July 2012: Pregnancy test in hand. Two bars. I was going to be a dad.
Honestly, in that moment, I didn’t quite know what it truly meant. My wife, on the other hand, could feel life change immediately – a mix of excitement and first trimester exhaustion – and she eagerly wanted to share every part of it. But for a dad-to-be, it’s not always easy to feel the same connection to pregnancy that the mom experiences.
Her: “I think the baby just kicked. Put your hand here. Can you feel it?”
Me (hand on her belly, patiently waiting): “Maybe?”
Her: “Ooh, that’s different, do you think I might be having contractions?”
Me: “Am I supposed to know that?”
As a dad-to-be, you can’t help but feel a little helpless. New questions popped up every day. One day my wife would be very excited about every little flutter. Another day she worried whether those flutters were normal. I wanted to help, but what could I do? I had barely grasped the concept that our child had fingers and toes, let alone how to qualify every little sensation during her pregnancy.
I thought – there must be a better way to do this…
The conception of Bloomlife
Let’s backtrack a bit.
When we first saw those two little bars on the pregnancy test, I was heading the wearable tech activities at imec – a world-leading nanoelectronics center out of Belgium. We were developing some amazing technologies to shape the future of healthcare: a miniaturized patch monitoring cardiac patients 24/7, a headset to measure electrical brain activity, a bracelet measuring stress, to name a few. Our technology could measure nearly everything related to someone’s health or even emotions.
Everything except the mysterious world of the pregnant body.
Spending my days working on revolutionary technology and my nights thinking about how little we know as parents and scientists when it comes to pregnancy, it didn’t take long to merge the two:
Could we measure changes in mom and baby at this stage in life? Could this technology that we had been developing for the last 10 years help us understand more about my wife’s pregnancy? decipher what she was feeling? give us insights into how our baby was doing? provide peace of mind and better information?
The answers to all these questions, as it will turn out, is YES.
Water breaks. Contractions begin. Game on.
At 4am on a snowy Thursday in February, my wife woke me up. Her water had broken, contractions had started. We headed to the hospital and five hours later, Arthur arrived into our world. Things got real, fast – another human in the room, in our care, so perfect, so fragile.
Our life had changed.
Sure, things become chaotic, our home became a mess, date night and Sunday morning snoozing in bed became a thing of the past, but the change was more fundamental: a monumental shift in our perspective on the world. Why am I doing what I do? What really matters in life? How will I contribute to making a better world for my little one?
Arthur changed the way we looked at our future.
The birth of Bloomlife
Later that year my friend and soon to be co-founder, Eric Dy, and I sat down to brainstorm new business ideas. We wanted to leverage the nascent field of wearable technologies that we were immersed in. We felt the pull of the opportunity to push wearables beyond the realm of “fun gadget”, an opportunity to use wearables to answer meaningful questions about people’s health and gather unprecedented physiological data for clinical research.
What could be more a more meaningful question than: “How is my baby doing?” or a greater clinical research challenge than understanding the cause of devastating pregnancy complications and improving birth outcomes?
It quickly became clear that we, as scientists, engineers and parents, were uniquely placed to address these questions.
Bloomlife was born.
Turning life upside down to revolutionize prenatal health
After the birth of their first child, most parents settle into their new lives, strive for job security and look to build their nest. This makes sense. My wife and I did the opposite. Before Arthur turned 2, we had both quit our jobs, sold everything we owned, and moved to San Francisco to start Bloom. Most of our friends thought we were crazy. Maybe we were, but we felt driven to pour our soul into this company. I had found a way to apply my experience in wearable tech to something that really mattered to us. Something that will improve the lives of millions of young parents and their babies. Young parents just like us. We had to do it.
Here I am, 3 years into life as a dad-entrepreneur and Bloomlife is taking off. We’ve assembled a terrific team of scientists and parents and continue growing every day. Parents can now get their hands on our first product, Bloomlife contraction tracking, and the feedback has been fantastic. Apparently, many soon-to-be parents run into the same questions my wife and I did. Knowing that we can provide peace of mind and confidence in this crazy life transition motivates us every day.
My wife and I had our second baby last February. Arthur was the inspiration for Bloomlife. Our daughter, Charline, was one of the first beta testers. As a founder, your startup is your life. As a dad, your family is your life. With Bloomlife, it all blends together.
Becoming a dad is life changing.
It is magical. It is powerful. It fundamentally changes your perspective on the world. Becoming a dad gave me the inspiration and energy to turn my life upside down. To found a company. To leave the security of a paid job and a nice house for the passion of doing something greater for society. To make the world a better place for my little one.
I wish that every dad finds the same inspiration.
Happy Father’s Day!
Co-Founder @ Bloom