PREFACE: Musical Truth was invited to present the Sacrament meeting in Auwaiolimu Ward on February 17th, 2008. Jeff Tyau's mom came up afterward to express her appreciation for our music and testimonies as the song "Your Light" is what inspired her to share the the following story:
Joy can usually make the pain bearable and even creative, but this time the joy I was supposed to feel, and had felt during four other births, was displaced by not only pain, but anguish and sorrow. My body had malfunctioned and the doctor was forcing the birth. The doctor had told me they didn't expect our baby to live! She had virus pneumonia and her left lung was collapsed. Our precious baby was hooked up to various life support tubes. All I could do was weep as I lay on my hospital bed.
On the day I was to leave the hospital without the baby, a nurse brought a wheel chair and pushed me down the hallway and into another hospital room. As she opened the door I see my Doctor's wife (Sister Adele Bachman) standing there and it looked like a baby department from one of the stores had been transported to that room! Baby clothes, a beautiful Hawaiian baby quilt, diapers, bathtub and other baby things covered the bed and the chair in the room! I stammered, "Don't you know my baby is not expected to live?" She responded in a firm confident voice, "I have been fasting and praying for three days and God always hears the prayers of a Pediatric nurse- Your baby will yet be GREAT EXPECTATIONS! " My faith increased as I felt her faith, and I returned home with hope that our baby would survive.
Weeks went by with no progress except that she was still alive. Each day they would tell me she was not doing too well. One night her tiny heart stopped and an alert nurse gave her a shot of adrenaline. It restarted! It seemed like each day the doctor had bad news for us. The pediatrician said our baby was not expected to live! My faith was weakening and there was only a broken heart left.
In my grief I went in my room and lay on my bed and wept. My tears flowed as I thought of the many months this baby had been inside me forming and developing in readiness for life. I thought of how much we loved her and had anticipated her birth with joyful hearts. Then I thought of all my inadequacies as a mother and wondered if I were really worthy to be her mother. I wept until I could taste the salt of my tears. Then suddenly, humbly and sincerely I said out loud, "Dear God, can you hear me? Are you really there? I need help! Will you be MY TEACHER? "
Suddenly I was taken back in mind to an event two weeks prior to her birth. We had just moved into our home in the Punchbowl area, on Ohelo Lane, and I attended Relief Society in the new Ward (Auwaiolimu) for the first time. It was held on Tuesday mornings in those days. The women were sitting around a large quilting frame finishing their stitches on a beautiful Hawaiian pattern. There was Sister Julia Oleole, Sister Salome Sam Fong, Sister Lydia Spencer, Sister Abigail Basso, Sister Mary Malo, Sister Lucy Hooili, Sister Grace Hussey, Sister Emmaline Kaahanui, Sister Maraea Kaalakahi, and Sister Ivy Enos, and Sister Helen Kamauu. Sister Julia Ching, Sister Abbie Dela Cruz, Sister Margaret Freitas, Sister Kam Fong Kanekoa, Sister Violet Awai and others. Some of the women began to talk to me about whether I would have a boy or girl-- especially I remember Sister Julia Oleole having me stand and walk and sit down as she observed how I was carrying the baby. After they had made their predictions they began to talk about their birth experiences. Many had their babies at home with no help and others had midwives or family members that helped them with their births. I listened to their stories - Some went through the birth experience easily and some sadly said their babies did not survive - and in my mind I was thinking how thankful I was that I would be going to a hospital and having medical assistance.
After the meeting Sister Abigail Basso, who was the President of Relief Society, offered to give me a ride home if I would wait for her to put things away and lock up the Church. Her Mother, Abigail Pilila’au, was visiting from Wai’anae. I remember her as a regal, Queenly Hawaiian woman. (Later I remember she was always honored on Veteran’s day as a mother of a soldier who was awarded the Silver Star) As we sat on the cement wall in the back of the church, I said to her, "You did not share your birth experience. Tell me, how did you know what to do when your first baby was born?" She looked intently at me and said, "Let me tell you about it. I was in our little home in Wai’anae and my husband was out in the field. I began to feel that the baby was going to be born even though it was early. My Mother and Aunts were going to help me with the birth, but we did not expect it to be so soon. No one was there with me. I got a clean sheet and put it on the floor and leaned up against the bed, and I talked to God! I ask God to be my teacher. He knew this was my first experience in childbirth and I ask him to teach me what I should do." She paused as if in thought and I leaned up, expectantly, and said, "What did you do then?" She leaned towards me and looked directly in my eyes and said, "I listened." After another thoughtful pause she continued, "The baby came out and I laid the baby on my abdomen and waited for my husband to come in to help me. Out in the field my husband had an impression that he should come to the house. He did so and found me with the baby lying on my abdomen and he cut the cord and all was well!"
I recall thinking it was a dramatic birth experience but I didn't think about it again. I was preoccupied with my responsibilities at home and the care of our other four children, and the false labor contractions that preceded the birth of our fifth child.
Now, as I lay on the bed in earnest supplication, I had just heard myself asking God to be my teacher! I said aloud, "And please teach me how to listen." I lay there for sometime wondering how to listen. I had often prayed, but I had never listened! I lay on the bed in sort of a suspended state empty and focused on our Father in Heaven. There was a period of time that I was in this state, but I am not sure how long.
As I lay there I was brought back, as it were, when I heard the phone ring in our hall way. I went to answer it although it would be evident to the caller that I had been crying. It was the pediatrician! "Your baby has just kicked her legs and seems to be making an effort to live!" In between my tears I told him I would come to the hospital as soon as possible.
From that very day in October 1964 our baby daughter began to improve. Several weeks later she was able to leave the hospital and began to wear all those beautiful baby clothes. We were all so grateful to have her home with us.
One day a woman came to visit who was our neighbor before we moved into our home on Ohelo Lane. It was unusual because she brought me a book from the library called, Nursing your Baby, by Karen Pryor. I felt a little offended that she would bring me that book, as she knew I planned to nurse, but now I couldn't as they had given me shots to dry up the milk. After she left I opened the book to a page where it told of a Grandmother who was able to nurse her granddaughter after her daughter was killed in a tragic accident! The Grandmother had not had a baby for twelve years! It was like a light went on in my mind! I really didn't know much about how my body worked and had no idea it was possible to stimulate the milk to return! It took me about six weeks and it was difficult and I had to nurse just about a minute and then give the formula and eventually my milk returned and I was able to withdraw the formula and eventually she was nursing fully.
One day I began to wonder about our daughter’s name, Laulani, and called Mary Kawena Pukui, who was a dear friend of my husband’s mother, Mary Tyau and Tutu Makahonu from Niihau and Kauai. Mary Pukui was an expert in the Hawaiian language. "My dear,” she said, “Laulani means "Messenger from Heaven!"
Indeed the messages from heaven and the teaching about motherhood began to pour into me as I nursed my baby girl with the milk of life. My request for God to be "MY TEACHER" had been granted. I learned how to worship, pray and be receptive -- to listen to the Spirit. God taught me, not how to have a physical birth, but how to have a spiritual birth. My daughter, Jacqueline Laulani Tyau Sonomura did grow into a young woman of great expectations. I had followed the pattern of my Hawaiian sister and God had indeed answered the prayer of a pediatric nurse!
*It will be my prayer that it will inspire others to pause in receptivity--to listen-- after their prayers, and let Heavenly Father 'download' the answer into their mind. Love from Sister Le'Ruth Tyau.