Michael Lavine
David Caplan
September 26, 2008 07:00 AM

When Clay Aiken‘s son, Parker, was four weeks old, the singer was thrust into panic mode: The baby, who had been vomiting with increasing frequency, was slated to undergo emergency surgery for an intestinal condition that complicates digestion.

“He had been gassy for weeks and then he started throwing up,” Aiken, 29, tells PEOPLE in its latest issue. “Jaymes [Foster, the baby’s mother] and I were trying to be calm, rational parents, so we didn’t call the doctors too much, but it just got to a point where he was vomiting everything. He was starting to get dehydrated.”

Parker was soon admitted to a nearby hospital and diagnosed with pyloric stenosis, a condition that prompted doctors to decide he needed surgery the following day.

It was in the early hours of the morning, shortly before Parker was scheduled for the surgery at a nearby hospital, that Aiken, who was at his home in North Carolina, “got really panicky,” he tells PEOPLE.

So the singer headed to the hospital around 2 a.m. – after second-guessing his impending visit.

Wanted to Know Everything

“I was a little worried, like ‘I don’t think they’re going to let me in the hospital at 2 or3 in the morning.’ Then I thought, ‘Wait a second, I’m the father! Of course they’ll let me in,” Aiken says. “It was the first moment when I thought, ‘I’m actually this child’s father!’ ”

Aiken came armed with a series of questions for the doctors. “I don’t like to nag people, but I asked every question I could think of, and I thought of some more and called them back. I wanted to know everything,” he says.

“I was like, wait a second, this is my responsibility, I need to take care of this child, and he can’t ask questions for himself. It was a reality check, like this is the real deal.”

As for Parker now, a beaming Aiken says, “He’s fine, healthy and doing well!”

For the complete story on Aiken’s new role as father, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands now

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