Matthew Settle Introduces Aven Angelica

Although he’s played a father on the past two seasons of Gossip Girl, it wasn’t until March 5th that Matthew Settle became a dad himself!

Introducing their 5-week-old daughter Aven Angelica in PEOPLE, Matthew, 37, and wife Naama Nativ, 25, discussed the pregnancy, Aven’s delivery, how they chose her name, and the ways that playing Rufus prepared Matthew for parenthood.

Click below for the interview and photos!

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On the pregnancy:

NN: It was great.

MS: Once you got through the morning sickness.

NN: I had a horrible, horrible morning sickness. I was very big. I gained 50 pounds.

MS: It was much easier once the baby dropped. We had fun [during] the pregnancy … we had a belly list. It’s like a bucket list — things you want to do before you die.

We wanted to take her to the opera, take her to the symphony, wanted her to hear blues, jazz and take her to a few winning hockey and baseball games. We went to Carnegie Hall, strolling in the park … she could feel the things we love.

On finding out they were having a girl:

MS: We knew we were having a girl. [Initially,] I had gone back and forth…

NN: I knew from the beginning it would be a girl, just instinctively.

MS: I went back and forth on what [the baby] would be, and I imagined both. When I found out it would be a girl it was kind of a relief. So many people said boys are super rambunctious!

On pregnancy books:

NN: I read too much. I would go to my poor doctor and he would answer all the crazy questions that I had. I want to say to women, “Don’t read too much!”

On the best advice Matthew received before the birth:

MS: One person gave me advice – my old neighbor, Ben. He said, “Don’t worry. When you hold your child in your arms, your life will change but you will work harder. You’ll be more focused because your instincts and motivation will be about her.” He said, “Just accept it … it will be the best thing that ever happens to you.”

On Aven’s delivery:

MS: She was really big — 8 pounds, 11 ounces — and Naama is very small, so the doctor chose to do a c-section. We weren’t in labor for 20 hours.

NN: When the day came, I was nervous about the operation, but it went really well.

MS: I wasn’t afraid. The feeling was complete anticipation about what it would feel like when I actually had a kid. I wasn’t excited because I was still a little bit afraid about my qualifications. “Why am I qualified to be a good parent?” … all of that stuff. I wasn’t sure what that would be like.

We were in the operating room, things were moving fast. You hear people asking for different instruments. Moments later you heard this [makes a crying noise]. We both looked at each other and tears started pouring from our eyes. It was a wonderful thing. Something just opened up this light inside of me. I felt this intense love pour throughout my body. All the anxiety you live with, things you worry about, all of that just melts away.

Until you have the baby in your arms you don’t understand. Suddenly your entire focus shifts…every part of your body becomes focused on her and wanting to be a good dad.

Why they chose Aven Angelica as their daughter’s name:

MS: Angelica because she’s angelic. Aven means mountain flower. We liked it — it was unique and we hadn’t heard it before. We were on a road trip, coming back from seeing my parents in Tennessee. We stopped at a hotel and were looking online under ‘A’ to find something to go with Angelica. It’s an English name. Naama immediately heard it and said, “That’s it.”

On Aven’s looks:

MS: She has Naama’s blue eyes, and my little elf ears.

NN: And his dimple.

MS: I think she has two dimples.

On divvying up baby duties:

MS: Naama has to nurse her every three hours. I woke up last night and I said, “Honey what are you doing?” and she said, “Pumping breast milk.” She fell asleep pumping!

I can’t wait for Naama to actually let me wear the Baby Bjorn. She likes having Aven close to her, she wants her every second.

NN: You can have her at night!

MS: I sing and play guitar to her, I read to her. I walk around the house and do show and tell with her. I talk to Aven like she’s an adult.

On what’s surprised him most about fatherhood:

MS: That I would really enjoy changing diapers. It’s kind of primal and rudimentary and makes me feel … I would liken it to going camping and putting the tent together. For me, the way my brain works, it’s fun. I got good at diaper changing.

The other thing I really love is consoling [Aven]. She hears my heartbeat … it makes me feel so valid. She suddenly calms down when I hold her. Awesome!

I am the youngest of six so I was always very playful, maybe even at the wrong times. A kid makes me want to be more adult.

On how playing Rufus on Gossip Girl prepared him for being a dad:

MS: I feel like I had a think tank of people in Los Angeles helping me figure out what it’s like to be a father — to present choices to your children and allow them to make the right one. The relationship that Rufus has with his kids is based on mutual respect, so it’s not the old traditional “spare the rod, spoil the child” kind of [mentality]. If you build that respect from the beginning, hopefully you don’t have such a little monster running around. Nothing is ever too big of a deal for Rufus — that affects me and makes me strive for that.

You have to approach [parenthood] with abandon. You have to do your best, and know that there is no shame in doing your best. You can’t force someone to do what they don’t want to do. One of the things I love about the show is it shows consequences of choices. I think that it’s a better way to be.

Source: PEOPLE, April 13th issue for use on CBB

— Liza Hamm

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