Name: Melissa Merced
Children: Angelina, 9; Ava, 5; Alexa, 3
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Occupation: Nurse intern at Beaufort Memorial Hospital and nursing student
Favorite mommy moment: Cuddling up with my girls to watch a movie is one of my favorite things to do.
Most challenging moment: Last year was one of the most challenging times of my life. My husband had a stroke three months ago, and that was by far one of the scariest things I've ever encountered. My two older daughters had to witness their dad being taken away by an ambulance. I know my training from nursing school allowed me to remain calm, but I could still see the fear in my children's eyes, and that was absolutely gut-wrenching. It was a huge life-changing event. He is an active and healthy military man, and to see that happen really brought the reality that you can lose the people you love at any given moment. A few weeks later, my sister called me and told me she was having leg pain. After talking with her about it, she ended up going to the emergency room. The doctors there found three deep vein thrombi in her leg. They decided to check out her lungs and found four pulmonary embolisms. The doctors couldn't believe she was still alive. To deal with all of this in a matter of weeks was extremely scary and stressful, especially while juggling three kids, work and school. I had a lot of help from friends and family, and couldn't have done it without them. These events left a lot of fear and uncertainty in my life, but my husband and sister are doing better, and I thank God for that every day. The past few weeks have been traumatic for my family, but it for sure made me even more grateful for everything I have.
Favorite local spot: I personally am a homebody, but when I'm not studying or doing homework, my kids love Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park in Beaufort. There is a great playground, and you can't beat the view.
What is something your child said that amazed or inspired you? When my daughter Angelina came to me and told me she wanted to donate her hair to Locks of Love, I was so proud of her. She has since donated twice and even inspired her younger sister Ava to do the same.
Embarrassing mommy moment: I've had quite a few, but my daughter Ava loves to share embarrassing stories about me to complete strangers.
How do you keep track of memories? Lots of picture taking and videos, most of which are captured when least expected with my cellphone. I feel these types of photos are the most genuine as they capture unpredicted life moments.
What's the cleaning routine in your home? This is always a challenge, considering our busy schedules. My husband and I try to rotate chores, such as the laundry, and my oldest daughter, Angelina, also has some responsibilities, such as cleaning her room. Ava and Alexa help clean as well, but they require some guidance and assistance. Ava and Alexa also love to help feed the animals in the house and are very good about doing it.
Stress reliever: I love listening to music to relieve stress and put me in a better mood. I also find that talking to my husband or close friends and family is a huge stress reliever as well. It's always helpful to hear the opinion and advice of someone you love and trust when going through something stressful.
Biggest fear: Not completing nursing school. Going to nursing school is by far one of the hardest things I have ever done. My mom is a nurse, and I think that is what truly inspired me to go down this career path. I worked so hard to get into nursing school, and work even harder to pass and get good grades. It is very challenging going through school after you have a family, and I hope that I inspire my daughters to go after their dreams, no matter what point they are at in their lives. My daughters were my motivation to go back to school, and I am so glad that I did. I absolutely love working in the hospital and taking care of patients. I am looking forward to graduating this year.
Advice for other moms: Just laugh. Life can be so stressful sometimes. Terrible things happen, and we can't explain them. Sometimes we feel as if we can't take anymore and are at our breaking point. But I promise you, if you can find something to laugh about, you will feel better. Even when my husband was lying in the ICU after his stroke, we were laughing and joking. It's amazing what a good laugh can do to lift up your spirits. Take it from someone in the medical field -- laughter is definitely the best medicine.
Follow Amy Coyne Bredeson at twitter.com/IPBG_Amy.