This week ParentDish is joined by a new columnist, children's author Alex Milway, who's expecting the birth of his first baby in December.

As a nearly-dad, there are many things that pitter-patter through my brain at the dead of night. These range from, "could I get away with naming my child after a cartoon character," all the way to, "I hope he/she is good at computer games."

I admit, there are more pressing concerns that should be filling my head, such as the health of my baby, but those matters still seem like the worries of a real father. It's almost like the gravity of the situation is lost on me, and in all likelihood, most nearly-dads.

The problem is, I'm still a while away from meeting the baby for real. I've seen it on the scan, of course, where it looked more boxing kangaroo than human, but the only real aspect of impending fatherhood that's had any proper impact on me so far is the deadline: the due date. That looming deadline is approaching faster than a juggernaut hurtling down a motorway, and as my life revolves around deadlines that's about the only thing I can grasp onto. I can understand that in two months time I won't have any time any more, but I can't understand that it will because there's a little baby that needs its nappy changing pronto.

The reason for this, as the male half of this family-to-be, is that it feels like the calm before the storm. All is well on my side. I don't have a bulging belly that wriggles and wobbles more by the day. I don't have the pressing need to munch through a muesli bar at 3am (though I do get to hear it and enjoy my partner's pressing need), and I'm still fully capable of walking freely up and down the hill.

We fathers-to-be have to rely upon imagination alone. Sure, I can share in my partner's difficulties: I make a good chauffeur and leaning post, I'm a concerned listener and I also provide good oily bump rubs. But empathy can only go so far.

So if you find a nearly-dad wanting to name his daughter Storm, or his son Chewbacca, be kind to him, because he won't really understand what it's all about until he's covered in baby sick.