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Expecting

Baby (Finally) on the Way for Brantley Gilbert and Wife After Fertility Struggle: 'It's an Answer to a Prayer'

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Brantley Gilbert isn’t known for his softer side, but ever since the country rocker learned he was going to be a dad, he’s been fighting tears.

“I’m not an emotional guy, but this has got me crying like a baby,” “The Weekend” singer tells PEOPLE exclusively. “I’m pretty good around other folks now, but when I’m by myself, if I look at one of the pictures from the doctor’s office, I lose a few tears.”

Lyn Sengupta

The pregnancy was, Gilbert explains, a total — joyful — surprise. The singer and his wife Amber had been trying for a baby almost since they married in June 2015.

“We’d been to see a fertility specialist, and two different folks that told me it would be close to a miracle if it happened without IVF,” he says. “I’m not much of a quitter, but I was really, really frustrated.”

Lyn Sengupta

RELATED: Brantley Gilbert Marries Amber Cochran

Gilbert, 32, says Amber was hesitant about starting in vitro fertilization, so they put their hopes on hold for a time. And then, in February when Gilbert was on the road, Amber surprised him on his bus before a show in Louisville.

“She handed me a box and there were three pregnancy tests in there and all of them were positive,” Gilbert says. “I think I stared at it for at least two minutes without saying anything because I was literally in shock. We’d been told it was just not in the cards, and I’m staring at this answer to many, many, many prayers.”

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After “a lot of tears and a big hug,” the singer had to compose himself and take the stage. “I’ve got a song ‘You Don’t Know Her Like I Do’ that I wrote about Amber, and during the show our wedding pictures come up on the screens behind me,” he says. “I had to be careful not to look at them because it gets old boy teary-eyed again!”

Lyn Sengupta

Fatherhood comes at a time when Gilbert can truly appreciate it. “This Dec. 18 will be five years without drinking for me,” he says. “I got a long way away from the things that I was raised to prioritize: being a husband and a good father. Coming back to that and this happening, especially unexpectedly … My heart just feels full.”

Amber, a former schoolteacher whom the singer dated as a teen, is due Nov. 17. “I’ve never been more in love with her!” Gilbert says.

The couple plan to raise their son or daughter (they’ll find out the sex at a gender reveal party in two weeks) outside of Jefferson, Georgia, where they live. Gilbert says he can’t wait: “In the middle of a day, I’ll find myself smiling about nothing.”