Stephanie Ruhle: 'Motherhood is hard. That's why I'm sharing my unspoken story.'

"When we tell our stories — the full, unfiltered versions — more people hear them. And they learn they are not alone."
Image: Stephanie Ruhle and her two sons.
Stephanie Ruhle in the early days of motherhood with her two young sons.Chelsea Stahl / NBC News
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By Stephanie Ruhle and Julie Brown

Open Instagram and take a look at your newsfeed. It’s not that different from mine, I’d bet. I’m not just talking about the off-center pictures of colorful brunch plates and funny dog videos we all know and love. But the posts between those posts: the family selfies full of smiling faces, the birthday party photos and the group vacation shot of everyone jumping on the beach.

They may be beautiful snapshots, but they are not the full picture.

What you or I won’t see on our Instagram feeds are the moments that live on each side of those happy memories. The screaming that ensued before the kids would finally smile. The mad scramble to get home in time to see the kids before they go to bed. The overwhelming stress of being the best mother, partner and professional you can be — all while keeping the house tidy and putting food on the table.

It’s these moments that need more light.

We may not want to say it out loud, but motherhood is hard.

And if you live in my house, you know it certainly is not always the idyllic image we see in the movies ... or even on Instagram.

Not even close.

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When my first son, Harrison, was born, I felt so lucky. I was so excited he was finally here. But it was that same fact — that he was finally here — that was equally as paralyzing.

Here he is, this crying, pooping living thing that is now mine for life, I thought. What an amazing responsibility … but how will I ever do it? And more importantly, how can I possibly get away from this?

There are a whole lot of us who are living somewhere in the middle, longing for the safe space and words to express these complicated feelings.

No matter how much help you have from your mother, or your nanny, or your sister, you are the only one sitting in adult diaper with a baby in your arms. You are the only one with nipples that feel like razor blades.

What’s worse than these feelings themselves is the guilt we, as mothers, are made to feel for feeling them in the first place. There is seemly no middle ground: women are either bubbly new mothers who are nothing short of obsessed with their bundle of joy, or they are suffering from postpartum depression.

These two types of responses to new motherhood are real.

But there are a whole lot of us who are living somewhere in the middle, longing for the safe space and words to express these complicated feelings. It is not depression. It is reaction.

I was too embarrassed to tell a single soul that I wasn’t the over the moon, picture perfect new mother I was supposed to be.

But that is the problem.

We have to start talking about the in-between moments. We need those Instagram posts to reflect the whole picture, because looking at those feeds full of “perfection” can be tough.

But these platforms also have the power to bring us together. When we tell our stories — the full, unfiltered versions — more people hear them. They learn they are not alone.

With the help of March of Dimes, an organization working to improve the health of mothers and babies, I shared my #UnspokenStory.

Now it’s your turn.

NBC News BETTER wants you to share your #UnspokenStories. We’ll be highlighting selected responses on our social channels without sharing your name.

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