None of my mentors have been women. It saddens me to say this. In fact it outrages me. The women I met in medicine prior to medical school warned me away from medicine - "Its not too late," they said. "You can quit now and find something easy." I had been bitten by the bug and there was no way I was doing anything else but medicine.
We had had real tragedy in my family and at that point I wanted to be a trauma surgeon or a neurosurgeon working 100 hour weeks, hopefully saving some lives, and the idea that I might want to do anything else with my life was so foreign.
Then at the end of 3rd year I got pregnant. We had been married 7 years. This was a planned and hoped for pregnancy and though I had thought that making the work-life balance would be difficult, I was definitely living a fantasy. Reality set in 9 months later when I held my child in my arms the first time. The responsibility weighed on me. I almost picked my specialty just on the fact I could have an easier residency. But I decided not to sell out my dream.
I am lucky and have an incredible husband who can (and will) be doing the parenting by himself next year. I chose to stay in town at an academic but not abusive residency. I've got a long road to go, but I realized long ago that it is about the journey and not the destination.
I wish there had been a woman around who had made the same decisions I made who seemed genuinely happy about them. Maybe I'll find one as an intern/resident. There are definitely some women out there who could use some guidance other than "Don't do it."
A reader left this comment a few weeks ago on a post that was part of our Topic Day on "Our Mentors." We hope this site can be a source of support and encouragement for those who need it. (I think all of us contributors here agree that it is worth it, and our lives are richer for our decision to be physcians and mothers.)