Amid the global pandemic, "It's been such a blessing," says Ryan Michaels about the baby girl he and wife Shannon Haley are expecting in early October

By Nancy Kruh
March 27, 2020 12:00 PM
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Credit: Courtesy Haley & Michaels

Country duo Haley & Michaels have been making beautiful music together since 2012, and now the married couple have a new collaboration in the works: a baby!

Shannon Haley and Ryan Michaels are expecting a daughter in early October, they tell PEOPLE exclusively.

Like so many Americans, the couple, who married in 2015, are social distancing because of the COVID-19 epidemic, but that doesn’t mean they can contain their excitement.

“It’s been such a blessing,” says Michaels, 43. “We’re spiritual people, and we believe that we all come into the world at the right time, and it’s a gift to have this now.”

The new addition has been long planned and much desired, but the pregnancy still came as a complete shock, reveal the couple, whose latest album is named after their current single, country-rocker “Hail Mary.”

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They discovered the pregnancy when Haley, 34, came down with a fever in January, and they sought care at a walk-in clinic near their home in Nashville.

“They did a bunch of tests, and one of those tests was a pregnancy test just to be safe,” Haley recalls.

A clinic staff member finally returned to the examining room to announce all the test results: “You have the flu — and you’re pregnant!'”

Today both Haley and Michaels still dissolve into laughter remembering what Michaels describes as the “surreal” moment.

“It was this rush of complete joy that instantly hit me,” says Haley. “But Ryan just kept saying, ‘We are? We are?’ And then he asked, ‘Can I hug her?’ ”

“I didn’t know if I would make the flu worse!” Michaels says. “I was so shocked. The thing is, we had certainly talked this year about having a baby, but it was the furthest thing from our minds when we went to the clinic, and we hadn’t really been trying very long.”

Haley recovered from the flu within a week. Morning sickness, though, has been a different story. “I don’t know why it’s called ‘morning sickness,’ ” she says with good humor. “It’s been all day long.”

Just into her second trimester, she says the queasiness and fatigue are finally lessening; now her preoccupation is cravings. “I am that pregnant person that wants pickles and ice cream,” she says. “I never thought that would be me. And then pizza is my new craving — just cheese pizza. That’s all I want.”

Both Haley and Michaels say they’re delighted to be having a girl, a detail that they have newly learned. Even before getting those test results, “I really felt like it was a girl,” Haley says, “and Ryan felt like it was girl, in fact, to the point where he said he didn’t even think we needed to get tested. I started feeling really connected to this baby girl, but then I felt a little guilty. What if it’s a boy? So when we found out it was a girl, I felt a little bit more free to really connect. And you just get to know a little bit more about your child, so it’s been really fun.”

With so much unexpected downtime because of the pandemic, the singer-songwriters have already been preparing a nursery — and it’s going to be Star Wars-themed for the two superfans. So far, they’ve found an R2D2 lamp, and they’re now searching for appropriate bedding.

“A lot of Star Wars bedding is the Death Star,’ ” Haley laments, “and I just don’t want the Death Star in my daughter’s room!”

They’ve also begun plotting an in utero musical education. “We’ve got a record player,” Haley says, “and we’ve got more time here than we thought, so we’re going to be playing authentic Peter, Paul and Mary and James Taylor — a lot of stuff that I grew up listening to, and that Ryan did, too.”

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Michaels is plotting out multi-genre playlists. “We’ve actually talked about doing something called ‘Sunday school,’ where every Sunday we play a record and talk to her about it,” he says.

Of course, their baby on the way will also be hearing lots of her mom and dad’s music live. “She’ll be sick of that by the time that she’s born!” Haley says.

Their new addition hasn’t yet crept into their songwriting, but the couple anticipate that will happen soon enough. “Certainly a lot of new ideas and feelings are starting to come out,” Michaels says. “I think, creatively, it’s inevitable.”

As they wait for inspiration to strike, the couple have simply been enjoying spreading their happy news to family members and close friends.

Michaels says his family was especially thrown by the announcement. “I’ve been driven, as far as music, for so long,” he says, “that I think some of my family members started to just assume that I was talking about how we wanted to have kids, but that it was probably never going to happen. My mom was in complete and total shock over it. It was so fun to tell her.”

Now they’re thrilled to share the news with everyone. “Just with the limited number of friends and the people on our team that we’ve told, everyone’s just been wonderful,” Michaels says. “We are so excited to let everybody else know because we’ve had so much love and support from fans and friends online. They’re kind of waiting to hear what’s next, and so now they know!”