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day in the life

A Day in the Life of an OB/GYN

How one doc brings new life into the world while maintaining her own.

A woman wearing white gloves, a clear face mask, and blue protective scrubs on her body and hair holds a newborn baby with an umbilical chord.
Photo credit: Jackie Molloy for The Well
A doctor in a lab coat uses a tongue depressor to look into the open mouth of an eight year old girl in a bright pink shirt.

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“There’s literally nothing else in the world I should be doing,” says Dr. Stephanie McNally, an OB/GYN at Northwell Health. Dr. McNally’s job is her passion, and she works hard to navigate the delicate balance of work and life. From driving soccer carpools to delivering babies and performing surgeries, her daily schedule is packed with responsibility—and she tackles each one with unwavering passion, enthusiasm, and energy. How does she manage it all? We followed her for a day to find out.

A woman with long auburn hair in a white sweater, stands by a countertop holding a phone to her ear with her shoulder as she writes on a cardboard cutout with a pencil.
Photo credit: Jackie Molloy for The Well

Dr. McNally’s day starts around 5am. “Once the kids are up, it’s go time,” she says. Dr. McNally is on call today, so she makes breakfast and packs lunches while checking in with the hospital for updates on her patients.

A woman with long auburn hair sits on a couch with a young girl and young teen boy sitting on top of them. She kisses the young teen on the forehead.
Photo credit: Jackie Molloy for The Well

A quick snuggle amid the morning rush. Norah (4) and Thomas (7) are accustomed to their mom’s hectic schedule. She’s on call for the next 24 hours, so they know they probably won’t see her again until tomorrow. But they are proud of their mom, and know that she has an important job to do. “They understand that I go help other mommies bring their babies into the world,” says Dr. McNally.

A woman in blue scrubs crouches over a teal bag in a messy locker room searching for something.
Photo credit: Jackie Molloy for The Well

Dr. McNally arrives at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset to kick off a busy day. She stops in the staff locker room on the labor floor, where shoes tend to be scattered during the change of shift. She grabs the two items she needs for the day—her phone and work ID—as well as a few dollars in case she finds time to eat.

A pregnant woman lays under the covers of a hospital bed as a woman sits next to her. A nurse is standing beside this woman wearing a blue nurse coat and a man in a baseball cap watches from a seated position.
Photo credit: Jackie Molloy for The Well

Accompanied by physician assistant Lauren Cavalieri, Dr. McNally checks on her first patient of the day. Erika, a first time mom-to-be, is having contractions, but is not in active labor yet.

A woman in blue scrubs washes her hand over a faucet. She is wearing a clear face mask as well. Two doctors
Photo credit: Jackie Molloy for The Well

Dr. McNally scrubs in before her first delivery of the day—a C-section.

A woman wearing white gloves, a clear face mask, and blue protective scrubs on her body and hair holds a newborn baby with an umbilical chord.
Photo credit: Jackie Molloy for The Well

It’s a girl! A few years ago, the practice delivered the couple’s twin boys. “The continuity of being an OB/GYN is like nothing else,” she explains. “I could take care of a patient her entire life—help her grow her family, or not. You really have this incredible bond with somebody when you do what I do.”

A woman with dark hair tied up in blue scrubs holds a newborn baby toward the camera swaddled in a hospital wrap. The baby is letting out a faint smile.
Photo credit: Jackie Molloy for The Well

Dr. McNally checks on Ellington, a baby boy who was delivered yesterday.

A woman with long tied up hair, stands against a locker wearing blue scrubs with her hand covering her mouth.
Photo credit: Jackie Molloy for The Well

Dr. McNally regroups in the staff lounge, where she goes to take a breath, check messages, and figure out her next steps. “I’m ferociously protective of my patients, and I frequently assess how everyone is doing and who needs my attention next,” she says.

A woman in blue scrubs holds the head of a newborn child being born. On both sides of her are two women holding up the legs of the mother.
Photo credit: Jackie Molloy for The Well

“The only thing I want is a healthy mom and baby,” she says, reflecting on her second delivery of the day. “That minute, that second, when you know that kid is out there screaming, and the parents’ lives are literally changed forever, it is awesome. In the truest sense of the word awesome.”

A woman laying down on a hospital bed is wincing in pain as a nurse places a newborn baby on her chest.
Photo credit: Jackie Molloy for The Well

New mom Olga holds her baby for the very first time. “As a parent myself, I know that moment of meeting your child. It’s indescribable,” says Dr. McNally.

A woman sits at a desk holding a sandwhich with two other women. They are all wearing blue scrubs. The table is filled with drinks and water bottles.
Photo credit: Jackie Molloy for The Well

Dr. McNally grabs a black bean burger from the hospital’s café and laughs with co-workers in the staff lounge. While her job brings her much joy, it also brings enormous pressure, and she relies on her team for support.

“The most challenging part of my job is the life and death situations, and how things can change in an instant,” she says. “You have to stay grounded, and make sure you have the right people around you. I work with wonderful people, including five other fantastic OB/GYNs. If one of us needs something at any time, everyone is willing to help. We work very well together.”

Close of a cell phone screen showing a boy holding up a blue Minecraft tshirt.
Photo credit: Jackie Molloy for The Well

A brief video chat with Thomas, who eagerly tells mom about his day. Dr. McNally Facetimes with her kids whenever she has a free moment.

“This sounds cliché, but I’m such a soccer mom,” she says. “My kids are into so many sports, and we’re always running around. My free time is spent making sure I do active, fun things with my family.”

A woman in blue scrubs walks through the door taking as she takes off her blue coat.
Photo credit: Jackie Molloy for The Well

And the babies keep coming—two more in fact—which brings the grand total to four, all girls. “This was actually kind of a slow day,” she laughs. “I’ve delivered as many as 10 babies in one day.”

A selfie photo of a woman in a blue knit beanie, wearing a black coat and red scarf around her neck.
Photo credit: Courtesy of Dr. Stephanie McNally, OB/GYN

Dr. McNally heads home at 11pm. She makes a hasty dinner out of whatever’s in the fridge and gets some rest…until she’s paged less than two hours later to do it all again.

“This is a 24-hour job,” she says. “And I wouldn’t change it for the world."

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Published January 22nd, 2019
A doctor in a lab coat uses a tongue depressor to look into the open mouth of an eight year old girl in a bright pink shirt.

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