For a first time parent, the idea of giving birth can be really scary. Even for a second or third time parent, the fear lingers, as every birth is unique. Some go smoothly, some have hiccups. The one thing they all have in common is that they’re almost impossible to prepare for. Often, despite your best laid birth plan, your baby has their own ideas about how the birth is going to go. Reading other people’s birth stories can be a great way to get a feeling for the array of experiences that accompany giving birth.

Whether your birth plan was followed to the T, you had an emergency C-section, you opted for an epidural, or you gave birth at home, each story is beautiful in its own right and everyone’s experience is equally valid. And while it can be scary when the unexpected happens, miracles happen every day. Here are 11 birth stories, all very different, that showcase the array of experiences that people have when they give birth to their babies. There are few things as beautiful as bringing new life into the world, and it’s a day you’ll remember for the rest of yours. Enjoy a look at these very special child birth stories.

1. Sheena and Baby Jaxon of Sophistishe

Courtesy of Sophistishe

Although the birth of Jaxon didn’t go as planned, Sheena discovered that the most important part of the process was the fact that at the end of it all, she had a healthy baby boy.

2. Kayla Aimee and Baby Scarlette of Kayla Aimee

Kayla unexpectedly gave birth to her daughter, Scarlette, at 25 weeks. Her baby weighed just one pound, eight ounces and spent 156 days in the NICU. Scarlette is a fighter who, today, is a thriving little girl. It was a challenging experience for KA and not what she had expected, but she uses it to help other women find hope.

3. Andrea and Baby Stella of The Evolution of Annie

Andrea had a forceps delivery in a room full of medical students eager to see one, and delivered less than two hours after checking into the hospital. She managed to do it all with a smile on her face, too.

4. Heather and Baby Dodger of Quirky Feather

Courtesy of Quirky Feather

Heather was in a terrible car accident with her family and had to deliver her baby at 33 weeks as a result. Her son, Dodger, left the NICU a little over a week later and, while the situation was stressful, today everyone is happy and healthy.

5. James and Baby Gemma of Bleu Bird Blog

James chose to have a home water birth for her third baby. She delivered Gemma after an hour in the tub, despite having a lot of fear about the delivery.

6. Melissa and Baby Sam of One Mother to Another

After a quick first labor, Melissa was ready for another fast one, only to find that this time, her labor was slow moving. She remembers, “I felt powerful and strong, like the warrior woman my husband would later call me.”

7. Britni and Baby Teagan of BritniDLC

Courtesy of Britni de la Cretaz

I couldn’t do this without giving you the story of my daughter’s birth, could I? Since it was my first pregnancy, I expected a long labor, but I was at the hospital and pushing just a few short hours after my water broke. Through arguing with the anesthesiologist to not give me narcotics (I’m in recovery from drug addiction) and getting super sick due to preeclampsia immediately postpartum and having them take my baby away, it wasn’t what I expected but it was everything I’d hoped for.

8. Janelle and Baby Georgia of Renegade Mothering

Janelle gave birth to her third baby, Georgia, at her home. She pushed for over two hours “like a psycho” but delivered a nine pound, fourteen ounce baby girl while her two older children watched.

9. Sarah and Babies Etta and Claire of Ernie Bufflo

Courtesy of Ernie Bufflo

Sarah had a scheduled C-section to deliver her twins at 35 weeks. One of her twins has spina bifida and was immediately taken to the nearby children’s hospital, while the other was able to stay in the room with her. Shortly after delivery, Sarah developed peri-partum cardiomyopathy, which was causing congestive heart failure, which was nearly fatal. Luckily, she lived to share her story with the world.

10. Olivia and Baby Mara of Simply Liv

Olivia had a “natural hospital birth” and a “relatively easy” labor. She described the moment of feeling her new baby, Mara, on her chest as totally relieving.

11. Melanie and Baby Ero and Vanessa and Baby Jax of Mommy Squared

Melanie and Vanessa had two beautiful home water births less than 11 months apart. Each of them carried one of their children, conceived through artificial insemination. They have beautiful videos of each on their blog.