Interested in joining the Expecting Joy team?  Tell us about yourself!

Vanessa Garey, Founder & Lead Doula (BSN & MSN)

I’m Vanessa Garey, a pediatric nurse and an Expecting Joy doula by night (or day).  I have been a Registered Nurse for over 8 years, working with babies and families at the Seattle Children’s Hospital, and I hold a Masters in Nurse Midwifery through the University of Cincinnati. 

My service to families has continued by serving as a doula in, both the US and Europe, which has been the most fulfilling ‘work’ I have ever done.  I believe my experiences as a healthcare provider, my research in midwifery, and my ongoing service as a DONA-certified doula has made for the perfect combination to meet the needs of families and serve them in the most effective way I can.

I currently live in Seattle with my husband, little girl, Quinn, and little boy, Ryland, and I am happily accepting clients in the greater Seattle area.


kiraKira Hendricksen, Doula

Working with expecting and new mothers has always been a dream for me, and I am very passionate about maternal healthcare, birth, and the journey of bringing a new life into the world and your family.

Kira Hendricksen is a birth and post-partum doula who has been serving the greater Seattle area since 2015. Kira completed her Doulas of North America (DONA) training at Bastyr University’s center for allied birth vocations, and is currently working on her DONA certification. Kira’s passion for pregnancy and childbirth has been with her since she was young, stating “Ever since I was little I have always been fascinated by the beauty and miracle of pregnancy.” This continued through Kira’s life as she earned her degree in Global Development from SPU, focusing on maternal healthcare and reproductive education in developing countries. After working in the non-profit fundraising field, Kira says she “felt the call to work more one on one with women and new families here in my Seattle community.” It was at this point in Kira’s life she became a doula. “I couldn’t have made a better career choice; I get to use my passion to work in my dream job.”

Kira’s philosophy on labor and birth is all about supporting whatever choices and decisions the laboring person desires. “I am supportive of the kind of birth the birthing person holds as important. I am there to help navigate decisions, help my clients advocate for the experience they desire, and to fully support the wishes of the family welcoming their new member.” Kira supports women planning hospital, center or home births. “…ultimately, it is the mother’s experience, and I want them to feel empowered and supported through this beautiful journey.”

When Kira isn’t attending births, she likes to spend her time outdoors, reading good books, or playing music on her ukulele. After living in Italy for a year in her teenage years, Kira says, “By far the best place to get Italian food outside of Italy is Bizzarro’s Italian Cafe, in the Wallingford neighborhood of Seattle. I would consider myself a foodie for sure!”

We here at Expecting Joy are proud to have such an empathetic, caring, and nurturing person on our team. The connection she develops with her clients clearly aids in her ability to support them in having the best possible labor and birth. Here is what her clients have to say about her!


RyahJoRyah Jo, Doula

Ryah Jo Silvernagel is a midwife assistant and birth doula, who has been providing her services since 2012. Ryah received her Doulas of North America (DONA) birth doula training at Bastyr University’s Center for Allied Birth (2011) and obtained Completion of the Childbirth Educator Training (CET) from Bastyr University (2017). As a retired Air Force medic, Ryah continues to use her training teaching basic life support (BLS for providers) CPR and first aid on a quarterly basis. Ryah’s passion for labor and birth work comes from her own experience in birthing. “Even after our childbirth education classes, my husband and I felt unprepared, uneducated and slightly fearful of the labor and the birthing process. I believe if I would have had someone in the room advocating, educating me on the interventions while holding a sacred space for us, my experience would have been more positive.” Ryah is a big proponent of full informed consent and brings her childbirth education into her prenatal visits, “The more knowledge a person has about labor and birth, the less fearful they are and the better they cope with the discomforts of labor.”

Ryah offers a sliding scale and volunteers with Open Arms, a grassroots organization who provides persons with no cost doulas, and believes strongly every person should have a doula or support person during their labor and birth. “Finances should never be a barrier to these services. One of my goals is to help new families transition into parenthood on their best foot forward. Providing support before, during and after birth aids tremendously in this.” Ryah attends hospital, center and home births. “I have developed a reputable rapport with OBGYN’s, nurses and midwives from several birthing facilities over the years and have a professional working relationship with them.”

When Ryah is not attending a birth, you can find her writing blogs and poetry, making up and telling fantasy stories to her children and hosting small gatherings in her home. “I am a social butterfly and love my human cohort. So I try and mingle with them often.” Expecting Joy is excited to have such an experienced person on board who has a true passion for her client’s labor and birth experience and commitment to holding it sacred. Hear what her clients have to say about her!


eleniEleni Dwyer, Doula

My decision to become a doula has been one of the most important in my life. It was truly the beginning of my journey towards midwifery. Not only has it taught me that following your passion is key to your own happiness but also that birth work is a miraculous world to be a part of. It is an unforgettable moment in a mother’s life that I get to witness. Having respect and awe for this moment, I hope to create a safe space for your new family.

I have been working as a doula for the last two years. I did my training in Chicago where I worked with a midwife/doula team. I feel lucky to have joined Expecting Joy since moving to the Pacific North West. I look forward to serving my new community by sharing my support, knowledge and passion for birth.




Christian Fillingame, Doula

I am a San Diego transplant who moved to Seattle in 2007 where I studied Psychology at Seattle Pacific University (SPU). During my time at SPU, I was involved in several service groups, and worked alongside families to provide support as a nanny. I loved the role of supporting parents as their families grew, watching their children develop their own little (and big) personalities. I learned to work with parents as a team, collaboratively developing techniques to handle behaviors in their children like biting, potty training and picky eating

When I met my husband in 2013, I began to work through some traumatic experiences in my past and felt it was time to take a break and care for myself. Six months later, a close friend became pregnant and encouraged me to pursue my lifelong dream of working in labor & delivery as a birth doula. Enthusiastic, I completed formal training through the Simkin Center for Allied Birth Vocations in April 2014, and was blessed to help support the birth of her little boy that June!

Since that birth, I have been working alongside families, witnessing how powerful compassion, empathy, patience, and listening are to helping couples achieve their desired pregnancy and birth experience. As a doula, I’ve had the privilege of seeing how willing, continuous support can provide all the difference in a couples confidence in their ability to have a beautiful birth experience.


UrsulaUrsula Uribe, Birth Coach, Postpartum Doula and Placenta Encapsulation Specialist

From a very young age I knew that I would work in the medical field, it wasn’t until my first pregnacy that I would figure it out. I was lucky enough to be able to work in a variety of different jobs in the medical field before following my passion of empowering women in labor, full time. In case you’re wondering I have attended school and worked as a Medical Assistant, X-Ray tech, Surgical Technologist and a Recovery Coordinator for our local Organ Procurement Organization in 3 states. I currently still hold my registration for Washington State to work as a Surgical Technologist and occasionally work at a local hospital per diem. I’m CPR/Bloodborne pathogens certified and also carry a food handlers permit in Washington state.

For several years I felt like full time doula work was my passion. It wasn’t until my recent pregnancy and my husband gone due to his Military obligation. Through these series of life events, I now have the chance to pursue this calling with an organization that shares my views on supporting women mentally and physically in this amazing time of their life. My interests outside of work is fitness, watching football, sewing, photography and spending time with my family and puppy Chigger. I am very much looking forward to helping YOU with your journey into parenthood, with whatever direction it may take you!


KristinKristin Jahrig, Doula

Kristin has been a doula for two years and loves supporting women and their partners in labor!  She believes in the power and beauty of women’s bodies and that each lady knows her body best.  She is passionate about helping women feel that their birth was full of kindness and love and that they were active participants in all decisions made.

Kristin has been a nurse for 8 years and currently works on a trauma unit at Harborview (which she loves!).  While that environment is completely different from the atmosphere surrounding having a baby, many skills transfer– she is very calm under pressure, is exceptional in communicating with medical professionals, brings insight into the physiology of giving birth, and, most importantly, listens to people wholeheartedly.

In her free time, she loves cooking, doing yoga, drinking coffee, camping, and dancing! 



sarahSarah Martin, Birth Doula and Placenta Encapsulation Specialist

“Women rock! Connecting with my clients over the challenges and joys of birth and motherhood is my favorite thing to do. I so love serving women though their birth journey that I have committed to making it my life’s work. I have been a doula and placenta encapsulationist since 2011, and am currently working towards earning my Masters as a Certified Nurse Midwife.

I bring a diverse background of education and experience to my work, making me a versatile and empathetic doula. Spending years as a single mother taught me to deeply appreciate the tenacity, beauty, and just plain selfless nature of a mother’s love for her children. My world travels and studies have taught me that women – particularly birthing women – are so strong, their bodies inherently wise. Formally educated in English, History and Comparative History of Ideas at the University of Washington, I am passionate about culture and the varied ways that we, as women, navigate pregnancy, birth and motherhood.

As a PNW native, I am in love with the mountains and waters that surround us and I take every opportunity expand my knowledge of the plants that heal us. When I am not with a client or in school, I love concocting adventures with my daughter, fermenting crazy foods in my kitchen, mushroom hunting, or curling up with a thick book and a mug of tea.


rachelRachel Rupp, Doula (BSN)

I’m Rachel Rupp, a postpartum RN and a doula with Expecting Joy.  I have been an RN for 2.5 years and worked in postpartum for the last 7 years.

I graduated from Eastern Washington University in 2007 with a BA in Communications and a minor in Political Science.  I went to work in the healthcare field where I found my passion and love for nursing and graduated with my RN in 2014. I am currently working towards my DONA certification and IBCLC.

I love getting to help families welcome babies and getting to be a part of that special experience brings me joy and is so rewarding.  As your doula, I will offer support to you in your birthing environment, be your advocate to help you achieve the birthing experience you desire and support you through the entire experience.  I also offer support as a postpartum doula, helping to make your transition home with your new little one as smooth as possible.

I live on Snoqualmie Ridge with my husband and 18 month old son. We love the Pacific Northwest and enjoying the outdoors, being with family and friends and coffee. I enjoy cooking, traveling and reading in my spare time.


landiLandi Johnston, Doula (BSN & RSN)

Serving as a doula has been an exciting, unique journey for me. Over the past ten years I’ve traveled to seven countries to broaden my worldview, learn, and serve. This journey has inspired my passion to reduce barriers to accessing healthcare and supportive services for underserved populations. Through these service experiences around the world, I was led to the world of nursing and birth support.

I graduated from the University of Washington in the School of Nursing my BSN/RN in June of 2016, and I now work in the float pool at UW.  I have done clinicals at Swedish and Seattle Children’s, and worked at Overlake prior to joining UWMC as a Patient Care Tech for the resource team.  There, I work on eighteen different floors, ranging from mother/baby, ER, ICU, and cancer care. I received my doula training from Simkin Center at Bastyr University.

As your doula, it would be an honor to be a part of your miraculous journey in welcoming a new life into this world. I want to provide you with evidence-based information to help you with a smooth delivery and transition in life, emotional/physical support, and ongoing clear communication.



Menenberg-1319Laura Menenberg, Doula (BSN)

After graduating from the University of Washington School of Nursing in 2009, I worked as a PICU nurse at Seattle Children’s Hospital. I then completed my birth doula training at the Simkin Center/Bastyr University in 2010 and have been serving families as their birth doula ever since, both in Seattle and overseas in Zambia and Malawi.

It was also in Africa that my husband and I found our calling to serve children with intellectual disabilities through my community health work at Special Hope Network. After desiring to expand our family and an unexpected twist in our story, we pursued the adoption of our first son Nathaniel. Born in 2007 and joining our family in 2012, he was diagnosed with hydrocephalus and cerebral palsy. He is a great joy to us and everyone he meets. In 2015, I gave birth to our twin boys Noah and Nehemiah and we began the journey of parenting multiples as well.

My vision as your DONA-certified birth doula is to give you as the mother (and your loved ones) information, physical support, and emotional support. I want you to have as much as possible the birth that you desire and I believe that all women should have a supportive birth professional that can provide continuous support throughout labor and delivery.

I offer birth doula services, breastfeeding support, and childbirth and parenting classes. I have experience and specialize in VBAC births, prior birth trauma, C-section births, prenatal infant diagnoses, IVF, infertility, miscarriage, infant loss, multiples, pre-term labor, and NICU stays.


Jess Hartman, Doula (BSN)

I graduated from Seattle Pacific University with a BSN in 2007, and I’ve have also been trained as a birth doula at the Simkin Center/Bastyr University where I received my DONA certification in 2012.  I live in Seattle with my husband and new baby boy, Eisley who was born in the spring of 2014!  Before serving as a doula in Seattle & Costa Rica, I worked at Harborview Medical Center on a trauma surgery floor as a Registered Nurse (RN). With a background in trauma, I’m familiar with the importance of staying calm and focused in intense and challenging situations. This same passion for caring for people in intense situations has inspired my service as a doula.

Through my doula services, I hope to provide women with unconditional emotional and physical support throughout the entire birth process. I believe birth is an empowering and life-changing experience, and I count it a privilege to join with women and their families to support them through it.



Emily Land, Doula

Serving as a doula has been a heart changing experience for me!  I have always dreamed of serving women in this way.  Within the past five years, I have had the privilege to gain cross-cultural experiences in serving poor and unreached communities through health care in other countries.  It is exciting to be a part of the Expecting Joy team, serving women right in my own community in the Pacific Northwest.

I am currently a pre-nursing student at Northwest University with a Certified Nursing Assistant degree.  I love the outdoors, coffee, riding horses, the beach, and spending time with my family.

It is a huge honor being a part of the miracle of birth.  I would so love to chat with you to gain knowledge of how you would like your birth experience.  My goal is to bring comfort, encouragement, open communication, and support you and your new family!



Lindsey Shafto, Concierge

I graduated from Azusa Pacific University with a Bachelor of Social Work in May 2016, and I moved up to the Seattle area shortly after. I have experience in the social services sector both non-profit and various public agencies. My main focus has been working with at-risk adolesecents who live with a mental health diagnosis or developmental disability through case management and/or therapetuic support. I also have experience working in foster care, community development overseas, school-based counseling, and skilled nursing.

I am currently taking a gap year before pursuing a Master of Social Work degree. Over this year, I am providing support to families as a nanny and I love being able to merge many of my passions from my background in social work to best serve these families and their children.

I am excited to learn more about birth doula services through my role as concierge!