Chris and Lauren Bushnell Lane Are 'Learning as We Go' with Son Dutton: 'Laugh Your Way Through'
"We make a good team," the country singer says of parenting with wife Lauren
Two weeks in, Chris and Lauren Bushnell Lane are discovering their newborn's personality — and figuring out who he looks like. "He's stubborn and sweet. Very alert and just wants to take everything in," the Bachelor alum, 31, says of son Dutton Walker, born June 8 in Nashville. "He definitely has Chris' eyes and expressions." Her country star husband, 36, sees "Lauren's nose, lips and chin" so far.
The couple, who married in October 2019, are getting a handle on parenthood as well. "We make a good team," Chris says of deciphering baby cries and trading diaper duties with his wife, whom he says has the "magic touch" while he "can't change them fast enough."
"Watching Lauren be a mom is my favorite thing in the world," the "Fill Them Boots" singer says. He's found his own musical talents coming in handy as playing the acoustic guitar calms Dutton, who is "mesmerized just listening."
Adds Lauren, "We're both so new to this and learning as we go, but we're getting the hang of it! You have to laugh your way through. We're just figuring it out together."
On Dutton's personality and preferences:
Lauren: He's a little bit stubborn and very sweet. Very alert, loves to look around and just wants to take everything in. But he does not like his arms in the swaddle, and he's very adamant about it! If you try to put his arms in the swaddle, he wants them out. He wants the freedom to do whatever he wants with his arms. I'm like, "Okay, so you definitely know what you like and what you don't!" which is good. We're in the sweet cuddly newborn phase.
Chris: I've learned that he loves, loves, loves to eat.
Lauren: He likes to eat, which unfortunately and fortunately, I'm the only one who can feed him right now. We spend a lot of time together in this room, just eating.
On who Dutton resembles:
Chris: Lauren seems to think that Dutton has my exact eyes and facial expressions, one hundred percent.
Lauren: It cracks me up because he already has a very expressive brow. He'll lift one eyebrow or furrow his brow. And I'm like, "Oh my gosh, that is Chris/Chris' dad." And then, he'll do other things that remind me of my dad. It's so weird to look at your baby and see your father-in-law and your father! But he definitely has Chris' eyes and expressions.
Chris: He's got Lauren's nose; Lauren's lips and chin. It's honestly hard to tell, but just from judging so far, it does seem that he has a mix of both of us in him.
On naming their son:
Chris: We definitely got the name idea from Yellowstone. We were huge fans of the show and watched all three seasons and have been waiting on the new one. We loved that last name and thought, "Man, that sounds like a good first name for a boy." Had a couple of other names that we liked as well, but this one just kept sticking.
Lauren: We were watching Yellowstone and I remember being like, "Wait, that's actually a cute boy name." I can't remember if I was even pregnant at that time or not, but it was on our radar at least. We ended up going with it.
Chris: Walker was another… I have a mower that I mow my yard with and it's called a Walker mower. And Lauren thought, "Oh, that's a cute boy's name as well." So Walker was actually in the running with Dutton and then we decided, "Why don't we just make that his middle name?" That's how that happened.
Lauren: All after Chris' lawnmower — Yellowstone and a lawnmower.
On Lauren's induction and labor:
Lauren: I ended up getting induced two days before my due date. I was a little worried because my OB was going on vacation [shortly] after my due date, and I really wanted to make sure that she was there when I delivered. I have absolutely enjoyed every moment of going through the process and felt really comfortable with her, so we scheduled an induction, which actually ended up being amazing. I feel super thankful. We checked in at midnight and we had him just after 11 a.m., so everything progressed pretty quickly and smoothly.
I was really, really nervous. Chris can attest to it, especially the day leading up to it. I was a nervous wreck just not knowing what to expect. I thought it would be a beautiful, but stressful and chaotic experience. And it was actually the exact opposite. I feel like it was very calm. The nurses were so nurturing. My doctor was amazing. Chris stayed super calm, other than at the beginning — he said he got a little lightheaded. We had music going. It was just a much more peaceful process than I anticipated. I did get an epidural, so that probably played a big role in feeling good. But it was just a lot less stressful than I thought it would be.
On Dutton's arrival:
Lauren: Chris was such a trouper.
Chris: I didn't do anything! I just stayed by her side. And Lauren was — it was honestly incredible to watch. I had to sit down for a second because I got a little woozy, but it was the most incredible thing I've truly ever seen with my own two eyes. The fact that she could carry a baby inside of her body and to then watch him come out was — oh my gosh, it was amazing.
I had a little different view than Lauren did because I could see his head coming out the whole time. We probably did see his face together because she ended up pulling him out. The first thing I thought was, "Oh my gosh, why is his head shaped like that?!"
Lauren: He came out with a little bit of a conehead, which is normal!
Chris: In the moment you're like, "Is there something wrong with him?!" But the birth was the most beautiful thing I've ever witnessed in my entire life. I know I've said this before, but watching Lauren be a mom is my favorite thing in the world. She is so good at it, and Dutton is lucky to have her as his mama.
On having a 9-lb. baby:
Lauren: My belly measured normal! I had an ultrasound and no one ever said, "Oh, he's measuring big." We were both shocked. I was 6.6 lbs. when I was born. He was 5 something. My doctor was even shocked — she was like, "Oh, he's a big boy."
Chris: I haven't been around enough babies to know what's big and what's not. But the first words that came out of the doctor's mouth were, "Wow, that is a big baby." We all took guesses on his weight — I guessed 7.8 lbs. What'd you guess, honey?
Lauren: I think I guessed 7.5. And then lo and behold, they put him on the scale and he was 9!
Chris: Neither one of us are big at all. And the fact that Lauren was able to birth a 9-lb. child is amazing.
On life as new parents:
Chris: I'm not good at any of it yet. I can change the diapers — I just can't seem to change them fast enough for Dutton. He screams his lungs out every single time. We've learned he hates the diaper change. However, he's usually fine as soon as you're done. But we've had a couple moments this week ... apparently little boys will pee if you don't pay attention. And I panicked because I didn't know what to do in the moment.
Lauren: We've had lots of diaper-related incidents! Chris has been so good. Both of us are learning as we go at a lot of it — we're just both figuring it out together. And I learned so much from the nurses at the hospital. They were probably like, "Oh my gosh, this girl asks way too many questions!" But I'm glad that I did because I learned so much from them, and I've passed it onto him. We're both so new to this and just learning as we go, but I feel like we're getting better. We're getting the hang of it.
A lot of it does come instinctually. It's horrible when he cries, but I've been able to stay calmer than I thought. We're trying to figure out, "What does that cry mean? What do you think he needs when he sounds like that?" We're still in that phase of figuring it all out, to be honest. You just start to feel more and more confident in your ability.
Chris: Last night was the hardest night so far.
Lauren: You're like, "Okay, we've changed his diaper. We've fed him. We've done everything that we possibly could do. Why is he still so upset?" He just wanted to be held and he did not want to go to sleep. It's 3 a.m. and we're both exhausted. We were just looking at each other like, "I don't even know what to do in this moment." I was just laughing.
Chris: Lauren was laughing. I was having a panic attack.
Lauren: I feel like you just have to laugh your way through. The moments of pure exhaustion have been challenging, but Chris is so sweet and helpful. Especially with me nursing, there's not a lot he can help with, so instead he's been changing diapers, doing laundry — you name it. He's really stepped up and I appreciate it. I'm just really thankful that we have each other because at least there's someone there with me to understand what we're going through together.
Chris: We make a good team.
Lauren: Earlier, Dutton was really upset and Chris started playing the acoustic guitar and he was mesmerized just listening. You could see it in his eyes looking around, just listening to the sound. He looked so calm. I was like, "Okay, maybe that's a new trick that we've learned — he likes music."
Chris: My instinct is usually if Dutton starts crying in my arms, I take him straight to his mama and he stops immediately. She's got the magic touch.
On sharing the postpartum reality on social media:
Lauren: I had no idea what the healing process was like. Truly, I just didn't know. It's physically challenging. And I didn't want to pretend like it was something it wasn't. I saw all these cute reels and blog posts about "what's in my hospital bag" and in my head, it was more glamorous than it actually ended up being. It didn't bother me at all — I just was surprised by it. I packed a bunch of stuff in my hospital bag, and to be honest, I didn't use any of it! I was in the adult diapers that they give you and my shower shoes and that's it.
Chris: I was changing two diapers.
Lauren: No! Why?!
Chris: I'm joking!
Lauren: That was my reality so I didn't want to necessarily sugar-coat it. And I'm assuming that's the reality for most women who have a baby. I just wanted to share what my experience was really like, and that was it. It was summed up in that photo. In fact, I took that photo at 4 a.m. I was so tired and like, "Well, this is what it's like."
On their support system:
Lauren: My parents are here and my sister as well, and they've been incredible. And then Chris' parents came into town yesterday, so we actually have both sets of parents helping right now. I don't even know what we would have done if they weren't here. I feel so grateful to have two really solid sets of parents to guide us and bounce questions off of. Dutton will do something, and I'm like, "Mom, is that normal?" and she's like, "Yes, yes."
Chris: [Our friend and fellow country singer] Ernest too — he had his baby three or four weeks before we did. We were able to go visit and ask any questions that we needed to, and they had the answers because they were going through it.
Lauren: Ernest's wife Delaney is wonderful. There are a lot of country music wives that I've met through Chris and what he does — some of whom I've been close to for a while, and then others who have just reached out and offered help and advice. There's a strong sense of community here in Nashville, and that's been really, really nice to have.
On dogs Cooper and Chloe's reaction to baby:
Chris: They are absolutely in love. At first, Cooper was a bit confused and missing our attention. But you can tell that he's already protective over Dutton and keeps checking on him.
On how they want to raise their son:
Lauren: I want to raise him with similar values that we both grew up in. Chris and I both go to church and we are religious, so I definitely want to ingrain that in him. More than anything, I just want him to be a nice human and be kind to others. Reach out to those that are hurting or alone. I want him to be a leader in that way — the first person who steps up.
Chris: You nailed it. Definitely a hard worker, which is something that we both have always had in us. No matter what it is that he ends up doing — which let's hope it's a PGA Tour star! — I hope he works really hard at that. I'm going to be there to make sure he does.
On having more children:
Chris: We've already started trying for baby No. 2.
Lauren: Oh gosh, no. I don't even know if that's possible right now! Thinking about it is hard because we're in the thick of it.
Chris: The exhaustion helps you not go there right now, that's for sure.
Lauren: I'm recovering from pregnancy and labor and delivery, and the idea is a little bit overwhelming, to say the least! Eventually, I would love to have more than one. Chris has a twin brother; I have three siblings. We definitely want at least one more — maybe two more.
Chris: We'll talk about it.
Lauren: We'll see. We'll play it by ear.
Chris: One more is probably good enough.
On touring with a newborn:
Chris: We're still figuring it out. For the first couple of months, I have some sporadic shows through July and a few in August. And then September through May, I'm going to hit it really hard. We'll put a crib on the bus for Dutton and have Lauren and Dutton out there as much as they possibly can be. That'll make traveling even better for me, and I won't have to spend so much time away from either one of them. I'm looking forward to that. Obviously looking forward to getting back out on the road, but even better having family out there!
For more from the Lanes, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands everywhere Friday. Tickets for Chris Lane's "Fill Them Boots" tour are currently on presale; for more info, click here.
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