Scotty McCreery Caps Off a Banner Year with His New Baby Boy: 'Instant, Unconditional Love'

The country star and wife Gabi share a peek inside their 7-week-old son Avery's nursery as the singer settles into first-time fatherhood

Scotty McCreery nursery photos
Scotty and Gabi McCreery with son Avery. Photo: Sidney Ashton Photography

With the year winding down, Scotty McCreery is reflecting on the many blessings of the past 12 months — and looking forward to what's to come in 2023.

After finding out he'd be a father, the country star and wife Gabi made their happy news public in June, a week after their fourth wedding anniversary. July brought word that his single "Damn Strait" had hit No. 1, marking McCreery's fifth chart-topper of his career. At the Country Cares seminar in early October, St. Jude presented him with the Randy Owen Angels Among Us Award for his commitment to the work of the children's cancer hospital, followed just over two weeks later by the birth of son Merrick Avery — whom the couple call by his middle name — on Oct. 24.

November saw the release of the deluxe edition of McCreery's latest album, Same Truck, which features six new songs, including "It Matters to Her." This month, the singer performed on CMA Country Christmas, now streaming on Hulu and Disney+, and serves as executive producer on Five More Minutes: Moments Like These, premiering Saturday at 10 p.m. on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries. And earlier this week, McCreery announced his upcoming tour kicking off in January, with tickets on sale this Friday.

With 2022 coming to a close, the new dad spoke to PEOPLE after touching down in Las Vegas for his inaugural show since the birth of his son. "This is my first trip away from home since he's been born, so getting to the airport and saying goodbye to him was definitely the toughest," McCreery, 29, admitted as we caught up about his first month and a half with Avery. "It really hit me this morning."

On son Avery's early arrival:

It was kind of crazy. I was a few hours away when I got the call that Gabi was in labor. We were still two weeks early at the time, and she just knew she was going to be late. We're building a place in the mountains and I had to go bring some stuff up there to get ready for the house. I was there for one night, and I was coming back in the morning. We both agreed — drop everything off and come right back. Of course, it was to happen right then.

She called me and she said, "Hey, I think it's happening." I was like, "Oh my word..." I got on my way home on Interstate 40 [in North Carolina]. I put the flashers on and drove about as fast as my truck could go, and luckily got back just in time and we went to the hospital. It was pretty wild!

Scotty McCreery nursery photos
Gabi, Scotty and Avery McCreery. Sidney Ashton Photography

On seeing his baby boy for the first time:

It was a lot of emotions. Pride and love, for sure. It was just instant, unconditional love. I've never felt a love like that, never knew a love like that could exist, and at the same time was just so proud of Gabi and all the hard work she did during this time. She was so awesome through the nine months of pregnancy and the delivery — she's a champ.

Scotty McCreery nursery photos
Scotty, Avery and Gabi McCreery. Sidney Ashton Photography

On wife Gabi, a pediatric nurse, as a mom:

She's amazing. I mean, she's really a natural nurturer. Even when Avery is fussy and nothing in the world can calm him down, she's still so patient with him. I think she was born to be a mom. There's only so much I can do because I can't feed him — we're still figuring out what works for us, but we're getting there. It's not easy, but everybody's hanging in there. We're learning and we don't have it down pat yet, but every day it's getting a little better, for sure.

Just watching Gabi be a mom makes me love her even more. He's our little miracle.

Scotty McCreery nursery photos
Scotty and Gabi McCreery with son Avery and dog Moose. Sidney Ashton Photography

On realizing he's a dad now:

It's been hitting me every day, just looking at him. It could be when I'm eating breakfast or when I'm taking a walk, and realize I have a stroller too instead of just my dog.

I never liked to hold babies. I had a bad experience 10 years ago and since then I'd never picked one up again until Avery. When it's your own child, it's like, "Oh, OK. A lot more comfortable!" But even holding him the first time in the hospital I was so afraid I'd break him.

I'd never changed a diaper until we got home. I was very nervous about that, but it all went OK. I haven't been peed on yet. He's peed on a few things, but not on me! (Editor's note: McCreery shared on his Instagram Stories earlier this week that he's since become a target.)

Scotty McCreery nursery photos
Scotty, Avery and Gabi McCreery. Sidney Ashton Photography

On Avery's personality so far:

He's a little jokester, and he can be dramatic too, but in the funniest ways. His little hand movements and the faces he makes — he's got us laughing pretty nonstop. Every day he does something different and we're just like, "He knows what he's doing."

He's already keeping things interesting for us, which is awesome and I hope continues as he grows older. I'd like to be kept on my toes while having fun.

Scotty McCreery nursery photos
Merrick Avery McCreery. Sidney Ashton Photography

On how dog Moose is handling having a baby in the house:

He's doing good. It took him a little bit to get used to Avery and realize, "Oh, he's not going away." Moose sleeps in our room too and when Avery cries, you hear Moose moaning like, "What the heck is this kid doing?!" He's still getting used to it.

It's so funny watching him when we're cuddling with Avery. Moose would never just go sit on our lap — he might come up beside us and put his head on a leg or arm, but that's the extent of it. The other day, Gabi was holding Avery on the couch and Moose came up and laid his whole 65, 70 lb. body right on her. He was just like, "If Avery's going to get cuddles, then I'm going to get cuddles too!"

Scotty McCreery nursery photos
Scotty and Gabi McCreery with son Avery and dog Moose. Sidney Ashton Photography

On his tour dates requiring time away from his new family:

Honestly, it's been emotional. The first time was definitely a little sad, but luckily, Avery had his best night of sleep on record so far. He slept for five hours straight, so we actually got a relatively good night's sleep and that helped Gabi on her first day by herself with the baby, and it helped me as I was going away. I think Avery knew what he was doing!

Scotty McCreery nursery photos
Scotty, Gabi and Avery McCreery. Sidney Ashton Photography

On receiving the St. Jude Angels Among Us award and participating in a guitar pull with Craig Morgan and Alabama's Randy Owen:

It's always such a special event. Country Cares does such a great job with St. Jude, and getting the country music community behind them to help. (Editor's note: the industry helped to raise $50 million for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, which never bills patients or their families for any treatment, traveling, housing or food, in 2021.)

I've always felt like if you have this platform, it's not for you to keep to yourself and have all these cool things. The point is to help others. For me, it was one of my prouder moments to be recognized. I thought [to myself], "OK — you're doing something right."

Being on stage with Craig and Randy — man. These are guys that I've grown up listening to and loving their music, so getting to catch up with them, watching them sing, hearing the iconic songs that they've got and the stories behind them. I was being recognized that night, but for me, I was more so just a fan getting to watch them. Just the coolest.

scotty mccreery + craig morgan + randy owen
Craig Morgan, Scotty McCreery and Randy Owen at Country Cares. Nikki Boertman
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