Rebecca Judd wants to set the record straight.
To the casual observer, Bec seems to have the perfect life: designers lining up to dress her, a beautiful, healthy family and a perfect home in a beachside enclave of Melbourne. But in her new book The Baby Bible she removes the floss and filters, and opens up about the realities of motherhood and raising a brood of four.
One of the biggest misconceptions she debunks is the notion of immediate, infinite bond between mother and baby.
As she tells The Australian Women's Weekly, the expectation that new mothers will be instantly filled with a serene, almost other-worldly love is an issue close to her heart.
"When Oscar came out, I felt nothing but complete shock. I knew I was supposed to have this feeling of overwhelming, intense love … but I didn't," she writes of her first born.
"What's wrong with me, I wondered. Aren't I meant to feel like a lion with her cub?"
With the wisdom of hindsight, she knows that these feelings — or rather, absence of feelings — are completely normal.
When her daughter Billie, 4, and twin sons Darcy and Tom, 20 months, were born, her love was instantaneous. But she, having also had a pregnancy where this wasn't the case, and she decided it was important that new mums be reassured that if they don't get that ecstatic rush of affection right away, there is nothing wrong with them.
"It was a shock," she tells The Weekly in an intimate and revealing interview. "You hear when this baby comes out and it's all tears and it's almost like you can hear this magical music playing, and it wasn't like that. I was in shock.
"The obstetrician was saying, 'Take you baby', and it dawned on me with a thud: he's your responsibility."
She says she looked at her husband, former AFL star Chris Judd, and his face reflected how she felt: total and utter shock. Of course it didn't take long for her love for Oscar to fill her heart, but she wanted to address this misconception.
"When it came, it was overwhelming and amazing," she says.
"People don't say that, and I want mums to know that if it's not immediate, don't worry, it will come."
This is something she has discussed with her girlfriends, and she estimates about half of them took a little while to emotionally recover from the birth, and for those love feelings to kick in.
"Nothing compares," she writes of the love rush. "It was like an old Disney cartoon — birds chirping, orchestra playing. I fell in love fast and hard. It was utter, utter bliss.
"But if you don't feel that right away, don't despair. You will feel it eventually, I promise. And when you do, it will be just as wonderful as you imagined it to be."
Pregnancy and childbirth are a roller coaster of emotions, and Bec knew that if she was going to write about her experiences as a mother, she could not sugar coat the truth. From bursting into tears over a bowl of lumpy risotto to the unexpected, and not always entirely positive, feeling of holding your child for the first time, she wanted to challenge the expectations society heaps on mothers.
In her book, she takes a sisterly, "we're-all-in-this-together" approach.
"We wanted it to be relatable a real. You read a whole lot of books that are rigid," Bec says.
"I've been asked so many questions about so many different facets of this journey from exercise to routines to what did you use on your skin, where did you go to style your nursery, and where did you go on your babymoon and what did you pack when you went?
"There were so many different facets. It's not just being pregnant and the labour thing," she says.
"The fact you may even worry that you are not a good enough mother proves that you already are."
Read the full interview at home with Rebecca Judd in this month's Australian Women's Weekly.
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