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HomeAnswersPsychologist/ Counseloradjustment disorderMy baby is not attached to me. What can I do?

I am uncomfortable with my baby getting attached to my mother-in-law. What should I do?

The following is an actual conversation between an iCliniq user and a doctor that has been reviewed and published as a Premium Q&A.

Medically reviewed by

iCliniq medical review team

Published At August 21, 2017
Reviewed AtNovember 29, 2023

Patient's Query

Hello doctor,

I am not sure if this is the right category to post my question in. My problem is with my mother-in-law. Or maybe the problem is with me, after all. My baby boy is now eight months old. He is a handful most days. He is not the type that plays by himself and he gets bored really quickly. He is not crawling yet, but he is sort of mobile and very tiring to take care of. He needs constant attention all day long with no breaks except for his two naps. Whenever I leave him in his crib to cook his meals or to go to the toilet, he screams horribly and continuously and will go on for at least half an hour, which is as much as I ever left him screaming. In the last two months, I have started feeling run down by this crazy schedule. I used to be a relaxed, lazy individual and now I have something to do every minute. I cannot get a break and I cannot even think anymore. I started having migraines with aura, something I have never even heard of before, constant tension-type headaches, and insomnia. And with these, also anger. A lot of anger. I never hurt the baby in any way, but I did scream at him a few times. I did cry in front of him. And I did have fights with my partner, also in front of the baby. In the last two weeks or so, the baby seems to not like me anymore. We used to have fun but now he is not responding to my jokes and my playfulness. Instead, he is becoming very attached to my mother-in-law. She comes twice a week to help and when he sees her, he squeals with delight and tries to jump out of my arms to be with her. He is obviously very happy to see her. When he sees me he could not care less, not even a smile. Once when he was on the couch and I extended my arms towards him and called him to come to me, he turned around and extended his arms towards his grandmother. Which I found humiliating and it filled me with rage. I could not sleep for days. I wake up at 3 to 4 AM and think about how he prefers his grandmother and how his grandmother is snooping into my life and at the same time, I need her since she offers me some time off. I feel stuck and have a lot, a lot of anger. I am ready to cut her visits off to once per week or less. I am furious at the thought that I gave up my life to stay here with this baby and care for him constantly and he prefers his cheery grandmother that comes in once in a while. I feel like I love my son less because of this. Generally, I loathe unrequited love and avoid it like the plague. I find it even more difficult to attend to his needs. I am ready to give up her help because the pleasure of the free time it gives me weighs less than the pain of seeing my baby reach out to her and ignoring me like that. I am so furious I am ready to part ways with my partner as well if he takes his mother's side.

About my mother-in-law, she loves the baby but also intrudes upon my relationship with him. She always wants to hold him and pretty much tries to dictate how we raise him. But, this does not work, and I do things as I see fit. Overall, she has an influential position and I think the baby might respond to that also. I do not know. She is spoiling him and cuddling and cooing all the time she spends with him. And says stuff like 'come to granny. Granny loves you, 'You are so happy because granny is here, are not you?' etc. It makes me sick. Of course, she is very nice to me as much as she can. I am sure she is holding back a lot of privileges to be in my house with my baby. But, my baby becoming more attached to her and preferring her over me is something I cannot deal with. Do you think my baby stopped liking me because I raised my voice and was aggressive in his presence? Will it get better if I never do that again? I am really trying to, but it is hard for me. I have an explosive temper. What can I do? What should I do? I am at a loss. I am not good at managing my feelings and my relationship. I am super sensitive to rejection and tend to reject the people who reject me. But, this time it is my son and I feel like my love for him is fading away as the anger about the whole situation grows. My partner says I am being irrational and I reply that it is normal that problems stem from being irrational because that is what most people's problems are. Rational problems would probably involve calculus problems. So, why talk about that? Yes, I am irrational but that does not make this any less of a problem. He says I should see a psychiatrist, get some depression pills, and then rethink this whole situation and decide if I really want to make his mother come less often. He seems involved in his work and inattentive to what is going on in the house. He says he will be more attentive to see if indeed the baby prefers his mother. All I know is, whatever his conclusion if I feel it is bothering me, then it does not matter what his so-called objective opinion is. I will want her out of my life, even if it means more work for me.

Hello,

Welcome to icliniq.com.

You are suffering from an adjustment disorder. The anger and frustration are due to your new role as a mother. Mother-child bonding is unique. Nobody can separate your son from you. Of course, he belongs to you. But, he is also her grandchild and hence it is alright for him to be petted by his grandparent. It is natural for children to feel very attached to their grandparents. Allow the child to interact with her freely. This will let your child grow up to be a family-oriented man, who respects family values. Meanwhile, use this time for your physical and mental relaxation. Start a physical fitness regimen. Invest in a new hobby. You will slowly get over it. After all, life has much more to offer. Moreover, this could be a temporary phase. You can review with me for further follow-up.

Thank you.

Patient's Query

Hello doctor,

I am back to let you know that I have tried to work through my issue with my mother-in-law and things are a bit better. The baby does not exhibit any more obvious preference toward her, and things are more balanced. What is not balanced is me. I continuously feel overwhelmed with negative emotions like frustration and anger. I think permanently on the edge of exploding and smashing or breaking something. I try to take the anxiety pills my neurologist recommended, Bromazepam, but it is quite weak and does not do anything. Sometimes I have taken two to three pills to feel a sort of relaxation, but that is quickly gone, and the anger was still there. A few weeks ago, I got furious when the baby refused to eat, smashed the food bowl on the kitchen floor, and got baby food everywhere, including the ceiling. Then, the baby started crying, and it was a complete mess. I tried to help myself by doing such demonstrations in front of the baby, but I felt like I could not hold it back much anymore. I am always furious. I thought my mother-in-law caused me this anger, but I do not believe that anymore. Instead, I believe there is something wrong with me. Looking at the future, I feel even more desperate thinking about my life as I am going crazy in the house taking care of a small child, cooking, washing, cleaning up, taking care, etc. I feel I have made a mistake having a child and that I cannot do all the work involved by giving up my pleasure and my freedom. And to add insult to injury, my partner is completely uninterested in sex, and our sex life is a horrible bore where we are intimate maybe once a month, lately even less than once every two months.

I have thoughts of leaving him and leaving my family. But I do not know what else I will do if I leave my family. Plus, I love my baby. It is just that I love him when I think about it. But I feel annoyed with him when I have to be with him. All my days are just focused around his needs - change him seven to eight times a day since he shits like five times, cook and mash his foods, then find all creative ways to be fun and cute and make him eat, try to get him to sleep and sing to him and swing him on a pillow. And have fun with him, so he is not bored since he cries immediately when he is not given attention, pick him up and move him around the house because he is mobile now and gets into all sorts of wrong places, take care that he drinks enough water since he is fussy. Sometimes I have to give him liquids by spoon as he will not drink with the sippy cup or straw cup, take him out for a stroll every day for two hours at least, make sure his clothes are clean and that he has enough food and milk, go shopping for all his necessities, I do not know, am I missing something? I tried to go to aerobics classes, but it is difficult to manage the daily schedule in such a way that I have those two hours of free time for myself, and when I finally do, I am too tired and feel like sitting on the couch and playing a computer game. I wash my hair once a week. I have to take quick showers and jump out as soon as the baby wakes up the rest of the time. And he wakes up because of the loudness of the shower. Overall, I am very angry and feel like losing it. Every day, if I have not broken something, it is a miracle. I sometimes talk insultingly to the baby, and though he can not understand me now, I worry that he will soon, and I am ashamed and I am angry at myself as well. I have hit walls, and I have rarely hit myself in the face because I do not know what else to do with all this frustration and violent impulses. I never touched the baby, and I do not think I will, but living like this is hell. And for a while, I thought it was because my partner was not having sex with me anymore, but honestly, the more I think about having sex, the more I feel I would instead smash someone's face than sleep with them. I do not feel much sexual desire for anyone. I feel just anger. I need to find help. I can not be like this anymore. What is wrong with me? What can I do?

Hello,

Welcome back to icliniq.com.

I suggest tablet Sertraline 50 mg twice daily and tablet Clonazepam 0.5 mg at night for a period of two weeks in order to get over your frustration and impulsive anger. Then, continue to invest your time in a new hobby as it will slowly change your routine and make life less stressful. You can review it in a month.

Thank you.

Same symptoms don't mean you have the same problem. Consult a doctor now!

Dr. Padmapriya Chandran
Dr. Padmapriya Chandran

Psychiatry

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