JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A year later and people still come up and ask Aumari Smoot about it.
Hey, aren’t you ...
“Yeah, that happens a lot. Sometimes I’ll just be in public and then say ‘Oh, like you’re the one that had the baby,’” Aumari said. “I’m like, ‘Yeah, that’s me.’”
Jaguars defensive end Dawuane Smoot and his wife, Aumari, are the proud — and often sleep-deprived — parents of Ahmir and Ahlani. Most parents of young children can relate. But it’s their story that is remarkable, even a year after an early morning surprise made the Smoot clan a family of four in the most unexpected of ways.
How 13-month-old Ahlani made her way into the world makes this family story an unforgettable one. In the early morning hours of Oct. 19, 2021, Aumari went into labor in the family’s home. It was a surprise that it happened when it did. She’d just met with her doctor and midwife, who said Aumari was still likely a week or so away from having her daughter.
When Aumari felt the contractions come on like a jolt of electricity that morning, that timeline wasn’t a week away.
It was right then.
With no time to wait, she woke up Dawuane, who’d just returned from Jacksonville’s game in London. In what felt like the blink of an eye, Aumari went from contractions to full-on delivery. Dawuane helped deliver Ahlani in the living room of the family home.
And just like that, the Smoots and a very private moment became an international story that dotted the news shows and websites across the world. A year later, Aumari and Dawuane are still approached about that story. They smile and acknowledge that, yes, they’re the ones who had the baby in the living room. Aumari will share her story of natural childbirth and if women are interested in it, she’ll share more.
The Smoot’s are strong believers in natural childbirth and Aumari elected to have both of her children that way. The couple used a midwife when Ahmir was born, and Dawuane helped deliver his son in a birthing tub at the family’s home.
“I knew that once we decided to be parents that I wanted to try my best to have a natural birth. It’s just my personal belief that God made the woman’s body perfectly,” Aumari said. “So, I just kept that in my mind and said I’m strong enough to do this. My body is healthy enough. Ahmir he was a healthy baby to where I didn’t need to go to the hospital. And so I prayed about it and everything went well.”
When the couple found out they were expecting Ahlani, they timing meant it would be a chaotic stretch. She was due right in the middle of football season and right in the middle of major renovations at their house. So, they opted for more comfort and planned to deliver Ahlani at a birthing center. They planned to check in to a short-term rental before that so they could return there from the birthing center. That was the plan.
Ahlani, of course, had other plans.
The night of Oct. 18 was like many others during football season.
The Jaguars were coming off a 23-20 win over Miami in London, a victory that ended a 20-game losing streak. The team was heading into a bye week and the Smoots were grateful for a little bit of a break. They went to sleep that night like any other.
When Aumari woke Dawuane up in the early morning hours of Oct. 19, he knew it was time to act. Aumari was having major contractions and was in full-on labor. Dawuane thought there would be time for Aumari to shower and for him to get his son, 2-year-old, Ahmir, and have him taken care of before they headed to the birthing center.
As much as the Smoots had planned for this moment, they had no idea things were going to accelerate so quickly.
As the couple walked toward the door, Aumari knew this was going to be much different than when she had her son. In their living room, Aumari stopped walking and leaned back, unable to go on any further. Dawuane helped guide her to the ground.
“It happened in like 30 minutes. Like, no lie. It was so fast. I didn’t have time to process it,” Aumari said. “We were just like walking towards the door and then I told Dawuane like, ‘Yeah, she’s coming.’ I just felt her head starting to come out. Like, we can’t even walk any further.”
Ahlani wasn’t going to wait for the birthing center. Dawuane followed his wife’s instructions and called 911. They walked him through what to do. He said adrenaline was racing through his body and that he was hyperfocused on every word they said, including tying off the umbilical cord.
“I just didn’t know exactly what to do. She was the brave one in it all and she kept me calm,” Dawuane said. “Even though she was going through all that pain, she was able to just stay calm and tell me, ‘Hey, just call 911, calm down, go grab some blankets.’ I just listened to her. To get it done I was able to step up in ways to help her.”
By the time Ahlani made her entrance in the world, Aumari and Dawuane noticed a visitor in the living room — Ahmir. He’d woken up in the night and was quietely watching and taking it all in.
Thirteen months later, that night has given way to real life. Yes, it’s extremely hectic, but it couldn’t be better.
Dawuane is enjoying one of his best seasons as a pass rusher. Despite playing far less than players like Josh Allen and Travon Walker, Smoot’s five sacks lead the Jaguars. With one more, he’ll tie his career high with No. 6. Aumari may be sleeping less than she was with just Ahmir, but her smile is radiant when talk about the three loves of her life.
“It’s nonstop. Nonstop parenting. But it’s a blessing,” Dawuane said. “It’s something every day that you come home to and you’re happy.”
Ahmir and Ahlani keep Aumari and Dawuane on the go. Aumari said that Ahmir is the playful and sweet one of the children and it’s easy to see that personality emerge.
“My sister loves to play with me and my sister likes to do everything,” Ahmir said.
Are you a good brother?
“Yeah!,” he belted out.
Ahlani is the “feisty one,” a very high energy and on-the-go toddler. She’s constantly rocking on Dawuane’s lap and playfully grabbing at his chin while he tries to talk.
“They are kind of a pretty good mix [of both of us],” Aumari said. “But I would say Ahmir has more of my personality, Ahlani has more of Dawuane’s personality. She’s going to be a fun young lady.”