Surrender, My Birth Story

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

last bumpie after my water broke // 40w 4d


3:28am // Water breaks

Labor at home for 4.5 hours

8am // Arrive at hospital, 3cm dilated

Pump to naturally induce labor for 5 hours

3pm // Epidural + Pitocin, 4.5cm dilated


8pm // 10cm dilated

Push for 2.5 hours

10:30pm // Fever + infection, Selah’s heart rate gets erratic


11pm // Selah arrives via emergency c-section at 8lbs 13oz // 20in.

look at that cone head!


A couple months back, I sent my husband this article about the importance of dads taking candid photos of mom + baby, as a way to genuinely capture moments. This would be his first candid. I hate it. It’s right after my c-section and I’m unconscious (sedated after c-section). The amount of pain + stress I was in at the moment of sedation, is somehow frozen on my face and now, forever in my mind.

If I had to describe my birth story in one word, I would say it was traumatic and felt exactly how this picture looks. And, that’s sad because the whole day wasn’t traumatic at all. It was a slow, but steady, build with some really rough moments, like the epidural, which had to be started over 4 times! But, even the active labor wasn’t the nightmare I thought it would be. It was calm, with dim lighting, good music, and the most important people in the room.

Unfortunately, I don’t think of any of those calm moments when I think of Selah’s birth. They are all drowned out by heavy thoughts of fear mixed with pain and no choice but to surrender to the plan at hand.

I’ve been trying to write this story + my truths for weeks, but nothing is coming out. I want to talk about how everything I didn’t want to happen… happened; how I was terrified that one of us wasn’t going to make it out of that OR; how I didn’t get that beautiful labor + delivery that was followed by a family photo opp and the moment where I fall deep in love with my daughter; how I feel set up for failure by being expected to care for a newborn with a body that is being held together by sutures + tape; and how birth plans are for birthing centers + at home births because in a hospital you pay for that medical piece of mind by sacrificing your birth plan. There is only one birth plan in a hospital… theirs.

But, all I can think about is when I miscarried and how my mind began to protect my heart by blurring memories + distorting time. Its happening again. Everything is a blur and fragmented in my mind. I think this case of writer’s block is also my mind’s way of protecting my heart and pushing me to again, surrender.

And so I do. I surrender + stand in gratitude that both Selah and I are here, safe and healthy. And, I’m working to accept and release the trauma of her birth, without trying to understand it so that I may move forward, be present, be light, be somebody’s mother.

Selah S. Rose Raymer

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Kenya Raymer is a writer, blogger, dancer and the hostess of the natural-hair meet up Curls & Cocktails. She is a self-love enthusiast who uses her natural-hair platform as a space to discuss hair and all things beautiful & real. She is loving in Nashville, TN, where she promotes the local eats, animal rescue, self-awareness, personal growth, happiness and finding comfort in your own skin.

41 thoughts on “Surrender, My Birth Story

  1. Kenya, thank you for sharing. For realizing that the healing is in the surrender. Light and love to the Raymer family💕💕💕

    1. Thank you for sharing…it was real and raw. The birth of a child is pure magic and it is in these moments that we can’t quite explain where we see the awesomeness of God. His creation.

    2. Kenya you mentioned healing in your story. You have not only granted yourself permission to heal but so many other women who were ashamed of admitting childbirth for them was traumatic. We as women have been told for so long to embrace and feel honored to experience childbirth, but truth be told it is sometimes a badge of honor that we could do without. Thank you for your honesty.

  2. 1. Thanks for sharing your story and your experience.
    2. I love that you label your experience as traumatic despite the fact that many people might no agree with it being labeled as such. Trauma is subjective and many of the postpartum clients that I see report similar birth experiences and I work to get them to realize it’s okay if it was traumatic to them and it’s okay to label it as such. You doing this on your platform will definitely help many others I’m sure.
    3. I used to work on a labor & delivery unit for many years and saw 1st hand the stress, fear, and chaos that surrounds an emergency c-section that’s called for a baby with a decelerating heart rate. It’s no walk in the park. So congratulations to you for coming out on the other side just as strong and brave despite your story taking this turn. I wish you and your family all the love and joy y’all can stand lol!

  3. Beautiful!!!!! I had 2 C-sections and understand your feelings of trauma. It gets better! Just love that beautiful baby, and remember that no matter HOW she got here, she GOT here!

  4. 1. I’m off this blog cause evrytime I come, I cry. She is perfect… I can understand how you can’t grt out your mind about the miscarriage . Like hmmmm, should I feel bad I can’t feel ecstatic about a new baby since I can’t stop picture of the other horror or what feeling . You’re deff entitled to feel mixed emotions. People really make this birthing seem glamours and pain free and joyful.

    Negative .

  5. I have my own issues with getting pregnant and I follow u because first off go VOLS but you also have given me strength and hope through your story! I know I will be someone’s mother one day but all the what if’s scare me! You have taught me so much through your posts! How to protect my boundaries and how to handle life’s unpredictable challenges! Thank you for being open and truthful but more importantly thank you for sharing your space and your stories because they have gotten me through some tough times! Thank you thank you and thank you again. You have no idea how much your stories and posts have gotten me through tough doctors visits and surgeries! Again thank you! May you and your family forever blessed! ❤️❤️❤️✨✨✨

    I would like to ask one favor can you send some love and light my way as I go through this TTC journey!?

  6. Thank you for sharing your raw story… So many times we hear and read about the beauty of child birth and not the horror and fear. I’m so glad you and your family are healthy and alive. Your daughter is beautiful just as you are. I appreciate and look forward to your IG stories, post, and comments. They brighten up my day. Even your rants.. As another mom who just had a baby 5 months ago I’ll continue this recovery journey with you. Blessings and positives vibes your way.

  7. I love how you broke it down. I had my mind set of this amazing birth and ended up with a C-section. It was a out of body experience and all I could do was relinquish my control. I loved following your story! Much love.

  8. Wow! This is so raw, authentic, and powerful. Thank you for sharing. I’ll be giving birth soon and this really helps me to set realistic expectations for my “birth plan” at the hospital. I must Surrender. I enjoyed reading this blog, blessings to you and your family!

  9. I’m happy your so open about your experience. Even though this may not be your intention, your voice speaks for many who are not as open. Traumatic is exactly the word I would use when describing my first birth. I felt so upset, scared, sad, disappointed and robbed of a “perfect” birth. I I beat my self up for days about it until I realized that I had a baby to love on and that’s all that should matter. I now have another daughter that I delivered via “Planned” c section. Even though it was planned the fear was still there and it was still traumatic in a way. I feel like C Section mommies need their own little support group meeting before leaving the hospital. Even though we may be ready to go home medically. WE ARE NOT ALWAYS OK! It’s hard to go into mommy mode when your still getting over what did and didn’t happen a few days prior. Sending hugs your way from a fellow c section mama that understands your pain.

  10. Thanks for sharing we have quite similar stories I hope that we cross paths in person one day and have the chance to blossom a friendship. You and your family are beautiful and always in my prayers. Being a mommy has many moments you will have to surrender but I’m ten months in and would not change it for the world.

  11. It’s so much like my birth story with my oldest son it’s cray cray!!! I was pregnant with a rainbow baby with all these plans for my birth story for
    Watching all the movies and reading all these books. Then this tramatic emergenct csection messed me all the way up!! I felt scared,embarrassed ,sad, unwomanly but thankful because my baby was there. No one even knew but my immidate family knew I had a csection, I Carried it like a little but of shame! I applaud you for always being brave enough to stand in your truth, it inspires me so much!!

  12. Thank you for sharing. My birth plan went out the window when I had to have an emergency c-section after we found some scary stuff on a 39 week ultrasound. It took me a long time to recover from the trauma and 2 years later I’m finally at peace…especially after finally labeling it as such, trauma! I found some articles about post partum depression and PTSD from traumatic birth and somehow things finally clicked. You are so wise to recognie all these feelings so soon and I know that by sharing your honest story you will no doubt touch many other women going through the rollercoaster of similar feelings. It’s okay to mourn the birth experience you didn’t get, and still be present and happy about your health and your healthy, beautiful baby girl. Much love to your family during this special, crazy time.

  13. I too had a traumatic birth experience that ended in a c-section. I have rarely talked about it, except to say that I laboured for 40+ hrs and had preeclampsia. I don’t talk about the fear and deep sense of gratefulness and relief that we are both here and well.
    No one talks about how hard a csection is. They should. But my own silence tells me why we don’t.

  14. This is oddly reminiscent of my first labor: fear, tears, surrender and all. I remember feeling so inadequate and unprepared…and finally unworthy. I wonder how much of my postpartum experience would’ve been different if I’d had the birth of my dreams. Thank you for sharing.

  15. I had an emergency C section as well. Very traumatic. Glad you and your daughter are safe.. that’s what matters most and everyday I’m thankful were survived.

  16. I’ve been following you for years now, and what has always resonated is truth. You are unapologetic with your truth and it is so damn refreshing and beautiful. Your words have been with me as I navigated my liberation from an abusive relationship. They were with me when I was deep in my introvert feelings. They were with me as I searched for inspiration for my wedding vows to my now husband. Thank you Kenya for allowing us a glimpse into your mind, heart, and soul. You are truly a gift to us, and now to your beautiful daughter. 💚

  17. I am sorry for the trauma you experienced. I have never had a c-section so I can not relate to a hard birth, but I do know what it’s like to have to forge through a traumatic experience while being a mother. That shit is tough! I promise you, though, as the days go by and Selah gets your mental wounds will heal. And those scars will be faded out by all the awesome, yet sometimes challenging memories you will have developed outside of that delivery room. Sending all the good mama vibes I have your way. Kiss that beautiful baby for us!

    P.S. I, too, had the horrible experience of getting the epidoral shoved in my spine 6 times. That was 11 years ago and when I think about it long enough I still want to smack that doctor. Lol! You are not alone!

  18. Standing in line at Home Depot returning a few items. Decided to check insta and click on my fav, you! Well girl, I wasn’t ready!!! Not sure exactly why but reading your Birth Story really got to me! You may feel like you have writers block but your story came through loud and clear and the emotions flooded me in the middle of dusty old Home Depot! You made it, through it all, thank God! My Birth Story hasn’t been written yet and my never be but thank you for sharing yours. So honest per usual and open. Real Birth can be really traumatic and one can never really be ready. But thank God you both made it. Thanks again for sharing. Praying for your healing both inside and out!!!💞💞💞🙏🏾🙏🏾🙏🏾

  19. I’m glad you finally shared your story. People don’t want to hear the traumatic events that happen during pregnancy. I have 5 kids, so when people have questions about pregnancy they think I’m an expert. I wrestle with telling the whole truth. I loved being pregnant, but I I was always terrified of the actual birth process because I knew shit happens. #3 was a c-section and it scared me just to think about it but he was breach and I had no other choice. Your story reminds of my #4 child. They never offered me medicine (I’ve never had to ask before they just gave it) so when I finally asked they checked me and it was too late. No drugs, so I’m screaming my lungs out because I have no reference what it feels like without medicine. My husband said I had the receptionist crying.

    I said all of that to say the trauma of it all will be your war story to tell beautiful Selah. My daughter now 16 loves for me to tell the story. She thinks it’s funny but she also thinks her mom is awesome for going through that to get her here.

    So tell Dolewhite to buy you a Superwoman shirt because you have earned it and more. YOU DID THAT!!!!

  20. Thank you so much for sharing your story. I read about why you chose your daughter’s name and it’s so fitting that her birth called you to pause and surrender. Sounds like this little girl is going to be the gift that keeps on giving as she teaches you to embrace both the beauty and pain of most things in life. May you experience healing body, mind, and soul in the coming moments, days, weeks, and months. May you and your husband continue to connect deeply as husband/wife and as father/mother. Thanks again for sharing your journey with us in your own way and timing!

  21. I love your story, my experience with my first son(who is now 8) was almost identical. I can truly relate to all the feelings and emotions you have and also the disappointment of things not going as expected, however the acceptance comes with time. People don’t really want to know how traumatic it can truly be. Glad everything went safely and that you guys are healthy, thank you for sharing.

  22. Thank you for posting this raw story of labor. Labor and birth is not always an amazing experience. I too had a birth plan. I too had had my birth plan go awry. Nothing can prepare you for a traumatic experience but hearing others stories does help to ease the guilt we (I) feel. When I had my son I could not walk around, I could not labor in the tub, I could not lay on my side, I had to lay flat on my back. With thE music I picked out specifically to calm me blaring in the background, I was confined to a bed. My asthma was out of control, my sons heart rate kept dropping, my heart rate was out of control… by the time I finally gave birth after both ripping and receiving an episiotomy, I was completely overwhelmed. Relieved to finally be done and to be honest, ashamed of myself. Thank you for this. Much love.

  23. Wow. Sending you plenty of love & magical sleeping dust for baby (it’s not drugs I promise lol) so you can re-energize. I wish you a speedy recovery with zero infections etc. Although I did not have a c-section, I admire women who have. Labour and delivery takes so much mentally (I wish someone told me before hand) and I find no one focuses on the impact that having a c-section can have. Especially an unplanned one. Can I also be real about the newborn stage? Personally, I did not like it. Everyday was a mountain for me to climb as I was sleep deprived, hormonal and there wasn’t enough balm in the world for my chapped nipples. I’ve never cried so much. Remember each day that you make it through, you are a champion! Also…The Amazing Race is a great show to watch while cluster feeding, random I know lol.

  24. You’re a true warrior & somebody’s mama for sure.. I’ve heard of traumatic births interfering with moms’ ability to bond with their babes & hope that didn’t happen (doesn’t seem like it)! 😍 My birth story wasn’t bad but a few months after having my son I broke my BACK of all things & breastfeeding, not being able to hold him while standing, feeling like he was bonding with dad more than me, crawling around the house to get stuff done.. was allllll too much mixed w/ new mom stress & hormones! I was wishing I only had postpartum to heal from. Love how you talk about the unpleasantries + healing through them, it helps. 💚

  25. As I’m reading this and holding my almost 1 year old baby boy, I weep. Actually, I’m ugly crying because my story is very similar. I planned a home birth. All I saw was me and my baby at home , happy, comfortable, healthy, surrounded by love. It was so perfect in my head but my own midwife became nervous and I also feel like my surrender was a setup. Labored for 3 days at home and sooooooo excited to know that my son was on his way. But I didn’t progress. 1cm. 3 days. Off to the hospital, labored 3 more days and like you said, once you get there, it’s all about their birthing plan. The fear they give is all part of it. Because they know if they tell you enough bad things, you will surrender. What a traumatic, heart breaking, devastating experience it was for me. You are brave to share because sister girl, I have yet to face my birthing story. I can’t look at homebirthing videos to this day. I know that sounds crazy but I was scarred. On my body and on my heart. Your story took me back tonthat hospital room where confusion, disappointment and fear controlled the air. Feeling like my midwife didn’t advocate for me. Just so much. But thank you for taking me there. It’s been a year since I thought about it. I blocked out my own birthing story. I pray I will be able to o process it and let it be. I pray. Soon come.

  26. We really never know how strong we are until that’s the only option left ! You are strong, you are a warrior . Thank you for sharing your story . I couldn’t even imagine the thoughts going through your mind .
    May God continue to bless you and your family

  27. I had 2 c-sections within a 3 yr period. And yes u do feel robbed of a natural delivery. And It’s very traumatizing. Then ur body has to heal. It took me so long to completely heal. It took me awhile to finally get the hang of things. And ur sutured up in pain trying to care for your baby while maintaining you and ur sanity. Ur body and brain has been thru such a process. U r strong sis. U did thannnng boo! Love how u documented ur pregnancy. I wish I was able to read something like when it was my turn back then 😊. It’s a process and an adjustment. I too cried thinking can I handle this shit??? How do I care for a baby while in this pain at the same dayum time. At times u get overwhelmed. But u push thru. U conquered pregnancy like a G and now u gonna conquer this whole Mom thang.

  28. I read this with tears filling my eyes, my daughter is today 4 weeks old and I have such a similar birth story. I am coincidently a labor and delivery nurse at the same place I delivered at and just like you, everything bad that could happen did. I needed several epidurals to finally get the pain relief I greatly needed, I ended up pushing for 4 hours with no decent of my daughter and ended up in the OR under general anesthsia. As a nurse that worked there, I knew all my colleagues were doing everything right and I just could not have the birth I had originally planned. My daughter was stuck in the birth canal when they tried to pull her out of my stomach and had to push her head from my vaginal back into my stomach which caused her to have extra anesthesia since it took a lot longer to get her out which landed her in the NICU with a breathing tube. From all the pushing and her being stuck, I had significant swelling down below which is still causing pain when I have to go number 1 or 2 and not to mention the general pain in my stomach.
    I am writing this not to re-tell my birth story (birth trauma) to tell someone else for the millionth time but to tell you how sorry I am and how I truly understand how upsetting it is to not get the beautiful birth you desired, deserved and worked so FUCKING HARD TO GET! Even when you work with the people and have years of experience yourself it just didn’t happen for me.
    Finally, I just want you to know at about 2 weeks or maybe a little after it finally does not hurt to laugh! I just wanted to know when that didn’t hurt so much! I am now, today officially 4 weeks post-partum and feeling more like myself than ever! Every day that goes by I feel a little better. Today I sit here holding my baby girl tight, just glad we are both here happy and healthy.

  29. The gratitude I have for you sharing this can’t really be summed up in “Thank You”. The best word I could offer at this moment is that you are not alone in feeling how you feel. I hated my first birth. I hated people who told me not to hate it or dismissed my trauma with a “Well, at least…”. Sooo many “Well, at least”s. I hated the mamas that expected me to be fine with my section because they were fine with theirs. Traumatic birth stories sent me spiraling and positive birth stories shut me down. Finally, I dragged myself to an ICAN meeting half expecting again to hear that I should get over it, but I didn’t. I found other women who also got it and that alone did so much finally to help. Women with their own trauma, their own stories and like me, even had scars that had the unmitigated gall to heal ugly! (Keloids are from the devil but can be rebuked with vitamin E, apparently).

    So I pray that you heal in your own time and own way. I’m so happy that Selah has your photos and captions to look back on and that she has such a dynamic mother who can uplift and be good to her as your mother did for you.

  30. Thank you for sharing Kenya. When I see baby’s head after delivery, it hurts me. We can see how much she wanted out and how much it hurts you. So happy for all of you.

  31. I am literally in tears. Our stories are very similar. I hope the almighty blesses you with peace over the next few weeks so you can heal spiritually and mentally. I know you probably hate the pic, but that my dear is a stripe you wear with pride. You were a warrior. Rest. Meditate. Love on that baby. Praying for you guys.

  32. I am so sorry you didn’t have the birth you envisioned. It takes time and a lot of mental healing to release the trauma of a birth that didn’t go as planned. I hope you find some peace and enjoy your baby.

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