Monday, April 26, 2010

Schrodinger

From Wikipedia:

Schrödinger's cat is a thought experiment, often described as a paradox, devised by Austrian physicist Erwin Schrödinger in 1935. It illustrates what he saw as the problem of the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics applied to everyday objects. The thought experiment presents a cat that might be alive or dead, depending on an earlier random event. In the course of developing this experiment, he coined the term Verschränkung — literally, entanglement.




Schrödinger's Cat: A cat, along with a flask containing a poison and a radioactive source, is placed in a sealed box shielded against environmentally induced quantum decoherence. If an internal Geiger counter detects radiation, the flask is shattered, releasing the poison that kills the cat. The Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics implies that after a while, the cat is simultaneously alive and dead. Yet, when we look in the box, we see the cat either alive or dead, not both alive and dead.



Back in High School, my boyfriend's cat had kittens and being the bleeding-heart animal people that we were, my family took one of them in. We named him Schrodinger. Which people in-the-know (quite a few, given my dad's job) thought was absolutely hilarious, and people who didn't probably figured it was a high-falutin literary reference or a little-known German composer. Schrodinger was big, fat, long-haired, entirely black, and very sweet but with chronic medical conditions involving his bladder and kidneys. Which often led us to perhaps wish he would undergo some demise in a box, just not by our accord. He survived a heart attack during an attempt to put him under for a medical procedure, and the decision was made to simply make him comfortable until he finally couldn't get up any more to go check out the birds in the yard. At which point my mom (I had long since moved out) determined it was time. Strangely, as much angst as this cat had given us, we were all quite sad at his passing.

Little did I know the significance of this theorem in my life.

I now see my womb as the box, the baby (Maddy or current resident or any baby for that matter) as the cat, with a random occurrence standing between the baby being alive or dead, none to know until it is removed. Of course the fun of the theorem is that you don't open the box, which turns a quantum mechanics principle into a philosophical one to some degree. Because while the box is closed, things can be either -- they can be both. But this box will be opened, the truth will out, and the world shall see the results.

I should name this child Schrodinger.

:::

I just got back from grocery shopping and I noticed putting a few things away that they had expiration dates beyond when this baby will be born. Which is just a really odd thing. I'm staring at a yogurt container as though it was an oracle: You must know something. You will still be here! Tell me what happens, yogurt!

But it's that odd sensation that so many of us got after the ugly: time stops for us, but continues on for everyone else, including my yogurt. Except now I can see it coming -- the seedlings that have sprouted will be put in the garden. Bella will attend a few summer camps, which will be good for her regardless. My house that I'm not preparing will look exactly the same. People who have offered to help will do so regardless of outcome, and they will still go to work and school and pick up kids and eat dinner per usual. Sure, if things go well I'm expecting a few "Well Finally!" Happy-Mongerers to jump out of the woodwork, but let's face it -- there are a good handful whom we've lost over the past three years that will remain silent, no matter what. The dogs will still need walked, the grass will still need mown, dinner will still need made. This yogurt will, according the stamp, still be good.

It dawned on me last night reading to Bella that unless I expire during this process too, I will be exactly where I am now in a few Sunday evenings. A few weeks from now, I will be right here, reading a story to her, or listening to her read one to me. Her room will be lighter thanks to the arrival of summer, but everything will be in it's place -- the fishtank, the bookshelf, the bed, the rug, the curtains . . . and what will we be like, us two?

It's what happens to us internally, that which will change us permanently -- again -- that makes me cringe. And I hate that something out there might know something that I do not. I'm tired of waiting. I want to know. But I fear opening the box -- because while the box is closed, things are alive and dead and I've grown quite comfortable with that 50/50 proposition. Entanglement has become my raison d'etre, and it suits me fine. For perhaps the first time in this pregnancy, I'm a bit afraid and am longing to be one of those things that will remain unaltered in the upcoming weeks. Oh, to be someone else, or a bookshelf, or a towel, or a container of yogurt.

Oh, to not have to open the box.

:::

Last week I was in the enormous store -- you know the one where you buy things by the metric ton? -- in large part because they always have nice (read: appropriate for actually swimming in) girls' swimsuits at ridiculously low prices. And there as I trotted down the kid's clothing aisle, was a table spread thick with Nice-Swedish brand-name organic baby sleepers for about 60-70% off what I know they retail for. Any other normal nine-month pregnant woman would undoubtedly pick one of each pattern and throw them into her cart. I would count well within the bounds of normalcy making scary claw gestures and cat noises at anyone who dared venture close to the table while she sorted through sizes. I held up a tiny 0-6m sleeper covered with animals and stared blankly at it, unable to fathom what could possibly go into that thing. I set it down, and walked away.

34 comments:

Toni said...

So beautifully articulated Tash. How bizarre that a tub of yoghurt could out-live a child.

k@lakly said...

It's mind blowing, the whole concept that the world stopped for each of us in some form or another and yet for everyone else things never changed.

These last few are utter torture. There is just no other way to describe it. I remember feeling just as you wrote, happy to be left forever in the unknown because it had become a very safe place to be.


I wish I could do more, hell, what am I saying, I wish I could do anything, to make it more bearable for you.

I'm hoping Tash, with every fiber of my being. Hoping like hell, for both of you.

xxoo

Jeanette said...

Oh how I wish I were more articulate, that I could leave you a comment so profound, so reassuring that it would carry you through.
Thank you for this post, and please know you are in my thoughts, and I just wish there was more than that, that I could do. x

hairyfarmerfamily said...

I had the sell-by date Wonder phenomenon with our wedding, rather than with Harry, as his due date was always going to be hideously unpredictable - and unattainable. And it was Schrodinger's uterus, for me.
But... still. A highly resonative post.
Thinking of you, Tash.

Hope's Mama said...

Yep, did the same thing with other various dairy products.
Thinking of you Tash. It doesn't matter you set that sleeper down. It really doesn't.
xo

TracyOC said...

No wisdom to offer here. I'm just hoping that you forget to eat the yogurt oracle in the shuffle of parenting baby boy.

angie said...

Schrodinger for your cat's name made me guffaw.

Sometimes I used to take a very taoist point of view when Thor was in utero--either he will live or he will not. And for some reason, it seemed profound and important to give myself two options like that.

This is the Nam. And we are all in the shit with you. xo

ezra'smommy said...

I couldn't have articulated it nearly as well, but this is precisely how I felt leading into Micah's arrival. I literally couldn't see past the date of his scheduled induction...people would talk about things that would happen on the calendar in the weeks or months after that, but I couldn't quite envision existing beyond that point. And yet somehow I have.

CLC said...

Holding my breath in these last few weeks for you. This part is the worst. I wish you could know now as well. Waiting for an unknown outcome is excruciating. I hope, hope, hope you get the happy outcome you deserve. And that is an understatement. I would write hope 1000x if I had the patience!

spidercamp said...

I can't imagine. Because I've never been a mother of a child, living or dead, and because I'm not you. And who can ever feel what it's like to be somebody else? etc.

That said, I feel a warmth and a tension for you that's unlike what I usually feel for strangers, even those I empathize with. I don't know why. But I just wanted to say this, and to say hello, and I'm hoping, hoping.

niobe said...

Love this post. And not because -- or not only because -- long, long ago I wrote a post called something like Schrodinger's kittens.

after iris said...

This is such a great post Tash, this is just so exactly how I felt in the final weeks leading up to Moe's birth.

(Also, I'm not sure if you read Jenni but this is one of my favourite ever blog posts:

http://demetersfeet.blogspot.com/2009/08/every-time-they-look-up-there.html

Schrodinger's Cat seems to resonate with a lot of dead baby mamas)

G$ said...

Every once in a while I catch a glimpse of me if this turns out badly and it crushes my soul.

Hanging in with you Tash, hoping for a lovely summer with yogurt, a baby and belly in an appropriate swimsuit.

G$ said...

*Bella not belly, but interesting slip, considering

Sophie said...

Lol, great post. Only laughing because I've dealt with this cat thing before with my nerdy husband and his nerdy friends. They had a hell of a time trying to explain it to me.

Applying it to your unborn babe. Wow. Isn't it just.

Thinking of you Tash and waiting with you. I hope time flies for you.

xx

Mary Beth said...

I had to laugh at "yogurt-as-oracle." I can only imagine what you are feeling now, but know you're being held in many thoughts, many hopes.

Searching said...

Oh my goodness. I will have to catch up later, but you have me in tears. I am really, truly happy for you. Scared, realistic, nervous, but happy. You have made it past the expected weeks when baby would def have probs. Now just the birth, which is nerve wracking, but so full of HOPE! Tash, you will have all my prayers and wishes!!!

Hope's Mama said...

Arghhhhhhhh, just read your news on LFCA!!! So happy he's here safely.
You will never believe it, but I totally woke up with you and baby boy on my mind. I thought as I made breakfast "wonder if Tash has had the baby yet?" I checked my reader, but nope, no news. Now there it is in Lost and Found. So happy for you all and can't wait to hear the full story.
Sending love and hugs from across the miles.
xo

AussieJenn said...

Here via LFCA
Congratulations on the safe arrival of your baby boy. Enjoy!

Betty M said...

Saw the news on LFCA - many many congratulations to all of you!!!

A.M.S. said...

Just saw the news on lfca. So so happy for you! Tears of joy and relief and warm fuzziness.

Plenty of time to return and get a sleeper if you like.

So many hugs.

loribeth said...

Saw the news on LFCA & had to come over & FINALLY use the C word!! lol CONGRATULATIONS!!! Looking forward to hearing more from you soon.

Kymberli said...

Congratulations, Tash! I held my breath all the way through, and I'm so happy that he's here and safe. Many hugs to you, my friend.

K said...

Congratulations on the safe arrival of your baby!

Alexicographer said...

Here from LFCA. Many, many congratulations on the safe arrival of your son.

after iris said...

Yay yay yay!!!! Just saw LFCA! Congratulations Tash, looking forward to meeting your son.

x

Dora said...

Oh, Tash!!! Just read the announcement on LFCA! Didn't realize until I just exhaled that I've been holding my breath for you. Congratulations on the safe arrival of your son. Much love to you and the whole family.

Orodemniades said...

OMFG congratulations!!!

myskytimes said...

Congratz for the wonderful news. Glad he's arrives safe in your arms. Enjoy... xoxo

Delenn said...

Congratulations!

Dre said...

Congratulations on the new little fella!!! Can't wait to hear how Bella's first meeting with him went!

Lollipop Goldstein said...

Was waiting to post congratulations when you posted again, but can't wait :-) Happy news, Tash--congratulations!

tree town gal said...

YEA!!! So glad your more brilliant friends found out that it's time... it's time to say it: CONGRATULATIONS!!! And really, how is our Bella doing with this. Is she over the moon? Do we get a little photo of her first glimpse of her new best buddy. Tearfully, joyfully celebrating this news, Tash!!!

Val said...

Your post is much better than mine, but I too contemplated Master S's cat a while back:
http://endurovet.blogspot.com/2008/12/schrodingers-cat-all-you-faithful.html

(Nothing as eloquent as your comparison, just jumbled-up family BS.)