My Aunt Donna came to visit us for about a week to help us with Asher, and lucky for us, her trip happened to coincide with a rather hectic move from the temporary flat we were in to our more permanent home.
After moving in and seeing that we had a lot stuff to fit in a very small space; we decided to go to Ikea to get some things with which to organize it all. On our way to Ikea, everything seemed to be going wrong for us. It was a Saturday and we thought this would give us a break from the commuter traffic around London. I didn’t have any gas, so we stopped at the services around Stansted Airport. Apparently, this was a huge mistake. It took us nearly an hour to get through the one way loop system at the services. An hour to get gas! Ridiculous! It must have been because it was a Saturday during school holidays or something… and then around London we hit pretty bad construction traffic… so it took us nearly 2 ½ hours to make a 1 hour trip. Very annoying.
Finally, we rolled into Ikea. Just in time, too, because Asher was getting ultra hungry. Donna had never been to an Ikea and honestly, it can be rather daunting at first. We had a lot of things to think about between all of the various ideas we had for organizing different rooms. We debated on how and where we would hang things; what we would put on which shelves; what would look good where. This is very difficult because Ikea requires you to write down and keep track of everything you like in the “showroom” so that you can locate it later in the “market hall”. It’s actually pretty hard if you’re buying a lot of stuff.
It took us a couple of hours to make our way through the store, and Asher seemed alright, since he had been fed right when we got there. The rest of us were probably feeling a little less than 100% since Candice and I hadn’t slept since Asher was born (grant me the hyperbole) and Donna was still recovering from jet lag. By the time we got to the check out area, we could see the light at the end of the tunnel and were very ready to get out of Ikea.
At this point, Candice wasn’t feeling very good. Her breasts were feeling very engorged and painful. Candice has been pumping (a whole other story) and just the day before we had acquired the key to our pumping success: a giant breast pump (the pump itself was giant, not necessarily the breasts… although, at this point, let’s be honest). (Smaller, battery operated pumps wouldn’t work… another long story… we needed the pump that was piston driven and had 300 horsepower!) So we hadn’t been doing the pumping thing for very long, just about a day, and we weren’t really experienced with judging the timings between pumps. We had also expected the trip to Ikea to take about half the time, so we were in the store a little longer than expected. At the self-service hall, where you’re supposed to look up the larger items you saw and go get them off the shelf, we split up. I was left with the basket to get the remaining items (dresser, shelves, etc.); Donna and Candice were going to the car to get the typewriter (the breast pump- which we call “the typewriter” because the giant plastic carrying case resembles the case for an old style typewriter). After they got Candice situated, I was supposed to meet Donna at checkout.
I quickly went to the computer and started searching for the location of some of the items. I soon found out that one of the key items we wanted, the shelves, were located about 5 miles back through the winding path of the store in the “Home Organization” section. It took forever to find the shelves and even longer trying to sort out which shelf in which color went with which left, right, and center brackets (all sold separately and in different piles).
I finally felt like I had the goods when Candice called and said that she was inside a changing room with the pump, but they had left the collecting bottles in the car, so she still wasn’t able to start pumping. Donna didn’t have a phone, so we couldn’t call to see where she was, but she was probably wondering around the self-service hall searching for me… and I wasn’t there. I went as fast as I could back to the checkout, with the shelves falling off my basket the whole way, since I couldn’t get the proper flatbed cart for larger items, since I couldn’t push it and the basket at the same time. I found Donna, holding a screaming Asher, obviously hungry. I left the basket with her and ran to the car to get the bottles and stuff. Finally back in the room with Candice, we set it all up. I sent Donna back in with Asher so he could eat and to help Candice while I went to get the chest of drawers, the medicine cabinet, and the mattress topper from the self-service aisles. Finally, I made it back to checkout; Donna came out and told me that Candice was feeding Asher on her right side but they STILL weren’t pumping, because they couldn’t get the electrical outlets to work in that room. I guess they had disabled some of the publicly accessible outlets so that people couldn’t use their electricity. All the while Candice’s left breast was growing worse and worse; getting harder to the touch and red all over (all bad signs); and she was getting a bit panicky. We checked out; went to get the car; loaded the car with all our crap (a lot of stuff!).
Now… where were we going to pump Candice’s left breast? (Let’s pause for a moment at that question and reflect on how very changed our lives are!)
We decided to head back into the store and find another changing room with outlets. Donna went in to scout; she found outlets on the first floor… they didn’t work. I went to try to explain our situation to one of the staff members to see if there was a place she knew of where we could get electricity… this was the strangest conversation I’ve ever had with anybody; and I’m sure no less strange for her. Some frantic dude running up to her and saying something about giant, infected breasts, a pump, and no electricity! She was no help, she just looked stunned and I didn’t have time to explain any further; I needed to take action!
There was a first aid room across the hall… Candice went to speak to the Ikea people this time. “Please, man! You don’t understand! My breast will explode if you don’t help!” There was an Ikea staff member opening the first aid room within 90 seconds. Sure enough, there were outlets… this was it! Nope… even the outlets in the first aid room were not working! How is this possible?! This is the room where you treat injuries… tell me, people… where would you plug in the defribulator? Wherever that is, that’s where you need to take me!
The Ikea employees were dumbfounded… they had a lady with a giant, swollen left breast that was close to getting infected if not exploding; a pump so big it looks like a karaoke machine; and no apparent explanation why none of their electric outlets would work. At this point, I knew we were at zero hour… it had to be now. This had gone on long enough. We had wasted enough time and every hour that passed was critical... Candice was holding it together, but I knew she was on the verge of a breakdown. I decided to take matters into my own hands. I set out into the huge Ikea on one mission… find electricity! Anywhere! I mean, c’mon people, there a thousand displays with bedrooms and kitchens that all have light and you’re telling me there’s no place to plug in a breast pump! I went upstairs to another set of changing rooms… room 1, nothing; room 2, nothing; room 3, eureka! Outlets! Now to plug in the breast pump… it worked! I was thrilled. I ran down the stairs like my pants were on fire, the giant typewriter swinging in my arms as I sprinted passed Donna and shouted, “I found electricity!” People were definitely staring; we must have looked ridiculous running about with a breast pump like idiots.
I got Candice, all our stuff, and we ran upstairs only to find the changing room occupied. This was the last straw! Are you kidding me! There was a lady in there with her toddler, and she was just standing around looking puzzled, asking her husband if they had extra trousers. He left to find some in their car and she was just waiting for him to get back. What felt like an eternity passed, and we were like crazy people at the end of our rope, and I just knew Candice was going to lose it, barge into the changing room and just start screaming at the lady to “Get out! Get out! Get out now! Now! NOW!” When the lady finally came out, the most awful smell of crap came with her… perfect… the one room in Ikea that holds the solution to our problem is the crap room. The changing room smelled as awful as you could imagine it smelling… but who cares at this point? Just plug in the typewriter and keep this left breast from exploding. We got it all sorted, both of us trying to breathe shallow so that we inhaled as little crap as possible. I looked at Candice and said, “Honey, do you think at some point in the distant future we’ll look back on all this and laugh?” She looked at me, at her left breast, and back at me; a grim look was on her face… I saw her hand twitch and I could see her toying with the thought of putting the pump directly over my mouth.
Just then the air freshening system, located directly across and about 3 feet away from Candice, turned on and sprayed the room with mist. It was the most awful, cheap, musky, air freshener smell ever, and combined with the strong smell of crap from the Satan child, it was unbearable. I stood at the door holding Asher and waited for the hall to be clear so I could open the door quickly enough to waft some fresh air into the room.
This was it; take a picture, folks… our low point. Candice in the crap room, looking pitiful, hair all frazzled, trying not to breathe, sitting on a tiny stool next to the trash can trying to reduce the swelling, pumping away. Me, clutching my two week old son and rapidly opening and closing the door to the hall in order to catch a breath.
Finally, after it was all said and done… we packed it up and sat down in the café with Aunt Donna; we were exhausted, and really questioned why we had been so foolish to think we could make a trip to Ikea in our condition. We felt like we were barely functioning. Afterwards, the mood lightened up considerably. We went to TGI Fridays; had a drink; had nachos, ribs and shrimp… and then had a peaceful, easy drive home.