Peta Murgatroyd and Maks Chmerkovskiy on finally becoming a family of 4 after IVF heartbreak

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Maksim Chmerkovskiy and Peta Murgatroyd discuss their IVF struggle and welcoming their second little boy. (Photo illustration: Yahoo News; photo: Getty Images)

Welcome to So Mini Ways, Yahoo Life's parenting series on the joys and challenges of childrearing.

Since welcoming their baby boy Rio, back in June, life has been especially busy for Dancing With the Stars pros Peta Murgatroyd and Maks Chmerkovskiy, who are also parents to 6-year-old Shai. Becoming a family of four has been a lesson in slowing down. “Life is so chaotic at times and so beautiful as well,” Murgatroyd tells Yahoo Life. “The newborn stage is so beautiful. So, so fast, so innocent. He's just delicious. I have learned to breathe through those moments of just utter stress, and ‘Oh my God, what are we going to do? How are we going to make this event work? How are we going to do [this or] that?’ It’s just one day at a time.”

The couple is also always on the lookout for ways to simplify their to-do lists, which is why they recently partnered with Hallmark and Venmo to launch the greeting card company’s new Venmo Greeting Cards, which pair a physical card with a QR code that allows the card giver to send money via the app. “It’s so convenient with day-to-day life right now, with work, kids, family, everything else that's going on,” says Murgatroyd. “It just saves you that little bit of time [while still] keeping the personalization of the physical cards, so it’s very nice.”

And being able to use Venmo, which the couple relies on all the time for a variety of household expenses, is a plus, too. “I personally use [the app] about 25 times a week, whether it’s for the cleaning lady or somebody's coming in to watch Shai,” adds Chmerkovskiy.

As hectic as everyday life may be for the DWTS stars right now, they’re constantly grateful for their recent jump from one to two children. Chmerkovskiy recalls originally talking about having another baby. “It wasn’t a discussion — it was just, ‘Yeah, let’s go!’” he says. “And then, it was hard to do, and it took us some years to get there. People said the adjustment is big, from first to second [child]. We don't care. We value the moments differently.”

They’re also approaching parenting a bit differently this time, including cherishing the newborn stage even more. “With Shai, it was stress, stress, stress, ‘let's do the right thing,’” notes Chmerkovskiy. “With the first child, we were looking forward to when he's gonna talk, when he's gonna walk, when he's gonna run, he's gonna crawl. Now, I'm present. I'm just enjoying the time with a newborn.”

The parents of two boys are teaming up for a new campaign. (Courtesy of Hallmark/Venmo)
The parents of two boys are teaming up for a new campaign. (Courtesy of Hallmark/Venmo) (Courtesy of Hallmark/Venmo)

The couple’s gratitude is also linked to their emotional journey to conceiving Rio, which involved finding out that Murgatroyd was pregnant not long after they'd experienced a failed embryo transfer in August 2022. “I didn’t believe we could do this naturally again,” recalls Murgatroyd. “That’s why we went the IVF route.”

Along the way, she shared details of her experience on social media, which she says was a difficult decision. “For me, [there] was a little bit of embarrassment, a little bit of shame, all those things that I've been bottling up over the past five years or whatever [when] people were constantly asking me every day, ‘Why haven't you got another child?’ and it was just getting too much,” recalls Murgatroyd. “And I feel like I just needed to let it out and tell the truth. That actually helped me, just literally saying the words, ‘I'm having trouble. This is not easy for me right now.’”

She remembers that the transfer day, which she documented in an Instagram reel, was “a very emotional day.” “I thought, this was my time, this is my baby, and I'm pregnant with our second child,” she says. “The 10 days of waiting [to find out if the embryo successfully implanted] was challenging. When I got the call of ‘Sorry, it didn't work,’ it was so shocking to me, because I had my baby. It's just devastating.”

To recover from the heartache of the experience, Murgatroyd said she learned to look around herself and be grateful for what she already had. “I had to almost say to myself, ‘This is it, Peta. You've got one child, love him as much as you can and be a mother of one,’” she says. “I sat [outside] and looked at the stars one night and just said, ‘This is it, I've got to be OK with it.’ And that, for me, was a shift in my mind of ‘OK, there's no more looking back and saying I wish I had this, I wish I had that.’”

Once she released herself from “that prison of need[ing] to have [another child]” to be fulfilled, however, the couple happened to conceive on their own.

Chmerkovskiy was out of town at the time that Murgatroyd learned the news, and she opted not to tell him right away. “I had been pregnant three times before that, but they were miscarriages,” she notes. “I didn't tell him because I didn't know if I was going to lose it the next day or pee on a stick the next day and I wasn't pregnant. So I just kept it to myself for a second.”

Thankfully, the couple was soon able to celebrate the happy development. Chmerkovskiy attributes the pregnancy, in part, to his wife’s ability to clear her mind. “After being told that [the embryo transfer] didn't work, she closed herself in a room for 24 hours, and then she called Dancing With the Stars and said, ‘I want my job back.’ She walked out and went straight to rehearsal. And four weeks later, we were pregnant. So the mind is a powerful thing.”

Now that their dream of becoming a family of four has come true, they’re over the moon to see Shai bond with Rio. “He was so excited the day we brought Rio home,” notes Murgatroyd. “He was just waiting at the door, like peering out the curtain to see when we were coming. It was so cute.”

In fact, “one of the biggest moments” so far for the proud mom of two has been seeing her eldest hold his baby brother. “That moment changed everything for me,” says Murgatroyd. “It was just like, ‘Oh, my God, we have him. We finally have him.’”