December 24, 2012 12:00 PM

The nudging to have a baby started even before her wedding four years ago. “Literally at our rehearsal dinner, there were comments made,” recalls Jenna Bush Hager. But happy with her husband, Henry, who works in finance, and her new life in New York as an NBC News correspondent, she was in no hurry, and joked with her parents, former President George Bush and wife Laura, that the cats shared by her and twin sister Barbara would have to suffice.

No more. After keeping the news quiet for months, the former First Daughter is ready to share that she and Henry, 34, are expecting a baby this spring. “We can’t wait!” Jenna, 31, tells PEOPLE. Neither can her parents. “We’re both thrilled,” says Laura Bush. As for the grand-kitties, she adds, “They don’t know their world is about to be shaken.”

When she phoned her folks in Texas with the news, her father was “emotional,” says Jenna. “They were also cautious for us because they had a hard time with their pregnancy and wanted to make sure the first three months went off without any issues.” She had planned to wait longer to tell her grandparents, but when she saw the older Bushes, “I had to tell them, because they’re so important to me.”

So far, she says, she’s been feeling good-Henry happily indulges his wife’s cravings for dim sum-and still traveling for NBC. She also took on an editor-at-large position at SOUTHERN LIVING (which is owned by PEOPLE’s parent company, Time Inc.). Getting ready to be a mom, however, reminds her of her work as a teacher. “I’m so excited about reading to the baby,” she says, dabbing her eyes. “I’m making myself cry! It’s my hormones. My parents read to us every night-it was such a special time. I’m so looking forward to that.”

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