More than 1.5 million people suffer from lupus each year, an inflammatory disease where the immune system attacks its own tissues.
In women, the disease can cause dangerous complications during pregnancy for both the mother and the baby. However, through one Oklahoma doctor's rare specialty, lupus patients have hope for motherhood.
On a wall in her office at the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation, Dr. Eliza Chakravarty proudly displays "her babies."
"When I don't get grants funded or I'm just having a bad day, I can look at that picture of babies and I just say, 'this is all worth it,'" said Dr. Eliza Chakravarty, Associate Member at OMRF.
But while none of them are her biological children, she is, in part, a huge reason why they are here. For the past 20 years, Dr. Chakravarty or Dr. C as she is called by her patients, has devoted her time to helping women with lupus become mothers.
"My goal really was to try to figure out ways to understand why their pregnancies seemed to be more complicated," she said.
Some of those complications include preeclampsia, premature delivery even miscarriage. But through her research and treating patients here at OMRF, she's found a way to eliminate some of those risk factors.
"We've learned that if women's lupus is stable for six months before they get pregnant, they are more likely to have a healthy pregnancy," Dr. Chakravarty said.
She also discovered staying on certain medications during pregnancy helped managed the disease.
"There are some medicines that are absolutely unsafe," she said. "But those are a handful of medicines and that the majority of other medicines actually can be used safely in pregnancy they don't cause an increased risk of birth defects. In fact, by controlling the lupus they actually are associated with better outcomes for both the mom and the baby."
Katie Baker is proof of that.
"I knew it might be difficult," said lupus patient Katie Baker. "I never really let that enter my mind that it wasn't an option."
Baker was diagnosed with lupus 10 years ago and had suffered one miscarriage. But while under Dr. C's care, she safely gave birth to her daughter Bythe last year.
"She's got my health in a good place and I'm very grateful for that alone, let alone when you have a baby," she said.
Baker and her husband also have two other children through fostering and adoption.
"I work full time, I'm a mom of three and yeah, life is good at the baker house," she said.
And good for the more than 100 other families Dr. C has helped over the past two decades.
"Just seeing their babies, seeing the looks on their faces when they come in with their babies that's just indescribable, I live for that," Dr. Chakravarty said.
A snapshot of life -- these mothers never thought would be possible.
"She gives hope to you know women that have been dealt this hand of having an autoimmune disease and knowing that there is ways to still have a family and you can have a baby and you can have a healthy baby for that matter. She's changed our lives for the better."
For more information on Dr. C's research or to become a patient, click here: https://omrf.org/research-faculty/scientists/chakravarty-eliza/