Any day now, Maksim Chmerkovskiy and Peta Murgatroyd will welcome their second child into the world. And even if the world doesn't always hold up its end of the bargain, the couple do their best to focus on what they can control.
"It was like, 'It was finally here,' but it was also very cautious, because we've done this four times before," Maks told E! News in January, a week after he and Peta had announced that, following an unsuccessful round of IVF and several lost pregnancies, they were expecting a little sibling for their 6-year-old son Shai. At the time, the 43-year-old had also spent the past year fundraising and rallying support for his native Ukraine, where he was shooting World of Dance when Russia invaded in February 2022.
"So," he added, "we're on pins and needles, whether it's because of the past trauma of this process or because the world is just that type of place, and all of a sudden we're finding ourselves adulting in the middle of all these crises."
But a few months later, with his wife seven months along and Shai preoccupied with their new dog Hachi, the Dancing With the Stars alum was gearing up for the homestretch, ready for their next chapter and grateful that all was going accordingly.
"We really are just settling into enjoying the life and the beautiful things about this," Maks, this time fresh from a family vacation in Cabo San Lucas, told E! on April 20. "There's a lot of negativity out there, we are very much in touch with it, but we're keeping it out there [gesturing away from him]. When I come home I also focus on how gorgeous my wife is, and I have this beautiful puppy and this beautiful 6-year-old."
Everything he and Peta went through to get to this point "seems like sort of the distant past," he said, "and it was a horrible past—but we're going to focus on the now and enjoy today."
"It's definitely elevated my joy for life," Val told E!, "my joy for my family. And every day I learn something new being a father. I can't be more grateful and more fortunate with how that all turned out."
Jenna called her husband of four years her "biggest support system" while she was pregnant and navigating new motherhood. "Tender and sweet," she said on Good Morning America in March, "and those exhausting, tired moments when you're up at 4 a.m. together and you're like, 'Oh my gosh, that's my teammate and he's willing to do this with me.'"
Leading up to celebrating his first Father's Day on June 18, Val has been documenting some too-cute moments on Instagram, including a May 11 video of then-5-month-old Rome propped up on the couch and appearing thoroughly absorbed watching his dad and uncle being interviewed on TV—and then sneezing in that adorable baby fashion.
"Hearing my American wife say 'na pravdu' after he sneezed," Val wrote. "I don't think I need much more in my life. If you see me today and you sense profound levels of gratitude just know it's real. Thank you God, thank you universe, for bringing so many beautiful gifts into my life. I don't know what I deserve but that what I receive I swear to cherish."
Having a child was a long process for him and Jenna, Val told E!, and "not an easy one. So when they do come, and come with a lot of challenges, those challenges are looked at as incredible opportunities to find joy." He and Maks "celebrate loudly, but we are very careful about understanding how fortunate we are in this moment in time."
So there's definitely a running theme for the ever-grateful brothers, who are six years apart—just like their firstborn sons.
When they put a photo of 6-year-old Maks holding infant Val next to a shot of Shai cradling 4-day-old Rome, "my mind blew up," Maks recalled. "Discombobulated, like...'This is amazing.' For our family it's been an incredible period of time."
Peta was also impressed (and, no doubt, heartened) by Shai's way with his little cousin, telling E! in January she was "astonished at how gentle he is with babies."
Like father, like son. While Maks may have cultivated a cocky, who-needs-a-shirt-to-samba persona during his 17 seasons on DWTS, he's been in full papa bear mode ever since he became a father on Jan. 4, 2017.
Calling himself "the happiest person that's ever lived" during the first week of Shai's life, he wrote on Instagram, "I'm also feeling very protective and now understand what every parent in history have been going through for as long as humans have been giving birth."
"Uncling" for the first time was also a thrill, Maks describing his first meeting with his nephew as "a completely different feeling I've never felt before! Baby Rome is definitely a homie! What a time to be a Chmerkovskiy!"
Val joked to E! that he and Maks have "softened up—a little bit. Kids can do that to you."
And now, with Shai's kindergarten graduation checked off the to-do list, everyone is ready to meet the newest addition to the Chmerkovskiy clan.
"Soaking in these last few days with little man," Peta captioned a June 7 post featuring her latest batch of elegant maternity portraits. "Finding every opportunity to be super present with Shai and spend as much one on one time with him. Focusing on my inner thoughts and releasing the negative. Realizing I have what I wished for.
"Baby boy you have no idea how much I've wanted you. We are all ready for your arrival."