Surprising discoveries about newborns

As some of you know, my wife recently gave birth to a boy and a girl.  Now that they are three months old, I thought I would share what I find to be some surprising discoveries over these three months.

  • We have so little free time now. Before, maybe 4-6 hours a day. Now, maybe 0.5-1 hour a day.  This issue is compounded by all the visitors we get.
  • When I used to get home, I would immediately pull my laptop out and work with it for hours. And again in the morning for an hour or two before heading to work.  Now, it is rare that I have a chance to even pull out my laptop until the morning. Conversely I use my phone much more often, as it’s easier to check/write email while feeding a baby.
  • Infants make noise all the time while sleeping. Combined with our white noise machine, it sounds like a forest in their bedroom at night.
  • Poops are often surprisingly, violently loud.
  • Gas results in a lot of screaming.
  • Cleaning their face and neck doesn’t annoy them, like it does toddlers. But it must be done often, as they are constantly dribbling milk and spitup down their neck.
  • They don’t associate physical annoyance with crying. E.g. if I accidentally dropped an empty bottle and it hit their head, they would just look around. Meanwhile, a toddler might decide to cry at the same action.
  • Each day feels like groundhog day. Feedings consist of prepping bottles, feeding, changing diapers, swaddling, cleaning bottles, and prepping for the next feeding. Doing this for both kids alone requires around 90 minutes. And since the kids have been eating every three hours in this first 6 weeks, things have become very repetitive. After 12 weeks, we have gone through this cycle almost 600 times.
  • I will wake up about once a week with a jolt and throw the sheets off of me, thinking that a baby is in bed with me and he/she is stuffed under the blankets or under me. Unlike normal nightmares which wash over me in 2-3 seconds, it actually takes me 10 seconds or so of frantically looking around before I realize that that didn’t happen.
  • It took 8 weeks for us to finally feel comfortable enough to leave the house and feed them in a public place (and that 8 weeks was partially due to Chicago’s crappy spring weather). It was hugely liberating.
  • They really hate when you try to put on sleep sacks, which are tight at the neck and tight at the bottom.  Both areas of tightness really pisses them off.

How I spend my day

I was asked by a member of our Chicago startup community to detail what the day-to-day life of the CTO looks like at Mediafly. I thought I’d share how I spend my time, summarized in this graph:

Where I spend my time

As you can see, my role pulls me in a lot of different directions. Often, what I believe I will be doing at the start of the day turns out to be completely wrong by the end of the day looking back.

This graph doesn’t state much in isolation.  More interesting is when I pair this with where I want to spend my time (assuming Mediafly is no more than double its current size):

Where I want to spend my time

As we grow, I want to spend less time troubleshooting client issues, and more time with the product, with prospective customers, with my team, and writing and speaking.  Put another way, I want to spend more time being externally focused and be able to further rely on my team to make things happen.


The following notes apply when reading this:

  1. This is how I spend my time. It is not meant to be prescriptive, and It will almost assuredly differ from how you spend your time in the same role at the same company.
  2. I am the CTO of Mediafly, a high-growth enterprise mobility software-as-a-service company. We turn enterprise content and data into compelling mobile experiences. We have approximately 25 employees and contractors, the bulk of whom reside in engineering and services.
  3. My experiences and time allocation will differ from the CTO of a consumer-focused startup, established enterprise software company, or internal IT CTO.

I plan to update this post over time as my thoughts evolve.  As always, feedback is welcome!