The country rocker and his wife revealed the sex of their first child during a gender reveal party Monday night, with Gilbert using a rifle to shoot at a target filled with blue dust.
“Everybody was crying. I turned around and I think that’s when it hit me that everybody’s wanted this for us as much as we did for so long,” the “Bottoms Up” singer, 32, tells PEOPLE exclusively of the event, which was attended by 40 guests.
“When the blue cloud went up, well, that made it even more real,” he adds. “Now we know it’s a little boy, and he’s gonna have to get ready for a whole lot of love.”
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The couple shared exclusively with PEOPLE in May that their pregnancy was a total surprise, and that they had been to a fertility specialist and spoken to two different people who’d said conception “would be close to a miracle” without the assistance of in vitro fertilization.
But it happened — and it’s been a joyful ride. “We got to go to the doctor’s and pick up the envelope with the [sex] in it,” Gilbert tells PEOPLE. “Then we took it to the guy who was packing the powder. We dropped it off, then waited until the big moment … and man, when we saw that blue cloud of smoke rising?! There are no words.”
“Amber and I thought it was a little boy. I don’t know how or why, but we just did,” he continues. “I’d have been happy with any baby, boy or girl. But there’s something about the idea of a little guy … ”
The singer-songwriter explains that emotional moments have been coming ever since. “When we went to pick up the envelope, they didn’t tell us, but the 3-D picture of the baby popped up!” Gilbert shares of one ultrasound.
“We were far enough along [16 weeks], there it was. And to see that little face – and the hands up in front of it, little legs kicking. I wasn’t prepared for that, and I just started crying. It’s funny how this little baby does that to me.”
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Another group of people the country star has been able to connect with on a whole new level? His fans.
“I can’t help talking about my life – because that’s what all these records are written about – and when I mentioned the baby before ‘You Don’t Know Her Like I Do,’ the response almost took the roof off the pavilion,” Gilbert says of his recent tour kickoff show in Tampa, Florida. “They cheered almost louder for that than for all the songs!”
And of course, gifts have been a part of the process — some quite unconventional, according to the dad-to-be.
“Somebody gave us brass knuckles [for the baby] to teethe on, and the other night, someone else gave us onesies that said, ‘Crawl, Walk, Ride’ and ‘Don’t Mess With Me, My Dad’s Brantley Gilbert,’ ” he says.
Of the reveal event itself, which featured a food truck from legendary Atlanta burger restaurant The Varsity, the Gilbert tells PEOPLE “it was about the best party ever.”
“We saw people we loved, and they got to be part of something Amber and I will never forget,” he explains. “It made finding out we’re having a little boy so much better – as if that’s possible.”
Gilbert can’t help but continue on about how extremely grateful for all the different kinds of support he and his wife are receiving. “It feels like Amber and I have been trying to have a baby, and now that it’s happening, the world is as happy as we were,” he says. “People saw what we were going through, and so many people have these problems, so we’re all in it together.”