Business of the Week: Marina Cottage Soap Company

Marina Cottage Soap Co. began in Ocean Springs, MS in 2012. It all started with Vanessa, who is a Registered Nurse. She created products for those with eczema and other sensitive skin issues out of necessity, in her own kitchen. That passion has created over 100 products in nearly 600 retail locations across the US and Canada, and a 3,300 sq ft retail and manufacturing location! They make natural soaps and other skincare products for sensitive skin. Their operation is a local, family company, with a group of friends and family still making every order by hand, with love.

They use goat’s milk and glycerin to make products for all ages, and it’s safe for even the most sensitive skin!

Check out their new location at 1311 Government Street in Ocean Springs.

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Oceans Springs business “going red” in recognition of American Heart Month

JC-OS-hearts-1-1-225x300 Oceans Springs business “going red” in recognition of American Heart Month

Throughout the month of February, the Ocean Springs Chamber of Commerce-Main Street-Tourism Bureau is partnering with the American Heart Association to bring awareness to cardiovascular disease. The goal is to encourage citizens and businesses to promote “going red” to increase awareness of cardiovascular disease and stroke, the number one and number five killers of American.

February is American Heart Month, a federally-recognized event designed to increase awareness of cardiovascular disease and stroke. Over 2,300 Americans die each day as a result of CVD and stroke…that’s one life lost every 38 seconds. The Ocean Springs Chamber of Commerce is doing its part to support the Go Red movement during American Heart Month by encouraging our local businesses to decorate their windows in red for the month of February.

The American Heart Association is using American Heart Month as an opportunity to remind the public to “know your numbers.” Knowing these numbers can help people and their healthcare providers determine their risk for developing cardiovascular diseases. Five numbers, that all people should know to take control of their heart health are:

o Total Cholesterol
o HDL (good) Cholesterol
o Blood Pressure
o Blood Sugar
o Body Mass Index (BMI)

Knowing these numbers can help you and your healthcare provider determine their risk for developing cardiovascular diseases.

For more information on American Heart Month, visit www.heart.org.

American Heart Month in Jackson County also serves as a springboard for the upcoming 2018 Jackson County Heart Walk, scheduled for Saturday, March 10 at Beach Park in Pascagoula. Registration begins at 7:30 a.m., with the walk scheduled for 9 a.m. To join the “Healthy for Good” Heart Walk Movement in Jackson County, please visit www.jacksoncountyheartwalk.org.

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Marina Cottage Soap Co. Inc.™ in Ocean Springs, MS lands deal with SeaWorld Corporation

seaworld Marina Cottage Soap Co. Inc.™ in Ocean Springs, MS lands deal with SeaWorld Corporation seaworld Marina Cottage Soap Co. Inc.™ in Ocean Springs, MS lands deal with SeaWorld CorporationOcean Springs — Marina Cottage Soap Co. announced that they have landed a deal with SeaWorld Corporation to have their products featured in 7 parks across the USA.

“This is such a dream come true,” said Vanessa Mueller, RN, Owner, of in Ocean Springs, MS, Marina Cottage Soap Co.

Marina Cottage Soap Co. Inc. products can now be found in both SeaWorld and Busch Gardens across the USA.

“The parks are carrying Nourishing Body Crème, Goats Milk Soap, Organic Bubble Bath and Exfoliating Sugar Whipped Soap in 5 different scents” said Mueller.

Talks began last year at Americasmart in Atlanta and the products were trialed in Busch Gardens, Va., over the summer to determine if there was a market for their natural products at the parks. Fast-forward to October 2017 and orders began pouring in from Busch Gardens, VA and ALL 7 parks under the SeaWorld Corporation. “We were very surprised and flattered that our products went over so well in VA.” said Mueller.

SeaWorld Corporation is an international company with theme-based parks located across the United States. US park locations include; Orlando, Florida; San Antonio, Texas; San Diego, California; Chula Vista, California; Tampa, Florida; Williamsburg, Virginia; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Founded in 2012, in Ocean Springs, MS, Marina Cottage Soap Co. has grown their business across the USA. The company offers a wide range of products including all natural soaps, lotions, bubble bath, lip balms and their famous Gneaux more Gnaughty Gnats™ natural repellent. The company specializes in products to help those with Eczema, Psoriasis and other sensitive skin issues.  For more information about Marina Cottage Soap Co., go to:  www.marinacottage.com


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American Heart Association asks Jackson Countians to “Go Red” on Friday, February 2

Go-Red-Women-Multicultural-Group American Heart Association asks Jackson Countians to "Go Red" on Friday, February 2

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Ask any stylist, job coach or dating expert and they’ll tell you that red stands out. Eyes are immediately drawn to it. Some even say that the color red is a confidence booster and makes you feel powerful. Maybe that’s why the American Heart Association chose the color red to signify the fight against the No. 1 killer in women.

In 2003, the American Heart Association and the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute took action against a disease that was claiming the lives of nearly 500,000 American women each year – a disease that women weren’t paying attention to. A disease they truly believed, and many still believe to this day, affects more men than women.

Stemming from that action, National Wear Red Day was born. It’s held on the first Friday in February every year to raise awareness about heart disease being the No. 1 killer of women.

This coming National Wear Red Day, Feb. 2, 2018, will mark 15 years since the initial National Wear Red Day, which was first observed to bring national attention to the fact that heart disease is the #1 killer of women, and to raise awareness of women’s heart health.

In the decade-and-a-half since National Wear Red Day originated, great strides have been made regarding cardiovascular disease in women. They include:

• Nearly 90% of women have made at least one healthy behavior change.
• More than one-third of women has lost weight.
• More than 50% of women have increased their exercise.
• 6 out of 10 women have changed their diets.
• More than 40% of women have checked their cholesterol levels.
• One third of women has talked with their doctors about developing heart health plans.
• Today, nearly 300 fewer women die from heart disease and stroke each day.
• Death in women has decreased by more than 30 percent over the past 10 years.

But despite that progress, more work is crucial. 1 in 3 women die of heart disease and stroke each year. But what’s more powerful? Millions of mothers, sisters, daughters and friends making a change. The Go Red movement, through campaigns like National Wear Red Day, seeks to build upon those success and rally an overwhelming network of women, care providers, and researchers to conquer cardiovascular disease once and for all.

Why go Red?
Heart disease and stroke cause 1 in 3 deaths among women each year, killing approximately one woman every 80 seconds. Fortunately, we can change that because 80 percent of cardiac and stroke events may be prevented with education and action. That’s why this year we are asking that you wear red on National Wear Red Day® ,February 2, 2018, encourage others to do the same and make the time to Know Your Numbers. Five numbers, that all women should know to take control of their heart health are: Total Cholesterol, HDL (good) Cholesterol, Blood Pressure, Blood Sugar and Body Mass Index (BMI). Knowing these numbers can help women and their healthcare provider determine their risk for developing cardiovascular diseases.

Here’s how you can get involved in the Go Red movement, and show your support for the American Heart Association mission to create longer, healthier lives for everyone.

Wear red.
On National Wear Red Day®, be sure to wear something red to show your support for women with heart disease and stroke. Get your #GoRedWearRed gear from Shopheart.com!

Share your photos.
Take a selfie, organize your office to wear red, paint your neighborhood red, organize a neighborhood walk wearing red, dress your family up in red. However you Go Red, take photos and share them using the hashtag – #WearRedandGive.

Join the conversation.
Like Go Red For Women on Facebook and Instagram. Follow us on Twitter to get daily inspiration, photos, quotes, heart disease news, healthy living tips and more. Better yet, like and share photos with you friends or be a part of the conversation by sharing what going red means to you.

Donate directly to Go Red For Women. By doing so you help support educational programs to increase women’s awareness and critical research to discover scientific knowledge about cardiovascular health.

For more information on how you, your business, or your organization can become engaged in the Go Red movement on the MS Gulf Coast, please contact Jackson County Heart Walk Director Ashleigh Gaddy at ashleigh.gaddy@heart.org or by calling (228) 604-5317 (desk) or (228) 236-5830 (cell).

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The Healing Power of Chickens

Therapy can look very different for some people. The ailments we battle in this life can very just as widely as the remedies we employ to combat them. It really doesn’t matter what method we used to cope with life as long as it is healthy, and productive. Doris Ledet found chickens.

You see, Doris was diagnosed with Bipolar and Schizoeffective disorders. She said, “I often felt like a chicken with its head cut off, running around, just trying to function in life.” And that description is certainly filled with irony, since it would be chickens that helped her manage her condition and be able to function in life.

Doris found chickens. Well, her husband brought her some chickens anyway. Through the process of learning about, growing, and managing chickens she discovered truths about herself and life that have helped her become more than just her diagnosis. I guess you can say that her chickens (and turkeys, raccoons, emus, and various other wildlife) speak to her. I don’t mean that she hears voices, but the way they live their lives, interact with each other, and relate to her have spoken volumes to her about her value, and the grand design of this life that we live in, designed by a loving God who cares for us.

doris2-225x300 The Healing Power of Chickensdoris2-225x300 The Healing Power of Chickens

“I had problems with self worth,” said Ledet. “I realized that my chickens loved me no matter what.” You see, one day, Doris went outside with her chickens just to clear her mind. She didn’t go outside with the intention of feeding, or caring for her chickens in any way, yet they came running to her. They didn’t all run away just because she wasn’t feeding them. They just stayed right there near her. “I realized that my chickens valued me. I realized that they had been entrusted to me. I had responsibility for their health, safety, sustenance, care. They would likely not survive without me. I was suddenly overwhelmed (in a positive way) with the fact that I had been entrusted with them, and it was almost like they recognized that fact and loved me all the more for it.”

Ledet went on to explain how the animals under her care helped her understand some of the deeper things in life, and death. “When brand new chicks come into the world, it is a beautiful and amazing thing to behold. Very quickly I learned that some chicks survive and some don’t. A chick may hatch and die two days later, or they might live for ten years, and there isn’t necessarily a clearly visible reason as to why. I can do everything right, and some still don’t make it. I can make some mistakes and they live a long, beautiful life. I began to understand that death is a natural part of life.  Being able to process that through my chickens helped me be prepared to process that when I would lose loved ones in my family, later in life.”

While on this journey, Ledet also explains how caring for her animals has helped her come to a better understanding of God’s love for us. “I can clearly see a description of how I should relate to God through caring for my chickens. My chickens trust me. They know I’m there to care for them, to protect, and provide for them. I know they don’t always understand why I do the things I do for them. They don’t get mad at me and stop loving me though. There seems to be an understanding that if I’m doing something for them, then it is good because I am good to them always, so they trust. They have helped me relate to God in the same manner. Just like I don’t owe my chickens an explanation as to why I do what I do for them, the things I do for them are ok, simply because I know the plans I have for them. My plans are always to provide for, and protect them. God’s relationship with me is the same. I don’t have to understand what He is doing. I just have to know that He is always good, and everything He does (or allows) is somehow in my best interest, even if I can’t see it. That realization brings me peace.”

I asked Doris if she gave advice to others about how to start caring for chickens, and she said she did. “I am more than happy to offer advice or guidance for somebody who thinks that caring for chickens might help them. I’m also open to having people come and sit with my chickens, just to relax and lose the world for a while.” Ledet has even been writing blogs about her experiences detailing some of the areas she’s grown in her understanding of life, through caring for her chickens, with the intent being that other’s might learn from her experiences. You can find her blogs at www.thechickenista.com .

“Wings and a Prayer Farm,” that is the name of Ledet’s place of peace, where she finds solace, healing, and restoration. It is a place that helps her cope with the issues in life that she faces. It is, however, much more than that. It also serves as a model that instructs us that healing can come in many different forms. Ledet hopes that her example will inspire others to seek healing from whatever they’re facing in life. If you’d like to know more about her journey, and possibly beginning your own, feel free to connect with her on Facebook. Just search for “wings and a prayer farm.”


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Local Rocker Rocking Sobriety

One of the biggest topics in our country today is addiction. It seems that every day a new story is coming out about opioid abuse, alcoholism, and many other types of addiction. It is very important that we talk about these things, but i think we fail to highlight areas where people have been successful in combating addiction. We fail to highlight the success stories.

Michael Myhres is one of those success stories. Mike has been a musician for a long time. Scratch that. Mike has been a rocker for a long time. He even looks the part. He has the long rocker hair. He throws up the “rock out” hands anytime he can. He’s toured all over the place and played with all different types of people. Mike has also experienced another side of the rocker lifestyle. Michael has experienced addiction.

We’ve all heard the stories. We know about Elvis Presley, Jim Morrison, Janice Joplin, Motley Crue, and The Rolling Stones. We’ve heard all the stories about rock stars who battled addiction, overdosed, and died. It has almost become a cliche at this point. It has certainly become a stereotype that musicians, especially rockers, will drink and drug to excess.

Part of Mike’s story follows that pattern. Mike started playing music when he was 14 years old and he quickly fell in love with it. It wasn’t long before he was teaching others to play. He was not only passionate about playing, but he was also passionate about teaching others to love music and to excel at it. It was also not long until Mike discovered alcohol.

Mike started drinking when he was 18 years old and he never looked back. But Mike’s story doesn’t end there. Mike’s life will not be summed up in the alcoholism that consumed him for so many years. Mike’s journey has led him not to overdose and death. Mike’s journey has led him to sobriety and freedom from the addiction that wanted to deprive him of everything he loved.

You see, Mike drank, as he described it, “heavily for over 30 years.” When asked why he thought addiction was so prevalent in the music industry, Mike responded, “I think that rock and roll and drinking or drugs go hand in hand. There is an expectation that you should party after a great show. The guys in the group want to celebrate a good show. People in the crowd want to buy you a drink to show their appreciation for your music. Fans want to drink with the band. There’s just an expectation that you will drink.”

With an experience like that it is not hard to understand why one drink could turn into drinking until you blackout night after night. Even if that wasn’t the goal, it was the destination. That was the inevitable place that Mike ended up. So the question is, “What changed?”

I asked Mike that question, How did you finally get clean? What happened that caused you to want to make a change? “I fell,” he said. “One night while i was drinking heavily i fell down. My wife asked me what would happen if i broke my hand when i fell? I had never considered that possibility but once i did it hit me. I play music for a living. I teach people how to play music for a living. How would i earn a living if i broke my hand? I just realized that my drinking had the possibility of taking away everything i loved. At that point, I just knew it was time.”

That turning point would bring Mike to a Celebrate Recovery meeting. Celebrate Recovery is a 12 step program, similar to Alcoholics Anonymous, except Jesus Christ is the “Higher Power” that is relied on. At this meeting Mike began sharing, listening, and growing in his understanding of what addiction is, and what causes it. This led Mike down a path of self discovery.

Mike currently participates in the Celebrate Recovery Step Study. Step study is about an 8 month commitment where the participant works through the 12 steps of recovery. This process helps them find out what initially caused the addiction and work through it, processing feelings, and making amends where possible.

Mike’s involvement recently culminated in him receiving his one year sobriety chip. When Mike received his chip he said (in typical Mike fashion) “Bruh! This is so awesome! I would never in a million years have believed i would get here, not the old me anyway. This is so cool!” The day after receiving his chip found Mike sharing a picture of his one year chip on his Facebook page demonstrating his pride in his recent achievement.

crmedal-225x300 Local Rocker Rocking Sobriety

I asked Mike what he wanted others in the music industry to know about addiction and sobriety. His response was also classic Mike. He said, “Dude, you DON’T play better when you’re buzzed. You think you do but you don’t.” Myhres went on to say, “I always have people coming up to me these days telling me how much better my playing is now. These aren’t people who don’t know music. These are other folks that can really play. The other thing is they should know how supportive most people will be of your sobriety. They know what i’m doing and they support it. They tell me how proud they are of me. People think that other musicians will look down on you if you don’t drink and drug, but that’s not the case. Sure there will always be one or two, but almost everybody i know is proud and supportive.They actually help look out for me. It’s totally worth it.”

In the culture we live in today it is genuine pleasure to be able to offer hope and encouragement rather than the typical bad news. I’d like to thank Mike for allowing me to share his story and to celebrate his recovery so publicly. 

If you, or somebody you know, struggles with addiction, you can find local Celebrate Recovery groups by going to


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Singing River Health System Promotes Pulmonary Hypertension Awareness with “Blue Lips” Campaign

24068315_10155554273071998_5669295802210021608_n Singing River Health System Promotes Pulmonary Hypertension Awareness with “Blue Lips” Campaign

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The early signs are subtle:  shortness of breath, fatigue, and in some cases blue lips or fingertips.   All are signs of Pulmonary Hypertension, a rare but serious condition that’s being treated by specialists at Singing River Health System.   Clinicians and staff this week worked to raise awareness of PH by hosting “Blue Lips” events at their facilities, complete with blue lipstick and blue popsicles to mark the occasion with fun photos that bring attention to this condition which many don’t know exists.

Dr. Ijlal Babar heads up the system’s Regional Pulmonary Hypertension Clinic in Ocean Springs, the only one of its kind on the Coast.   He and his team treat hundreds of patients from across the region.   “While there is no cure for Pulmonary Hypertension, there are effective treatments and therapies, and we customize those for each patient,” says Dr. Babar, a board certified pulmonologist.  

Pulmonary Hypertension causes the body’s arteries to become narrowed, limiting blood flow to the right side of the heart, increasing the work load on the heart and decreasing oxygen to the rest of the body.   Both oral and inhaled medications can be administered, along with continuous therapy via infusion pumps.   Most patients also require supplemental oxygen therapy and other treatments to help with daily activity and easier breathing. 

Dr. Babar and his team at the Regional Hypertension Clinic can help assess patients who suspect that they may have the condition.   They can be reached at 228-872-1951.   More information about Pulmonary Hypertension and the clinic is available on the Singing River Health System website at https://www.singingriverhealthsystem.com/services/pulmonary/hypertension-center/.

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American Heart Association Hosts Healthy Food Drive for Eat Healthy Month

ATT-ESM-pic-2017 American Heart Association Hosts Healthy Food Drive for Eat Healthy Month

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The American Heart Association and its partners in the Jackson County community have been working throughout the month of November to inspire local residents to have a happy, healthy holiday while helping others do the same.

November is Eat Smart Month (Wednesday, November 1 was National Eating Healthy Day), and there’s no better time to embrace a healthier diet and lifestyle than the kickoff of the year-end holiday season. While the holidays are a time for food, friends, family, and fun, there’s no reason that one can’t maintain a healthy diet while still enjoying the bounty of the season with just a few simple amendments. For more information on how to keep yourself on a heart-healthy track throughout the holidays, click here (http://bit.ly/2ngvBCo).

While keeping yourself and your family healthy during the holidays is wonderful, you can also help make sure those in need this holiday season have healthy foods as well. The American Heart Association in Jackson County is encouraging healthy food drives for the local food banks by asking individuals and businesses to donate healthy foods to those in need this holiday season. Healthy foods that are needed include those with low sodium, foods that add color to the holiday plate, non-perishable individually wrapped products, and foods bearing the American Heart Association Heart Checkmark logo. Suggestions include: prepackaged whole grain cereals, low-sugar granola bars, instant oatmeal cups, dehydrated fruit, whole-grain crackers, unsalted rice cakes, and low-sodium canned vegetables.

Donations are still being accepted, so if you or your business collected foods throughout the month of November and would like to support the healthy food drive initiative, please contact the American Heart Association for pick-up at 228-236-5830. Donated foods will be picked up by American Heart Association staff on November 30, and items will go to 12 Baskets, a food bank serving the Mississippi Coast, in early December.

The American Heart Association has contacted all 2018 Jackson County Heart Walk sponsors to encourage them to host their own healthy food drives in support of the overarching initiative. One Jackson County business that has taken the healthy food initiative to a different level is AT&T. Employees have collected healthy foods for donation to the VA of Biloxi food drive, helping to meet existing needs in a way that helps other eat a heart-healthy diet throughout the holiday season.

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Tips and Resources for Taking Care of Premature Babies from a Local Pediatrician

drgphoto Tips and Resources for Taking Care of Premature Babies from a Local Pediatrician

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November is National Prematurity Awareness Month, a time for families nationwide/in Jackson County to think about the health of expectant mothers and babies, and about how to have a safe and healthy pregnancy and delivery. 

According to the March of Dimes, Mississippi has the highest rates of premature births in the U.S. at 13.6%. March of Dimes notes Jackson County is at 10.4%, which is still higher than the national average. Having multiple births also increases the chance of prematurity. March of Dimes also mentions that close to 60 percent of all twins and more than 90 percent of triplets are born prematurely (before 37 weeks). 

Dr. Yolanda Gutierrez of Pascagoula’s Pediatric Care Center is one of the leading and most caring pediatricians on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. After completing her rotations through general medicine, Dr. Gutierrez discovered her passion for working with children and thus completed her internship and residency at the University of South Alabama Children’s and Women’s Hospital in Mobile, Alabama. Over her 25 years in private practice, Dr. Gutierrez has worked with a number of premature babies as her patients. Gutierrez shares some helpful insights on common myths and tips she gives to parents on premature babies and their care.

Myth #1: “Premature babies are the same as average-sized ones- they’re just smaller” 

Many people believe a premature baby can behave the same way an average-sized baby can. They think because they were born early that you just have to be more gentle with them. This is not the case at all. Care for premature babies is much more precise and strict than that of a non-premature infant. 

“Premature babies are born with immature lungs and come out with a number of different problems that have to be addressed not only immediately, but also long term”, says Gutierrez. 

Premature babies are also prone to developing infections because their immune system is not fully developed. 

Myth #2: “Premature babies can be fed like an average child” 

When your baby is first born, the healthcare team may give them fluids and nutrition through an intravenous (IV line) if they are extremely premature or have breathing difficulties. Alternatively, the doctors may decide that they are mature enough to take milk through a small tube that is passed through the nose into the stomach. Breast milk is the best choice for your baby. 

It is important for milk feeds to be introduced in a timely way – not too quickly but not too slowly – and your doctor will have the expertise to decide this. This progression must be very gradual because premature babies – especially those born at 34 weeks or less – are slow to cope with milk that goes into their stomachs and have more problems with absorbing nutrients. “It’s important to advise these parents on correct feeding and determining how much is too much and what exactly is the right amount for their child”, says Dr. Gutierrez. 

Myth #3: “It’s safe for premature babies to be around other people and out in public”

Parents of premature newborns face even more worries about their baby’s health. Due to immature immune systems that haven’t completely developed, preemies have an increased risk of catching viruses that may be nothing more than a nuisance for us, but can be potentially life threatening to them. Some of these risks can be avoided by understanding when it’s safe to head out with your baby or invite visitors over, and when it’s best to stay inside and away from the crowds. 

“They can’t be around other sick kids or adults”, says Gutierrez. “Viral illnesses are a top concern with premature infants and that is one of the main reasons why our clinic has 2 waiting rooms- one for babies and one for general”, she said. “Parents can trust that they don’t have to risk their babies getting sick from other children in the clinic”, said Gutierrez. 

Overall, it’s important for women to take care of their health and nutrition while carrying their child. “Diabetes, high-blood pressure, smoking, drinking and doing drugs are all factors that increase the risk of an early delivery and premature birth”, said Gutierrez. 

The Pediatric Care Center supports local organizations and groups within the community for premature babies. Gutierrez mentions how the clinic often donates to the March of Dimes and participates in fundraising events to help spread awareness and inform the community on premature babies. 

“The care we offer for the parent and child is state of the art in terms of excellent care”, she said. “It’s given with a lot of compassion. All of our staff love these children and have a passion for helping them”, said Gutierrez. The Pediatric Care Center truly believes that it takes a village to raise a child and parents need the combined teamwork of the family and the child’s pediatric clinic. “We want our parents to trust us when it comes to helping raise their children and make them feel like we are also a part of their family”, she said. 

For more information on the Pediatric Care Center, visit their website at pediatriccarectr.net.


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Mayfield Family Shares Story of Miracles for Prematurity Awareness Month

488020_644211508943800_4214605_n Mayfield Family Shares Story of Miracles for Prematurity Awareness Month

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Hanna and Matt Mayfield are familiar faces in Pascagoula, Mississippi. With Matt co-owning ‘Goula’s famous, Tay’s BBQ a lot of people recognize the family name and their deliciously famous menu items. However, they are also known for their survival story of their two little miracles.

November 17 is recognized as World Prematurity Day and serves as the focus of the March of Dimes’ Prematurity Awareness Month observance each year. The Mayfield family relates to this day as they recall the miraculous story of the birth of their premature twin daughters.

In October of 2011, Hanna Mayfield was taken into emergency c-section at USA’s Children’s and Women’s Hospital in Mobile, Alabama. Mayfield says there was no explanation as to why she went into labor so early, but prepared to face the reality of giving birth to premature twins. She was only 5 months pregnant at the time, barely mid-way through her 2nd trimester. 

Bowen and Taylor were born at 22 weeks and 5 days and were considered to be ‘micro-premies’- weighing even smaller than a typical premature baby. Bowen weighed 1 pound and Taylor 15.3 ounces. “Their lungs weren’t working like they were supposed to- it was a lot of treatment and things to keep an eye on every hour, every few hours”, says Mayfield. 

But the family decided to remain positive with lots of prayer and trust in the top-rated NICU center at Children’s and Women’s. “Every one of the doctors and nurses at the hospital are angels”, she said. “Being able to do their job with a smile on their face, while helping these parents is incredible”, says Mayfield. In fact, USA’s NICU center is one of the only local hospitals to give babies born before 24 weeks a chance to survive by putting them on a ventilator. “If we lived in any other city, we may have not been accepted into a hospital to keep our babies alive”, she said. The babies remained in the NICU for the next few months, with Taylor having additional complications and surgeries which kept her there for a total of 7 months. 

The challenge of having premature babies doesn’t stop at the hospital. After bringing the girls home, Matt and Hanna were given strict schedules and guidelines to follow to ensure they were being taken care of properly and would remain healthy. Parents of premature babies have to take caution when bringing them home due to their low immune system. “We couldn’t go out in public and they advised against bringing people around our babies”, said Hanna. “They even told us, ‘If you go out to the grocery store and come back, you have to shower and change clothes before you can even hold your baby'”, she said. The family had to be conscious of every move they made to ensure the girls’ health remained in good state. 

After many routine checkups, the girls caught up to their appropriate weight and grew to become wonderfully excelled children. The twins recently celebrated their 6th birthday last month. “They’re healthy, thriving in school, running around and taking dance lessons-perfectly normal little girls”, said Mayfield. “We could have easily had many difficulties with the girls, but we were fortunate they grew up without any problems”, she said. “I think it’s just being aware of germs, being mindful of their low immune systems and sticking to the plan the nurses and doctors give you is the reason for it”, says Hanna. 

According to the March of Dimes, 1 in 10 women will give birth to a premature child. Like the Mayfield family, many women, including those in Jackson County, will face the difficulty of having premature children. “It’s very easy to get down and depressed that you can’t hold your premature baby like an average-sized one”, says Hanna. But she encourages families who are facing this, “Keep your chin up, stay positive, pray and get your prayer warriors around you”, she said. 

For more information on World Prematurity Day or the March of Dimes, visit their website



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