From Paternity Leave to Fertility Struggles: Inside Mark Zuckerberg's Life as a Dad
Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Dr. Priscilla Chan, are parents to two daughters: August, 20 months, and Max, 3
Since becoming a dad, Mark Zuckerberg has learned even more about what’s important in life.
The Facebook founder, 34, has opened up over the years about how much his reality has shifted since he and his wife, Dr. Priscilla Chan, welcomed their now-3-year-old daughter Maxima, a.k.a. Max. (The two went on to add a second daughter, August, to their family in August 2017.)
Zuckerberg and Dr. Chan, a pediatrician, announced their second pregnancy that March, when the tech CEO got candid about the difficulties they’d had trying to conceive Max.
“We weren’t sure what to expect or whether we’d be able to have another child,” Zuckerberg wrote on Facebook. “When Priscilla and I first found out she was pregnant again, our first hope was that the child would be healthy.”
He also admitted he hoped that the baby would be another girl, as he and his wife both grew up with sisters. “We are all better people because of the strong women in our lives — sisters, mothers and friends,” Zuckerberg wrote. “We can’t wait to welcome our new little one and do our best to raise another strong woman.”
Want all the latest pregnancy and birth announcements, plus celebrity mom blogs? Click here to get those and more in the PEOPLE Parents newsletter.
Dr. Chan, 34, and Zuckerberg have been open about the challenges they’ve faced on the journey to becoming parents, including three miscarriages over their initial two-year journey to conceive, the tech mogul shared on Facebook in July 2015, when his wife was pregnant with Max.
“You feel so hopeful when you learn you’re going to have a child. You start imagining who they’ll become and dreaming of hopes for their future. You start making plans, and then they’re gone. It’s a lonely experience,” he wrote. “Most people don’t discuss miscarriages because you worry your problems will distance you or reflect upon you — as if you’re defective or did something to cause this. So you struggle on your own.”
“In today’s open and connected world, discussing these issues doesn’t distance us; it brings us together,” Zuckerberg continued. “It creates understanding and tolerance, and it gives us hope. When we started talking to our friends, we realized how frequently this happened — that many people we knew had similar issues and that nearly all had healthy children after all.”
RELATED VIDEO: Mark Zuckerberg Shows Off Invention He Created to Help His Wife Sleep Better: “Being a Mom Is Hard”
Zuckerberg continued, “We hope that sharing our experience will give more people the same hope we felt and will help more people feel comfortable sharing their stories as well.”
“Sharing our experience with pregnancy was incredibly important because we realized how challenging and difficult that was and there are really dark moments where you think you’re alone,” Dr. Chan said in a September 2016 interview with Today host Savannah Guthrie.
“We realized that we weren’t and that there were other people traveling along the same road with you. I think having that, knowing that you’re not alone, was incredibly important for us,” she added. “And we wanted others to know that they weren’t alone either.”
Since becoming parents, the couple have embraced every moment — so much so that Zuckerberg took two months of paternity leave to bond with both his girls after their arrival.
“Studies show that when working parents take time to be with their newborns, outcomes are better for the children and families,” he explained, captioning a photo of baby gear in November 2015. “At Facebook we offer our US employees up to 4 months of paid maternity or paternity leave which they can take throughout the year.”
Ahead of August’s arrival, he wrote, “This time, I’m going to take advantage of Facebook’s option to take leave in parts. I’ll take a month off to be with Priscilla and the girls at the beginning, and then we’ll spend the whole month of December together as well.”
He added that he was looking forward to “bonding with the new little one and taking Max on adventures.”
From twinning with Max to seeing her off on her first say to preschool, to cuddling baby August, dressing in family Halloween costumes, working out with the “help” of his older daughter and more, there have been no shortages of cute moments between Zuckerberg and his girls shared to social media since he became a dad — a privilege he doesn’t take lightly, and sees a lot of responsibility in even outside his own household.
“For a few months during the pregnancy we just had a lot of time to think about the world that she was going to grow up in and there are all these dreams that we had long-term,” he told People en Español of daughter Max shortly before August’s arrival. “Leading up to having Max changed my perspective a lot. We actually had a few miscarriages before having Max so at the time we actually knew that we were going to have her, we were just so happy that it’s like, ‘Okay, we think that she’s going to be healthy and is going to come.’ ”
And just this past week, Zuckerberg revealed he had invented something he calls the Sleep Box — a small wooden box that sits atop his wife’s nightstand and puts out a dim light between the hours of 6 and 7 a.m. — to help Dr. Chan sleep at night, since “Being a mom is hard” and makes getting quality shut-eye quite the challenge.
“As an engineer, building a device to help my partner sleep better is one of the best ways I can think of to express my love and gratitude,” he wrote. “A bunch of my friends have told me they’d want something like this, so I’m putting this out there in case another entrepreneur wants to run with this and build sleep boxes for more people!”