:Guest Post: Toki Castro-Tover's Birth Story


I'm so happy to introduce my blogs first guest post.  Toki is a mother of two sweet little girls.  She is a researcher, questioner,  and a self taught nutritionist. 

I really loved this birth story,  but one of the coolest part of this story is that Toki uses laughing gas to help with her pain.

Toki also really help you understand what its like to have a baby in the hospital,  I love reading what the process is like in her own words.   

I hope that you guys enjoy this as much is I did!


Saturday morning, June 1, 2015, I wake up with this crazy urge.


I get up, or rather I roll out of bed and head to the bathroom (I am on my 38th week of pregnancy). Everything goes as normal, so I head back to bed.

Check the time… it’s 3:30 am.

Laying there WIDE awake at this point, just trying to flop around and get comfortable when I feel a small warm surge flow out of my “va-jay- jay”.

Whoa... Felt like I went an extra tinkle, it happened before.

No biggie.

Then this warm surge happens again and once more but on the latter, it was a wee bit more or a LOT more!

So I whack my partner on the bum and say, “I think my water broke!” Of course, I have no clue and I was freaking out. Normal, right?! I roll out of bed and the moment I stand up completely, a much larger surge flows out! Yet, I am still clueless and asking out loud if my water broke because, again, I am freaking out.

Could it be true? Is this really happening? I don’t know what to do, what to think and want dearly for this not to be happening.

Back to the story, I went into the bathroom to see what this was and my bottoms were fairly soaked with a slimy type substance. And as I am standing there, more is coming out.

By this time, my partner is up and waking my mom up because it’s time!

I make the call to my OB office and they said for me to come in immediately. I just go ahead and take the time to change while my mom is getting ready and after changing, I am standing there chanting, “I can’t do this, please, why did I do this to myself, I don’t think I can do this!”

Over and over…

Side note: I was saying why did I do this to myself because I went through a IUI process to become pregnant. If you are interested, you can read my pre-pregnancy story here -

My mom, just listening to me, calmly says, “Get in the car because I am not calling the ambulance to come get you!” Ya, mom, real funny.

Oddly enough, amongst all my chanting and on the drive, I was feeling NO pain. When I calmed down, I was still feeling nothing. The car ride was filled with even more chanting and just talking to myself about how I can’t believe this is happening...

My mom, just smiling.

At The Hospital!

So we get to the hospital and check in.



At the hospital now and everyone is being so nice. Too nice. I wasn’t expecting this kind of treatment. I actually didn’t know what to expect.

All the nurses were just making sure I was as comfortable as possible. (Emerson Hospital in Concord, Ma. was where I had my baby girl.)

My OB came in, did the ultrasound and tested my amniotic fluid. It’s a GO! Next I am being hooked up to all the many monitors to make sure the baby has a heart beat and mine hasn’t exploded!

Next, they need to know how far along am I. Pelvic exam.

Ok let me preface this by saying I am NOT a fan of pelvic exams. Who is? But for me, it’s just not a happy time for me. Painful.

So when it came time to see where I was at in dilation… well it wasn’t pleasant. My OB attempted the exam and an epic deathly scream filled the air. Failure.

My OB walked right out of the room saying only, “get the epidural!”.

She stated I was NOT dilated past 1 cm.

As a result, the nurses had me going through a 10 hour regime of walking, squatting, bouncing on a medicine ball, hugging that medicine ball and just trying everything under the sun to get my body to dilate.


Not happening.

After all was said and done, I never dilated.

By then 15 hours passed, exhaustion set in and I was asked that dreaded question (meaning I knew it was going to be a c-section), “Do you want to have this baby?” I replied, “Yes.”

I was truly and utterly exhausted though.


Quick side story, leading up to getting myself and the “epi” ready, I was being induced with pitocin. (What happened was, my water broke only but I was not in labor. If that is even possible?!)

With being induced, I started to feel the twisting and straining of labor. Not bad until the dosage was being raised higher and higher. So I was offered, laughing gas.


Never heard of this and surely didn’t think this would ever work for the pain of labor. I had a myriad of questions about this but the main one was, will this hurt my baby? They assured me that inhaling this does not hurt the baby but helps with the pain.

I was given the mask and told to breath it in very deeply. I remember taking 3 deep breaths in and on the third I felt my entire body just instantly relax.

My hand holding the mask dropped and I began to literally laugh. Laugh in a tone I have never heard before. So loud that the nurses had to ask my mom if this was normal! It was not normal, I could not control this screeching high pitched laugh at all.. I had NO control over my body. It struck me as so funny that I could not control a thing and felt so relaxed.

Of course, here is my short video of this happening. Thanks, mom for recording this!

As you can see, I was just as fine as can be with no pain. All I could feel was extreme pressure.

End quick story :)


So it began, the preparation for getting ready for the c-section. Just breath, the anesthesiologist said right before he slid the needle in my lower back. I didn’t jerk nor did I feel any pain. Just a prick. Felt like a rush of cold water flowing down my back but from the inside.

Almost immediately my legs went limp and felt as if they weighed 100 pounds each! It was the oddest feeling to see my legs yet couldn’t move them or have control.

While the team was prepping for the procedure, I started to regain feeling in my right leg. Not sure why but the anesthesiologist had said that my spine was twisted slightly in the middle of my back.

So right before I was taken into the birthing room, I had ANOTHER epidural done. I was completely numb at this point. My legs felt like lead weights, made me laugh that I could not move them no matter how hard I tried.

Into the operating room I went with only my partner. Upsettingly, my mom was not allowed in the room. It was a small room with white walls and 1 door in and out. I had one hand on my OB, Christina T. Thomas, M.D, the entire time. I was scared and felt so alone…

I was also administered a spinal tap at this point. I was so out of it by now that I didn’t question why I even needed that… as well as why I needed morphine.

What I Was Feeling?

I felt so drugged up and my mind was just so distant. I felt alone and so very nauseated. I was throwing up the entire time. Especially during the c-section. The only things I was feeling physically were the shaving, the harsh pushing (she was pushing hard on my chest for a while, knocking the air our me moments at a time) and a vacuum of sorts (for the blood I am guessing).

What Was I Hearing?

The first words I heard from my OB was, “Look at all that hair!”. Yes, she had a full head of hair. Then moments later, I hear my daughter's first sounds… her cry. The most beautiful sound I heard and I just lost it. I started asking for her and crying uncontrollably. I couldn’t see anything but my blue tarp! Then she came around the side and was brought right to my face to kiss, feel and just love.


I almost don’t remember after this. I also never got skin to skin right away either. I felt so sad because they took her away and I didn’t see her for almost 45 minutes later… I was also so exhausted that I think I was sleeping most of that time… I was in and out.

Granted, post birth, the doctors had to stitch me back up, make sure I was ok and clean up but I figured I would get some time with her right away. I felt a bit of a disconnect. Is that normal? Overall, after all was said and done my little girl was healthy and well, just wanted to sleep.


The next 5 days were of recovery and just learning the ropes of motherhood. I am sure that the mommy reading this knows all the highs as well as the lows.

For having a c-section, I couldn’t get out of bed for the first couple days, so thankfully my mom was a huge help with feeding, changing and caring for my baby…


I also got extremely nauseated and had vomiting for the first day post birth as well.. I couldn’t eat anything. Just drink water.

BUT loved all those nurses, all hours of the night, who brought my pain meds every 4 hours because healing from this was extremely painful. But amongst all that pain, I had no feeling in my legs for a long while but I noticed they were put into a compression device, constantly being massaged to keep blood flowing for a good 24 hours post birth.

It did feel good and after the feeling came back into my legs I was instructed to begin walking around… noting that my feet would most likely begin to swell. It was a double edge sword here because when I would walk, my feet became so swollen that it merged with the width of my calf!

Then they told me to put my feet up but yet I was supposed to be walking as much as possible.

That double edge sword.


After this week at the hospital was over, I headed home with my new baby girl and began a life changing feat that I just absolutely love. Well, sometimes… :)

Anani Pearl 7 lbs. 9 oz. 20 inches long

My name is Toki, mommy of Anani :) Thank you for being a part of my little story… for me mothering will always involve long hours, heavy physical work and the type of worry that could bring down an elephant if put into a dart gun. I'm here to cultivate a sense of inner support to calm our mini little storms… you can read more about me and my family here:


A Rainy Day Birth

I've had a client that has been in on the verge of labor for the last few days.  So I wasn't surprised when I was awoken with a call at 2:00am.  I was surprised when it wasn't who I thought it was.  "Hi Lizzie, I just want to let you know that I'm having contractions about every 6-7 minuets apart"  It was a client that wasn't due for a few more days.  She sounds excited and a little surprised herself. 

"Oh hi!" I said trying to sound like I wasn't asleep seconds before.  "That's awesome! Try to get some rest before labor comes on in full force, take a bath, lay down.  I'm so excited for you!"  I know that she'll probably not sleep.  Do you blame her?  I try to get some more sleep before she calls back.  

About an hour and a half later I get a call from her husband "Hi Lizzie."  He sounds like he's about to freak out but his wife has told him that it will be alright. "I wanted you to know that we are CALMLY going to the hospital in an ORGANIZED manner." 

"Wonderful!" I say, "I'll be right there."

As I'm heading to the car it starts to rain.  I think that there should be a cute saying like April showers brings May flowers  but this one needs to be for babies.  A good storm will bring a baby like nothing else.  

When I get to the hospital I meet them in their room, she was handling her labor like a champ.  Everything was developing beautifully.  As we watch the sun rise through the clouds her contractions become closer and harder.   So I start the bath with some lavender oils so that it can help mask the "hospital smell".  I turn to her husband after about 10 minuets of her being in the bath "I'm going to grab some cups to help pour the warm bath water on her so she won't get cold."  By the time that I got back she was in a squatting position in the tub. "Her last contraction was really intense, she had to move around"  He says with wide eyes.

She turns to me and says "Lizzie, I don't know if I can do this"  

"Yes, you can" I say with sincerity.

"I don't know, the contractions are one on top of each other."

She's almost done! Here is transition.  I know that if she can stay in the tub for as long as possible then she's home free.  

"How about you try one more contraction. Remember this is just for a season.  You can do this."  

After a couple of contractions she turns to me.  "What if I'm only at a six? What If I'm only 6cm? I don't think I can do this for much longer.  Please go get the nurses to check me!"

I know that she is almost done.  I also know that as soon as we get the nurse she won't be able to get back into the tub.  But as soon as the nurse tells her that she is complete, she'll find that last bit of energy, that last bit of determination.  

They break her water but because baby is so far down not much fluid comes.  The baby's head acting like a cork.  

As she starts to push the baby starts to come faster then the doctors and nurses expected.  They don't have the delivery table set up or have the whole delivery team.  The nurse who is helping the doctor get ready to catch the baby turns to me and says, 

"See that blue button underneath that yellow button?"

"This one?"

"Yes." She says quickly.

It has CODE on it.  Meaning if you push it, it will sound the "CODE BLUE" alert.  I didn't think that anything was wrong.  But if I'm told to push a code blue and I start to argue, then I would be wasting precious seconds.  

When I hit it a army of nurses come running in as mama is pushing.  She's loud,  but that's to be expected as she is completely unmediated.  

"What's wrong?!" A nurse asks the Doctor.

"Nothing, shes just having her baby.  I need the team. But that's it." She says a little bewildered that code blue was hit.  

I turn to the nurse with a look that must have looked like a deer in the headlights.  "I did what you told me to do!  I'm so sorry!"

"Oh sweetheart, don't worry.  That was my fault.  I meant the yellow one, I just accidentally said blue."

I didn't have time to worry that I may be thrown out of my favorite hospital in Houston.  Mom was crowning.  This is my favorite part on the birth. I love seeing the mom's strength, the father's awe, the baby inflate as she meets air for the first time.  I was watching with such amazement, I was still a little distracted with the whole 'code blue' incident that I forgot that all of the amniotic fluid was still behind the baby. I had just enough time to turn my head before I was splashed as the body was born.

The dad didn't want to cut the cord, so the doctor turns to me and asked if I wanted to cut the cord as she cuts the cord it all the time. So I added a new title to my resume, "Professional cord cutter".

After the sweet baby is born and mom and dad ooh and awe, I stepped out for a minute to clean up.

So starts my August births, with me fearing that I would be thrown out of the hospital, splashed with amniotic fluid, and knowing that I have the best job ever.      


5 Reasons to Write a Birth Plan According To A Doula

I love to look over my client’s birth plan, in fact, I give them a sample birth plan with their paperwork so that they can give me an idea of what they want their birth to look like. But I always make sure that they understand that just because they are writing a plan that they need to hold their plan with an open hand. Birth is unpredictable and can change at any moment that's why it's important to become informed about the birth you want, talk with your birth team about what roles you want each of them to play, talk with your care provider, and try to ensure the best birth possible for you and your baby.

Read More

I Finished My Certification

Guys! I'm a certified doula now!    


  It has been an amazing journey, but I'm so happy that I'm officially certified and am done.  It was hard to finish everything up.  At one point I had every paper I would need to finish the certification everywhere at my desk and yet I knew that I had two more essays to write.  I just wanted to cry, there was so much to do.   And I wanted to do everything right, I didn't want to mess up.  

  So the late Monday night I send everything off to my mentor Gina and scheduled the last call with her.   I was nerves about that too! What if I couldn't recollect what I needed to know about the books that I had read over the last 10 months, what if I didn't get all the papers I needed from the births that I worked! I called Gina at the time that we had scheduled and had all of the notes that I had on all of the books that I had read strewn about my room.  Praying that I had sent all of the papers that I needed.  

  And  then I just talked with her like I had the past 10 months.  I told her how much I had loved learning all that I had discovered, how much I was glad that was done, and then sat and had a sweet time discussing the books that I had read.  

  I'm so glad that I'm done and that once you are a certified DTI doula you are a doula for life, I dont have to go though tranning again.  But I have had an amazing experience.

  Thank you Gina and DTI for what you guys have done.  Keep up the good work!  


  Lizzie Frye CD (DTI) 

The Role of a Labor Doula



A labor support doula is a trained professional specializing in childbirth, who provides continuous physical, emotional and informational support to a laboring woman. The doula is involved prior to birth as a friend who can help the mother choose and visualize her birth preferences and help her plan. And the doula is involved after the birth to help ease her transition into motherhood.


            A major part of labor support is the prenatal period. Here is the time to form a relationship and to inform the family about the upcoming time of becoming parents. The doula should be able to provide evidence based information. The best birth is an informed birth.  The mother makes the decision, the doula does NOT.  But it is important that the mother has as much information as possible. The best way that a doula can give the information needed is to have a relationship before the birth. She can help the mother create a birth plan. Once the doula is hired, prenatal meetings are scheduled to learn of the mothers vision and preferences for her birth. The doula can be extremely instrumental in discussing the pros and cons of routine interventions.  The doula will be taking notes so she can be familiar with the birth plain; the doula should be learning about her client.  A doula should inform mother and her family about the postpartum period.  The mother needs to know about what her body and her baby's body will be going though during the postpartum period so her and her family can prepare.



             A doula should always have a reachable 24/7 phone number she will need to answer texts, and or phone calls.

            The role of a labor support doula at a birth is to help the family have a beautiful birth.  At the birth the doula should be able to “read” the situation and have many different tactics to offer the mother for pain relief. The doula should also know when to be quiet and when to speak up. One aspects of being a doula is learning how to best serve the mother during her labor, at births the doula will need to see what the mother needs.  The doula will need to help the mother by nurturing the mother, staying by the mother’s side and caring for what’s needed. The doula should support and try to facilitate the birth the expectant mother wants, not the one the doula wants; it is not her place to put her own views in front of the client’s desires. This is a time that a family is being born. The doula needs to help the partner be as involved as he would like and offer guidance. Even for experienced parents, labor shifts the typical role partners take on in their relationship. For some, it is very challenging to watch a loved one navigate how to move through labor and be compromised from their usual capacities. A doula should be able to guide the partner as to how to best support the laboring mother. The doula may teach the partner how to massage the mothers back or invite the partner to tell the mother a comforting, loving story the two of them share. The doula can also help guide the couple into a close, intimate space so the mother can feel relaxed. The doula needs to help navigate the ‘‘system”. One reason that a couple hires a doula is so that they can have experienced help when have a hospital birth. It is helpful for the doula to be familiar with the general way hospitals function. For example, a doula should understand the basic protocols that take place upon arrival at the hospital. A doula should know and understand what are the family’s rights.  No matter where the mother is having the birth, the doula needs to help them have the best birth possible.


            Doulas are not medically trained doulas should not be giving medical advice or performing medical tasks such as taking blood pressure, using a dopler to assess fetal heart rate, or internal exams. However, a seasoned doula is often capable of “guestimating” how dilated a laboring mother is by the emotional and physical signposts that are demonstrated. In terms of medical advice, a doula can offer the evidence based information but should NOT stand in the way of the medical staff. This can create negative discourse with the care provider.


A labor support doula’s role is to be a friend.  She needs to have knowledge to give a mother who is preparing for birth.  In the prenatal period the doula is getting to know the mother’s and partner’s envisioned birth.  The doula’s job is to, if in her power, help those wishes to come true. At the birth the doula will be by the mother at times by nurturing, empowering, and helping the couple have a beautiful birth.  This is the couple’s birth, not the doula’s. She will support, but not tell, the parents how they should have their baby. The role of a labor support doula is a beautiful role.      

::Book Reviews:: Ina May's Guide To Childbirth

If you haven't heard of Ina May Gaskin then you are missing out. 

Ina May is one of the leading of midwives in the United States from the early 70's till now. In 1971 she and her husband Stephen Gaskin  started  "The Farm"  in Summertown Tennessee. There, she and the midwives of the Farm created The Farm Midwifery Center, one of the first out-of-hospital birth centers in the United States. 

One of Ina May's most read books is Ina May's Guide To Childbirth. 

The book starts out over 100 pages of wonderful birth stories from women from the farm.  That's it, there's not really very much  that Ina says here.  She just lets you read about what they women felt as they gave birth.  As fun as it was to read the stories, it was also very important to see what the women would say about childbirth. Each story was written from the women's heart, not a doctor seeing what happened, but from the women who would be about to tell you what her thoughts were as she was in early labor, transition, pushing, and her early postpartum.    

The second part was entitled "The Essentials Of Childbirth" here you read about birth and what that means. Ina May talks about the importance of the mind and the body's connection, labor, and so much more.  

I loved this book, I would definitely recommend this book.  Even if you don't want a natural birth I would still give you this book.  Ina gives you a look at birth that's not scary or foreign, but real and a natural process that a woman's body is made to do.  

Please, if you haven't read this book it needs to be at the top of your list.