It's a Girl! Haley & Michaels Welcome Daughter Keira Harmony After 'Really Scary' Birth
Haley & Michaels just went from a duo to a trio.
The country act — comprised of husband and wife Shannon Haley and Ryan Michaels — welcomed their first child together, daughter Keira Harmony Michaels, on Sept. 16 in Nashville, they reveal to PEOPLE exclusively.
Born at 1:17. a.m. after mom Haley's 27-hour labor and delivery, Keira weighed in at 5 lbs., 10 oz.
"It's so surreal," Michaels, 43, tells PEOPLE. "I keep looking down at her in disbelief like is she a real thing or is this a dream? We're in that dreamlike state with her. I could sit here and drink coffee and hold her for the next 30 years."
The couple originally expected their baby girl to arrive in early October, but Haley, 34, had to be induced at 38 weeks due to her low amniotic fluid levels and the baby's small size.
"It looked like it was starting to get safer for her to be outside of the womb than inside it," Haley explains. "That end period of time was really scary, because we just didn't know what was going on. It's like one minute we're going in for the ultrasound, and the next minute they're like, 'Hey, make sure your bags are packed because I think you're going to get a call, and it's probably today that you go in.' "
She adds, "Luckily that part was a very short amount of time with regards to the whole pregnancy, which, overall, was a really great experience."
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As soon as they got the call to go in to the hospital, Haley says she told Michaels, "We're having a baby today."
"It actually ended up being two days later, because we went in really late on Monday night and didn't deliver until early Wednesday," she says. "But I was so excited to meet her. I really tried to lean into the excitement instead of the fear. That, I felt, was productive because there was nothing I could do. I put all of my energy into thinking about getting to see her face for the first time."
When Keira finally arrived, the couple — who married in 2015 — couldn't have been more excited to hold her for the first time.
"It was the most amazing experience of my whole life," Haley says. "They put her skin to skin on my chest right after she was born, and it was like my heart completely opened up to a new level that I didn't know was possible. It was just incredible. Her eyes were wide open, and she was so incredibly alert. She was staring right at us, which I didn't expect, so that was really powerful."
Michaels says the whole experience was totally different than anything he'd ever seen in the movies.
"In the movies, they portray it like it's super melodramatic — and I'm sure for a lot of people, it is — but I had no experience with this," he says. "I hadn't really held a baby before. When she came out, she was very calm and so of course I'm like, 'It's all the meditating that we did during the pregnancy!' "
"She was super chill," he adds. "She was like a little Buddha. So I was tripping about that, but then also, we had done a lot of research on connections. I really wanted to make eye contact with her because that's something that we've heard is really helpful. Shannon and I basically just surrounded her with our faces, and she could see that she was loved and supported."
Due to Keira's early arrival, Haley admits they're still a bit in that "frantic new parent mode."
"The sleep deprivation is real," she says. "She's an awesome baby, but she does not love to be laid down on her own. So we actually have not both been asleep at the same time since we brought her home. We've been up, passing her off every hour and a half during the night. We are both sharing sleep duty, big time."
"We have a hard time setting her down," Michaels adds. "Other than the fact that she doesn't really want to sleep, I don't think either of us really wants to put her down. We almost have to say, 'Okay, why don't you take a nap and let me hold her?' "
Michaels also got a speed course in diaper changing.
"Ryan had never changed a diaper before and until she was born, he was pretty convinced that he wasn't going to do it," Haley says. "But now he gets really excited every time that she has a dirty diaper, like, 'Yay, I get to do it.' So that's nice."
Haley and Michaels decided on the first name Keira because of their love of the U.K.
"Keira is a name that we've always loved," Michaels says. "We decided to go with the U.K. spelling of the name because we've had so much support and so many wonderful experiences with new friends and fans over there. We wanted to tip our hat across the pond."
They chose the middle name Harmony because of its double meaning.
"We wanted something musical, but we also love the double meaning, especially today with the world being what it is," Haley says. "We wanted to bring harmony into the world. Also, we first connected over our voices blending together, and the harmony between our voices, so we wanted to pass that sentiment down to her."
Keira even has her first percussion credit on a song already, since her parents included the sound of her heart beat, which Haley recorded on her iPhone during an ultrasound appointment, on the breakdown of the chorus of their new song "Born Yesterday."
"On the way over to my appointment, Ryan was like, 'Hey, do me a favor, record the heartbeat because I have this idea,' " Haley recalls. "I was like, 'I know what you're thinking.' It was so fun. I told my OB, 'You're going to get an engineering credit on this ... can I record the heartbeat?' "
When they turned in all of their forms for the song to Sony, Michaels says they snuck in Keira's name in the credits.
"We were listing all the musicians, and we just snuck it in," he says. "It was funny because we had kept her name a total secret. We are friends with the people that we work with, but we just slid it into the bottom, under the drummer, like additional percussion."
Haley and Michaels first came up with the idea for "Born Yesterday" ahead of their baby girl's arrival.
"I had the idea for 'Born Yesterday' from the double meaning of it with the literal sense of being born yesterday and wanting her to stay little forever," Haley says. "I wish you could stay born yesterday, just in terms of the world and what you have to figure out through hardships. We wanted to write that message to her, but also that she's her own person and that she's strong and she'll figure things out herself. We're always there to help guide her. That's the sentiment that we wanted to put into the song."
Michaels says they always love writing songs that are "personal," like "Giving It All (To You)," which they wrote about their wedding vows.
"We like being vulnerable and honest with the listeners," he says. "I think the songs that inspired us to make music did that for us. We're both lead singers, and we have conversations in songs. In this case, having both parents represented, I think adds a special layer for us and the lyrics couldn't be more autobiographical."
In the week since Keira Harmony's birth, Haley and Michaels say they've already felt a surge of inspiration.
"I can already feel my emotions being really raw, and I feel very vulnerable," Haley says. "I think that it's a really amazing time to take advantage of feeling things so deeply. I really hope to write music while I'm in that state. I think it would be incredible to see what comes out."
Though they're both focused on the present, they're also looking forward to the future.
"My favorite thing, which I'm sure will go on forever, is just watching her experience things for the first time ever in her life," Haley says. "We showed her a tree the other day, and she looked at it like it was the most amazing thing in the world. Who knows if she actually knew what was happening, but it's so fun to think every single thing is the first time that she's ever doing it. So for me, I'm just eating that up. I think I'll feel that way forever."
Michaels adds: "I'm looking forward to being her date to the prom."
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