Becoming A Father, Three Times Over

Semil Shah
Oct 19, 2015 · 4 min read

To date, I’ve used Medium as a place to write about my experience in becoming a father to a now growing, vocal, demanding 2.5 year-old little girl. I’m sure fatherhood has changed me in many ways — ways that I wholly recognize (like being obsessed about time) and ways that only others can see (please do let me know, good or bad!).

And this past week, our world changed again, and I’m sure, as a result, I have too — I just don’t know it yet. Last weekend, my wife delivered twin baby boys after carrying them for 38 weeks strong, despite her petite frame. We got home from the hospital a few days ago and are adjusting to life as a family of five.

As an aside: I could say so many things about my wife, our journey into parenthood, what it’s like to hold your kid, but you can surely imagine what I’d say. What I will say that is women, across the board, are amazing. Women were the main doctors and nurses that helped my wife during her pregnancy; women made up 99% of the nurses and doctors and specialists at the hospital, and 99% of the staff in the maternity ward. Men, relatively speaking, generally play a very small part in the entire process. It was humbling the first time around, and it was even more so this time around. I am still in awe of what a collection of nurses, staff, doctors, moms, and female relatives can do to make material change.

Over the next few years, I expect to open up my Medium blog and write about my experiences in fatherhood as my daughter approaches age 3 and as my two sons learn to crawl, walk, intonate, and slowly form into their own individual beings. But right now, my focus is fixated on a few more urgent matters — I want to make sure my wife has what she needs to be comfortable (and sleep), I want to make sure we pay extra attention to our daughter because this is a huge change going from the star of the show to part of the cast, and I want to make sure our household runs in a manner where everyone can be comfortable, eat well, and sleep well. right now, my brain is in “triage mode.” The emotions haven’t kicked in yet.

So, stay tuned as I change again as a father, and hopefully, by the grace of everyone around me, can be a better person in the process. For now, I wanted to write this post to share the one thought that’s been consuming me for months and can now finally let out — that the level and care with which friends, colleagues, and founders and investors in the Bay Area’s startup ecosystem came to support me, as their friend and coworker, as my family was preparing for this surprise transition.

When we first heard “twins,” we were excited, but also nervous. I grew very nervous as the months went on. How will I manage my work, already a near 24-hour a day obsession, with two more? How will I make ends meet in a Bay Area that’s booming?

All sorts of thoughts creeped into my mind. Every option was on the table. And, in sharing my concerns open with friends in the community, what I found was remarkable — friends offering me desks in their offices, colleagues inviting me to become more of a meaningful participant in our endeavors, peers introducing me their LPs for my fund, and so forth.

As I put my Fund II to bed and started Fund III back around Labor Day, I had to work out some transitional and process issues, such that I wanted to make some investments in September but couldn’t wire until October. I explained everything to at least four if not five founders up front, and each one of them responded with something like this: “Wow, that’s great, wishing you the best; and yes, of course, timing is no problem.” Being relatively new to the ecosystem, you’d think the founder-investor is setup to be somewhat adversarial, and it’s easy to make that inference watching the language people use on their blogs and on Twitter. But, nope, turns out truly good people exist on both sides of that divide, and that real friendships can form from points of mutual understanding.

The people above who helped me wouldn’t be the type to seek public credit, so I won’t mention them here, but you can surely believe it has a hugely humbling effect on me and strengthens my resolve to do the same for others in any way I can — today with whatever time I have, tomorrow maybe with more. I hope I get the chance to see that through. For those who helped or simply just listened to understand, I say: “Thank you. It meant a great deal and I won’t forget it.”

As I was preparing for this new life, now with a daughter and two sons, I was reminded of one of my favorite songs, “The Suburbs,” by Arcade Fire, which contains this stanza (link to song):

Sometimes I can’t believe it, I’m movin’ past the feeling; Sometimes I can’t believe it, I’m movin’ past the feeling and into the night. So can you understand? Why I want a daughter while I’m still young, I wanna hold her hand, and show her some beauty, before this damage is done. But if it’s too much to ask, it’s too much to ask, then send me a son.

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