Peta Murgatroyd and Maksim Chmerkovskiy have had a busy, and heartbreaking, few years. But now, they say, they can finally put aside worry and focus on their family of four — and their dog, too. The professional dancers went through two years of heartbreak, IVF attempts, and pregnancy losses before welcoming their second child this year, and now they are reflecting back on their last chapter with a lot more wisdom, along with truckloads of gratitude.
This week, the pair sat down with Scary Mommy to reflect on it all, update everyone about how it’s been to go from one kid to two, dish a bit about the upcoming Season 32 of Dancing With The Stars, and chat about their current partnership with Venmo and Hallmark, which are working together to create a line of virtual gift cards.
Scary Mommy: Let’s talk about baby Rio. How is he? What’s he up to these days? Is his personality coming out?
Peta Murgatroyd: He’s a beautiful, healthy child, knock on wood. He is such a light and joy in our lives. It took us a little minute to get the second child and it’s been beautiful to watch him with his older brother, Shai. Being a family of four with a dog now is a little bit of a dream come true. And we’re just living in it. We’re super busy, obviously now with two children. The jump from one to two is huge time wise, but it’s incredible and we’re loving every minute.
SM: Tell me more about Shai’s reaction to having a baby brother now.
PM: He was ecstatic. We had grandparents with him because kids weren’t allowed at the hospital for COVID reasons. So, he was at home waiting for us to bring Rio home. And he was peering out the curtain to the front door waiting for us to come in. He was so cute and he was so excited. And he’s really involved, too. He helps me make some bottles. And I definitely don’t push him away when I’m with the baby, I include him with everything. He’s been my ultimate support buddy.
SM: The jump from one to two kids is huge, as you say. What has been the biggest challenges for you two as you become a family of four?
PM: Sharing my time. Everyone wants a piece of mommy. It’s Shai who needs help with bath time, with homework, with reading. It’s Rio who needs to be fed and held and snuggled. It’s Maks who needs to be cuddled, as well.
I think it’s truly just navigating working out the schedule for mom. Also because they’re at such different ages, they’re six years apart. So it’s not like I have two toddlers running around where we can take them the same places, do the same sort of things with. This is vastly different. I have a newborn who’s at home most of the day. And Shai who’s out doing activities all day in school and this and that. So, that’s a bit more challenging too, where we had to bring in some help to be able to figure it all out.
Maksim Chmerkovskiy: We’re just really focused on doing it right. We’re just figuring out where you overthink it and where you could just relax and go with the flow. It was very hard for me with the first one, to go with the flow.
But now I think it’s different. Yes, there’s a lot to adjust to. But there’s also a lot we don’t have to do anymore: the stress of it, anxiety of it. When people say, “Yeah, it’s a huge jump.” Yes, it is. But it’s a much easier jump because we don’t have the unknown anymore. Now the unknown is like how do people do it with two?
We’ve passed the first six years of child raising with flying colors, if I may say so myself. We are now stress-free with our second one. The timing and activities and the fact that they’re different, it’ll fall into place, as long as we’re not anxious and stressed. We were anxious and stressed for the first one. He was on tour with us, 63 cities on the bus. I’m looking forward to doing the same things with Rio, but in a way better mental state.
SM: You mentioned that you struggled having your second child. And you have been so open about your losses and about the time it took and the emotional energy and trauma that it took to have your second child. What has been the response that you’ve gotten from that and why do you think you chose to share so candidly with the world what you went through?
PM: Firstly, the response was overwhelmingly positive. I don’t know if I was expecting that, actually. Or expecting to hear other people’s stories, thousands of people that were messaging me, emailing me, DMing me. I mean, there were so many people that have gone through this experience prior to me — I didn’t realize that it was such a common thing, something that a lot of women have struggled with.
So, it was the right thing for me to do to release it to the world as it was becoming too big of a burden to hold down and a secret that I didn’t really want to be keeping anymore. Because it was very obvious to people that it had been five years and I haven’t had another child. So, it was just like, oh, something must be wrong. People can have their opinions on it, will have their opinions regardless. But it was the right thing to do.
MC: The worst part is that people have access to us to ask, and we are in a public eye and have to give an answer. And the question, when are you going to have more babies? It is like, Oh, you guys have a great beautiful family. Oh, you should have more kids. Why don’t you have more kids? We’re like, we’re trying and it’s not freaking working. And I wish you stopped asking. Or I wish you knew what we’re going through. And that’s the dilemma with anyone in a public eye.
We decided we just don’t want to be the couple that’s semi-public, but semi-not. And you know what? We’re also not a celebrity couple. We’re just regular people trying to do a regular job, we happen to be on TV. I compare us to if I was a plumber, you wouldn’t know about me. So, for us, the publicity of made us both exhale. Watching Peta go through the anxiety of putting on a smile through the makeup and having to answer this dumb question again for the billionth time and not saying that, look, I’m having miscarriages. There, I said it. We’re trying. Yeah, we do know we have a beautiful family. We do know we want to have more kids.
PM: I think that’s one thing that I will never ask a woman again is, when are you having a baby? It just wouldn’t come out of my mouth. Because I didn’t realize until I was going through something like this, how detrimental that question can be to somebody.
PM: Because you just never know what’s going on behind closed doors. And that’s something that I’ve learned.
MC: It triggers. It was so bad. And I felt so bad for her. I’m the guy who’s like, let me run and find that solution. You know what I’m saying? Let me go get it for you. Anything you need, I’ll get it done. But there’s nothing you can do. It’s very devastating. And the message here to everybody out there is: mind your own damn business.
SM: What message do you have for couples who might be struggling now to add to their families?
MC: My advice to couples that are going through this — number one — nothing is ever final. It’s 2023, there are opportunities, there’s always some more to discover about yourself, about your body, about your constitution. Number two: Mental. The more stressed you are, the less probability of your happy outcome. Nothing beautiful ever happened under stress.
The situation is that Peta and I got a devastating news that IVF didn’t work. She had the worst 24 hours of our relationship, locked herself in the f*cking room — excuse me, in the room. When she came out, she just literally called our casting director and said, “I want my job back.” Got back on Dancing with the Stars and four weeks later last year, we were pregnant. After two years.
The advice is to just stay cool and save your relationship. This is not supposed to get you unhappy. You should always remember how this thing began. It didn’t begin by you falling in love with the mother of your children. It began with you falling in love with this girl or with this boy or whoever it is. Just remember what you’re here for and with this person. And you’ll overcome everything.
PM: Get happy.
SM: Before we run out of time, I’d love to hear about how you’re feeling about Dancing with the Stars Season 32 coming up soon.
MC: Season 476!
PM: I’m very excited. It’s going to be a banger of a season, we have a great cast. There’s a lot of people that have some experience here and there, so I think there’s going to be some great dancing. I’m paired with Barry Williams, so I am super excited to have him. He’s like a US TV legend and he’s such a great guy. In the studio, he’s giving me all of his time. I can’t ask for anything more. We’re having a blast right now. I hope we stay on for a while.
This interview was edited for length and clarity.