I grew up a Minnesotan farm girl in the land of lefse and “you betcha!” The daughter of a farmer and a nurse, I was taught the importance of caring for people and the natural world. I left the corn fields to attend college at Macalester in St. Paul, Minnesota. A liberal arts school with a strong focus on internationalism and social activism, Macalester was where my interest in social justice grew deep.
Reproductive justice is the thread that ties my past, present, and future together. I use my geography degree every day--just not in the direct way my past self had assumed or envisioned. Supporting women is helping a chronically disadvantaged group, and that makes this work innately radical.
Studying geography taught me to see in layers and interconnections--and I developed a tactile sense of those interweavings. As a visual person and visual artist, that resonated strongly. As a doula, I see how these layers interact, and I help optimize systems to facilitate individual experiences.
As my interest in doula work grew, I had to confront an assumption I'd picked up: that giving birth myself was a prerequisite for supporting others. Then I found myself in conversation with a wise woman and former doula. She gave me a look I'll never forget. It cut to the quick, as she said, "Gracie, experiencing one birth does not mean you've experienced them all."
These words broke down my last barrier and helped me access this work. Access remains a core tenet of my practice.
I feel strongly that finances shouldn't preclude having amazing support. This is why I operate on a sliding scale, and reserve a places in my practice for people of limited financial means. It is also why I offer doula care in a methadone clinic.
I feel equally strongly that aspiring doulas should be offered a pathway to sustainability in this work. This is one of motivations to mentor new doulas and help them chart a course that will lead to longevity.
At the heart of doula support is a relationship of trust and depth. The magic made in the moment is sprung from the relationship we form and the work we do together beforehand.
My deepest interest is in getting to know you as an individual. I want to help you build on the skills you already have, access and use your strength and wisdom, and couple that with my experience, expertise, and intuition. As you share with me, I am able to do my best work for you.
There are many paths up the mountain. I want to help you chart yours, to be with you through it all, and to offer you the benefit of therapeutic presence and experiential insights.
What helped me embark as a doula is still the root of my practice: indeed, in over a decade, no two births are the same. To yours I will bring my accumulated knowledge, and the wisdom to understand that the experience will be unique and specific to you.
& continued learning
I am trained as a birth and postpartum doula through DONA International and had the good fortune to learn from many experienced doulas throughout my years in practice. Rhonda Davis, Jill Fransen, Vicky York, and Liz Burbank were all early mentors to me. Not only did they guide me in what I did not yet know, but they helped me access my own strengths and wisdom in this work.
I believe in the popular education model, and see that education doesn't follow hierarchical pathways; it always flows in both directions. I learn from every birth, every client, every apprentice I teach. I am also a research nerd. I am currently doing research in conjunction with OSU, looking at the connection between physical activity in pregnancy and labor outcomes. As a result of eight years in full-time practice, I bring a comprehensive and holistic accumulation of a wide range of experiences.