The Willow Pump Review

My Willow Pump Review

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I’m so excited today to be finally sharing my review of the Willow Pump! For those that don’t know, the willow pump is new(er) on the market, and is the first wearable, mobile and tubeless/bottle-less pump!

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I first found out about the Willow at the end of my breastfeeding journey with my middle son and was so jealous of those who were currently pregnant and able to try the willow! Fast forward a year later, and I was pregnant again! I was looking forward to trying the Willow pump when I had my baby. I remembered how hard it was to manage my time and make time to pump when I was away from baby with only two kids (much less three!). I knew this pump could only help me, especially going into “zonal defense” of raising three boys under the age of 5.

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Breastfeeding is probably one of the hardest (mentally & physically), but also the most rewarding experiences I’ve ever had. The bond I had with my sons through nursing was truly incredible. BUT the thing about breastfeeding that I dislike the most is …..

The pumping. The time it takes. The cleaning of the parts. The sound. Being tied down every couple hours.

Although I had gotten pretty good at multi tasking and figuring out how to be more efficient, I still hated pumping and dreaded it. Trying to juggle work, meetings, events for my older son…it was crazy, I feel like ½ the time I would have to pump in the car (using my ultimate favorite hands free Ollie Gray bra!)

Other times I would come home from being at work, or running an errand to find that the baby coulden’t wait and needed to be fed, regardless of how I tried to time it. This ultimately meant that the babysitter would be leaving me with an awake baby, needing to pump!  Trying to pump while being plugged into a wall with a  2 year old and a newborn is virtually impossible if you’re on your own. AND, yeah, sure you can pump while your kids sleep. But really?  Using your time while the kids are napping to pump is not really high on your list of things you want to do during that time!  

Imagine being able to live a life where you could make dinner while you pumped. Fold clothes. Hang up laundry. Put your makeup on. Blow dry your hair. Go for a walk.

You can.

Enter the Willow.

How does it work? You simply put it together (minimal parts), wait the initial 3-5 min stimulation phase, and you’re on your way once you hit expression (let down).

FREE TO DO ALL OF THE THINGS. Even lay down #winning.

I thought I would break down pros/cons of the Willow, if I like it better than my hospital grade, and my ultimate thoughts on the pump and whether it is worth getting.

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Pros of the Willow Pump:

1.     It’s wireless. You can literally pump anywhere, anytime! Rejoice, mama’s! Go for a walk? Yes. Clean? Yes. Read a book to your toddler? Yes. Prepare a snack or meal? Yes. ANYTHING you want to do, you can do.

2.     Not many parts and easy to clean: I love this about it, its so easy to clean and no super small part to lose.

3.     The bags are easy, and take up less room: I like the bag for the purpose of storage in the fridge, also when traveling I could fit more in a cooler than I could with the bottles!

4.     It’s Quiet: Anyone else feel like their pump sings to them? Do you have to press mute if you’re on a conference call while pumping because yours is so loud? Not with the willow!

5.     It’s Smart: Willow has an awesome app that helps you keep track of how much you’re pumping, what phase you’re in, how much battery life is left as well as great support If you have issues.

6.     Customer Service: The customer service and support team is excellent if you have any issues. There are so many different avenues available for assistance whether its chat, text or phone. Also, there is support on the app.

7.     Battery life is really good: I took the pump with me to NYC for the day and didn’t have to charge it all day and I used it 4-5 times!

8.     Compact & Easy to Travel with: As I mentioned above, I travelled with this pump to NYC (as well as Florida) and It was such a relief to not have my huge hospital grade pump. I swear I have to have a bag JUST for my pump and bottles! The willow can fit this in my purse/backpack and its so compact and much more lightweight. LOVE.

9.     FREEDOM!!! Need I say more?!

 

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Cons of the Willow pump:

1.     The learning curve is REAL. This took me a good 3-4 weeks to get the hang of and I am experienced with nursing and pumping. I could see if you are a new mom this could be hard to get at first. However, as I mentioned above, they do have good support and help via their app, phone, and text. Stick with it! Its worth it!

2.     It’s pricy: This pump is not covered by health insurance. However, if you have a HSA/FSA, you can purchase the willow using that (this is what I did so it wasn’t out of pocket)

3.     Bags: The Willow 2.0 holds 5 oz, so if you’re an over supplier like me, it can be frustrating to have to stop and put a new bag in. Usually this only affects me in the mornings when I have more milk. The bags are also a little expensive and can only be used once.

4.     Stimulation/Expression: The stimulation setting is already set and you can’t change in manually. For those that don’t understand, this is the phase before your milk lets down. This is probably the most frustrating part for me and what I wish I could change. I find I need a lot of suction during stimulation and I can’t adjust the suction until I’m in the expression mode.

5.     Charging: You can only charge one side at a time. I really wish that you could charge two in one with the charger.

Other things to know:

1.     You can only buy their items online (bags, flanges, etc.) on their website.

2.     The flanges only come in two sizes!

3.     I’ve found the most important part of the learning curve is figuring out your alignment! Once you have that down pat, it should be smooth sailing.

4.    Your bra matters. They have a few different ones on their website that they recommend, but I love the Cake Maternity Bra and the Ollie Gray’s nursing/pumping bra!

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So what pump do I like the best?

I find that I rotate and use both my Willow and my hospital grade for various reasons (as listed above). As most of you know, you get a pump through your insurance (hello, free!!) and regardless of whether or not you plan on using it, I would definitely get the hospital grade pump even if you think you only want to use the willow.

VERDICT:

All in all, I think the Willow pump is seriously the most amazing, incredible concept and feel so fortunate to be able to utilize one of these pumps! The fact that I can go for a walk, do household chores, drive, etc. while pumping makes me so much happier of a mom and less stressed. All in all, while the willow has some areas it can improve (which I’m sure they will- its only been out for a short time!), this pump is such an empowering tool for breastfeeding moms. Anything that makes #momlife and #nursinglife easier is a WIN in my book.

I definitely recommend this pump to anyone who feels they are going to be giving their baby a bottle 3-4 days a week. I still use my hospital grade pump at work because I’m usually sitting at a desk anyway, and its cheaper (no need to buy bags like with the willow) but I use my Willow on average once a day at home. I use it in instances where I need to do extra pumping session or if I’ve been out running errands. It allows me to not miss a beat taking care of my baby, older children, as well as do ALL OF THINGS we mamas do while still providing milk for my baby which I’m so grateful for!

Happy Pumping friends! Xo

Alex

** This post is not sponsored or affiliated with the Willow Pump. All thoughts & opinions are solely my own.

President's Day Sales

Happy President’s Day…and Happy SALE DAY for my fellow shoppers

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Happy Presidents’ Day! AKA….happy sale day 🙌🏼

Also, sending wine and caffeine to all moms out there who’s kids are off school this week! I feel you ladies! We will get through this together!!! 

The snow is falling outside and I seriously just need spring ASAP. All the stores and pulling out all these awesome spring looks and meanwhile I’m buried in snow.. barf. 

I’ve tried to round up a good mix of spring and winter sales — I know some of you will have a spring break planned ( we do- Florida in April woot woot) and I’m already looking for outfits for then! But we also need to continue to fill our wardrobe needs the next 6 weeks because lets be honest- I think the groundhog had a little too much to drink the night before he called spring coming early! Plus…who can turn down some of these GREAT deals.

Just a heads up Anthro has an extra 40% off sale prices and all of the Loft items I’ve listed are SO cheap-they have 70% off everything sale!! AE also has an awesome sale, and I scooped up the Thermolite jeans (a little thicker and perfect for upstate NY winters!) from Madewell that are on mega sale. Everything on clearance at Madewell is 30% as well (including those jeans!!) I’ll be sure to let you all know how they are!

Hope you all have a great Monday and happy sale shopping!

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Outfit Deets: This coat is on MEGA Sale!! Also THESE JEANS. Cannot praise them enough. Elastic on the waist band. Need I say more???

The Sales!

A few notes….I have this thermal in 3 colors….and its free shipping on sale!
This colorblock sweater is goals…and on sale.
This striped tee I wore on my insta feed and I LOVE IT. Also, 14? YES.
Obsessed with this romper and this other romper from AE. Need to get for spring and my trip to florida.
Military romper..yes.plz.
Thermolite jeans I was talking about from Madewell.
This cardi is so cozy and perfect to transition into spring.
Trench coat thats so on sale its basically FREE!

Text Links:

Have a beautiful day! xo

Alex





Friends and Family...my favorite words in more ways than one!

Family and friends have to be the best 2 words ever. Why? Because if  someone isn't talking about your family or your friends (your fave people in the world)...they have to be talking about a SALE!! 

I've always loved clothes since I was young and that certainly hasn't changed. I wanted to share today the LOFT Friends and family sale thats going on right now. Everything (yes, everything) is on sale for 40% off. I love this retailer because they have great workwear, casual wear, mom wear, and even clothing for dressier type events like weddings. Not only are they versatile and have super cute pieces but they have Maternity and Plus which is awesome. I totally missed the Loft boat when I was pregnant with Seb so if I lose my mind and decide to have a third haha I will def be hitting up Loft for some cute maternity clothes! 

They offer free shipping over $125 and also free in store pick up which is a nice feature if you don't have toddlers that embarrass you in public places and can get out to the mall more than twice a year lol. I am not sure how long the sale is going but I would think it would last through the weekend. 

Here are a few of my favorite items right now...some of these have literally been in my cart for about...6 weeks! Anyone else do that? :P

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1. I love this basic white tee! It is under $25 and has the cutest detailing on the sleeves. A great neutral for upcoming summer. 

2. I am obsessed with these dotted jeans! I think they add a unique touch to jeans without distressing which is tough to wear to either work, or family events. 

3. I love this cropped jean jacket. The color is so classic and the fit looks perfect. 

4. This romper looks so comfortable yet stylish. I love pieces you can dress up or down and this is one of them! Pair this with cool sneakers, sandals or wedges ...also it would be great for travel! 

5. y'all know my love for stripes. They go with anything, and stains don't show up as well from the kids..haha. But in all seriousness, this tee with stripes combined with the sleeves..gorg. 

6. Lately I've been drawn to lace and this is no exception. This dress is so feminine and is great for any event you have going on this summer. 

7. I really like the button fly of these shorts and I think he length is really flattering. Not too long, not too short!

8. Basically going to have to wrap myself in bubblewrap to ever wear these with two boys but I think its worth the risk!! Agreed? These scalloped shorts need to get in my closet STAT. 

9. Elastic waist bands, loose, flowy fit, AND looks cute? Sign me up. I'm not normally a fan of huge prints but these are so summery and fun.  These pants are great for lunch date with girlfriends, running errands and are even resort ready. 

10. Last but not least, these camis are honestly a great basic. It comes in black and white and they can be worn on their own, or layered under jackets, sweaters and blazers. Perfect staple and I am definitely lacking in the cami department.These actually sold out a little while ago so if I grab anything from this sale, this cami is what I'll be getting. 

Hope you all have a great Friday! 

xo

Alex

 

Doing Disney with Toddlers

Hey guys! Happy November! Hope you guys all had a great halloween!  The dust has finally settled after our trip and I thought I'd write a little post on hitting up Disney with two little ones. 

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Staying at Disney hotels vs off site: 

Whenever we travel now with the boys it is a must to find a hotel with a kitchen and ideally separate bedroom from ours. Seb still wakes up most nights so we don't want him disturbing his older brother so we usually put Max in with us and Seb in a room on his own. I think by next year the boys can be in their own room on their own. We like to have some space to ourselves and not feel forced to go to bed at 8 pm :) 

Last year we stayed at Disney's Old Key West which had two bedroom and a kitchen when my mother in law came with us. I loved it. We ended up getting it around $350 per night which is actually a great deal for the hotel. I've stayed on disney properties before so I wasn't surprised by how nice it was and this time was no different. There are several positives to staying at Disney: Transportation to/from the parks, luggage transportation from the airport, ability to buy tickets and book park events at concierge, and the all around "ambience" of Mickey mouse :)

So naturally, when we first booked the trip to Florida, Disney hotels was my first stop to look for hotel prices.. but it was OUTRAGEOUS. It was over $600 a night. So, I started looking around and found a really nice Marriott 2 bedroom/full kitchen about 15 mins from Disney for $175/night. Yes, $175 a night. 1/3 of the price of the Disney Old Key West or any other of their villa hotels. so, needless to say we booked! 

All in all, we had a great experience at Marriott Harbour Lake. They had numerous pools (with tons of slides, kiddie pool, and numerous spas), a craft room for the kids,  a playground, a soccer field, basketball courts, and a very good gym. Rooms were really spacious and service was awesome. We were a short 12-15 mins from Disney parks. It was also 1 mile from Sea World. 

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Would I stay at Disney again? After this experience I'm not sure I would until the boys are older. Yes, the atmosphere is second to none and service is fantastic. I think if you have older kids and don't mind sleeping all in one room and eat out (we prefer to cook a majority of the time for the kids with how old they are-eating out is a mission at the moment.) it could work. Also, with older kids 8 or 9 years and up, the buses make more sense (and you don't have a bunch of stuff (stroller, etc.) that you're lugging on the bus with 439820 other people). Keep in mind IMO the transportation from the Disney park took about the SAME amount of time as it did from our off site hotel just due to waiting for the buses and all of the stops the shuttle/bus had to make. So jury is out how beneficial the transport from disney hotels to parks really is...

Disney has decent priced 1 room hotel rooms to stay in but if you're going the route where you want a kitchen, etc. and you have babies/pre schoolers finding off site is the way to go! 

Stay all day or go back to your hotel for a siesta? 

We've done both. We've powered through the day and skipped naps, and we've also gone home for a nap and come back. I would 100% recommend getting up early, hitting the park for a few hours and then coming back for a nap. Disney allows you to leave and come back so that is a non issue, and your parking rate is for the day.

 I think the kids are always super fresh in the morning making it easy for everyone to enjoy themselves. Also, the heat of the day is between 1-4 pm which you miss if you head back for a nap. The nap allows everyone time to recharge, regroup (including mom and dad) and gives you another 3-4 hours (or more) at the park at night. It is completely worth the 45 min treck (by the time you leave the park, take the ferry, etc. get to the parking lot and get home) to get back both ways. 

Disclaimer: If you have angel children that sleep in their strollers with no issues...I say power through!!

                    Awesome aquarium when you get off of the "Nemo" ride at Epcot

                    Awesome aquarium when you get off of the "Nemo" ride at Epcot

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Park Hopper vs Single Park? 

I feel like I come from the days where there wasn't as much of a difference between the single park and the park hopper pass in terms of price so I actually love this feature and remember hopping on the monorail from MK to Epcot when I was a kid..

While its super nice to be able to hop from park to park, I woulden't recommend spending the extra $50 pp unless you are going with adults or older kids who can really utilize both parks. 

 

Other Tips on surviving Disney with Toddlers: 

1. Lower Your standards. Did you lower them? Now lower them again. lol. Have one thing on your list, and accomplish it. Anything above and beyond that is #winning. Examples: meeting mickey/any other character, or another big ride that they enjoy. The smaller your kids are, the less ground you're going to be able to cover. Thats just the reality of it! 

2.. Download the App: The My Disney Experience App allows you to view information about the parks, see wait times for rides, make reservations for meals, or order food ahead of time. You can also update and select your fast passes on the app (see #3 for fast pass.).
 

3. Fast pass that shit: Log on and fast pass the important things you want to do. Fast pass means you basically don't have to wait in line, and now that Disney seems to be busy all year long (read: 45 min waits *everywhere* ) it is the way to go.

Some popular ones for Pre-K would be Meeting Mickey, Its small world, the old fashioned cars, Dumbo, Nemo (at epcot), to name a few. I'm sure girls love the princess meet and greet so if you have girls I would fast pass that also. You can only do three for each person so choose wisely. Once you use them up you can select different ones (this is another reason why coming back at night is better, a lot of times the fast pass windows will be between 5-8 pm which I am not sure you would make unless you have a nap).

If you know what day you're hitting each park, try and fast pass it in advance. Also: sometimes it will say one of the rides is "no longer available for fast pass". KEEP REFRESHING!!!! This happened to me twice now with Meet Mickey and I refreshed about 8 times and then it popped up. 

4. Snacks, Snacks, and more snacks: Snacks are like the holy grail of surviving Disney. Pack enough snacks for a 3 day trip. Trust me. Bars, crackers, fruit, raisins, PB & J, and tons of water. Disney lets you bring in everything so use that to your advantage! 

5. Get there early: Beat the heat and the crowds by getting there when the park opens or shortly after, It'll be worth it. Everyone is fresh in the morning and do your "prep" work the night before (packing snacks, laying clothes out, etc.) to make your morning less chaotic. 

Enjoy! 

 xo
Alex