I nearly became a father today. Three months early. I won’t deny that the last six months have to a large extent taken the surprise out of it, but where childbirth is concerned, surprise is to be avoided. To feel shock would be a tragedy, especially if it is felt by the mother. And yet, there is a lot happening. We are going to meet a new person, a person like us. Very similar to us, in fact. We will also be legally responsible for them for a considerable time after they want that particular responsibility to pass to them. We have nappies, sleep(lessness), teething, learning to walk and talk, school, hormones and who knows what else before then.

The scent of having reached the day when fatherhood would arrive makes one compute all sorts of arrangements and possibilities. When will I get the call, how will I traverse the 35 miles to Leiden to be with her, what will I say to the guard when the train inevitably breaks down on this of all journeys. What will I say to my boss when I interrupt her meeting to tell her where I need to go and why, even how I’ll field the slightly invasive and awkwardly timed questioning from people I have tell about his quickly.

The reason why I nearly became a father, but did not, is because the repeated ‘hard tummy’ sensations Eva has been feeling are not periodic, and thus not contractions, and she is not ‘dilated’. So, the tension dissipated as quickly as it had arrived. And I carried on writing my grant proposal.