When it comes to motherhood, sacrifices often come with the territory, be it sleep, a clean shirt or a career.
Stephanie Terlizzi, 38, knows best.
Her 2-year-old son, Talan, was sick with the flu this winter and couldn't get to sleep one night. Finally, he fell asleep on her chest as she sat on a couch in her Arizona home. She didn't dare move and fell asleep, too.
She awoke to find vomit on her shirt and a child who was still sleeping. She remained where she was and instead reached for the remote control and turned on the TV.
It was in this late-night moment that the mother of four sons whose husband, Garth Terlizzi Jr., a Lawrence native and Southwest Airlines pilot who was on a trip for work, saw a commercial for a much-needed getaway.
It was a promo on The Learning Channel looking for stay-at-home moms in Arizona or California who deserved a weekend at the spa.
"I said, 'I need this right now,'" she said.
She called to learn more and later discovered this was an opportunity not to be pampered, but to pursue her dream job as a flight nurse.
Stephanie Terlizzi was selected among thousands of applicants last fall to be featured on "The Secret Life of a Soccer Mom," a reality series on The Learning Channel hosted by actress Tracey Gold, who is pregnant with her fourth son.
The purpose of the show is to find mothers who gave up their dream job or pursuit of it for their family. In eight episodes, the audience observes eight mothers get thrown back into their career field for a few days. They are then offered a job and asked to decide whether to accept or continue to stay at home.
Meanwhile, the husband is at home with the kids, thinking his wife is relaxing at a spa for three days and four nights.
So Stephanie Terlizzi packed her bags and became a flight nurse. Flight nurses, also called aerovac nurses, provide critical patient care in air transport.
"At first I was like, wow, a spa sort of sounded better," she joked. "Then I thought it would be really cool, working as an aerovac nurse in Phoenix."
As a young Air Force officer with a nursing degree from the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley, her hometown, Terlizzi hoped to become a flight nurse.
Then she met her husband, a 1986 Lawrence High School graduate. He was a U.S. Air Force Academy graduate and pilot in the Air Force for four years. They were both assigned to Osan Air Force Base in Seoul, South Korea, where they met. They married in 1996, six months after meeting, so they could have a joint assignment to the next air base.
"Initially when I met my husband in South Korea, I had orders to go to Germany to be a nurse in an aeromedical staging facility," Terlizzi said.
They turned in their marriage certificate and were both assigned to Cannon Air Force Base in New Mexico. Two weeks after learning she was pregnant with her first son, she was accepted into nursing flight school. She turned it down.
"I was like, you know, wow, bummer, but I was so excited about having kids that I thought maybe I could do it after," she said. "Soon after getting pregnant and going through pregnancy and my husband having to deploy, we both knew" that two full-time military careers was too difficult.
TLC liked her story, she said. It was also quite an experience for the family to be on camera for 80 hours from Jan. 15 to Jan. 19 during filming.
"It was awesome; we had a good time," Garth Terlizzi said, who was home with the boys - Talan, 2, Tucker, 4, Trevin, 9, and Trey, 10 - and their dog, Tango.
Garth said he appreciates what his wife does each day. "I don't know if I could do it week in and week out; I think I would go nuts," he said.
Every week, Garth flies three days for Southwest Airlines, and he's also an F-16 pilot and lieutenant colonel in the Air Force Reserves. He also coaches youth soccer.
"I love my boys, and they are fun," he said.
His father, Garth Terlizzi Sr., of Garth Terlizzi Enterprises, 900 Mass., and whose wife Enid, is a retired nurse, said it can be difficult to have two parents working full time in many families.
"It's always a delicate balance act of being a provider, bread winner, parent and a spouse and trying to balance things so no one area is overworked or no one area is neglected," he said.
Stephanie Terlizzi said the show has sparked debate on The Learning Channel's Web site about being a stay-at-home mom or a career mom.
"For me, I'm all about whatever works for your family," she said. "If your husband is supportive of whatever decision you make, it really doesn't matter what you decide as long as both people are on the same page."
To discover what Stephanie Terlizzi chooses, tune in at 7 tonight on The Learning Channel, Sunflower Broadband Channel 68.