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Pacify Me: A Handbook for the Freaked-Out New Dad Paperback – May 12, 2009

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

A comic and a filmmaker, Chris Mancini has screened and spoken at various prestigious festivals including HBO’s U.S. Comedy Arts festival, and at Comic Con in San Diego. Chris is a regular on Budd Friedman’s world famous Improv comedy circuit. He’s also cofounder of the ComedyFilmNerdsDotCom.com and contributes to two parenting blogs.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

1

My Life Is Over


That's it. It's done. Finito. Stick a fork in me. Game over, man. The Fat Lady has sung. My life is over. It's the first thought that came into my head when I learned I was going to be a father. All of a sudden I knew my life was never going to be the same. No more doing what I wanted when I wanted. No more freedom. No more allnight Halo playing, no more going out with the guys, and no more eating pancakes whenever I wanted to. My life from that point on would be endless responsibility and child care. Baby food, crying, PTA meetings, and ballet recitals. I didn't want to go to the ballet! I hate ballet! Seriously, does anyone really like ballet? The flash of life ahead was making me feel light-headed.

I was never against having kids. My wife, Audrey, and I talked about it before we got married. I always wanted them eventually. But suddenly, eventually came. I had just gotten used to being an adult. My wife may debate this, since I said for my birthday I wanted either the new Resident Evil game or Aqua Teen Hunger Force on DVD, so I suppose it's relative. But now I had to be a father too?! I felt like the clock started ticking and time was running out. It's like I was caught in some kind of pre-parental Logan's Run.

So does any of the above sound at all familiar to you? I thought so. Think of it as a knee-jerk reaction to something so huge that your brain can't even fully comprehend it. Don't worry; eventually it will sink in. Usually after the baby is about six months old. Your brain will finally process everything and you'll realize that the scary infantcrying sound is coming from inside the house!

So when you crawl out of your full fetal position from under the bed, know and understand that what you're feeling is perfectly normal. You're going to feel nervous, anxious, depressed, and uneasy all at once. Like you just ate a chili dog at a Céline Dion concert. Heck, you're going to be feeling so many different things, you may even invent a few new negative emotions of your own. Hyperanxiepression, anyone?

As anxious and nervous as men get when they are about to become fathers, I think I personally raised the bar for pre-baby anxiety. I couldn't eat. I couldn't sleep. I had big whiny fits and eventually I ended up in a psychiatrist's office. Have you noticed that no one ever "goes" to a psychiatrist's office? Everyone just "ends up" there. Like it's a big mystery how it happened. "Huh, how did I get here? And why are there bugs crawling all over me?" Also, a psychiatrist is the one who's a medical doctor. I think if you see the words "Life Coach" on any therapist's wall you should run away, very quickly. I'm pretty sure a life coach is just one step above "Dog Whisperer." Or maybe below.

So after I "ended up" at the psychiatrist's office, I just opened the floodgates. I told him that I didn't want to have a kid, but I wanted to want to have a kid. He may have rolled his eyes and checked to see what my co???pay was at that point, but I'm not sure. This whole baby thing was tearing me apart inside. Some mornings it got so bad that I would wake up shaking. "So what should I do, doc? What's wrong with me?" My psychiatrist paused and looked at me patiently. It looked like he was about to lay a secret on me. All right, let's hear it. I was waiting.

Well, he let me in on a secret, all right.

My psychiatrist was kind enough to inform me that these days it's all about mood-elevating drugs and not so much about talking through your problems anymore. So in other words, he was saying that it really didn't matter what either of us said, as long as he had his prescription pad handy. Wow. Does anyone else know about this? Think about all the wasted years of medical school this knowledge would save! I think that's the subject of another book. Maybe Tom Cruise could write it. Anyway, so my dealer, er, psychiatrist, then listened impatiently to my baby terrification problems and promptly prescribed some Zoloft.

Interestingly, the drugs worked great. I felt better. When you're on antidepressants/anxiety medication, everything's...cool. Nothing's too horrible, and nothing's too great. You're Even Steven. Win the lottery? Coool...Your car is stolen? Coool...

Anyway, the psychiatrist sessions continued, and I got all of my insurance money's worth. We talked about everything from my relationships to my career to my childhood. Sometimes it's easier to talk to a stranger, especially if you know he isn't really listening. Despite his professional opinion, talking about it really did make me feel a little better.

The most ridiculous thing is that it never occurred to me that other fathers-to-be go through and share the same anxieties. In my bubble I thought I was the first man ever to be freaked out about having a child. I don't know why I felt that way, but I did. Maybe it's because we men don't communicate and share feelings with each other the way women do. If we did, well, then we would be women, I suppose. So I'm hoping if I write it down, it will sound less...girly. The truth is, most guys are terrified of having a child and share the same feelings of nervousness, anxiety, and powerlessness. Even that happy, excited guy handing out cigars is secretly wondering if he'll ever get to go to a restaurant again that doesn't have an arcade attached. If I could give you a hug right now, I would. Seriously, though, ask your friends with kids how they felt beforehand. But make sure you do it in a loud bar over some good manly beers. Domestic!

Look, you should be freaked out about having a child. It's huge. I'm not trying to downplay it at all. At this point I'm not even going to tell you to calm down. Go ahead, freak out. Get it all out now. I'm going to repeat this because it's important: It's perfectly normal to be freaked out about having a child. After you're done, then calm down. Feel better? No? Don't worry; you will in time.

I'll tell you, I'm more concerned about the guys who aren't freaked out about having a child. They're the ones who everyone should be worried about. What's going on in the guy's head who is completely unaffected by impending fatherhood? What's got him so preoccupied? That's the same guy who is usually described later on a police report as always being "such a nice, quiet boy."

So here's the deal: This book is all about explaining to you what I went through, what I learned, and why it's not as bad as you think. In other words, I'll be talking you down from the ledge. Because when I was up on that ledge myself, it was a horrible, anxious feeling, but it had a nice view. I'll let you know what I saw.

There were times when I didn't really think I could do it. But I did. And you will too. No matter your starting point, you just may surprise yourself as to how well you'll rise to the occasion. Luke Skywalker started out as a farmer, and look how well he did. Sure, he lost a hand along the way, but there's going to have to be a few small sacrifices.

I'll try to give you an idea of what to expect and how you can avoid a lot of the pitfalls I already fell into for you. I'll be sharing my lessons learned, offer advice, and will give you my opinions and judgments, mainly because I'm very opinionated and judgmental. You'll see.

Copyright © 2009 by Chris Mancini --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Gallery Books; Original edition (May 12, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1439128871
  • ISBN-13: 978-1439128879
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.7 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (78 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #722,959 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By J. GARRATT VINE VOICE on June 5, 2009
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
There are books out there, geared towards new dads, that come with inherent problems. They either speak (metaphorically) over your head with unnecessary amounts of information or simply talk down to you.

["Rookie Dad" comes to mind. I sometimes felt like I was being lectured to instead of having my confidence built. The author was telling me not to hound my wife for sex after childbirth and to "get on the floor and play with your baby." Wow, really?]

"Pacify Me" is not the be-all-end-all of new dad books, but the unique thing about it is that it's a book written by a (previously) freaked-out dad FOR freaked-out dads. It doesn't talk down to you, it speaks directly at you. If some of it comes across as dumb or juvenile, that's probably part of Chris Mancini's point; being a comedian, jokes make up the bulk of his communication. He does his best to set you at ease through self-deprecation, sci-fi references, and ripping on his in-laws.

Poking through his jokes and random references to robots, you get glimpses of some really solid advice and occasionally some almost embarrassingly frank information. The former is a nice surprise for a book that I didn't expect to take seriously, and the latter is not a bad thing. It gives a hamball like Mancini some credence.

"Pacify Me" all adds up to something new dads can EASILY wrap their minds around. It's a breezy read, at 200 pages with large font and large spacing. Even if I didn't agree with him 100% of the time (I honestly forget which points I didn't agree with, showing that I didn't think they were serious differences in opinion), I'm glad I read it.

And on page 44 he assembles a chart comparing famous pediatric author Dr. Spock to Mr. Spock from "Star Trek." Go on, try to find another parenting book that does that.
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This book was written for the father-to-be who's anxious about the prospect of having children. That may or may not be a wide audience, but -- speaking as one of them -- it hit the mark. I'm grateful to the author for having written it and I wished I'd found it sooner.

It's pretty funny, too. The writer has talent and a nice dry sense of humor. This might throw off a few mothers-to-be, but my wife thought the parts I read to her were entertaining, so there's that. If you don't take things too seriously you'll enjoy it.
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Needed a gift for a "Co-ed Baby Shower." As friends of the new dad, wanted to give him some "guy stuff." So, ordered this and this and the "Baby Owner's Manual." Of course, added adult beverage to the package.Score.
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A friend gave me an autographed copy of Pacify Me as a Baby Shower gift, and it was really fantastic. A light, quick read, it was perfect for reading one day on a plane ride. Written to provide some comfort and entertainment for the nervous father-to-be, Mancini uses his experiences to generate some laughs and let you know that other men have gone through the same thing.

Though that message is important, this book should not be taken as a serious instruction guide. There are a couple moments I have a small gripe with, like Mancini's apparent pro-C-section stance (C-section's should only be done as a last resort, but Mancini seems to encourage them as a means of avoiding natural childbirth). But, other than that, most of Mancini's advice seems really good and commonsensical.

Definitely good for entertainment and reassurance, I think first-time fathers (and anyone, really) will enjoy this. For a readable, but more informative book, though, I recommend checking out "The Expectant Father," by Armin A. Brott and Jennifer Ash. "Pacify Me" gives the comedian's take, while "The Expectant Father" is much better for facts and practical advice, and it is also entertaining at times. Taken together, those two books have been a real help to me.
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By Kristen on January 28, 2013
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I got this for my husband.Two different times I happened to open the book to a page on myths about pregnancy. I was pretty offended when he said that men saying pregnant women are beautiful is a myth. Maybe I am more sensitive because I am pregnant but I think that is a bit much. I do realize the author is trying to be funny but I didn't find that funny and neither did my husband. Aside from that, the book has some pretty funny parts.
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This is hilarious, informative, and I know my husband will actually enjoy reading it when it's our turn to have a kid. I've even left little notes in it for him on topics in it. I also think he will get a kick out of all the Star Wars and video game references.
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Got this for my son-in-law for fathers day which was just days before his first son was born. He loved it. Thank you.
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Quick, funny read with some insight thrown in. If you are a panicked soon to be dad this book might help. Lots of the reviews here emphasis the "funny" aspect; some talk about the informative aspect. But I think the real value lies the author's personal story - the "freaked out" aspect. You have a first row seat into the author's journey from someone trying to imagine what it's like to be a father, to someone who's lived it and how it changes his perspective.

Sure every parent will tell you that having a child changes everything - but having him spell out his anticipated fears and then his realities paints a picture of what parents mean when they say that. His ultimate take away is insightful. It's a light book so I admit I was just expecting the standard "it's hard but it's worth it" and he adds another layer to that thought. And as everyone else had said it's a quick, funny read so it won't take you to long too get there.
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