These Instagram Moms Show the Raw Realities of Motherhood

Warning: This article deals with and discusses content involving miscarriage and contains graphic imagery. Please be advised that the discussion may contain triggers.

In the social media world of highly curated images, perfect bodies, and seemingly perfect lives, these moms on Instagram are keeping it as real as it gets (#nofilter). They’re sharing the good, the bad, the ugly, and the absolutely awful moments of motherhood. It’s refreshing to see such honesty online when so much of what you usually see is, well, unrealistic. The women ahead do not allow the glossy world that makes up the majority of Instagram make them feel like bad moms.

It takes unbelievable bravery to put something personal, raw and honest out there for the world to see — likely to be met by trolls, because internet. But these moms aren’t shying away from the brutal truth, and we are so here for it. From a post-triplet baby belly to a mom who documents her son’s battle with pediatric cancer, these empowering women are sharing their truths about the really real moments of motherhood. You’re going to want to hug your mom after this one, and maybe your best friend. And the lady in the checkout line. And the other moms at drop-off.

Moms, motherhood is hard. Be there for each other.

This is hard for me. I don’t think I need to explain why. Documenting Leo’s journey has never been easy but it’s not about me. It’s about him and all that he’s overcome. This was taken just after his diagnosis. He returned home from the hospital and we shaved his head before his hair fell out. What you don’t see is a room full of people surrounding him, supporting him and showering him with love. As his mother part of me hurts seeing this, but a big part of me sees how brave he is. Part of me knows how grateful he will be for these images when he’s an adult. The reality is this was and is part of his childhood, as much as we didn’t want it to be. He lives it and so do many other children. I want him to know that he’s one of the bravest boys I know, but it’s ok to cry and be angry too. He’s always been beautiful to me, even when cancer has threatened to take away his identity. 🎗🎗🎗 This is our 🎗story loop. September is pediatric cancer month. A few of us who have been directly effected by childhood cancer have gotten together to help spread awareness. Pediatric cancer remains the leading cause of death by disease among children. 1 out of 8 children diagnosed will not survive. Please consider going gold this month and tag your images: #teamup4goldkids 🎗 #cm_health

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Meg Loeks is a mom of four — three boys and a little girl. When her oldest son, Leo, was diagnosed with leukemia, Loeks became a pediatric cancer advocate, and uses her beautiful Instagram feed filled with dreamlike photos of her kids and their life in the midwest to document Leo’s journey with leukemia. The heartbreaking images can be difficult to look at, but Leo’s bravery and optimism are obvious. And the photos shine a light on a story that’s too often hidden: what it’s like to parent a sick child. Loeks’ pictures are haunting and show the support behind her amazing boy.

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It’s been two months without you. Two months of picking up pieces and putting myself back together and I can say I am not who I thought I was two months ago. I’m better than I was before you. Better *because* of you. . . I cry more freely, I love more deeply and understand the fragility of life only like a mother who has stood next to a tiny grave can. I want to say with so much sincerity, thank you to all of you who have reached out during this time. This is the neatest little community and I am so grateful for each and every one of you! In the future, if you come across a grieving mama, please send me my way. It would be my honor to reach out as you all have for me. 💫

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Robin Schannep is the #vanlife mom behind @contentednomads, and she lived through a devastating loss when she went into premature labor at just 15.5 weeks pregnant — and lost the pregnancy. But instead of grieving alone, as far too many many women feel they must, Schannep shared photos of her son and invited women everywhere to mourn with her — hoping that no one should have to go through such loss alone. Schannep’s honesty and courage in the face of such sorrow brought together women from all over the world, commenting in solidarity.

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When I found out I was pregnant with triplets one of the first things I did was google women pregnant with triplets! I remember wondering how my small petite body would be able to actually carry 3 babies at one time and asking God, “please help me carry my babies.” My first Doctor, recommended a selective reduction. She told me I would have an unsuccessful pregnancy because I was too skinny, not tall enough, and had never delivery a child before. I knew then I needed to find a doctor who was willing to support me to carry all three babies and that is exactly what I did. • The weeks went by and my body stretched and stretched. I knew my body was transforming into something new and wouldn’t be the same as it was before. And it certainly did. My stomach is covered in loose saggy skin and stretch marks. It has taken a daily effort to change my perspective and see the beauty that is right before my eyes. • Mama, remember wherever you are on your journey, have grace for your body. It takes time to fully embrace your new mom body, but with intentional effort I believe you will see the beauty I see in you too💕 • Bra: @knixwear

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Of course there is no such thing as a “perfect mom.” But Desiree Fortin, the brains behind @theperfectmom, reassures us all that you are the perfect mom. You’re on anti-anxiety meds? You’re a perfect mom. Haven’t showered in a week? You’re a perfect mom. Panicked that a stranger is going to kidnap your baby at the park? You’re a perfect mom. Fortin is the cheerleader we all need, flaunting her imperfections — and she’s hella honest.

After giving birth to triplets (holy crap mama) she posted the above photo of her stomach and encouraged moms to have grace towards the body that carried their child. Fortin knows, as do all of us moms, that our culture puts far too much emphasis on some unattainable ideal of a “post-baby body,” on how quickly moms “bounce back,” and which celebs are out on the red carpet in heels hours after giving birth. Fortin reminds us that no matter what you look like, what faults you have, how many times you think you’re a terrible mom for hiding in the bathroom to escape your kids, just keep putting one foot in front of the other — because you are a perfect mom.

Kate Swenson started documenting her son’s severe autism in an attempt to help other moms going through the same thing. Her oldest son, Cooper, was diagnosed with autism at age three. He is now six years old and still completely non-verbal; he isn’t potty trained and is delayed in other areas as well. He is also, Swenson would like to point out, the most incredible boy she knows. In addition to her Instagram, @findingcoopersvoice, Swenson has a website and a YouTube channel dedicated to documenting daily life with Cooper.

On her site, Swenson includes a section for parents of children who are newly diagnosed with autism, and offers help and advice as someone who has been through that very journey. Because sometimes all you need is a little support. Swenson’s videos and photos of life with Cooper reveal that although life with a child on the spectrum isn’t easy, she and Cooper are living their best lives — and she isn’t giving up hope that one day, Cooper might speak. He might even be potty-trained. That hope is something Swenson plans to share with every other parent of a kid on the spectrum.

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This photograph reminds me that it wasn’t all a dream. The week of crippling unknown pain, the visits to emergency, the doctor that didn’t take me seriously and the doctor that did, the ultrasound technician trying to mask his alarm, the endless tests and injections and questions, the constant beeps and cries of the hospital each night, the burning lights of the operating theatre and waking in recovery with a terrifying allergic reaction to the painkiller they’d injected and no more gallbladder. My friend Al had waited all day long so I had someone when I came out of surgery, he read my book aloud to me while I writhed and cried and slept fitfully. He took this photo on his phone. The next day the surgeons stood at the end of my bed and they told me they were sorry, they didn’t manage to remove the stray gallstone in my pancreatic duct after all, they would need to operate again. I cried, I said I was a single parent and I had to get home to my daughter. They sent a social worker, it only made me more panicked. My mum called and she asked if I needed her to fly over and I broke down, yes, yes I needed her. Every day I drifted in and out of sleep. The Endone blurred the edges of reality. Friends would come. They’d bring me real food and I’d take tiny happy bites. They’d lift me so I could sit and the world would spin and gravity would hurt my insides. I was grateful for the hospital but I longed to be home. My new home that I’d moved into the very day before I was checked into hospital. When doctors came to tell me they’d found a way to send me home I was euphoric, I was high, I was delirious with relief. As my friend wheeled me out of the hospital, the depth of the outside world took my breath away. Bee was my nurse that first night in my own bed, when I woke I pressed my palm to his back. My heart hurt and my eyes swam. Then my mum came with her homemade sourdough and Alba filled our home with laughter. It took weeks to recover but dear god, I’d never felt so happy to be home. The timing astounded me. The break up, the launch, the move, then this. Sometimes it all just hits at once and reminds us what we’re capable of. Thank god I’m on the other side. 🙏🏼

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Nirrimi Joy of @nirr.imi is a teen mom, a photographer, and unafraid to discuss the honest details of her life — from her brother’s suicide to her mental health battle. She speaks openly about the challenges of being a single parent, and offers tips on what works for her.

Nirrimi posted recently, “I’ve been doing so well lately, so incredibly well that when a friend brought up my anxiety I laughed and said it felt like I didn’t have anxiety anymore. But last night I did. Last night I was reminded of just how physical it is to struggle with mental illness; how impossible to control and debilitating it feels. My past trauma was triggered in way that started a chain reaction of hard feelings and I fell asleep late and woke late and missed all of my morning rituals, barely scraping getting Alba to school in time. Instead of going to my studio I stayed home and baked cookies and still, still, I felt heavy and anxious and guilty.”

For someone so young who’s been through so much, she manages not to come off as jaded or immature. Instead, she speaks bluntly about the bad days as well as the good days — as we all should.

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