Saturday, December 29, 2012


"A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: 
but a broken spirit drieth the bones."
Proverbs 17:22

              Mastitis (or in more fortunate cases, a clogged milk duct) is not every breastfeeding woman's trouble. However, it is good to know the  "do's and don'ts"  in case you are ever faced with this type of infection. If you do not know what mastitis is (lucky!), then let me give you the Danielle simplified definition: It is a type of infection that occurs in the milk duct(s) of one or both breasts (not necessarily lactating) in a mother (babe in or out of womb). This infection can cover a small or very very large area and will be red in color with even brighter, angrier red stripes. So why do I think that it is my duty to inform you of the whatabouts of mastitis? I have experienced this nasty infection half a dozen times with the most recent time still fresh on my mind and have tried it all. (The first time, I was  pregnant with Dallas. Go figure!) Does that make me an expert or a doctor? No! In fact, if you are already sure before reading this, then you should have already made an appointment with your OB/GYN and are en route for his expert advice. Before I go any further with the negative (after all, my New Year's Resolution is to be more positive), let's look at the brighter side of mastitis:

Pros of Mastitis
1. Rest (read: SLEEP!!!) is the number one recommendation to recovery. Grab some fluffy pillows, warm blankets, and everything you need within your reach; you will not be leaving the bed for a couple of days.
2. Facebook will keep you informed of everyone's life after Christmas- you will not have to worry what every friend's aunt, uncle, and family dog received as a Christmas present.
3. Your friends will be so bored and just sitting around that they will have plenty of time to chat/text!
4. When you forget that the prescribed pain medicine makes you awake and not sleepy, then you can catch up on all five seasons of Friday Night Lights.

Gryffindor loves to cuddle his sick Mommy. 

To make the symptoms simple, you feel like you have the flu (high fever, chills, shakes, body aches, headache, nausea), in addition to a severe knife like pain in your breast. If you are experiencing a clogged duct you should only have a slight fever and not as severe pain. 

1. Warm, Moist Heat applied to the area. Reasoning: the heat is for pain relief and moist heat is more penetrating than dry heat. The best ways to administer moist heat to the area is to apply a washcloth, submerge yourself in a warm tub,  or sit in a shower with warm water directed at the area. I have found the quickest way of pain relief is to fill a bathroom sink (or plastic bowl) with warm water and submerge the infected breast into the water until some relief is felt. 
2.  Massage the infected area. Why in the world would you want to massage a knot of pain? Because the whole time that you are massaging the infected area, you will be thinking, "I am making this painful nuisance become closer and closer to being gone from my body!" Yes, it hurts, but it is also beneficial to unclogging the infected milk duct. (Do not massage too much or bruising will occur.)
3. Cabbage leaves applied to the area. I have never  tried this method, because cabbage leaves are also thought to dry up a milk supply. And if your thinking is like my thinking, then every drop counts! It is worth a try, because every woman's body will respond differently to different remedies. 
4. Pump, Express, Nurse as much as possible. Once again, this is a painful remedy, but very necessary. If you are not getting the milk out that is being let down, then you are doing two very harmful things to your body: causing yourself engorgement that will cause even more pain and possibly more infection and raising your chances of lowering your milk supply for when you are through with the infection. 
5. Antibiotics. If you know me personally, you know that I am not a fan of antibiotics being used on a whim. But a breast infection is not something to be messed with! A clogged duct should be able to be quickly alleviated by the previous methods- once you are at the stage of an infection (high fever, increased pain, redness, able to feel swollen knots), then you need to see a doctor who will prescribe you an antibiotic. (And a pain pill if you act pitiful enough!)

My supplies at hand. 

The End is Near! 
You may not think that the end will ever be seen... But if you want to eat more than applesauce (think, Chick-fil-A waffle fries and a nutty chicken salad sandwich!), then you are a step closer to being able to life your arm and nurse your baby without pain. Don't worry, the laundry has been patient (mine even gathered friends into a large party extending into four hampers!), your social life will still exist, your husband will love and respect your job as a mother/wife/maid even more after he has obliged to pick up your slack from being so sick. 

It was too painful for me to nurse her, plus my milk wouldn't drop. 
So, Daddy taught Lillie-Mae how to take Mommy's milk from a bottle! 
This was a miracle considering she has previously cried for over an hour
refusing a bottle. He's the best Daddy!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas {Wrapping and Traditions}

"Merry Christmas!!" 

Christmas is my favorite time of the year! I love to wrap presents, and every year I wrap my presents with a "theme". Since my family is enjoying Christmas Eve and part of Christmas Day in the cabins, I went with a woodsy theme. The best part of my wrapping were my frugal supplies: I found plaid, checked, and snowman wrapping paper at Big Lots last year for the after Christmas clearance price of 50¢ as well as various ribbons and raffeta left over from my wedding decor.  

These two silly cats thought they
could be wrapped up.  

To set the mood, I had the "Jingle Bells" station on Pandora playing. 

One layer of ribbon is not enough!
 Raffeta was added to every bow. 

The process and clean-up was chaos!!! 

I love giving gifts to the people I love. I put a lot of thought into what they would like that they normally wouldn't purchase for themselves. This year, I started cleaning a house once a week so that paying for Christmas presents wouldn't be a financial burden for our family. God is really teaching me a lot about being frugal, and it is so great to see how HE supplies through faith.

Dallas has always loved the story of Jesus' birth. He gets very excited for a Birthday Party, and has said that Jesus' birthday party is the greatest! Two years ago I got him a book from a local author telling of how Jesus chose Santa to give all the people of the world presents for His birthday to show them His love. Before bed on Christmas Eve, Dallas said, "When I wake up in the morning and see my presents from Santa, I'm going to stop and thank Jesus and tell him "Happy Birthday!". What a precious way that a child thinks. This Christmas, the song "Born to Die" is a reminder of God's sovereign plan for Jesus' birth. Listen and reflect on it this Christmas

 I hope you all have a very "Merry Christmas" tomorrow! May your day be filled with love and laughter from family and friends.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Birth Story: Home Birth

"It is important to keep in mind that our bodies 
must work pretty well, 
or there wouldn't be so many humans on the planet." 
Ina May Gaskin

FINALLY! Lillie-Mae is 4 months old, and I am now posting her Birth Story. This was such a life changing journey for myself and Chris. I am an advocate for natural birth- I believe that every woman should be given the opportunity and support to birth naturally. 

The choice to birth at home was decided upon through many prayers, research, and finding the perfect midwife.  My mind was set while dating my husband and knowing that I wanted to have children with him. I approached him with the option to birth in our home to which he stated, “Isn’t that illegal?” I loaded him down with facts, videos, personal accounts, and scare tactics(!!!) against hospital birth, took a deep breath then told him to seek what God wanted for our family. Against my expectations, Chris desired birth to be as I had for our future children.

Fast forward to the weeks before our wedding, and you would hear me “joking” that I would become pregnant on our honeymoon. This did not happen, but I did get a visit from Aunt Flo that week! To me, this was good news; my body was preparing itself to conceive. A week later, I just knew I was pregnant. I am uncertain if it was more of a physical or emotional feeling, but I knew I was pregnant. I did not count down the days to when I could take an early pregnancy test. But one evening, after a date night, Chris brought it to my attention that we could take a test to know for sure! Two tests later, and he was convinced.

"...with one look and a wink between us..."

I quickly contacted the only person I knew that had a home birth, Abby. Her birth story of her second son in water at home gripped my heart and set the stage for the birth of our baby. I saw the midwife she used, and before the end of the meeting, Chris and I knew (with one look and a wink between us) that Carolyn would be an excellent completion to our dream birth.

The one-hour visits to Carolyn monthly then weekly completely fulfilled my questions and fears. She was a mentor, counselor, and guiding voice in these unchartered waters. Every visit, she would check my weight and say “That’s great!” blood pressure “Perfect!”  More than once I would ask if that was too much weight or too high of a blood pressure; her answer reminded me that pregnancies do not fit into a box. So what if my fundal height was 2 cm more than the norm or I hadn’t gained but one pound or ten in a couple of weeks. Carolyn saw the big picture; she was concerned with my health as well as the baby’s, and I trusted her.

A few weeks before my 40 week due date, Braxton hicks contractions started. I was so excited to start feeling signs of approaching labor! I knew the baby could come the next day or two weeks later. I continued to see a chiropractor and attend yoga sessions. I did not have discomfort throughout the pregnancy even up to this point; I attribute this to consistent chiropractic care. Yoga during pregnancy was relaxing, an escape to feel my body and it’s changes.  

The morning of August 9, 2012 I woke up at 5:45 sensing that something was about to take place. After sitting up in bed, I felt that I was sitting in a small puddle of wetness. (At this point, I began denying that I could be in labor). I went to the bathroom and saw blood tinged fluid. I was only a little excited, but still not ready to fall into labor patterns. My body and baby had other plans… A warm shower eased the contractions while I swayed to the rhythm of the rainfall outside. (I can’t help to mention that I love rainy days!) I was not ready to tell Chris that I was having “some” signs of labor. After an hour, through gritted teeth, I said I thought I maybe, might be in labor. Some coaxing from him allowed me to lye down to rest. After two seconds I jumped out of bed and said I could never be on my back again! Now, I could say that I was having contractions but not full-blown labor. Chris asked me to time them, but that took my focus off of working through to the other side of the peak. So, he sat and stared, reading my body language while his contraction app was handy to take the time. I ate a couple of eggs, folded a load of laundry, and got ready for my scheduled midwife appointment at 9:00 am. Chris was confused as to why I would not call my midwife to tell her I was in labor. What I was not communicating to him was that I still had to go to Target and hang pictures! I needed the “putsy-putsy” stage of labor to motivate me through those tasks. I was not in labor enough.

As I walked through the door of my midwife’s home, she could tell that I was in labor. I asked her to check me so I could see how much time I had before the baby would be here. We had already talked about having checks throughout labor, and she did not think that I needed to be, but would upon my request. I was 4 cm. Great! Now, I had plenty of time to go to Target and maybe lunch after. As soon as I did the q-tip swab to see if the fluid was amniotic fluid, I could be on my way to run errands. The test proved my water had broken… It is my belief that my brain miscommunicated with my body that my excitement was not to have the baby arrive in 30 minutes, but that I wanted to look at the clearance baby girl clothes for her arrival.

"God, please guide my thoughts to seeing the face of Lillie-Mae!" 

A 90 mph car ride home while I did not think that I could handle the being confined to one place was pretty intense. I believe I told Chris, “If you don’t start praying then my body is going to burst open.” At home, he started to prepare the birth bed until he was interrupted by my cry for “Help!” He joined my rhythm in the bathroom and held my body, silently whispering, “You’re really in labor and I believe transition.” My thoughts, “I guess that’s why I feel the need to push.” The midwife assistant arrived, confirmed me to be ready to push but please not until Carolyn came. I firmly positioned myself on my hands and knees (to me, the most natural feeling position) and buried my head in the white sheets, pretending that they were part of the storm clouds outside. I didn’t know how to push, I couldn’t do this, what was I thinking… “God, please guide my thoughts to seeing the face of Lillie-Mae.” Carolyn was now saying, “Danielle I need you to take a deep breath and push.” What relief! I could do this; I could push a baby out, without medication, and now without doubts. I could not wait for her to come! I gave it everything I had. No one told me when to push- I went with my instincts. After fifteen minutes, my instincts told me that I could not do what was needed for Lillie Mae to arrive. Later, I would hear that Carolyn had to pull Lillie Mae out from her head down to her hips. In a sense, she was “stuck”; my feeling was correct. Once I lied down and saw her sweet face, and she began nursing I felt complete peace.

"Nursing was nothing like 
what I expected."

The peace of having a healthy baby that was outside of me, ready to thrive in a new world, was unfortunately lacking harmony. I had many family members around, a supporting husband, and wise care providers ready to ease my transition into raising this baby girl. However, I was consumed with fear; what if my four year old son was neglected, why was she not latching, would my husband love her more than me, did she love me, what kind of world did I bring her into? “God, please take this because the fear is consuming me.” Nursing was nothing like what I expected. I was constantly engorged, Lillie-Mae would not latch, she was hungry, lethargic, and losing weight. Wasn’t it my responsibility to make her a successful nursing baby? Carolyn and Rachel were a wealth of information and “tricks” to have Lillie-Mae latch. A break was needed in “teaching” her what should be natural to allow her to partake of the “liquid-gold” that would build her immune system. Spoon-feeding was introduced to her- what a relief to see that she was swallowing what she needed to. Once she started gaining weight from that method, we practiced latching. I just could not force my baby’s head to my breast while she was screaming out of frustration. We had both hit a wall. Chris and I prayed while Lillie-Mae laid in my lap, exhausted from a Mommy that was failing to provide what she needed. We asked God to give us hope, a sign that she could do this. A lack-luster “Amen,” and we tried again. She latched! Chris and I cried tears of joy. She could suck, swallow, and thrive! Research led me to a name for my “problem”: overactive letdown. I chose to introduce a nipple shield to Lillie-Mae. This slowed down my flow and gave her something to suck on without having to do much work on her part. I never thought that we would be without this artificial supplement. Five weeks later, while on a trip with another nursing mother, I had the inspiration to let Lillie-Mae try to latch again. She did it! Yet, it hurt and did not persuade me to let her latch without a shield ever again. But wait, where were my positive thoughts? Baby girl has been in this world for 5 short weeks; she needed her Momma to help her. Next feeding, and I promised never to go back to the shield and to give her the natural comfort that she needed despite the pain and uncertainties of how much milk she was receiving.

Breastfeeding issues did not help with the fear of not providing Lillie-Mae with all she needed to thrive and grow. Thankfully, I had already made the decision to encapsulate my placenta. My main reason being that it would give me the nutrients that were removed after delivery and to ward against post-partum depression. My husband called the pills my “happy pills”. We could both tell that I was on edge and gloomy when I had not taken my daily dose. Yes, it is unfortunately strange to digest of your placenta in any way after birth, but it proved to be helpful to me.

Through it all, I can say that my homebirth was 100% fulfilling for Lillie-Mae and me.  My expectations were thrown out the window, yet my research proved helpful on my journey. I could not have done it without support. Which leads me to advocate for this way to birth to all capable women. It takes strength, dedication, prayer, and God’s will to go against the grain. But what better outcome in the birth of your baby than knowing that you did what was best for you and your baby?

Fast asleep just moments after her birth. 

The BEST big brother. He started singing "Rock a Bye Baby..." as soon 
as he held her. 

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Detailed Chore List

"{To be} discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, 
obedient to their own husbands, 
that the word of God be not blasphemed." Titus 2:5

I am so excited that of all things someone could ask me to share, my most favorite topic was addressed: cleaning! I will share my Detailed Chore List. As stated previouslyI have proudly hung a "Daily, Weekly, Monthly, AND Seasonal chore list on my refrigerator for quite some time. After Lillie-Mae's arrival I found myself having quite a few visitors... And those welcome guests liked to browse my refrigerator, land their eyes on the Detailed Chore List, and poke fun at how obsessive I was over cleaning.

Those comments were always followed by "How do you keep your house so clean?" Um... please examine your previous comment! But before I toot my own horn (a sparkly, well oiled horn at that), let me say that being "clean" is nothing but genetics. I come by it honest. Having my carpet vacuumed the same way every time, not sleeping until the dishes are done, scrubbing babies faces until they are rosy red, and griping at the husband every single time he walks in from outside with muddy shoes on... All part of my genetic make-up. So for you, cleaning may be a learned habit. If you need some motivation, let me share a quick story of the imaginary School Teacher that would "follow" me around while doing my adolescent chores.

The school teacher was a very mean lady. I would imagine that she would go around the school house (my home), and critic every girl's work. When she came to me, I had better be doing things in order, efficiently, and quickly. If not, she would take out a ruler and smack the girls on the hand! 

Maybe I watched Anne of Green Gables too much, or maybe I really did have an "obsessive" cleaning problem growing up... However, this Detailed Chore List can be customized to fit any person's busy/boring schedule!  

Daily: Get Kids Dressed, Open Curtains and Blinds, Make/Eat Breakfast, Sweep Litter, Make Beds, Get Dressed, Pick up Any Clutter from Bedrooms/Bathrooms, Wipe Down Bathroom Countertops, Take Laundry to Laundry Room and Start a Wash Load, Water Flowers, Prepare for Errands
Lunch, Playtime with Kids, Nap, Put Wash Load in Dryer, Bible, Weekly Chores,  Prepare Dinner, Wash Dishes, Tidy Living Room and Kitchen, Iron, Litter/ Pet Food Bowls, Computer Time

Monday: Garbage, Sweep and Vacuum, Wash Sheets
Tuesday: Buy Groceries, Dust
Wednesday: Sweep and Vacuum, Vacuum Furniture, Clean Bathrooms
Thursday: Garbage, Mop, Paperwork
Friday: Sweep and Vacuum, Sweep Garage, Sweep Porches
Saturday: FAMILY day {work or play, but do it together}
Sunday: REST "And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made." Genesis 2:2 


1st week
q check ac filter
q clean kitchen/living room drawers and cabinets

2nd week
q wash woodwork
q cobwebs

3rd week
qcheck dryer ductwork
qclean bathrooms and entry light fixture

4th week
qwash window sills
q print pictures

1st week
q change ac filter
q clean bathroom/bedroom, and laundry closets drawers

2nd week
qWash wodwork

q cobwebs


3rd week
qclean bedroom light fixtures

4th week
q wash window sills
qsprint pictures

1st week
qcheck  ac filter
q clean Dallas  and nursery drawers and cabinets

2nd week
qwash woodwork

3rd week
qclean living room, kitchen, laundry light fixture

4th week
qwash window sills
q print pictures

Plan garden
Change batteries in fire alarm

Shop for Summer Clothes
Plan Dallas Birthday

Sort clothes/shoes
Start plants
Organize Attic
Service ac
Clean utility room

Wash house
Wash windows

Plan school

Wash Curtains

Shop for winter clothes
Start Christmas Shopping

Sort clothes/shoes
Decorate Fall

Rake leaves
Clean gutters

Rake leaves
Clean gutters
Decorate Christmas
Wrap Presents

I am a stay at home mom, so for working moms your house may not need this much attention (if you're not home, the kids can't dirty a house!).  One piece of advice I have from my full-time student, full-time single mom, part-time salary worker, is to pick up as you go. Leaving tasks unfinished  will leave more mess for a later time {time that no one has to give!}... 

My messy, busy, little boy! 

Does this feel overwhelming to you? If so, take one day and be as productive as you would like to be every day. Write down what you do from mediocre tasks to long chores. You will find that you do at least this amount of work in one day. Prioritize and tweak into your own Detailed Chore List.

for stopping by! Please comment
with suggestions for posts, questions, anything!