27 October 2019

Review of the Elvie Breast Pump

I've had the Elvie Breast Pump for over a month now, and it has taken me that long to formulate my full reaction, and it is one of: I love it/I hate it. For the cost, it sucks that I sometimes feel the latter, but when I love it, oh my god, it's amazing and I truly, truly love it. It has changed my life, but on occasion, I am incredibly frustrated with it.

To start with: I'm a very busy school librarian. My teaching schedule is crazy. When I was pumping with my Spectra S2, it involved going to a pumping room several floors away from my library, sitting there for 10-15 minutes, then going back. This wasn't a terrible thing when I was teaching part-time, but it's hard when you are working full-time to do that every day. On my crazy teaching days where I only had 45 minutes between classes (hey, we know that means it's more like 35, amirite, teachers???), I was shoveling food into my mouth and pumping and feeling so stressed. So I splurged and have to say, when it works, it's SO amazing. But sometimes, it just doesn't work, and I don't realize it, and then I have to teach a class (and yes, you can stick it in your bra and I will talk to coworkers and shelve books, but I don't really want to teach a class with it in), and that sucks.

So here's the premise. You can stick these two pumps (that charge via USB - I have pumped three times on the same charge and never run out - but I notice if I charge it Friday, don't pump all weekend, by my second or third pump Monday I'm almost out of power) in your bra and just walk around and do all the things. Or so they say.

To clarify - you can't just stick them in any old bra. I've found that some of my bras won't support the exact alignment with the nipple that is needed. (Until I figured this out, I had some days where I just wasn't able to pump very much milk at all.) I also discovered that putting them in certain bras actually completely stretched them out and now, my bras are unusable. I wear this crappy old nursing bra I don't really like when I'm going to work (and basically, wash it five times a week, ha). And because I sometimes need easy access to adjust, I can't wear a lot of dresses, unless they're low cut enough for me to stick my hands down and adjust. (If I was using the Spectra S2, I'd pull off my dress to pump three times a day, annoying. But with the Elvie, it's pretty impossible to wear a lot of my dresses bc sometimes mid-pump, at my desk w my back turned, I'll need to do some readjusting and that's hard if the neckline is too high.) So I discovered you can't wear any bra and you can't wear whatever you want - which is a big negative (though of course, you aren't taking off your clothes and putting on a pumping bra, which is a great thing).

Oh, and it's definitely not the kind of thing you can wear during a meeting. I mean, maybe a phone meeting? But with how I've needed to adjust it so often, I wouldn't trust it. Also, there are lights. I drape a scarf over my chest to detract that I suddenly have ginormous boobs with lights. There's a subtle sound, but I work in a library, and I am pretty sure no one but me has ever really noticed the sound. So it's not a big deal IMO.

If all the parts are not in JUST SO, it won't work. And because you can't easily see the milk being produced like you can with a regular pump, you might not realize - so you could have the Elvie pump in your bra pumping away for 30 minutes and nothing. Also, if things aren't lined up right, nothing. I've noticed it's harder to get milk if my boobs are less full (like if I nursed or pumped not that long before). It is imperative that you need to make sure you put all the parts together and line it up perfectly.

Lining  up and setting up are not as easy. I've had the Elvie pump for a month and a half now, and even yesterday, I didn't set it up properly. It was pumping, zero milk, I took it out, took everything apart, put it back together, put it in, and got 3 ounces of milk from that boob. Sometimes I'll peek in the mirror and move my bra to check, but then that has the tendency to displace one of the pumps, and it was all for naught. It's so frustrating. You can sometimes hear the sloshing and that's a good sign.

I've discovered that you can't drop it in from the top of the bra. I go to the bathroom, lift up my shirt and my bra, line up with powered-on pump with the nipple, stretch the bra over the bottom, hit play, and then do it with the other side. Sometimes, putting in that second side will displace the first side. Then I leave the bathroom and go about my work. I've done it from my desk before, but I think alignment is a lot better when I do it that way in the bathroom. I think it's best to leave them in for at least 20-30 minutes to get the maximum amount of milk (and I used to use my Spectra S2 for 10-15 minutes).

There is an app to keep track of the milk, but it doesn't always work right - sometimes it says there is milk but there's not. And it constantly loses connection. So that sucks.

I think not everyone would be comfortable everywhere wearing these pumps and doing things. Sometimes it's totally weird that I'm looking for books or walking around, and I am a bit conscious of it as I speak with people, but it's also totally fantastic that I can go look for books for my biography lesson plan or walk the 5 minutes away to the public library while pumping. It takes some of the intimacy out of pumping (I used to look at pics of my baby girl as I pumped), but doing more at work means I have less things to do outside of work, and more time to be with my baby girl when I get home.

But what's great is I have found, when it works, it works. I run errands, go to the library with it in my bra or even to the tea shop, and pump. No one notices on the street, especially when you have a little jacket or drapey scarf. It's easy enough to tuck into a totebag and bring places with you. I was at a yoga retreat at my beloved Bhakti Center all day yesterday. I slipped it in during breakfast and again during lunch. I was able to express a lot of milk while being able to participate in lunch chatting to other devotees. It makes it possible for me to do my super busy job and pump regularly without pumping being stressful.

Would I buy it again? I hesitate here because the cost is higher, and sometimes, I think it's easier to use my old pump. Though is it? I have to lug everything to the pumping room, sit down, put the bra on, set it all up, pump for 10-15 minutes, go back upstairs. This allows me a lot more flexibility to do things (work, errands, eat lunch, whatever) and not be tied to a pump in a closet.

To sum it up...
You can pump anywhere.
You don't have to be tied to an electrical outlet.
When you don't have time to go to the pumping room, this is great.
If you have a conference, or a retreat, or need to travel, or just need a pump in a different place than usual, this is WAAAY more transportable.

App doesn't always work.
Hard to set up pieces and line up properly - even after a month I still struggle to do it right.
When it's not working, it's not always obvious, and you don't realize until after you've had it on for a while.
The price point ($499 for a pair) is a bit painful. I used my flex spending and it was a present to myself after starting a new job.

09 October 2019

It's been too long

When you think you know what life is all about, and you think you have it handled, it changes. Always.

My life has changed so much in the past few years. I've shed toxic jobs. Let go of painful and toxic friendships. I've shifted how I eat even more than in the past. I've had a baby.

I'm still me. Still caring about the environment, wanting to live the most compassionate life. Still writing and running and practicing yoga.

But how I want to live my life has changed. So many thoughts out there swirling.

Just listening to this on repeat lately. Thanks, KD.