Mother’s Day Q&A with Dr. Kelly Baek
Meet Dr. Kelly Baek — a leading fertility and women’s wellness specialist at California Fertility Partners in Los Angeles - one of the world’s leading practices of in-vitro fertilization (IVF).
As a working mother of three children, who has experienced her own difficulties with infertility, Dr. Baek’s passion for empowering women and helping patients with infertility is incredibly inspiring.
Further adding to her super-mama status, Dr. Baek is also one of our 10 to 12 Baby Lounge business partners.
We sat down with the very busy Dr. Baek to chat about fertility, women’s wellness and motherhood.
What initially inspired you to pursue a career in fertility, egg freezing, and women’s wellness?
I enrolled into medical school knowing I wanted to help women and children. When I was in college, I performed lupus research at Johns Hopkins with a world-renowned lupus expert. I was especially fascinated by researching women with antiphospholipid antibody syndrome who experienced recurrent pregnancy loss.
My major in college was public health and my focus was women and children.
During my OB-GYN Residency at NYU I rotated through NYU’s IVF center. I knew immediately during my rotation that I wanted to become a reproductive endocrinologist. I identified with the patients - they were women who delayed having children for their careers.
Fertility is a newer field and working with the pioneers of the field at both NYU and Cornell, the doctor who created ICSI where sperm is injected into an egg for male factor infertility, the doctor who helped develop PGD and the doctors who helped develop egg freezing, I developed a passion to try to advance the field further. Even today, I remain excited by the advances we make that improve patients’ options and successes.
What has been a highlight in your career so far? Is there a special story or moment you can share with us?
Whenever I meet a new patient, even if they have had fertility evaluations and treatments before, I proceed with a thorough diagnostic fertility work up to uncover their individual concerns. By identifying their issues, I find that by correcting them first, I will optimize their success.
I had a patient who was in her early 30's who had consulted three different fertility specialists and had undergone over six IVF cycles without success. She and her husband came to see me as they had been told that she had an egg issue and that they should consider a donor egg despite her high ovarian reserve and younger age.
After reassessing her fertility, I identified and treated a congenital uterine septum that had been her cause of repeated failed IVF cycles and recurrent early pregnancy losses. By correcting the uterine defect, she went onto have two children with her own eggs without IVF as she did not have an egg issue but simply had not had a normal uterine lining with adequate blood flow to foster embryo implantation.
What is your favorite part about being a mother of three children?
After delaying building a family for my career, I found myself needing IVF. Undergoing the treatments gave me insight into my patients’ experience and I believe this has made me a better fertility specialist. I am so grateful for my IVF twins and third son that I appreciate that every child is a true gift.
There are no guarantees in nature and knowing this makes me value every day with them.
What has been your biggest challenge as a working mother?
Our fertility practice differs in that I work seven days a week so that my patients only see me. They do not see a doctor of the day or an ultrasound technician for their IVF monitoring exams. We customize fertility care for all of our patients and truly believe timing of egg retrievals is critical to optimize egg quality and success.
Since my work schedule is dictated by menstrual cycles of hundreds of women at any one time, I have learned to try to create protected electronic free time when I am home with the boys. I place my phone on my charger when I arrive home and try my best to be present for them. This may not be an ideal solution for everyone but for me it has allowed me to know I am providing my patients the best individualized fertility care I can while really learning to appreciate every moment with my sons.