updated 09/22/2009 AT 10:00 AM ET
•originally published 09/22/2009 AT 10:25 AM ET
Amid the chaos and anxiety that comes with being a newly minted father, Taye Diggs has emerged with that uniquely parental emotion: pure, unadulterated awe.
“It’s been amazing just to come home to that little dude,” the Private Practice star, 38, tells PEOPLE about the birth of his son, Walker, earlier this month. “Every time I leave the house, it just makes me want to come back even more. It’s just a great prize waiting for me.”
And that great prize seems to be the gift that keeps on giving for the first-time dad.
“I have a newfound respect and admiration that borders on worship of my wife,” Diggs said at the American Cancer Society Blow Out Cancer event at Spago in Beverly Hills. “Just to see her turn into a mother overnight is amazing.”
Was at Work
As much as he may never want to leave Walker’s side, Diggs was actually filming a scene on his TV series alongside costar KaDee Strickland when the call came through that his wife, Tony-winning actress Idina Menzel, had gone into labor.
“We had people helping us, just to make sure that I would never be in an uncomfortable position,” Diggs says with a laugh. “I had trained myself to just relax, and I knew that it was going to be a while before the baby actually came, so I was just trying to remind myself what I needed to bring.”
It’s a good thing, too, as Private Practice costar Paul Adelstein admitted, because a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing.
“We stayed very, very far away,” he said of playing doctor on TV without having any actual medical knowledge. “We know just enough to terrify us, and not enough to actually help anybody.”
The effect that fatherhood has had on Diggs hasn’t been lost on the other members of the close-knit cast of the ABC hit, whose third season premieres Oct. 1.
“I’ve always felt that, if you’re the kind of person that wants to have a child, there’s some kind of hormone that is released into your body, and there’s this new kind of love that you never understood before, and Taye clearly had that” says costar and father of two, Tim Daly, “His whole demeanor changed after his baby was born. Taye’s going to be a great father.”