The mom of a former NICU baby has opened a hospital beauty bar to spoil other parents of high-risk newborns.
Sarah Pulley knows the NICU inside and out — four years ago, her daughter Amelia was born premature and spent four months in the neonatal intensive care unit at two different hospitals in Indianapolis.
“When Amelia contracted a virus, she was transferred to Riley Children’s Health,” Pulley, 34, a hair salon owner in Carmel, Indiana, told TODAY Parents. “We’re very familiar with those walls.”
Last year, Pulley became a guest services volunteer at the hospital’s Ronald McDonald House Family Room, a program under the global nonprofit Ronald McDonald House Charities.
The nonprofit offers three programs: housing located near hospitals for families of sick children; family rooms situated inside hospitals to eat or shower; and mobile programs that bring health care services to deserving communities.
When Pulley heard that Riley Children’s Health wanted to provide pampering services in one of its two family rooms, she was excited.
“I knew this could be special,” she said.
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Offering to lead the initiative, Pulley donated a chair from her salon, Three Seventeen Hair Design. She also contacted her distributor, which agreed to provide $150 worth of free hair care products, and she volunteered her hair styling skills.
On Sept. 14, “Beauty Bar” opened on the third floor of Ronald McDonald Family Room Maternity Tower at Riley.
Inside the space, parents can relax in a HydroMassage chair, doze in a nap pod and snack on fruit and granola bars. Pulley also goes out of her way to pamper and style postpartum moms and sleep-deprived dads at no charge.
“We shampoo, blow dry and give scalp massages on the second Wednesday of each month,” she explained.
Adam Lowe, a marketing and communications manager for Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Indiana, told TODAY Parents the service is open to all patients who deliver at Riley.
“Most of the moms who give birth there have high-risk pregnancies or babies who need immediate medical support,” he said.
Pulley understands just how medicinal self-care can be.
“You completely lose all sense of yourself when you have a baby in the NICU,” she recalled. “My first mom completely relaxed in the chair; she just closed her eyes and breathed. My second was completely exhausted.”
Pulley connected with her third guest, whose baby had medical issues similar to Amelia’s.
Related: ‘Change of plans’: A premature birth leads to parents’ wedding in NICU
“She had an emergency C-section and she was so thankful,” Pulley recalled. “Our experiences were very similar.”
Pulley insists the beauty treatments “are just as special for me,” adding, “There’s something about the connection between moms and the power of touch.”
Apart from a salon experience, Pulley wants parents who feel isolated to know: “You’ve got this.”
“There is hope in my story because my daughter is thriving,” said Pulley, who welcomed a son named Joey two years ago. “We made it.”