Joe Nichols Welcomes Daughter Dylan River

04/18/2012 at 04:00 PM ET
Kevork Djansezian/Getty

Dylan River Nichols arrived a little bit early, but parents Joe and Heather Nichols are counting their blessings that the day they have long prayed for finally arrived.

The healthy baby girl was delivered at 1:22 p.m. on Tuesday, April 17, weighing in at 7 lbs., 5 oz. and is 21ΒΌ inches long, the couple confirm to PEOPLE exclusively.

“Joe and I have prayed for this day for such a long time,” a tired but blissful Heather tells PEOPLE. “We are truly blessed.”

Last year, the country crooner told PEOPLE that when he wasn’t touring, “Heather and I have been working on having a baby — that’s been the fun part.”

But it hasn’t been easy. The couple, who have known each other since they were 19, married in Savannah, Ga. on Sept. 9, 2007; A month later the singer, who had previously struggled with substance abuse, entered rehab.

He has been clean and sober since, and the couple, both 35, has been public about the challenges they faced as they tried to grow their family. Heather suffered a miscarriage in January 2008 before embarking on a lengthy series of fertility treatments.

This past February, they shared the happy news that they were expecting a special delivery this spring. “After trying to have a baby for so long, we are thrilled to announce that I am pregnant,” Heather said at the time.

The name was decided upon well before birth, and as Heather’s mother Sharon Singleton tells PEOPLE, it holds special meaning for the couple.

“Dylan was inspired by Heather’s childhood friend Dylan who passed away after college,” Singleton explains. “She says she has felt his presence as her guardian angel since. River comes from the song Joe sang to Heather on their wedding day, “That Would Be Her,” which Heather listened to over and over during her fertility treatments.”

After holding his little girl in his arms for the first time, Nichols tells PEOPLE, “This is one of the most humbling and remarkable experiences. Heather is amazing, and I am just so thankful our little girl is here. She is truly a miracle.”

Courtesy Joe Nichols

— Kay West

FILED UNDER: Babies , Births , Exclusive , News

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Showing 44 comments

Lynne on

Congrats on a beautiful baby girl!! I love the name. She is one lucky little lady for sure!

Lauren D on

Congratulations to Joe and Heather on the birth of their beautiful baby girl. It’s been a long road for them to get to this point. Baby Dylan will be so loved!

JM on

Congrats to them, glad that everyone is happy and healthy.

but i think Dylan on a girl is hideous. to me it’s like calling a girl Peter or Tom or Mark. just my personal opinion, i’m sure they don’t care, but i really don’t understand this trend of calling girls Dylan….

twinhappy on

Dreams come true! Congrats to them!

Leigh on

I couldn’t even make it through 3 posts before a rude one popped up! Geeze….congratulations to the family!!!! Enjoy your little one because they grow up so fast! God bless!

kbrande8242 on

aww beautiful πŸ™‚

Sue on

I like the name Dylan for a girl… much better than Honor, or Haven, or Apple.

Jennifer on

Dylan for a girl– ugh. Why must parents name their children opposite-gender names?!

Jennifer on

The name Dylan for a girl is terrible– the MIL even noted it was a guy’s name!

Tammy on

Who cares what they named THEIR daughter…the name obviously means a lot to them and I for one am not going to question the logic behind it. They have a healthy baby girl after a long, very frustrating journey (Yes, I have been on the same journey) to have a baby. Congratulations to the Family.

Cath on

Congrats to them, and to the baby’s big sister (not mentioned in the article) as well!

Connie on

D: Delicate
Y: Yearned for
L: Loved
A: Adored
N: Newborn

Mary on

Congrats Joe and Heather thank goodness Joe you were able to be there to experience the most wonderful gift that anyone can ever receive so happy for the both of you…

and for those that are so opinionated of their choice of what they named their little girl shame on you for being such a spoiler of such a very happy moment in their life I can’t believe you just can’t accept their choice and the reason and meaning of their choice…..WOW so so sad of the haters…

MollyF on

JM, I went to high school with a girl named Dylan. I think it’s aperfectly wonderful name for a girl.
So happy for them both and Dylan is sweet. πŸ™‚

Tammy on

Congrats to Joe & Heather, I’m so happy for your lil miracles birth

Catca on

21 1/4″ and only 7 lbs 5oz? Wow! She’s long and thin! Dylan has been used as a girls name for quite awhile, I don’t get why people have a problem with it. It works great for boys or girls.

JM on

couldn’t make it through 5 posts before someone made someone else’s post that merely stated an opinion into some kind of melodrama.

seriously leigh, what was rude about my post? i said quite clearly that TO ME it was an odd name for a girl. i didn’t state it as a universal FACT, it is what is commonly referred to as an opinion. are you one of those air-headed people who goes around babbling ‘if you don’t have anything nice to say then don’t say anything at all’ ? because if everyone in society really followed that mantra we would be living in a pretty wprrying place.

a few points:
– human beings have different opinions on things, that is never going to change so you may as well learn to not get too upset about it
– i doubt very much that the parents of this kid even read this blog, much less the comments on the blog, so they will never know the pain that comes with hearing that a stranger doesn’t like your kid’s name
– even if by some miracle they did read this i think i could give them enough credit and maturity to realise that what some stranger on the internet says about your kid’s name means absolutely 0, that person is merely stating a personal preference as they would about a painting, a song or the taste of cheese

all that being said, i find it hard to understand why it should be deemed unacceptable for people to comment on this blog about their opinion of a child’s name. if that is the sort of thing that gets you worked up, maybe you are lacking something in your life to fulfill your emotional needs…. strangers commenting on the internet about things such as children’s names is never going to change, and really, there’s nothing wrong with it.

Julianna on

The picture is precious! And I love the name they’ve chosen for their adorable daughter – congratulations, Joe and Heather!

stacey mc on

Congratulations! Ya know what they say, opinions are like a holes, everyone has one……. however, is the name really a point of contention for some? Apparently so, how sad. Get a life you pms’ing bitches and grow up!

Tee on

What a sweet picture!

Natalie on

Beautiful little girl!!! I myself prefer Dylan on a boy, but I don’t think it’s “hideous” on a girl as some have claimed. If they looked at her and thought Dylan was the name that fit her best, so be it. She’s healthy and loved. Congrats to the family on the arrival of baby Dylan!

Anonymous on

Cath- I’m glad I’m not the only one who noticed that Joe’s older daughter wasn’t mentioned in this article! PEOPLE virtually always mentions older siblings in birth announcement articles. I wonder why they didn’t this time?

In anycase, congrats to them! Also, I love how Joe is looking right at his new daughter! Seems Dylan has her daddy wrapped around her little finger already! πŸ™‚

Jen on

God bless them and their little girl! However, I’m with some of the others on the name here – it makes me feel like they wished they had a boy.

stacey on

I’ve never heard Dylan used for a girl. Every school year of that child’s life, all of her teachers are going to be assuming that’s a boy and looking for a boy when they see that name on their class rosters.

Anyway, baby looks cute and mom looks wonderful. Congrats!!!

joan on

I have heard Dylan used for a girl’s name and i think its adorable.
(Sean penn’s daughter is named Dylan). I even think the spelling is nice. I think of Dillon as a boy.

And there are lots of names that parents have never heard of. Mine was a family name and it was mispronounced for years.

Alecia on

There are several FEMALE Dylan’s including Dylan Lauren who’s almost 38 y/o so this little girl will be just fine.

Becky on

Congrats on such a beautiful baby girl..I liked the name at first, then when I read of the meaning behind it, I love it…

carla on


You didn’t say it was an odd name for a girl. You specifically said you think the name is HIDEOUS, meaning ugly or disgusting. That is rude. Of course you are free to have an opinion. In the same vein, others are allowed to express whether or not they agree with your opinion an if they think that opinion is rude. Furthermore, if you say something why not just own it? Don’t dummy it down or try to soften the blow because you got called out on it.

JM on

carla you completely and entirely missed the point of my post. was it really that hard to understand? i am more than happy to admit that i originally said i thought it was a hideous name for a girl. i thought that that fact should be obvious considering, you know…. it says it right there a few posts up. and i stand by that.

my point was that my comment was not an attack on someone’s behaviour. i was stating a preference for something fairly superficial. a stranger’s name. to me it is far more ‘rude’ to say that someone’s post is rude merely for stating an opinion that at the end of the day comes down to aesthetics. would it be rude if i saw a painting and said i thought it was hideous? is that the kind of restricted world you live in? really? wow, i know a few dictator states you might feel right at home in. i am not saying anything about the little girl or her parents. i have never even met them. i am commenting on the name. the NAME. say it with me, NAME.

a sad day when you say that you find a particular name hideous and are classed as rude.

carla on

No, it’s a sad day when someone who so frivolously uses the word hideous to describe a child’s name takes offense to someone calling their post rude.

Again, hideous means ugly. It is not an innocuous term that is just thrown about without consequence. You called the child’s name ugly. Just like you think there is nothing wrong in expressing that opinion, there is nothing wrong with someone else saying that they thought you were being rude in doing so. Both are a matter of preference and interpretation. She didn’t say you were HIDEOUS or that you were a bad person, she was simply expressing her belief that your comments were not nice. It amazes me how people often want to express their opinions about others so openly and freely but then get annoyed when people comment on those very same opinion. Being allowed to state an opinion goes both ways. And clearly, you do not know what a dictatorship is. Under the rule of a dictator not only would you not be allowed to express certain opinions, but I too would not be allowed to engage you in those very same opinions. Being called rude is not the result of living under a dictatorship. Again, no one is saying that you can’t have an opinion or think whatever you want. You most certainly have that right. However, others also have the right to express their distaste for your opinions. Saying someone is rude is not being restrictive or telling them that they cannot do something. It is merely an opinion of one’s actions, which like your opinion of what someone names their child, can easily be left up to interpretation.

bJoy on

Our daughter’s name is Dylan and I adore it. It has quickly become a popular name again as we had never heard it for a girl (other than a few famous ones here and there like Dylan Lauren, etc) and love the uniqueness of it and especially how meaningful it is to us.

We have another name picked out for a future daughter that happens to be a traditional boy name and we think it will be perfect.

Congrats to Joe and Heather!

Anonymous on

Not everyone has the same taste in names thankfully, but there are much nicer ways to express one’s opinions. Calling a name hideous is downright rude and obnoxious in MY opinion. If you can make such a mean comment about someone’s name (which they have no control over) on a site where anyone can see it, someone else should be able to share THEIR opinion of your behavior as well, be it good or bad.

You can post rude comments all you want, but we are allowed to call you rude in return. See how that works?

Anonymous on

carla- I agree! It’s one thing to not like a name, but calling it “hideous” is going a little overboard, in my opinion. If I didn’t like I name, I’d simply say that I didn’t care for it or that’s not a name I would chose (heck, I HAVE said the latter on a few birth announcement posts here!). I’d even be okay with saying I don’t find the name fitting for a girl/boy. But I would NEVER call a name hideous, even if that’s how I felt about it. There are some things you just don’t say!

Anonymous on

Also, here are my two cents on them using the name Dylan for a girl, even though the person they honored was a boy:

It’s pretty obvious that Heather really wanted to honor her friend. However, as the post states, she and Joe had quite a fertility struggle before concieving this baby. Plus, she’s 35. That’s not old, but it IS starting to get up there in terms of being able to concieve easily and have a healthy child. So they probably knew that if they saved the name for a future boy, there’s a very good chance they’d never get to use it (since this may well be the only child they’ll ever have).

So I’m thinking they used the name Dylan simply because they wanted to make sure they had a chance to honor Heather’s friend, and Dylan happens to be a name that is seen as fairly acceptable for both boys and girls (if the friend had been named, say, John or Peter, I’m guessing they would either have feminized it or not used it at all). πŸ™‚

Jillian on

Anonymous, very well said!! I agree! I always laugh when people comment rudely they say they are allowed to voice their opinion. But get upset when people tell them they are rude! Opinions work both ways!!

Carla, exactly!


JM on

this is hilarious. i am not saying that anyone isn’t allowed to disagree with me. i am merely saying that you shouldn’t be hypocrites. it can’t be one rule for you and another for everyone else.

who are these delicate souls who would be so offended by A COMPLETE STRANGER finding their kid’s name hideous? if joe nichols said he thought my children’s names were hideous it wouldn’t exactly put a dent in my day. he’s allowed to have an opinion just like everyone else.

all i am saying is that you shouldn’t be under any illusions that calling my post rude makes you a better person. at the very least we are exercising the same right.

carla on

But obviously being called RUDE put a dent in your day so what is it that you are arguing exactly? No one ever said that they were better than you. People simply expressed their opinion that your choice of words was rude.

JM on

but that’s just the point, it didn’t put a dent in my day. let’s spell this out again, i was highlighting the hypocrisy of the person who used that word. people are implying that it is ok for them to say my post is rude but not for me to say that i find a certain name on a girl hideous…. when ultimately these things come down to opinions. i was not debating the person’s right to call my post rude, i was questioning the assertion that i shouldn’t have said what i said in the first place.

it DOES become hypocritical when you begin suggesting that it is ok to state one kind of opinion about something superficial (like saying that someone’s post is rude) but not to state another kind of opinion about somethnig that is superficial (like saying that I find a name hideous on a girl).

Dillan on

Congrats on the baby! And as a female with the name Dillan of course I love it πŸ™‚ Those of you with rude comments get over yourself….. the name holds meaninng for them and it’s not like anyone is forcing you to name your child something you don’t like. Be a bigger person and keep your rude comments to yourself.

Andie on

I think that Dylan is a really cute name…Ralph Lauren’s daughter is named Dylan….it’s been around for a very long time…

Open your minds a little bit people…Be creative~

Elizabeth on

Beautiful baby and beautiful name

Evelyn on

what a precious and beautiful gift from god Welcome to the world Dylan River

Dyllan on

My name is Dyllan, and I am a girl. There is nothing wrong with having a boy name for a girl. Yes, it is a personal choice what you name your child, there is no getting around that. I would also like to point out that I have a sister named Tyler, and cousins who’s names are: Logan, Jordan and Remi and they are all girls. There is nothing wrong with it. In fact I have been told that with my sister and I have powerful names. I’d like to see more of it.

Congrats to the family, the name is beautiful and so is the child!:)

Anonymous on

If anyone watched Backstory on GAC, no mention of his older daughter… Given how honest he was being in that documentary, it seems odd he didn’t mention her, even if the relationship is strained now, she does exist. I hope he works it out since he will always be her father.