Julie Bastedo: Grace, Strength, and Love

There are amazing, devoted, wonderful, deliberate mothers out there, and each week we’ll spotlight one of them here at The Power of Moms. Do you know a mom who deserves a little time in the spotlight? Email rachelle.price (at) powerofmoms.com. We can’t wait to meet her.

Introducing Julie Bastedo

How many children do you have and what are their ages?

I have two children, Ada (age 6) and Charlie (age 1)

What are some unique and interesting aspects of your family or your approach to mothering? What do you do that is a little different than what seems to be the “norm”? What have you decided to prioritize in your mothering that you see as somewhat unusual?

My husband and I prioritize constant learning. Every moment is a learning experience. Sometimes, it’s something as simple as celebrating an unusual “holiday” (National Chocolate Ice Cream Day) and learning about the history of ice cream. Other times, it’s intense and scientific. Most times, it’s simply a value that we want to make sure they understand, such as kindness, generosity, or humility. We never miss an opportunity to teach them something. And we never dismiss a question, no matter how exhausted we are (“Why did you let that car through when we were waiting in traffic, Mom?”). The engaged mind, the inquisitive mind, leads to greatness.

What have you decided to NOT prioritize in your mothering that many other moms seem to think is important and worthy?

TRENDS!! Trends make me crazy. And motherhood is FULL of them! My daughter, hospitalized in the NCIU immediately after birth, was tube and then bottle fed from day one. My son still continues to breastfeed. Sometimes, they napped in bed with me. Most times, they sleep alone in their cribs. Some days, I put them in a stroller. Other times, I carried them in a wrap. Some nights, I rocked them to sleep. Other nights, they whimpered a little in order to fall asleep. Both of my children are well-adjusted, remarkably happy, and smart as whips! And not because I did or did not participate in the latest trend that divides women in the arena of “mommy wars.”

What have been your favorite parts of motherhood? How do you cultivate joy in your journey as a mother?

Open-mouthed, slobbery baby kisses. Giggles. Innocence. If every politician, with no other agenda, spent three hours a day surrounded by a room full of children under the age of five, our country would have five principles that would guide us into a strong nation: Share your toys, don’t hit, pick up your messes, say kind things, and give hugs.

What have you learned from motherhood? Please share a specific story or incident that really taught you something.

A friend once told me that “God gives you what he knows you can handle.” I’ve been repeatedly impressed with how much faith God must have in me. When my daughter was born, she had the umbilical cord wrapped around her neck twice. It was essentially choking her each time I had a contraction.  She was blue. Her APGAR score was a 1. When she finally came to, well, let’s just say the mania in the delivery room was something I will never forget. I got to hold her for five minutes. We took a couple of pictures and she was rushed to the NICU. Twenty-four hours later, I was told she had a rare chromosomal abnormality that affects her endocrine system, but I didn’t have a clue what that was. I didn’t even know who I was at that moment. Every blood test, ultrasound, echocardiogram, etc. (and they were done six times a day) was exhausting and painful. She spent ten days there, waiting like the brave little soldier that she has always been, for her platelet count to reach normal. However, she was so weak from delivery that when she would latch on to nurse, she stopped breathing. And in would rush the NICU nurses to resuscitate her. She had to be given a feeding tube. For three days. And then, she was slowly able to take from a bottle. When she was finally strong enough to come home, she had NO interest in the breast. Who would? It’s a lot more work to nurse than to bottle feed. And she was so little (5 lbs., 14 oz.).

So I pumped. For four months. Eight times a day. To get just enough to combine for about two or three feedings. The rest was supplemented by formula. The breasts knew the difference between the pump and the mouth of a suckling baby. Eventually, it ran out on its own. And yes, I told the naysayers, I tried mother’s milk tea. And fenugreek. And everything else under the sun. And they warned me of all the of the dangers. And they made me cry.

Fast forward seven years. Her condition turned out to be a very mild case, and with a ten-year course of daily growth hormone injections, she’ll be just about as tall as I am at full height. She’ll never be able to conceive children on her own, but with the love and support of a dear friend (who has also struggled with conception), she looks forward to the day when she can bring the babies home, the ones “who need someone to love them when their first mommies can’t – the ones who grow not in your belly but in your heart.” She is exceptionally bright in school, deeply thoughtful and compassionate, and a loving big sister.

What have you learned about motherhood that you wished you’d known sooner and would like to pass along?

Motherhood is about three things – grace, strength, and love.

Feed your children well. Love them. Kiss them. Read to them. Show them bravery and courage with a side of humility. Let them run in the grass, get a little dirty, and let them fall and scrape their knees. But be sure to kiss the boo-boos. Volunteer at EVERY event you possibly can when your children are in school, or soccer, or dance, or whatever. They’ll never remember the toys you bought them. But they will remember the dances in the kitchen, the flour in your hair after a batch of homemade cookies, and the time you cried because one of them played the turkey in the school play. That’s what makes a good parent.

Photo courtesy of Julie Bastedo

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  1. says

    Thank you for sharing your wisdom! I think it is so fun that you celebrate obscure holidays with your kids. :) And I completely agree about mothering trend and “mommy wars.” That makes me crazy too!

    I was very touched by your experience with Ada. Thank you for sharing! Your devotion to your children and to motherhood is inspiring.

  2. says

    Wonderful write-up!
    My kids are now grown-up: aged 15 and 7. Reading this beautifully written posts reminds me of the lovely time I’ve had when they were younger. They are so adorable and lovable that they actually make you love them inspite of giving you sleepless nights.
    And, believe you me- Its much easier to handle them as toddlers than they as grown-ups! :(
    I’ll keep coming back to read you more often. Bookmarked this blog!!

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