This blog is in chill-mode, but you'll still find archived posts and book updates/events.

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Saturday, April 19, 2008

Knocked Down Baby Yearbook

Coming soon!

Ask a Dead Baby Momma

Monday, April 27, 2009

Dear Dead Baby Momma:

I'm pretty sure that I'm going to be afflicted with a deadly illness. Any thoughts?

-Deathaphobic in Suburbia

Dear Deathaphobic in Suburbia,

Did you just ask me if I have any thoughts on deadly illnesses? Boy, do I ever. You've come to the right place, my friend.

There are two routes I can take in responding to your concern. One is the bad-friend route, and the other is the good-friend route. I'm going to take the good-friend route, because I could never live with myself if I didn't. But first, let me give you a glimpse of the bad-friend route, so you can see what that would have been like.

There used to be a controversial website floating around out there - it might even still exist - called Butterfly-Something or Something-Butterfly. The goal of this website was essentially to help anorexic women become better anorexics. Yes, you read that correctly. A clearinghouse for resources not meant to cure anorexia, but to augment it. Things like: recipes for soup made of water, cabbage, and air; tips for hiding one's protruding hipbones; methods for outsmarting scrutinizing doctors and mental health counselors. I read about it in the paper, and thought to myself: wowsers. Amazing! That's like angst-igating on steroids!

I bring this up as a way to illustrate the bad-friend route. If you ENJOY your deathaphobia - that is, if you take sadistic pleasure in it - you might like the bad-friend response to your request for my "thoughts." Such a response would go something like this:

You very well could be afflicted with a deadly illness anytime. In fact, it could be happening now. Better start doing something to analyze it, avoid it, legitimize it, feed it - BEFORE IT KILLS YOU!

Mathematically, the odds of a deadly illness are low, of course, unless you have a genetic history of deadly disease or have obvious increased risk factors (drinking, smoking, snorting crack, living above a nuclear waste dump). Any sane person with a medical degree would tell you so. But for someone like YOU, as a person who has likely experienced the improbable scenario of getting KuKdx1, 2, 3, or even more, the entire concept of "odds" goes out the window. "You're probably fine" loses its meaning after a while.

Which means that YES - that pelvic pain you're feeling? Your ovaries are probably rotting, cervical cancer cells colonizing your entire abdominal area. Go get checked out. Chest pains? Screw the antacids! That's a heart attack! Get thee to the emergency ward! That slight tremble in your fingertips? Parkinson's. Definitely Parkinson's. The fact that you aren't pregnant, although you've been trying for five months? Fatal fallopian blockage for sure. Go request immediate surgery before the blockage travels up to your lungs, impeding all air flow. The fact that a lot of people you know are suddenly coming down with the cancer bug? Yes, it's likely contagious in a cosmic sense (albeit not a medical sense), so go ask your doctor to test you for every kind of cancer on the market.

Oh, and to prevent modern-era-induced death, don't do ANY of the following: 1) eat food microwaved under plastic wrap; 2) use any soaps or lotions that aren't natural enough to eat directly out of the tube; 3) eat white foods; 4) touch anything not made of wood, stone, water, air, or fire. 5) eat anything other than organic vegetables from your grandma's garden.

BUT NO. Let Dead Baby Momma give you the good-friend response instead, the right response, the responsible response. As an advice columnist, this is my obligation. It goes like this:

Difficult as it may seem, there is one - and only one - way to confront your fears, not just of deadly illness, but of anything. Of infertility, of troubles at work or at home, of knocked-downage. That is: to let go of your bananas. Best put by this favorite prayer to whatever sadistic - but good at heart - asshole is controlling the gears up there:

Dear Sadistic - But Good At Heart - Asshole Controlling the Gears Up There:

Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
the courage to change the things I can,
and the wisdom to know the difference.

Isn't it lovely in its concise brilliance, this one? Yes, whoever said this is right, and whoever can do this deserves full admiration, for it grates directly against human nature and tendencies more than any other thing. It's why frantically worried women marry people like Kevin, who are "wise enough to know the difference."

Disease: you can't control it. My suggestion would be to take a middle-of-the-road approach, hovering between good-friend and bad-friend. Be educated and proactive, yet not obsessive. Choose three obvious anti-deadly-disease habits to implement regularly, just to make yourself feel better, and give yourself a semblance of control. This might include not licking plastic, not smoking, and not inhaling gasoline, for instance. It will feel like being on a diet, and allowing yourself the occasional chocolate. It will feel good.

Yet on the inside, keep harvesting knowledge of what you can and can't control, for this is what allows you to move forward without fear. Write it down in a notebook. Two columns: "CAN CONTROL," and "CAN'T." Once you think about it, you'll see that disease - deadly and otherwise - ultimately fall into the "CAN'T" category. So does knocked down-age, for the record.

And then you can let it go, like an overripe banana, using all of that controlling energy for other, more productive life projects, like writing a column like this, or looking up cupcake recipes and trying them out, or going out to buy new sexy underwear and seducing your honey, or hosting a cocktail party, or taking a Calgon bath, or sitting at the park with a bag of cherries from the farmers market and spitting seeds on innocent pedestrians. All perfectly valid uses of that leftover energy.

In fact, Dead Baby Momma says: let's all make this our personal project, shall we? And report back on our progress? Go forth fearlessly, Deathaphobic in Suburbia! Thou shalt find your way!

Send your Dead Baby Momma questions to: monica at exhalezine dot com.


April 9th, 2009

Dear Dead Baby Momma,

How much longer am I allowed to openly grieve for my dead baby among friends, family members, and other people in my life? I'm updating my Outlook calendar right now, and want to make sure I mark that grieving cut-off date with a red flag.

-Trying to Stay Organized in Seattle

Dear Trying to Stay Organized,

Ancient scholars have been studying this perplexing question since the very first human pregnancy loss in the world. The current, commonly accepted answer is perhaps best stated by Deborah Davis, author of Empty Cradle, Broken Heart: "there is no established length of time for the (grieving) process." This implies that it is socially acceptable to keep talking about your dead baby in public forever and ever.

Have you ever seen the cartoon movie Bambi? Remember the part where Bambi's mother is shot and killed, and Bambi runs away scared? And wasn't it depressing and disturbing to witness that scene as a young viewer? But then mother, or some other caring adult, probably told you something soothing like, "it's okay, honey. That wasn't a gunshot. That was a drumbeat of love from the happy fairy, and Bambi's mother didn't just fall to the ground bleeding, she collapsed in a fit of joy. The red stuff is, um, actually a pile of cherry Lifesavers that fell out of the Lifesaver delivery truck."

You felt better when she told you that. The world seemed okay.

That's what Deborah Davis is doing: telling you that to sooth your soul. What she's not telling you is the unspoken secret: there is a cut-off point. That is, not a time line for your actual internal grieving, but a rough period of time after which other people in your life will expect you to have internalized and moved on. They won't ever tell you this outright; that's why we call it the unspoken secret of our society. It is safe to say that if you push the boundaries of these cultural and societal expectations, people will think you're a self-pitying, unstable, self-centered ball of yuck. I know that seems harsh and unfair, and it is.

The good news is that there's an easy way to calculate your own PGCU-Date (Public Grieving Cut-Off Date)!

Simply follow the steps below.

First, ask yourself: did I have what others perceive as a miscarriage, or what others perceive as a stillbirth? Then, look at list below. "Miscarriage" answers will be first, "stillbirth" will be second:

LEVEL 4 PEOPLE (acquaintances, distant Facebook buddies, the man behind the counter at the deli, colleagues who hardly know you): 1 Week / 2 Weeks. Note: longer is possible, with risk of having people suddenly, mysteriously drop you from their Facebook friends list, tired of reading your depressing status updates.

LEVEL 3 PEOPLE (guys in general; friends who you hang out with regularly but rarely discuss emotions; close-but-not-too-close family members like in-law and cousins, the 1-2 colleagues who know some detail about your personal life): 3 Weeks / 2 Months. Note: longer is possible, with a risk of a sudden decrease in invitations to cocktail parties.

LEVEL 2 PEOPLE (Really, really good friends that you see every day; people who you vent and emote to on a regular basis; most likely to be female; closer family members, like parents and siblings): 2 months/6 months. Note: longer is possible, with risk being given a pep talk, a loving plea to move on with your life, a subtle push to find out if you're suicidal, a gentle prod to find out if/when you're planning to try again, because it might be a good idea.

LEVEL 1 PERSON (your spouse or boy/girlfriend, also known as the Other Person Who Helped Make This Baby): 6 1-2 Years. Note: longer is possible, with risk of possible relationship erosion and loss of libido, so be careful.

LEVEL 0 PEOPLE(women who have gone through your exact situation, or men who have gone through your exact situation, more or less the same amount of time ago; that one best, best, best friend who still lets you vent about it and asks how you are; your mother; your dog; maybe even your spouse): Eternity. Note: longer is not possible, because there is no such thing as longer than eternity. Not even in the cartoon movie Bambi.

My recommendation is that you print this handy guide, Scotch tape it to your refrigerator with your own PGCU-Date highlighted in yellow. This way, you can always refer back to it.

Thank you for your question, Trying to Stay Organized in Seattle! I am pleased to open up my fountain of knowledge on your behalf, and hope I've cleared things up for you.

Knockalicious Blogs

Kukd, Infertility, Child Loss

Am I Really Going to Blog?

A Garden for Butterflies
All The Little Ponies
Bodhi ekaH
Bottoms Off And On The Table
Building Heavenly Bridges
Conceive This!
Elm City Dad
How to Make a Family
Hurting On The Sidelines
Isn't TTC Supposed To Be Fun?
Life Without My Baby
My So-Called Life
New Year New Ute
Parenthood for Me, Inc.
Relaxing Doesn't Make Babies
Sonya's Pages
Stirrup Queen's List of Blogs
The Not So Secret Life Of Us
The R House
The Real Bean
The Unlucky Lottery
To Baby and Beyond
Tuesday's Hope


Beatty Family Adventures
Full Time Mumma
Into the Woods
Meet the Boyles
Motherhood: From Egg to Zine
Reality Mom
Schipani Degan Blog
The Gonzo Mama
The Land of In-Between
Where in the World is Al Sandiego?
Will Write for (And About) Food


Welcome to the Knocktionary - a democratically created list of KuKd-related words. To propose a new word for the Knocktionary, e-mail

CANCERNOIA - irrational fear of getting (and dying!) from cancer. Related to documented "fear of personal extinction" stemming from miscarriage, stillbirth, or neonatal death.

BOGS - acronym-ish acronym standing for Books, Grief Counselors, and Social Workers (oh my!). You know: the smart people who tell you what to do, how to act, and how to feel. They know best, so you'd better do what they say. Otherwise, they might write "FAILED GRIEVING 101" in red ink in your permanent file.

GOOGLINATE (Googlination, Googlinator, Googlinatory): Google + procrastinate. Excellent for avoiding grading essays, doing house chores, and calling your mother.

HALLUCI-KNOCK: Hallucinate + knocked. The act of being completely convinced that one is knocked up, even though one isn't. Halluciknock (v), halluciknocktion (n), halluciknocktional (adj

: Instigator of angst. That is, a person who tries to drag you down to their own level of sadness/dejectedness/anger, possibly in a subconscious attempt to make themselves feel better. Otherwise known as a gloomy groupie, a joy blocker, depresstigagor, a sadness starter (angstigational, angstigationatory, angstigate, angstigationally).

MELANRAGEOUS- The feeling that you feel when you're around happy pregnant women, and/or happy women with cherub-cheeked infants in tow. As coined by Pamela: "the combination of melancholgy, rage and nauseous -- not at them per se, but at the unfairness of why some women are denied the opportunity for the same joy."

THE UGHLIES - Another term, this one coined by Heather, for that feeling when you are around happy pregnant women or happy women with cherub-cheeked infants in tow.

DIRTHDAY - Birth + Death. Same thing as stillbirth, basically. "Happy Dirthday, Zach."

Knocked Down Hunk Gallery

Welcome to the Hunk Gallery! You are about to set your eyes on some very special, sexy fathers of knocked-down offspring (stillborn, miscarried, blighted, or other).

for your favorite on the right-hand side of this blog. A new voting poll will be set every few months, at which point a winner for the most recent gallery will be declared and a new voting session will begin. Check the "days left to vote" on the poll to see when the next winner will be announced. SUBMIT YOUR HUNK PHOTO for the next KuKd Hunk Gallery. Send a picture & caption to You are welcome to submit your same hunk to multiple contests, as long as it's a different photo. Next deadline:

SEPTEMBER 1st, 2009.

June 15th-Aug. 15th, 2009

"This is my Knocked Down Daddy. A quite soul who loves his 2 little girls and remembers his only son with a smile. He has so much patience and looks after his lil babes while is wife is out for hours each night writing names at the beach."

"Three tours of Iraq, a degree in theater, a fabulous, garlic-and-cheese-loving chef... need I go on? Whether it's jumping out of an airplane or holding his sobbing wife's hand during a series of ill-fated ob/gyn visits, this knocked-down daddy is ready to handle anything. He'll be a great LIVE-baby daddy someday... but if that doesn't work out he says the only thing that matters is spending his life with me. They don't come much hunkier than this one."

"This is the most sensitive, supportive, optimistic and sexy man I have ever met. Here he is after a moonlit skinny dip in Mexico where we went to recover from the hardest year of our lives - knocked down from miscarriage after 2 years of dealing with infertility treatments. Three weeks in Mexico with this KD hunk is definitely as close to a miraculous cure as is possible!"

"This particular KuKd Dad has been knocked down 6 times yet still has a positive outlook as we are currently over halfway there with our 7th. No kids to spoil, but our doggie sure has him wrapped around her little paw that's for sure!"

"If my Sleepyhead couldn't win round one, here he is again, at a service station in Europe in 2006. This was two years pre-babyloss. Cuteness didn't serve us well in round one, so I'll go for good old fashioned humour for round two. My Knocked Down Hunk is (was)
always up for a laugh."

"What's the recipe for sexiness? Take one hot Irish KuKd hunk in a Hanes t-shirt, add one gooey s'more oozing with milk chocolate and marshmallows, and stare."

"He only wishes he could compete with our Knocked-Down Daddy-O's. But he knows he can't, so he drinks away his sorrows with a chilled bottle and a touch of hair product."


Gallery #1 First Place Champion Hunk:


"My guy builds a mighty cute snowman,our dogs adore him (I'm also a fan). Can we vote him hunkiest knocked-down-hunk? YES WE CAN!"


Runners Up:




Honorable Mention

"Sun God"


"The Listener"


"The Rock"

"Mr. Smiles"

"The Prankster"


Welcome! This blog, which chronicled nearly two years of my KuKd life, "went dark" in April 2010 after the birth of my live son, Sean Murphy. I promised myself that I'd end it when he arrived safely, and he did, so I did. Although I am no longer publishing my thoughts here, all earlier posts are still available to view.

What is KuKd?

KuKd stands for "knocked up, knocked down." It is used an adjective to describe the experience of losing a pregnancy, a baby-like mass of cells, a zygote, an embryo, a fetus, or an actual baby via miscarriage, stillbirth, blighted ovum, infertility, infant death, or anything in between. Most people pronounce it by simply stating the letters: kay-you-kay-dee. Others say "kooked," but if they said that in my presence, I probably wouldn't know what they were talking about (not that the Kukd experience doesn't leave your brain a little kooked-out).

Who writes this blog?

Right now, nobody. It used to be me, Monica.

Who the heck are you, Monica?

I'm just an ordinary, progressive-minded, disgruntled-but-doing-generally-okay KuKd x 3 (Knocked Up, Knocked Down) momma. My first was a nearly 4-month boy fetus named Boy Fetus. That was in July of 2006. Next came Zachary, stillborn in August 2007. Finally, a 2009 blighted ovum (also known as Mother Nature's Greatest Mindfuck). With great joy and relief, I gave birth to a live son, Sean Murphy, in March 2010. I now live with my hunk-o-husband, baby-substitute dog, and - of course - Lil' Sean in the lovely Pacific Northwest. I drink way too much coffee and wine, and used to spend a lot of time putting together EXHALE before I passed that project onto another group of great gals. My first book was just released by Catalyst Book Press. It's called Knocked Up, Knocked Down, and you should give it a read.

Why did you start this blog?

This blog was born about ten months after my son Zachary's dirth. I had some lingering dead-baby-related thoughts that I needed to express, and blogging provided a space to do that. Since then, this blog has grown into a space for many kinds of people walking different paths of sorrow, helping all of use feel normal during the alienating and insanity-producing experience of losing a baby or pregnancy.

I'm sorry. Did you just say "dirth?"

Yes. Dirth = death + birth. Dirth, dirthday, dirthing ceremony.

Friday, April 4, 2008


Book? What book?

Oh, THAT book. Just a book I've been working on over the past two years, just published in April 2010 by Catalyst Book Press:

Knocked Up, Knocked Down: Postcards of Miscarriage and Misadventure from the Brink of Parenthood is a darkly humorous, edgy memoir of pregnancy loss and its wacked-out aftermath. Since it was written by me - my voice, my thoughts - I'm pretty dang sure you'll enjoy the book if you like this blog. Heavy on the g-string panties and brief bouts of comical insanity, this book is free of sappy sobbiness, I promise. And it will make you laugh at least once, and probably more.

You can find it now at Amazon and other places - but Amazon is easiest. And if you really want to see it before you buy it, run over to your favorite book store and request that they stock it. Who knows; they just might if you ask nicely. You can also check out my author website at

Oh, and in case you're interested in the back story of how it all began, here you go:

Questions? Give me a buzz:

Thanks - and happy reading!