As the founder of MetroHealth’s Mother and Child Dependency Program, Dr. Jennifer Bailit, a maternal-fetal medicine specialist, has cared for hundreds of mothers struggling with opiate use disorder. As such, she knows how isolating recovery can be and how important it is for mothers to be with their children, when focusing on sobriety.
“When you see your child all the time, rather than just in a photograph, or a Saturday visit, it’s easier to stay motivated to stay sober for them,” she says.
For years, Bailit lobbied for the creation of a sober home for mothers in Cleveland. In January, thanks to the generosity of Clevelanders Jacke and Eric Wiedemer, MetroHealth announced the opening of The Moms House. The 2,490-square-foot home, located close to the hospital, provides a safe, family-like environment for up to three pregnant women to live while focusing on recovery.
The model is a unique one; it is one of the few sober living facilities in the area that will allow residents taking buprenorphine and methadone as part of their opioid treatment, to live in the house. And crucially, unlike most other facilities, residents will be able to live in the home, with their children, after they give birth.
While each mother will have their own bedroom unit, the house also features a common living area, where residents are encouraged to gather together. This community aspect of the house is important, Bailit says.
“Many times, in pregnancy, people have to break away from family, who are still using, in order to get sober themselves,” says Bailit. “The Moms House helps them to feel like they are in a family-like atmosphere and give them the support they need when breaking away from less functional support systems.”
Indeed, community connection is what helped Kim Glover, who serves as the house’s live-in residential supervisor, get sober herself from alcoholism. “When you have this disease, you need support,” says Glover, a mother of two teen girls.
Glover hopes to connect residents with other women in recovery as well as MetroHealth staff and resources, while creating a warm, welcoming home environment. “My goal is to show [these women] that opioid use is recoverable and that you can have a fun, healthy life in sobriety,” she says.
Eventually, Bailit hopes that The Moms House will become a model across the country for how to support pregnant women in recovery. She knows how important this specific period of time is.
“Pregnancy offers a small window of opportunity where women are willing to get sober for a baby, when maybe they wouldn’t have done it otherwise,” she says.