As part of my exploration into the first 1,000 days of human life, I’d like to tell as many stories as possible, so I need to hear from you.
The 1,000 days start, and they can look very different based on who you are and where you are in the world.
What if you want to have a child and can’t? Or, if you don’t want one and get pregnant? What happens if you are part of a same-sex couple and want a family? Or if you are a transgender man who wants to carry a baby?
There are so many very different examples of what family looks like around the world. There is the deaf Pakistani woman whose 18-month-old has already figured out that his mother does not respond to him in the same ways his grandparents do; the “milk mothers”* in Morocco who breastfeed other people’s children; the adoptees from Romania who rebuild their lives in other countries.
(*The practice of milk kinship in Islam consists in bonds between families where women breastfeed not only their children but also children of other families. Children who have been regularly breastfed by the same woman are considered “milk-siblings” and are prohibited from marrying each other.
You can read more in this academic article.)
These stories are from my wider network, but members of The Correspondent have also shared examples with me from their own lives.
I’ve heard from a foster parent for refugee children; someone who grew up in an orphanage in the United States, and the mother of a disabled child. Another member reached out to say she was experiencing recurrent miscarriages. She asked: “What happens when a ‘life’ ends in the first 126-182 days of those 1,000 days?”
What are the stories we are not seeing?
From my own experience of motherhood (to an able-bodied child who carries a European Union passport) there is only so much I can infer about parenthood and a baby’s development from watching my own son grow.
So I’d like to know about as many pregnancies and babyhoods as I can. I need your help to explore the central question of my beat*: just how much are you shaped by your first 1,000 days of life?
(*A beat is a journalist’s area of expertise and research.
Here I explain my own beat.)
Here’s how you can help: I’d love to hear if you – or someone you know – are somewhere along the journey between conception (or planning to conceive) and raising a child to the age of two. I would also love to know if there are specific places around the world I should be playing close attention to.
We know that maternal mortality rates are much higher in some geographies than others. And even within the same country, a pregnancy may result in very different outcomes, depending on your skin colour*. These things we know, and while we can cast further light on them, what are the stories we are not seeing?
(*African-American, Native American, and Alaska Native women are three times more likely to die than white women as a result of a pregnancy complication in the United States. A 2019 report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention details this.
Read more here.)
Are you thinking of getting pregnant? Are you pregnant, or is your partner expecting? Are you raising a child up to the age of two?
By hearing your stories, I can create a network of people experiencing the first 1,000 days in one way or another across different parts of the world and in structures that go way beyond the nuclear, heterosexual family.
What’s the ask?
- Keep me informed of your progress (with clearly defined boundaries)
- Be consulted on article ideas where applicable
- Proofread stories where applicable
- Share your story with others if you’re comfortable doing so
Want to help me broaden the perspectives that inform my journalism? Great. I can’t wait to hear from you!
This article first appeared in The Correspondent, the member-funded platform that shut down on 1 January 2021.