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As a country music icon, Reba McEntire has been part of the pop culture scene for decades. She’s experienced the highest heights of fame and survived tragic losses along the way. So, what did she say was the “most profound spiritual experience” in the midst of all of it? And who almost kept it from happening?

Reba McEntire in a red jumpsuit with her hands together in front of her
Reba McEntire | Terry Wyatt/Getty Images

Reba McEntire found out she was ‘pregnant deader than a hammer’ after her honeymoon

When McEntire and ex-husband, Narvel Blackstock, began dating in the late ’80s, she said they weren’t thinking about marriage at first. They’d each divorced once and Blackstock already had three children.

“I don’t know that Narvel and I really would have ever gotten married if I didn’t have such a strong urge to have a baby,” McEntire wrote in her autobiography, Reba: My Story. “Up until then I had reconciled to myself that I would never have a child.”

That was because her first husband, Charlie Battles, had two children from his first marriage. She said he told her she could sing or have kids — but not both. “I’m not going to be cleaning s***ty diapers while you’re off on the road,” she recalled him saying.

In the end, McEntire said she was glad she never had a baby with Battles and the prospect of motherhood was what eventually changed her mind on a second marriage. So, she and Blackstock exchanged vows in 1989 and took off for a postponed honeymoon in Cancun, Mexico once she finished filming Tremors.

While there, McEntire began to feel ill and they eventually cut the trip short to return home. Of course, that’s when she found out she was “pregnant deader than a hammer.”

Reba McEntire said the birth of her son, Shelby Blackstock, was a ‘spiritual experience’

Country singer Reba McEntire and her young son Shelby relax on a porch swing c. 1994.
Shelby Blackstock and Reba McEntire | Lynn Goldsmith/Corbis/VCG/Getty Images

By most accounts, McEntire had an enviable career before releasing Reba: My Story in 1994. But she said there was one experience that stood out above the rest at that point.

“I’ve seen my name in letters as tall as a house. I’ve been toasted by audiences who’ve seen me on international television,” McEntire wrote. She added, “I’ve won virtually every major award my career offers.”

Of course, she said all of that to conclude her most fulfilling moment was the birth of her son, Shelby Blackstock. She recalled the moment a nurse handed him to his father who carried him to her. “The birth was a miracle; the most profound spiritual experience I’ve ever had,” she shared. “I was crying and kissing my baby at the same time.”

After detailing experiences with pregnancy and childbirth, McEntire said, “I’m so glad I waited until I was mature enough to cope with the huge responsibility.”

Reba McEntire’s maternal instincts were immediate after the ‘spiritual experience’ of childbirth


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As McEntire recalled in her autobiography, her life changed the moment she became a mother. For instance, she said she knew the sound of her son’s cry as soon as she heard it.

“It’s funny, but as every mother knows, what people call ‘maternal instincts’ are real. I knew his cry instinctively,” she remembered. “I’d hear other babies and knew they weren’t Shelby.”

Now 31, Blackstock is a recently married race car driver. For a peek at McEntire having an adorable chat with him at about four years old, check out this YouTube clip.