When expecting a baby, all you can safely say about delivery is that nothing can be expected – you can read all the books and articles you want about the topic, but since you can’t really know what to expect, you can’t really prepare for it. For me, it actually felt good to know that there was no way to prepare; if I had known exactly what would happen, perhaps the preceding nine months would have been utter torment?

When the baby comes everything is upside down the first weeks or months – which actually might be a blessing: normally, too many new things at once will confuse you, but when you’re already tired since delivery and don’t get enough sleep, you just do whatever seems to need to be done: you act in the now, without worrying about the recent past or the close future.

In other words, the lesson that there’s no use expecting what will happen (before delivery) turns into the lesson that you can’t bother with expecting anything: there’s always only the now (during the first period). Then after the first period, you begin to return to your “former self” where you have all these expectations about what will happen, but soon you’ll find that this is in conflict with being a parent.

Children doesn’t act according to your expectations (and neither should they), so if you, for example, expect to watch a particular TV program or something in the evening “when he/she [the child] is asleep”, you are likely to bring frustration onto yourself. There’s nothing to do but go with the flow of things. (Now that I’m on paternity leave, this is much easier to follow, but I hope to keep it up next year when I return to work.)

I remember before Elvira was born, when I pre-washed her clothes and got very emotional as I hung them to dry down in the laundry room. The feelings were so strong and I wondered whether there would come a time when I could wash her clothes without having anything particular feelings about it; if the “magic” would wear off. I thought then that if that would happen, it would be a sign that I had slipped too far into mindlessness, back to my former (unwanted) self.

Thankfully, this hasn’t happened yet.

The above was posted to my personal weblog on October 28, 2002. My name is Peter Lindberg and I am a thirtysomething software developer and dad living in Stockholm, Sweden. Here, you’ll find posts in English and Swedish about whatever happens to interest me for the moment.

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