Tyler Hubbard‘s new baby girl is the apple of his eye, but the real MVP during her delivery was his wife Hayley.
Speaking to PEOPLE for this week’s issue (and sharing photos of his sweet new family of three), the Florida Georgia Line singer praised his wife for her strength during childbirth as the couple welcomed daughter Olivia Rose on Dec. 23.
“I think it’s something that God doesn’t let men do for a reason — I don’t know if we could get through it,” Tyler says with a laugh, adding that he “100 percent” has a new respect for both Hayley “and all women who have babies.”
Continues the new dad, 30, “It’s a beautiful thing, and Hayley was really strong and calm and relaxed. I couldn’t have been more proud of her the whole time.”
Hayley has her own praise for her husband, telling PEOPLE, “He’s been my helping hand and supportive — everything and more than I ever expected him to do. He’s been wonderful.”
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The couple explain that they tried to create a calm space in the hospital room for their baby girl to be born into, and that they felt more excitement than fear.
And even the difficult parts were worth it for the trade-off of seeing Olivia for the first time — a moment Tyler remembers he spent “laughing and crying.”
“It was a pretty wild rush of emotions and I think Hayley felt the same way,” he says. “Right when she was born, they put her on Hayley’s chest and wiped her off a little bit and we spent a little time with her. It was definitely a magical moment, and a moment that we’d been waiting for, for a long time.”
“Watching Hayley go through the laboring process from start to finish and seeing the prize at the end of the race was pretty rewarding and really, really cool,” Tyler reveals. “It was definitely a special moment for both of us, and something we’ll never forget.”
One family member who was present to welcome his “little sister” when she arrived home on Christmas Day? Harley, the spouses’ golden retriever.
“He’s such a good big brother,” Tyler praises the pup, adding with a laugh. “He’s so gentle with her and he just smells her. He’s already protective of her … I think with golden retrievers, it’s almost like they’re meant for that. He’s already in love with her.”
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One challenge Hayley is still working on is breastfeeding — something she admits “is definitely a little harder than” she anticipated, but “just so rewarding” at the end of the day.
“I’ve been loving that bonding experience so much,” she shares. “[But] we’ve gotten such great advice from all of our friends that it’s been nice to feel a little prepared for whatever we can.”
For more about Tyler Hubbard and wife Hayley’s adorable new addition, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday.