Giving Back: Noblesville woman volunteers time, provides comfort to moms at Riley Hospital for Children

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A Noblesville woman is making a difference in the lives of moms and caregivers who have children in the neonatal intensive care unit at Riley Hospital for Children with some much-needed comfort.

Four years after a traumatic childbirth experience, Sarah Pulley is giving back her time by volunteering inside a beauty bar at the Ronald McDonald Family Rooms inside the maternity tower at Riley. Pulley’s daughter, Amelia, was born four years ago at 27 weeks gestation, weighing 1 pound., 11 ounces.

Sarah Pulley and her husband, Adam, with their daughter, Amelia, who was born four years ago at 27 weeks gestation. Pulley and her family spent the first four months of Amelia’s life between the Community North Hospital Newborn Intensive Care Unit and Riley Children’s NICU. (Photos provided by Sarah Pulley)

Pulley and her family spent the first four months of Amelia’s life between the Community North Hospital Newborn Intensive Care Unit and Riley Children’s NICU. After the initial four-month stay, Pulley and her daughter have since frequented Riley for inpatient stays and many outpatient visits.

Pulley, who is a hairstylist and owner of Three Seventeen Hair Design in Carmel, volunteers her time in the beauty bar where moms can get a little downtime with some pampering by getting free hair care ranging from a wash and style to a scalp massage. She said it was especially important to give back to a place that helped her and her family.

“When your child is in the hospital, and especially when you have an infant in the NICU, you kind of lose all sense of self,” Pulley said. “Yu are very much in the moment and very much in survival mode, (and) to be able to create some sort of support or share hope or inspiration, anything with families, it was a huge pull and something I’ve always wanted to do.”

Pulley said she can relate to many moms who are staying at Riley with their children, noting that her goal is to not only to provide comfort and pampering, but also some downtime.

“Just allowing them to breathe for a minute and just giving them the opportunity to feel like a human again, frankly,” Pulley said. “It kind of seems silly, you know, getting your hair washed, but at the same time, the power of human touch is unbelievable, and so allowing a mom to close their eyes, breathe and be taken care of and focus on what they need to focus on, which is their child, (is important).”

Pulley said it is important for parents, moms and caregivers to take care of themselves, saying she tries to remind them of that point and that it’s OK to step away for a moment. Still, Pulley acknowledged that she and her husband Adam’s perspective changed when their daughter was in the NICU at Riley.

“It is hard, and when you’re in the moment, it’s very hard to stay positive,” she said.

Pulley said she finds it personally rewarding being able to volunteer her time at the beauty bar, which is only open once a month. She hopes more days can be added in the future and noted that the response has been overwhelmingly positive from those who have stepped inside the space.

“The feeling of all of it is amazing,” she said.

And Amelia is doing well four years later as Pulley noted her daughter recently started preschool.

“She’s unbelievable, she’s amazing,” Pulley said.

Still, Pulley is thankful for all the support her family received from the staff at Riley when caring for her daughter.

“The nurses and doctors and respiratory therapists are unbelievable at what they do,” she said. “Riley truly is a house of miracles.”

She also encouraged others to step up and help those around them when they can.

“Any little thing you can do to help other people is huge,” she said.

Sarah Pulley and her husband, Adam, with their daughter, Amelia, who was born four years ago at 27 weeks gestation. Pulley and her family spent the first four months of Amelia’s life between the Community North Hospital Newborn Intensive Care Unit and Riley Children’s NICU. (Photos provided by Sarah Pulley)

About Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Indiana

Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Indiana, which is a close partner with Riley Children’s Health, provides a supportive home away from home for families of children receiving medical care at Riley Children’s Health and other area hospitals. They operate one Ronald McDonald House near downtown Indianapolis and two Ronald McDonald Family Rooms inside Riley Children’s.

SOURCE: Ronald McDonald House of Charities of Central Indiana

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