photo credit: ahhyeah via photopin cc

(As a note, this analogy may not be helpful for those who have suffered reproductive loss)

I am almost into what is known as the “two week wait” or for those opposed to shorthand: the time between possible conception and being able to actually know if your pregnant. I’m not looking forward to it, and was trying to put into words the unique kind of frustrating such a wait can be.

Which brings me to Schrodinger’s Pregnancy.

Nerds, gather near as we speak of Schrodinger’s Cat.

There once was a physicist named Schrodinger, who created a thought experiment to bring to light quantum mechanics and the relationship to observation. It goes by saying that there is a cat in a box, along with a crazy contraption that leads to a cat’s life or death depending on the state of a subatomic particle. If a particle decays, then a device is tripped and the cat dies. If it does not, then the cat lives inside the box. When time has passed and the box is still closed, there is no way to know what has happened within. So it is said that the cat remains both alive and dead–to the universe outside the box, until the box is opened. When the box is finally opened, the act of observing collapses that “indeterminate both or either” to a single state.

So how does this relate to the two week wait? Because you are walking around for two weeks with this indeterminate both or either uterus–Schrodinger’s pregnancy where the only way it can be resolved is when you are finally able to get some news from the box through either a period or a reliable pregnancy test.

For those two weeks, the experience of your own body, is going about your business being both pregnant and not pregnant. Suddenly drinking a glass of wine becomes being torn between two indeterminate states–if I’m pregnant then no, if I’m not–then it doesn’t matter–dear goodness how do people manage to make choices like this?

Do I make plans for this vacation next year, when I am pregnant/not pregnant?

Do I sign up for the absolutely exhausting project at work, knowing that I am in this pregnant/not pregnant state? What would Sheryl Sandberg say?

Regardless of whether a sperm has met egg, or is on its journey to implantation or whatever, your experience from the outside is of this dual contradictory possibility of being pregnant and not pregnant. 

What makes this experience unique, compared to situations of waiting in unknown like waiting for results of a job application, is that the box of indeteminancy is located within your own body. That box that contains one truth and the experience of living with two, that is placed in the intimate space of your self. It’s why so many message boards try to discover and determine the meaning of symptoms–as we try to collapse this world of two competing possibilities into one that we can understand, and honestly the one that we’ve hoped for. Every twinge, ache, or fluid becomes a potential messenger–sending us word of what has happened that we cannot know.

So wish me luck with my next two weeks of Schrodinger’s Pregnancy. It’s exhausting trying to live within two indeterminate states.