Saturday, October 13, 2012

Peeing on Schrödinger's Cat

The other night, in the midst of a long discussion about if and when I should take a home pregnancy test, Ian remarked, when he finally really got exactly why and how I was going back and forth about it in my mind, that it was totally like Schrödinger's Cat.  

So, to start, for those who don't know who this Schrödinger dude is, and what his cat has to do with anything, here's the shortest ever summary, leaving out all the complicated quantum physics parts:

It's a thought experiment. (No actual cats are harmed in the thinking about Schrödinger's cat.  In fact, I'm pretty sure Schrödinger didn't even have a cat.)  You've got a cat, you've got a box, you've got some sort of unstable radioactive thing that could kill the cat.  Or it could not.  The cat is in the box with the radioactive thing.  The box is closed.  Is the cat dead or alive? Until you open the box, the cat is both dead and alive.  Once you open the box, the cat is clearly one or the other.  And when you add in the quantum physics, there's the idea that by opening the box you affect the outcome of whether the cat is dead or alive.  

OK, I am not a physicist (quantum or otherwise).  I'm a librarian.  So, I don't really need to understand it any further than that for it to help me resolve and understand how I'm feeling about things.

Here's the situation.  I am 8dp3dt.  When Ian and I had this chat I was 6dp3dt.  I get my Beta test (the blood test that is done to check for hCG in my bloodstream that would indicate a pregnancy) on 14dp3dt.   But 14dp is actually 3 days later than it *really* needs to be done.  It is commonly done 14dpo (days past ovulation).  My transfer was already 3 days past ovulation.  It seems, from the Internets, that many/most clinics do Beta tests on day 11 or 12pt.  This makes sense because at this point the hCG should be fully detectable.  This is the same time I had my tests done during my IUIs and it's the same time home pregnancy tests should be able to pick things up.  It's 14dpo aka the day your period is due.  If you look at the chart I posted the other day, you can see that as of today, if I am pregnant and this cycle was a success, hCG is being produced.  People start to get positive home pregnancy tests as early as 7dpt.  Some, of course, don't test positive at home until after the Beta test (which is much more sensitive).  So, false negatives are relatively common.  False positive do not actually exist (once the trigger shot is out of your system).  A false positive generally means that you *were* pregnant, but no longer are - a chemical pregnancy, or super early miscarriage has likely occurred.

ANYHOW.  That's a lot of background info.  

Ian and I have, in past IUI cycles, used a home pregnancy test (otherwise known as an HPT or POAS (peeing on a stick)) the morning of my Beta (or the morning before, if one of us was going to be away the morning of) so that we would get relatively reliable results at home together, as opposed to me getting a phone call from a doctor or nurse in the middle of my work day.  In the past, these results have always been negative.  I have never seen a positive HPT nor had a positive Beta result.  

Well, this two week wait is dragging far slower than any other ever has.  First of all, this is the first time ever that I've KNOWN we have a fertilized egg (2, in fact) in there.  This is the closest to pregnant I've ever been.  Also, obviously, the IVF was so much more of an investment in terms of time, in terms of money, physically, emotionally etc etc.  And the success rates are far higher than IUI.  And, let's be honest, I'm sort of attached to those 2 embryos.  Not attached like I love them and will mourn them as individuals if this doesn't work, but beginning to be attached the same way I imagine most pregnant women become attached to the aliens growing inside of them as soon as they are aware they are there.  I was just aware far earlier than anyone could possibly be if they weren't placed in there by catheter!   I have a picture of them!  I realize that there is a huge chance those 2 embryos won't turn into a pregnancy or into live human babies, so any hope I have is very cautious.  The attachment, however, is not really stoppable.  

So, the question that I posed to Ian was: Do we take an HPT and when?  

I explained to him all that I've explained here about days post transfer and when a home test is likely to be reliable.  We talked about at what point I would actually believe a negative result and how we would feel if we got a negative and then the Beta came back positive and how many days between those two things would we want to leave for that potential unnecessary sadness.  We also talked about the torture that is waiting (particularly for me, since I am unable to put this out of my mind, as it is happening inside of my body and I have, every single minute, so many physical symptoms, any of which could be either pregnancy, pms, or side effects from progesterone).  

At some point in all this talking Ian hit the point of, "OK, then maybe we should take the test at 12dp3dt (Wednesday) or 13dp3dt (Thursday)" and I suddenly realized how scared I was to actually POAS and I tried to explain to him why.  I explained that in a way it's total superstition, because I know that already either I am pregnant, or I am not.  That there's a little bit of wanting to delay the inevitable (because I think I can't imagine it won't be negative, because it has ALWAYS been negative), but that also I almost feel like by choosing to POAS too soon I am creating the negative result.  Clearly, not logical, but deep deep deeply felt by me.  I am basically both desperate to find out and terrified to find out and it's a constant battle going on.  When Ian suggested that we think about it and revisit this on Wednesday morning and decide if we want to do it them or wait, my brain started going crazy and I had to explain that the whole point of this conversation is that I need to decide and know so that I can stop thinking about at least this one aspect of things.

And then Ian, of course, points out the cat.  Basically, I am scared that by taking a home pregnancy test, I am going to kill the cat (make the result negative).  Right now the cat is both dead and alive (I am both pregnant and not pregnant) and the box is closed up tight.  Once I open the box (take the test) the cat is either dead or alive.  

I finally said, "Honestly, I think the most mentally healthy choice for me is to wait until the Beta test.  Or in our situation, to wait until the morning of the Beta test so we find out together."  And he agreed.  So, for now, I am both pregnant and not pregnant.  The cat is both dead and alive.  And will remain that way until Friday, 14dp3dt, 17dpo.

Unless I change my mind.  


  1. Been thinking about you every day, so I can only imagine the anxiety you are feeling! Holding my breath and crossing my fingers for you. Xxoo

  2. keeping everything crossed for you until Friday. So hard to know what is more anxiety-producing, testing or waiting... huge good luck to you guys.

  3. Schrödinger's Cat does help explain the anxiety of testing. Or not testing.
    I never test until it's absolutely 14 DPO.
    I'm just don't want to be sad... then think in the back of my head "maybe it was too soon" and test again... just to be sad... just to think again "maybe it was too soon"... etc.
    I don't know how some women do it!

    1. Exactly! Obviously some women feel better doing it often/daily, but it would cause me so much extra anxiety!

  4. So what you're telling me is that you are pregnant with a cat, yes?


    1. yes!! (we actually did, at one point in this big chat, pause to talk about how weird it would be if i gave birth and a kitten came out, not a human baby. cause we are a little bit weird.)

  5. sending good vibes your way! yay! I didn't know about the Schrödinger's Cat until I noted it for a game I pre ordered and then in more detail here. crazy!

  6. xxx Heaps of sticky thoughts and sticky sticky love for you (in a totally non gross way)!

  7. Hi there sock buddy! this is a brilliant post! I love it :)

  8. I was always told that the IVF drugs would give a false HPT result anyhow so I just waited for the beta. And then you have to wait for the second beta to see if it's doubled, and then you have to get an ultrasound, and then...It just seemed like forever til we could be absolutely sure, somewhere around 12-14 weeks after we got the CVS results. We were talking about this the other day, how we didn't quite believe the positive result when we got the phone call. We both secretly thought it wasn't going to work. Well, we were both really wrong. Good luck with your beta!

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