Day 23 of 30 Days of gratitude: I am grateful I Live Where I Grew Up

I grew up in Plymouth. Went to school here, worked here, learned to drive here, and prayed here. I love seeing my daughters walk down the same school steps I did. I love seeing my oldest march with the band down the same streets I did. This weekend was a great weekend to be in Plymouth, and I couldnt have been prouder. 

The parade on Saturday was amazing. Well, once it got going it was. There was a significant delay and as we stood waiting I was concerned for Liz standing on Olmstead Terrace probably freezing her tush off. Once it got going it was great seeing all the floats that came down the street inbetween marching bands and bugle corps. 

The floats were great this year with lots of detail. My favorite one was the Nathaniel Morton School replica. The images alongside the bottom of the float were photographs of my parents’ generation. It struck me that the phrase “where generations has learned” really applies at that school and about my family. 

My mother and step-dad both graduated from high school at Nathaniel Morton. My sister went to 7th grade there. I spent 6th and 7th grade there, and met my dearest friend in Mrs. Humphrey’s class- Christy Thomas. I met Ken Horne, Joe Souza, Linda Maloof, Lisa Coveney, Summer Bucholz and Andrea Giracca there. Dana Beck was in my homeroom, along with Derek Gorman, Brian Hammond and Bonnie Blakesly. We used to watch movies in the common area outside the classrooms, we had our Olympics at the Plymouth Carver High school, and went on whale watches together. Jen Schroeder was in my class along with Sherry Greengross, Jed Benedict, Andrea Colucci and Josh Metta. The names bring me back to the dusty smell of the hallways and the cloakrooms. Some of these people became friends for life. Others I see around town and I remember them as they looked back then. Yeah, I know it’s 20+ years later but in my mind, you will always look the same to me with your collars up and jeans pegged.

Elizabeth went to kindergarten to the fifth grade at that school. I loved walking in and seeing it become a true elementary school. There was a great parents community there that I haven’t seen anywhere else. She had a great bunch of friends and had a great experience there. Her last day of fifth grade was bittersweet for me. She is the last of my family to attend that school. 

As the marching band went by I saw that some of them were wearing pins and I saw the NMES on them. All of the kids who went to Nathaniel Morton were wearing pins celebrating the 100th anniversary. I was so proud of her and of that pin. To me it represented my mother, my step-father, my sister, and myself all walking those steps over the years. 

I get the same feeling when I see Addie sit on the steps of Mt. Pleasant school. I met the best people at that school- Jill Furtado, Shayne Melchin, Peter Govoni, Jeff Parkhurst, Jeff Squillante, Chris Nadeux, Joe Pinzino, Skip Williams, Joanna Hoban, Colin Keohan and Jon Scharath. Some of these people I have remained friends with and have provided me with incredible support. It’s a blessing to see Addie enjoying it so much and I never get tired of standing in Mrs. Phillips’ old classroom. Of course, I can’t really be in there since it isn’t Addie classroom, but I didn’t have Mrs. Worcester so….

I love walking down main street and trying to remember what each business used to be and how the town looked back then. I love seeing the waterfront and running along the bike trail at Nelson Beach. Living in North Plymouth feels like it is the last piece of Plymouth that feels like….Plymouth. If you grew up here, you know exactly what I mean. 

I came back here from Vermont so Elizabeth could know my grandparents and my family. I also came back to further my graphics career since I was so limited where we were. The icing on the cake has been seeing my children grow up here as well. I know my husband feels the same way about Rockland, and I am grateful and thankful for his sacrifice of staying here for me. 

Seeing the Boston Strong floats, the Boston Police and the police car from MIT, I was so proud that they were included. Yes, the Red Sox one was pretty cool but seeing the marathoners- wow. Yes Boston is still 60 miles away but yesterday it felt like we were neighbors. It was awesome.



Day 22 of 30 Days of Gratitude: I am grateful for Dr. Levine

We met Dr. Levine on March 6, 2012. We had just been told that our baby had a severe defect, and that we needed an appointment at the Advanced Fetal Care center at Children’s for an echocardiogram. The first person we met at the center was the social worker. She went over the general procedure of delivery, preparation and surgery. We were asked if we had any questions and I had no idea what I wanted to ask about. 

The tech doing the echo was not gentle. It was very uncomfortable and the baby pushed back whenever the tech pressed very hard against my belly. The heart was so small it was hard to get a picture, but soon in became apparent that something wasn’t right. I had to move into various positions for better views and none relieved the pressure I was feeling from the inside out. After being tortured for about 45 minutes, a woman with long curly hair, glasses and wearing a white coat came in. She introduced herself and began getting images for herself, relieving the tortuous tech. I liked her immediately because she didn’t need to press hard to get the images we needed. 

Dr. Levine confirmed that the baby did indeed have Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome. She drew us a picture of a healthy heart, and then one similar to our babies. She explained the three surgical procedures of the Fontan Sequence. She tells the survival percentages and what the odds were. I asked about a transplant and was told that BCH likes them to try to keep their original anatomy for as long as possible, especially since newborn hearts are really tough to find. 

She told us about some of her Fontan patients who did sports activities and how these children seem to limit themselves. She told us about the recovery times of each procedure, mentioning that the Norwood had the toughest recovery but the survival rate at Boston was 80%. She told me to stay away from Google, and to look up Little Hearts, Mended Hearts and CHOP website if I needed more information. 

We left Boston feeling better about the outcomes and we saw her a few more times before Isabelle’s arrival. I had become connected to a few heart groups, such as Sisters-By-Heart and Heart Mamas. I would come to each visit with lists of questions about possible complications. Dr. Levine answered every one of them, and if she didn’t know something at that moment, she would call me later with the answer. We planned everything for the second week of August. She was going on vacation the week after but wanted to be around when she went into surgery. 

Isabelle had her incredible Norwood and we saw Dr. Levine almost every day. She would make a point to stop by regardless of what her day looked like. She answered my phone calls full of questions about sats, arterial lines and feeding issues. While she was away, she had one of her most trusted colleagues be available to us. 

During the Interstage process, I called her a lot. I called when Isabelle didn’t take in very much and I called when she did. I called about how many calories she should be taking, whether or not I should feed her past the 30 minute mark and whether her sats were in the OK range. One day I called and didn’t like how she looked. That’s all I needed to say. They were waiting for us at the ER in Boston. 

Dr. Levine has been with us from Day one. She has been supportive every conversation we have. She is always amazed at how well Isabelle looks, and how great she is doing. She is just as proud as we are of her accomplishments and loves getting the pics I text to her. I couldn’t have asked for a better cardiologist to care for our daughter.