role model, who they can look to when striving to life a holy life. Lastly, we feel it’s a beautiful way to honor the holy men and women who have gone before us and who intercede for us in a special way.

Dom and I prayed about our daughters name often, and we felt that God would reveal to us in His time what her name should be.

Gianna is a name that I’ve always loved, and St. Gianna Beretta Molla is a Saint I’ve always looked up to. I first learned of her in eighth grade when faced with choosing a confirmation Saint. I did consider her, but ended up choosing Elizabeth Ann Seton. Little did I know God would place St. Gianna on my heart once again, many years later, not for me — but for my first born daughter.

St. Gianna is a fairly modern Saint. She was born in the 1920’s, died in the 1960’s, and was canonized by St. John Paul II in 2004. She was an Italian wife and mother who worked as a doctor while raising her children. Growing up, I always felt like all Saints were nuns so I thought it was neat that she was a working mom! She’s known for being faced with a medical condition during her fourth pregnancy, and despite being pressured to have an abortion, she said no and ended up sacrificing  her own life to save the life of her unborn child.

She’s the patron saint of mothers, physicians, and unborn children.

At our 20 week ultrasound we learned that our unborn baby had a foot deformity known as clubbed feet. While it appeared merely to be an easily treated, physical deformity, the ultrasound technician and doctors initial panic and discussion of “options” if it were more than this jarred us. We knew that no matter what, this baby was a gift given to us by God and that we would only love her, regardless of what her feet looked like, or any other abnormality she would have. Because of this experience, we began praying to St. Gianna for our baby’s health, and for peace and courage for us to face whatever lied ahead for us. I asked for God to give me the grace and strength that St. Gianna Beretta Molla had, and for her to intercede for my baby and for me in my vocation of marriage and motherhood. We also feel deeply that in today’s political climate, with vulnerable lives—specifically the unborn, under attack, St. Gianna is a timely witness to the prolife mission. We hope our Gianna will be a beautiful witness to the value of every human life, just as St. Gianna was.

Her middle name is Rose for several reasons. The first reason is to honor St. Thérèse, which we knew we wanted to do since the very beginning of this pregnancy. You see, after traveling to France last summer, St. Thérèse was popping up everywhere for me! I never felt much of a connection to her before, but I knew she was a powerful intercessor for many and that she sends roses to those who pray for her intercession. We sort of randomly decided to pray a novena to St. Thérèse to conceive a child in the days leading up to her feast day. On the last day of our novena, several small rose bushes bloomed in our yard. I knew right then that she had interceded for us and I had a feeling we were pregnant. A few days later, on the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, I learned I was pregnant! The rosary is a prayer that’s been incredibly special to us, and we have a deep devotion to Mary. We love that the name Rose honors several of our favorite Marian apparitions as well, including Our Lady of Lourdes (where we went on pilgrimage last summer) and Our Lady of Guadalupe (who our diocese is consecrating itself to this year)! A few days before Gianna was born, Dom and I went to the Blue Army Shrine, which is a Marian shrine dedicated to Our Lady of Fatima. While we were there, I noticed for the first time a large statue of St. Thérèse. There was one pink rose in bloom next to the Statue, and I took this as our last little reminder from St. Thérèse that she was praying for our girl.

We love our little Gianna Rose, and we love that her sweet name embodies strong and beautiful examples of holy women. We are comforted in knowing that these Heavenly friends will intercede for her during her lifetime, and we look forward to sharing these women and their stories with her as she grows up.

Faith, Family

A Birth Story: Gianna Rose Ocello

Our Gianna Rose Ocello was born at 2:35 PM on Saturday, June 15th (my grandmother’s birthday!) weighing 8.7 lbs and measuring 21 inches. We are so grateful to God for the most precious gift we’ve ever received. I’d like to tell you a little bit more about how she came into this world. Gianna was born in a natural, unmedicated childbirth, and though it was difficult and even scary in some moments, it was also the most incredible and beautiful experience I’ve ever had.

Leading up to her birth date I had been feeling slightly more uncomfortable than usual, and I found out I was slightly dilated at my doctor’s appointment, but I had yet to feel any real contractions or experience any real progression. I had stopped working a couple of weeks prior and I was starting to get a little antsy waiting for this baby to arrive. On June 14th, Dom and I went to his parents house for dinner and flag cake to celebrate Flag Day (it’s also President Trump’s birthday — I actually was really hoping she’d be born this day for a patriotic birthday). We went home and went to sleep, and I woke up a little after midnight to my water breaking. After questioning if I had peed myself for a few minutes, we figured my water broke, and called the doctor. They said since I hadn’t felt any intense contractions yet I could stay home for a few hours and try to sleep. Well, soon after this conversation I wasn’t able to sleep through the contractions anymore as they were picking up severity and coming closer together. I wanted to let Dom sleep a bit longer, so I ended up on a birthing ball watching the episode of The Office where Pam gives birth. Dom woke up shortly after and we began timing my contractions. We prayed, I took a shower, had a snack, and we got all our things together and left for the hospital around 5:00 AM. 

When we got to the hospital we had to go through the ER because the main entrance was not open yet. Luckily our birthing class had told us this so we knew exactly where to go! They wheeled me upstairs and we checked in to the labor & delivery unit. The doctor on call told me I was 3 cm dilated and Dom and I braced ourselves for a long road ahead. They admitted me, and we went to a delivery room. By this point, my contractions were intense, consistent, and close together. The nurse asked if I’d be getting an epidural, to which I said “I don’t think so!” The thing is, I don’t have a particularly strong feeling for or against epidurals, although they do scare me. I also knew that I wanted to offer up my suffering for a special intention, so I intended to fully experience all the pain I could bear. I really didn’t have a birth plan, I tend to be a planner — but since I really didn’t know what to expect I tried my best not to plan. I didn’t want to be stuck in a certain mindset, so I simply offered it up in prayer and asked that God’s will, not mine, be done. 

As the morning went on and the sun came up, I continued to breathe through my contractions and savor the slightly more peaceful moments in between. I was leaning over a birthing ball, rocking back and forth because that was the most comfortable position I could find.  I had put on my scapular and we had a crucifix and rosary laid out on the small table next to the bed to bring comfort, and to be a reminder that there is beauty in suffering and a resurrection moment of meeting our child awaiting us at the end of all this. At this point I was actually confused because I was experiencing more pain in my back than anywhere else. This is an important piece of information and it makes sense later! Anyways, Dom was coaching me through the breaths and he was being a rockstar of a husband as usual. He was encouraging, calm, and not too chatty. He was estimating where we were in the labor process based on how I was feeling and the timeline we had learned in our birthing class. Dom’s conservative estimates made me feel like we still had a very long way to go, but when the doctor came in and checked me again at 9:00 AM I was 8 cm dilated and progressing nicely. She even said we may be close to pushing soon!

I’d also like to say that the doctor who came in to check me this time was my favorite of all the doctors in my practice! I had actually prayed she’d be on call the day we gave birth, and it was so comforting to know she’d be the one delivering our baby. I also loved our nurse, she was an angel and was encouraging to us throughout the entire process. Our nurse had told me earlier that I could use the tub during labor, and I asked her if it would be OK to use it now. She told us sure, but if I felt the urge to push that we needed to call her immediately to get out and return to our room. At this point Dom and I thought things were moving super quickly, so I was a little anxious about being in the tub. I will say though, it was so much better laboring in the tub. When I started to feel like things might be moving along we got out and returned to our room, only to find out I was still only 8 cm and hadn’t really progressed at all.

So, feeling slightly discouraged we tried a few different positions to help move things along and to feel more comfortable. As I said before, I was offering up my labor for one special intention in particular, and so I continued to think about this intention through the immense pain I felt with every contraction. I had been praying Hail Marys throughout my labor and asking God for strength, but at this point the only words I could utter were, “Jesus, I trust in You.” At this time the nurse told me I could go back in the tub if I wanted, and I immediately said yes because it had helped manage the pain earlier. So, I got back in the tub and Dom and I prayed a rosary together. To be honest, Dom mostly prayed the rosary out loud and I did my best to follow along in my head, as my contractions felt much more intense now and were coming nearly back to back every minute.

Shortly after we finished our rosary I got out of the tub and returned back to the room to be checked. At this point we learned that I was slightly more dilated at 9 cm but my cervical lip would not retract. This is what hThe doctor was able to lift it over the baby so that we could begin pushing. At this point I was thinking it would all be over soon, and I was so excited to meet our baby. Well, things didn’t go exactly as planned, and I ended up pushing for over an hour and a half. I kept thanking Dom for giving me ice chips, and I kept apologizing to our nurse for every push that didn’t result in a baby. She would laugh and remind me that I didn’t need to apologize or even talk to her at all!

It wasn’t until the very end that they had realized our baby was sunny side up, and that is why she was having such a difficult time coming out. It’s also why I was experiencing such intense back labor pains! At one point, we got very close, but suddenly our baby was under distress. The next few moments were a blur, the doctor told me she’d have to perform an episiotomy, and once she did, Gianna entered the world! I honestly didn’t feel the pain of the episiotomy or the stitches after all of this, I was just so happy our baby was born. Since she had a bowel movement during birth, they had to make sure she hadn’t inhaled any meconium. They quickly cleaned her up and put her back on my chest, and suddenly the past several hours faded away as Dom and I looked at our baby girl.

Giving birth has been the most meaningful experience of my life. Although it was filled with moments of frustration and terror, there was also a presence of deep peace and joy I felt throughout the entire process. Offering up my pain, uniting it to Christ’s pain for us on the cross, brought so much grace during this time. The nurse and doctor both commented on how they had never seen someone smile so much during birth, and Dom pointed out that I had managed to labor in a joyful manner. This was purely by the grace of God, I’d like to point out. It’s funny because the one scripture I kept reflecting on during my pregnancy was “The joy of the Lord is my strength” Nehemiah 8:10. As I said earlier, I was only able to do any of this purely by the grace of God, and I felt His hand on me through every moment. We found it amazing that the nurses and doctors were able to see and feel a tangible joy, and we’ve been praying that our family can be a witness to Christ’s love and joy to those we encounter.

I’m so grateful for God’s grace, and I pray that He uses my earthly suffering for His greater good. If you were praying for us during this time, thank you so much. I truly felt every prayer give me the strength and grace to continue on in the more difficult moments.

 

Family, Freedom

Festivities for the 4th

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Hi there, happy 4th of July! We love America & any excuse to celebrate her around here so I wanted to share with you what we did over the long weekend to celebrate Independence Day. There were multiple barbecues, plenty of good music, time spent outside, hanging with family, oh — and several patriotic outfits. I’m all about rocking the red, white & blue.

First, my dad got promoted to lieutenant commander in the Navy. He’s been in the Navy Reserves for several years now, and this was an exciting promotion because his friend came to my parent’s home to promote him right here! My grandma came, my siblings were all there, it was a lot of fun. It was a really nice little ceremony and I’m so proud of my dad for serving our country in this way. Gianna dressed as a little sailor girl for the occasion! It was a perfect way to kick off a patriotic week with more festivities to come.

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On the 4th of July we headed over to Dom’s parents’ house who live only a few minutes away. We spent the day with all Gianna’s grandparents and her Uncle Pete. It was a beautiful way to spend Gianna’s first Independence Day! We barbecued, listened to country music, and spent most of the day outside which always makes me a happy camper.

It was extra special bringing Gianna over to Dom’s childhood home because my in laws are currently in the process of selling it. Dom wants Gianna to see where he grew up, and we took a couple pictures in the front yard so that we can show her one day! There’s been so many parties and barbecues that have taken place at this house, it’s kind of bittersweet to think this may have been the last one.

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The next day we went to another barbecue, this time at my parents’ house. They live right next door to us which makes it really easy to walk over there for family parties. Gianna got a chance to meet some of her cousins and had another eventful day celebrating our country and spending time with family. Family is really important to us, so it’s nice to be so close and have so many opportunities to get together and celebrate.

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Over the holiday weekend Gianna also got fitted for her new casts. If you’re just catching up to this, she has a bilateral clubbed foot deformity and needs casts and then foot braces to help her feet grow in the right direction so she’ll be able to crawl, walk, etc. correctly! She’s been such a trooper and the doctor is really pleased with how her ankles and feet look so far. The casts don’t even seem to bother her all that much, which is fantastic. We’re so proud of our happy & strong girl!

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Going to sign off now to spend a little more quality time with family over the long weekend! We had a busy couple of days but they were really laid back and life giving. The 4th is one of my absolute favorite holidays, and I think it’s now one of Gianna’s favorites as well! She’s an American girl through and through. We’re excited for next year when we can do things like go swimming with her, bring her to the little parade in the next town over, and maybe even watch some fireworks.

Faith, Family, Uncategorized

Merry Christmas from the Ocello’s + Some BIG News!

“For this child I have prayed, and the Lord has granted the desires of my heart.” 1 Samuel 1:27

We are so excited to share our big news with you, baby Ocello is on the way! We are about 13 weeks along and due June 17, 2019. We feel truly blessed this Christmas season. We are so grateful for the Lord’s faithfulness and for the plans He has for our growing family. 

 

We took these photos a few weeks ago for our Christmas cards, and it is incredible to see how much our baby has grown in just the few weeks since then! We’ve had a few doctor visits and everything seems to be going well, praise God! I’ve been feeling pretty fatigued and nauseous most days but I seem to be feeling better as time goes on. We would really appreciate it if you would pray for a safe + healthy pregnancy for the baby and I.

 

We’d also like to acknowledge anyone who may be in a time of suffering or loss this Christmas season. We pray that you are able to experience the peace and joy of Christ, our newborn Savior, in a special way this year. 

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We wish you all a peaceful + fruitful Advent season and a very Merry Christmas with your loved ones from the Ocello Family! 

Faith, Family

Making Room: Advent 2018

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Hi there, friends! I’m sorry things have been a little quiet over here on the blog. Life has been really full which is wonderful—but it also means we’ve been a little busier than I like to be! In the spirit of intentionally slowing down to take in all the goodness this season has to offer and to prepare for Christ’s birth, I’d love to share with you all what we are up to this Advent. Just like the inn keeper in the Nativity story, we can be quite full of extraneous things during this time of year. We’ve chosen to do a few things to prepare our hearts for the coming of our savior and to bring peace and joy into our home. We want to make sure that there is always room in our inn for our Savior, Jesus Christ.

In honor of the first Sunday of Advent we got our Christmas tree yesterday after mass! I love to put up decorations early because they just bring so much joy to our home, but we intentionally waited for Advent to begin decorating because this is the true season of preparing for Christmas. We have a tradition of going and cutting down our tree at a local Christmas tree farm which we love doing! One of my dreams is to have a Christmas tree farm on our property, but we’re also loving the animals so we’ll have to wait and see how that all pans out. Anyway, back to Advent! We brought our tree home and we had a little decorating party with snacks and Christmas music to make the day really fun and festive. This is a tradition Dom’s family began years ago to motivate the kids to help decorate and we want to continue it with our family! We ended the day with some cookies and a Christmas movie.

While I love Christmas movies and decorations as much (or more) than the next person, since Advent is a time of preparing our hearts for Christ’s birth we also have more reflective and prayerful traditions that we practice daily.

Every night before dinner we light our Advent candles and say an Advent prayer before we bless our food and begin eating. It is a simple prayer that we found online and it changes each week as we get closer to Christmas.

After dinner, we choose a bible verse to read together from our Advent calendar. I found this Advent calendar at Michael’s a couple of years ago on clearance and I absolutely love it! I think you’re supposed to put little treats or candies in it for each day but I think bible verses work just as nicely. I hand picked a bunch of Christmas related verses to put in so that we have yet another way to focus our minds on the true meaning of Christmas as we prepare for it. We take turns reading the verse and then we reflect on it and discuss it together.

Finally, we say a rosary together every night before bed. We always pray together before we go to sleep, but we’ve found that praying the rosary brings us together in an special way and instills immense peace and joy in our hearts. During Lent we prayed the sorrowful mysteries together every night to reflect on Christ’s passion, so we decided for Advent we are going to pray the joyful mysteries each night in order to focus on Mary’s journey and the birth of Jesus Christ. We try our best to meditate on each mystery as we pray, and I’m hoping that doing so will continue to remind us what (and who!) this season is all about.

While I’m certain that some days it will be harder than others to practice these traditions, I have hope that Christ will honor our imperfect attempt at preparing our hearts receive Him at Christmas and grant us peace and joy in this season. We certainly aren’t perfect, but the Lord knows our intentions and He sees our efforts. I’m hoping that as years go by we can continue these traditions and have fruitful seasons of Advent. I’d love to know if your family has any Advent traditions that you do together to prepare for Christmas!

Faith, Family

The Pilgrimage of a Lifetime

We have some exciting news over here at the Ocello household! Despite being in the craziest season of life ever with moving, working on our house, and beginning another job, Dom and I are going on a trip! Well actually, a pilgrimage. Let me tell you, this is something I never thought I would say! For a while now, we’ve had a list of places we would like to visit together. Italy has always been at the very top of that list!  We’re not huge travel bugs (especially Dom) but since we’re both Italian AND Catholic (although one of us likes to pretend he’s more Italian than the other), it shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that Italy has always been on our bucket list.

We toyed with the idea of going to Europe on our honeymoon but honestly, we just wanted to be able to rest and enjoy each other and married life so we decided the Bahamas was the best fit for us. We had said that we would save our pennies to go on a big first anniversary trip to Italy! When this idea was really becoming a reality, Dom mentioned that maybe we should go to France as well. We both have a devotion to our Lady of Lourdes, and we also wanted to experience Paris together.

Initially, I had zero intention of this vacation being a religious trip. Obviously, we would see beautiful cathedrals and chapels and enjoy the rich church history that exists in these countries, but truly I just wanted to travel, see some beautiful sights, and eat delicious food. I believe the Lord works in mysterious and sometimes funny ways and this time he definitely worked through my husband to push me to make this trip a little extra meaningful and fruitful for us. We are going on a full-on DIY pilgrimage for two and let me tell you I could not be more excited about it!

We have a personal and spiritual connection with nearly every place we are visiting and I just feel like the Lord has had this trip planned for us all along.  I can’t wait to see what He has in store for us! Our trip includes stops at Paris, Lourdes, Rome, The Vatican, Assisi, The Almafi Coast, and the Padre Pio Shrine at San Giovanni Rotondo.

As we gear up for our trip next week, we would love to know any suggestions you may have regarding sights, restaurants, shops, etc! As we will be spending a lot of our trip at holy sites, attending mass, and engaging in prayer, we would love to know if you have any prayer intentions that you would like for us to offer up for you. If you feel comfortable reaching out to me via email or personal message—please do! We would love to pray for you and bring your intentions with us on our journey. Let us know if you have a special devotion to any of the places we are visiting and we will make sure to pray for your special intention in that place!

Please pray for us and know that we will be praying for you too! God bless you & God bless America, Italy, and France!

Faith, Family, Freedom

The Fourth

For my first post, I figured we should get to know each other a little better before we dive right on into life + faith and all the messy stuff that comes with it.   Since it’s still July I thought I’d keep with the theme of this blog and  share some thoughts + photos from my favorite holiday – America’s Independence Day!

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Ok – so maybe it’s not my number one FAVORITE holiday (Hello, Christmas!) but it’s definitely up there on the list. There’s nothing like sunshine, summer barbecues, country music, and a dip in the pool.

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Last year my husband, Dom, and I were on our honeymoon during July 4th and while we had so much fun celebrating in the Bahamas, I was super excited to be on American soil this year. My parents’ had a barbecue with all the works – including fireworks! It was a great day. I think I mentioned before that I come from a military family, so it shouldn’t surprise you that my family is just as patriotic as me, if not more so! We are really grateful for the blessing of our great nation and the freedom it offers – so we love to celebrate it together whenever we can!

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Dom and I started off our day doing a little bit of work on our farm (which I promise to get to in many future posts!) and then we walked over to my parents’ which is right next door.  We helped prep for the party and then spent the day eating, drinking, and swimming with friends and family. We ended the night with a spectacular firework show in town and ate some leftovers before going to bed.

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I want to be clear that while I’m incredibly proud to be an American, I would like to emphasize that this is not my identity. My identity is in Christ, and in Him alone. America is not perfect.  Nothing in this world is perfect. We are not meant to be of THIS world. We were made for something much greater and everlasting. That being said – America is pretty dang great! I thank the Lord every night for this country and the men and women in uniform who have fought for our freedom. I pray for our president, leaders, and policy makers. I also pray for all of those who continue to serve our country and for the sacrifices they make daily for all of us back home.

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Thanks for reading my very first post and for joining me on this journey! God bless you & God bless America!