Mother Truele - Nurturing Christ Centered Children

Tuesday, April 2, 2013




Talk given in 1982 at a La Leche League conference

When Carmen asked me to share the circumstances surrounding my involvement in organizing the La Leche League in Hawaii, I told her that I wasn't sure I could tell my story, because it was so personal and part of a religious experience in my life. I shared some of my experience with Carmen and here I am to share with all of you.
I am Truele', the daughter of George and Callie. I was born in Declo, Idaho, a small farming community in Southern Idaho. I grew up in a loving family; a devoted Christian family active in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. As a farm girl I pulled weeds in the garden, milked cows, rode horses, picked potatoes during the harvest, and had many other farming experiences. We moved to Logan, Utah when I was twelve and I finished my schooling there. I learned a lot about families, religion, history and art as I was growing up. After High School graduation I worked and only completed three semesters of College.
I got married when I was 23. I had fallen in love with a handsome young man from Hawaii. He was of Chinese-Hawaiian descent. We lived in Los Angeles, California after our marriage and soon had a son and a daughter. Three months after our daughter was born my husband was in an industrial accident and wasn't expected to live. His arm was blown off in an explosion and he had severe internal injuries. My cousin who had the Melchizedek Priesthood happened to be in Los Angeles on a sabbatical.  He went immediately to the Hospital and gave My husband a blessing and we prayed fervently asking God to spare his life. Our prayers were answered and his life was miraculously spared. Eventually his health was restored and we returned to Utah State University where my husband received his degree. We even had two more sons.

In 1962 we moved with our four children to Hawaii which was his home. I was doing artwork to supplement our meager income as he struggled to find employment as a car or insurance salesman or as a teacher. In 1964 our daughter, J, was born. She was our fifth child. There were complications and the doctor said she had virus Pneumonia! It was so serious that the doctors did not expect her to live; she was being fed glucose interveniously, and was put in an incubator with humidity and oxygen. She developed yellow jaundice and then soon after, they detected a heart murmur. Finally her little heart stopped one day, and the quick work of a nurse, giving her an adrenaline shot, kept her alive.

The hospital staff wanted to give me shots and pills to 'dry up the milk'. I said I didn't want them to do it, as I had nursed my first four babies and hoped to nurse this baby.  I asked if I could use a breast pump until we knew for sure, but I soon realized they had little hope for her survival. I accepted the shots and pills.

The days and nights were filled with heartbreak and despair as various messages of bad news about our baby were brought to me. At home I felt empty and at the bottom! One day I went in our bedroom and fell across the bed in tears and I started talking out loud to God- our Heavenly Father. I felt so inadequate as a wife and mother. I was realizing my weaknesses and failings. I poured out my heart to God and said, "Please be my teacher". Saying those words reminded me that a few weeks before I had heard a wonderful Hawaiian woman tell me her experience of childbirth. She told of the birth of her first child. Her husband was out in the field and she was alone in the home. Suddenly she knew the baby was about to be born and she had no one to help her. She got a clean sheet and sat on the floor of the bedroom leaning against the wall, and she prayed fervently to God. She said, "Dear God, Please be my teacher." When she was telling me, she paused and looked at me and I said, "What did you do then?" She answered, "I listened!" Now as I lay on my bed I realized I didn't even know how to listen. I added in my prayer, "Please teach me to listen." Since that time I have heard a beautiful song, titled, I AM A CHILD OF GOD, that has the words, "Teach me, lead me, walk beside me, help me find the way"...and that was the essence of my pleading prayer that day.
Within a half-hour after those simple words the phone rang and the doctor told me our baby J had kicked her legs and had made some effort toward surviving! In about six weeks we were able to bring our baby home and I was grateful to be giving her formula.

Three weeks later an acquaintance came to see me and brought Karen Pryor's book, Nursing your baby, for me to read! She checked it out of the library for me, and it was the first and only time she came to visit me. At first it bothered me that she had brought me a book on nursing a baby when she knew I couldn't, but I opened it to see what it was all about. I opened the book to page 252 and read of the Grandmother, whose own youngest child was eight years old, and who adopted her two month old grandchild when her daughter was suddenly killed in an auto accident. She put the baby to her breast and eventually got the milk to come back in and nursed the baby for two years! It was such an impressive account that I immediately put my baby to my empty breast just to let her be close to me! I would let her nurse and then give her the formula. I over did it in the beginning and had the sorest, cracked bleeding nipples you can imagine! I called Karen Pryor to thank her for writing her book and asked her to recommend an understanding supportive doctor. The one she recommended was willing to help me on the phone and suggested I use Masse' cream which worked wonders in healing. He encouraged me to keep up the process, but said to shorten the time I put baby to the breast. 

Karen Pryor had me call J D who had also called to thank her for writing her book! I called J and we both had babies the same age! She was wonderfully supportive of me in my attempt to be able to breastfeed my baby. She was as excited as I about my first ounce of hand expressed milk! She was supportive when I got a breast infection, and encouraged me to see it through. It wasn't easy, it did take determination and persistence, day and night, but it was worth every effort. Between two and six weeks our baby was taking less and less formula and eventually was nursed fully. 

It was an experience that has unfolded like a precious beautiful rose opening into blossom. One night while doing the dishes, the thought came to me; "Breast feeding is the key to what it all means to be a woman!"
It was during this time that I realized how important the La Leche League could be in the lives of women. We women need education to know how to nurse our babies, and we need a support system to help us through the rough spots, even as J D had helped me. I wanted to help women know they could be successful in nursing their babies and grow in their abilities to be good mothers.
J D and I decided to write to Chicago for information on how to start the La Leche League in Hawaii, and soon we had others who were as enthused as we were about starting the League here. S W had also called Karen Pryor and was referred to J D and so J invited S and I to her home and we decided to work with her to start the La Leche League in Hawaii. It was sometime about March 1965 when I wrote to P H and told her about myself and started the process of leadership preparation.

There was lots of reading to do, lots of things to learn, and eventually we were having weekly meetings and doing our best to share what we had learned; that there were significant benefits for mother and baby by breastfeeding. We taught them the basics of breastfeeding and then helped them overcome difficulties and did all we could to help them be successful in nursing their babies.

During this time of organizing and conducting meetings in Hawaii, I was going through my own learning time with my baby, J. As I closely observed the nursing process I was learning so much about LOVE. I could see how, when the baby needed nourishment that I should fill that need, and in a like way God fills us with his energy and love when we desire it! I soon wanted to carry over with my other four children the things I was learning. I wanted to more fully fill their needs also. I learned about improving our family nutrition. A recipe book put out by mothers in the La Leche league began to be well worn. I learned how to discipline with love and reasoning. I learned the importance of prayer and meditative listening. 

After three years of weekly meetings and activities in the League I asked to be released to concentrate on my growing family. The following year we had our sixth baby, a daughter M.  I was able to have a Lamaze birth experience and it was such a 'high'. I remember telling the doctor that it was so wonderful that I hoped I would have 12 more children! He said, 'Now Mrs. T, it can't be that great!"....but it was! 

When M was three I decided I wanted to return to the University and get a degree in Religion! I took M with me to classes. I took just one or two classes each semester and in 1975 paused to have another sweet baby daughter, C. I had to have an emergency Caesarian but she rated 10 on their Apgar test scale. I of course, nursed her and when she was six months old I put her in the 'Happy Baby Carrier' and continued my classes at Honolulu Community College and the University of Hawaii. She slept and nursed inconspicuously! I continued to pursue my desired education and still loved and cared for my baby. I have wonderful memories of those years.

The La Leche League was really a part of a religious experience in my life. I learned and taught and shared, and I am convinced that nursing our babies is a valuable experience. The La Leche League is a wonderful organization to help us be successful in mothering.

I am convinced that God- our Father in Heaven- wants us to learn to be good wives and mothers and to learn to teach with love. The most important thing we will ever do is to be a good teacher to our children. A leader in my church said, "No success can compensate for failure in the home" (David O. McKay) The League can help us be successful; our Churches can help us be successful. The scriptures can help us be successful.  I learned that most importantly, God can help us be successful if we but ask. Remember Jesus said that he stands at the door and knocks and he will come in to help you if you will but open the door for him.

Carmen said to me as we talked, "Oh I learned that too!" "And did you learn this after that?" and I would say, "Yes". Finally she said, "We really shouldn't be surprised, we had the same teacher!".

I'm sure many of you are having the same teacher too- some realizing it more fully than others. I hope as you go forward in this wonderful service as leaders in the La Leche League that you will more fully see that you are in HIS service as you help others learn the basic physical skill of breast feeding. It can be the beginning of a multitude of marvelous learning experiences in a woman's life.

We women are a living visual aid of CREATIVITY AND GIVING to our world.  We have a great responsibility to do our job well so our husbands and children will understand well those areas of God's nature.  Our husbands should so live that the word 'Father" will be worthily enshrined in our children's mind as someone loving and protective, one having gentle authority and loving power.  I wish you the best in your adventure of learning and growing.

Our baby J in the incubator         The beautiful young woman she became 

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