Awaiting her turn in the doctor’s exam room on a frosty February day, Kim Short felt drained from her first trimester of pregnancy and trembled from withdrawal. She was battling addiction to methamphetamine, alcohol, Xanax, and Klonopin, her face marked by tattoos memorializing lost friends. With black hair framing her eyes lined with dark eyeliner, Short sat anxiously.

This wasn’t Short’s first visit to the Great Moms clinic at Corewell Health Medical Center in Grand Rapids, Michigan. She had sought their help before in 2022 and successfully delivered a healthy, drug-free baby boy. However, a subsequent relapse led to her baby being placed in foster care, plunging her deeper into despair and addiction.

Dr. Cara Poland entered the room, expressing gratitude that Short had returned. Unlike other doctors Short had encountered, Dr. Poland didn’t wear a white coat and greeted her warmly, even sitting cross-legged on the floor during their initial meeting. This unconventional approach immediately struck a chord with Short, who felt understood and respected—a stark contrast to the judgment she often faced.

Dr. Poland’s clinic, Great Moms, was a rare sanctuary for pregnant women and new mothers battling addiction. It provided comprehensive obstetric and addiction care, recognizing pregnancy as a potent motivator for change in addiction behaviors. For Short, this meant a chance to break free from the cycle of substance abuse and reclaim her life as a mother.

The stigma surrounding addicted patients, especially pregnant women, was pervasive. Many avoided seeking prenatal care for fear of legal repercussions or judgment from healthcare providers. Dr. Poland’s clinic aimed to dismantle this stigma, offering not just medical treatment but also emotional support and practical assistance like recovery coaching and social services.

Short’s journey was tumultuous—marked by setbacks and relapses—but also moments of resilience and hope. Despite her struggles, she continued to strive for sobriety, driven by her desire to be a good mother to her children. Dr. Poland and her team remained steadfast allies in Short’s fight against addiction, adapting their approach to meet her evolving needs.

As Short navigated the challenges of addiction recovery, including living arrangements and sobriety maintenance, Dr. Poland provided unwavering support and guidance. Short’s determination to build a stable life for herself and her children was evident, despite the setbacks along the way.

Her story reflects the complex realities faced by pregnant women battling addiction and the critical need for compassionate, integrated healthcare services that prioritize both maternal health and addiction treatment. Through programs like Great Moms, more women like Short can find the support they need to overcome addiction and build healthier futures for themselves and their families.