Dear Zoe,

Your mom and I spent an incredible amount of time debating whether or not to have you. We discussed the pros and cons of having a child, we had in-depth conversations with all of our friends with children to intimately understand their experience, and we prepared a financial model to understand the fully loaded cost of a child up until and including college. I still vividly remember one particular conversation your mom and I had. Ada thought an interesting exercise would be for us to discuss what each of our biggest fears were about having a child and how we could overcome those fears. I shared that I felt like I had just gotten to the point in my life where I was living my absolute dream. We were building Notejoy, the company that we couldn't be more passionate about and more importantly, we were building it in a way that was 100% aligned with our values. Despite the demands of being a startup founder, I still found time to maintain my love of writing, taking advantage of the quiet weekend mornings we enjoyed to capture and share my thoughts. I had also worked incredibly hard to make fitness a priority in my life, having run a half marathon and lost thirty pounds. And while doing all of this, I enjoyed 8 hours of sleep each night that ensured I lived each day to it's fullest. My fear was this life we had painstakingly built would be jeopardized by introducing a child into the mix. Parents we talked to warned us of sleep deprivation, of how our weekends would no longer be our own, and of impending dad bod. We came to the conclusion that if we were incredibly diligent about it, we might be able to overcome the worst of it by hiring help when possible and taking turns creating protected time for each of us to ensure we could continue to pursue our passions. The biggest fear Ada shared was losing the close relationships we had developed with our friends over the years, seeings them regularly, and prioritizing quality time with them. She especially feared losing our relationships with our kidless friends, as we heard so many of our friends found it easier to hangout with friends with kids. We vowed to at least not be that couple that assumes that our friends without kids didn't want to spend time with us and to try to create shared experiences with all our friends and family.

Of course you know how this decision went as we did end up having you :) And three weeks ago today, you entered our lives. It's been interesting reflecting back on those three weeks. On one hand, it's been great that so far we've tried to hold to our commitments where possible. For example, I've been able to continue to make progress on Notejoy, keep up my writing, and go for runs at least three times a week. But that all is certainly the least interesting part. The most interesting part is just how much I've enjoyed spending time with you. You certainly haven't been easy these first three weeks. I can't count the number of times you've decided to pee on me when changing your diaper, how long it takes to get a decent burp out of you, and how difficult it is at times to get to the bottom of your fussiness. Yet despite all that, I feel like even now, I'm building a valuable relationship with you through it all.

On my run just the other day I heard one of my favorite songs "If you want love" by NF. The lyrics go, "If you want love, you are going to have to go through the pain. If you want love, you are going to have to learn how to change." And it was such an important reminder of how love actually works.

It reminded me of building my relationship with your mom. It certainly wasn't easy at first. It took so long to truly understand each other, to trust each other. And there were times early on where we wondered if all that painful process was even worth it. Yet it was that process of truly getting to know each other that built our love in the first place. Looking back at the 16 years I've been with your mom, its incredible to actually think about just how much I've changed as a person because of her. I can confidently say I wouldn't be nearly the same person as I am if she hadn't entered my life. And what's amazing is I couldn't have anticipated most of the ways she has changed me.

It made me realize that before having you, I was spending too much of my time worrying about protecting my old life, ensuring it didn't have to change, and bringing you into this world in a way that was completely compatible with the way I had lived to date. But the lessons of love I learned from your mom is that a relationship full of love will certainly change you and change you for the better. And that's not something that should be avoided. But something embraced and looked forward to.

I see many of my friends dating later in their life and one thing I notice is just how protective they are of their existing lifestyle and how they struggle to find someone completely compatible with it. The thing I'll tell you Zoe is that the love of your life will change you in ways that you can't even imagine. And that's not something to run away from. It's something to look forward to. Just how I'm so looking forward to how much you'll change me, too.

Love, Dad