Q: My wife and I welcomed our first child in January. Before our daughter was born, my wife told our family members that we didn't want overnight visitors while I took time off work, which was two weeks. Her mom lost it and told her she "felt no joy anymore" about the birth and "never had any rules put on me before." Our daughter is 3 weeks old now and my wife's mother has neither met her nor shown any interest in supporting my wife. What should I do?
Confused & Angry
A: (1) New parents get to make calls like this. Your baby, your comfort zone, your home, your rules.
(2) Her refusing to see the baby means this has nothing to do with your mother-in-law's "joy" or desire to be close to her daughter or the baby. Instead, your mother-in-law has revealed with her boycott that it's about her need for primacy, attention, control.
(3) Anyone who welcomes a new grandchild into the world by calling attention to herself and creating stress for the new parents has bigger problems than whatever the specific issue might be.
Your wife needs you right now. She's got wacky postpartum hormones; a body that's been through the wringer; and a plain view of some ugliness in her mother's character that may or may not have been so fully exposed before. Your wife needs to hear from you that you have her back.
Just leave voice mails (or emails) about the baby's progress or changes to visit. Such insistent warmth will either offer her a face-saving return or force her to keep renewing her choice to fume.