Mom of 18 children gets taken care of for a change at new hair and nail salon
Even the hair dressers at Cook Children's help families feel better
Shelly Burman’s life revolves around taking care of others. After all, a mother of 18 children has little time for herself.
But at least for a few hours, Burman allows someone to take care of her at Cook Children’s new hair and nail salon, Mirror Mirror.
As Burman let Marti Galbreath, a hairstylist, massage her scalp with shampoo, the tension of the last five weeks disappeared for a little while. And that’s why a children’s hospital houses a hair and nail salon.
Following the birth of their two biological children, Shelly and Brian Burman felt the need to help other kids who did not have the same loving home.
“We just knew in our hearts we were going to adopt and it was going to be children with special needs,” Burman said. “We just didn’t know where that was going to take us and some days we still don’t know where that’s going to take us. But we’ve loved every bit of it.”
The Burmans have adopted 18 children, all with their own unique challenges and special needs. Two of those children have died because of their health complications.
The Burman household bustles with energy most days with the age range of the children, including their two birth kids, ranging from 2 months to 18 years old. The youngest child is what brings Shelly Burman to Cook Children’s.
Catie Jane Burman was adopted at birth in Philadelphia. Brian and Shelly were told their daughter had spina bifida. After an examination back home in Mansfield, they discovered Catie Jane’s condition was much worse than first imagined. She is missing most of her brain and her rib cage is too small to allow her lungs to support her as she grows older.
After the diagnosis of Catie Jane, Shelly and her youngest daughter left Mansfield where they have been at Cook Children’s for the past five weeks. Catie Jane has had to revive twice at Cook Children’s and one of those times she was without a heartbeat for 20 minutes.
Shelly has not left the medical center once during her five-week stay. Brian and their oldest daughter, Madelaine, take care of the other children at the house.
“I have felt lonely and very isolated over the past five weeks,” Burman says as she gets her hair cut. “I’ve been very conflicted because you have a child on life support and you’ve got children at home who are asking, ‘Mommy when are you coming home?’ It’s very emotional. You don’t get to leave much. Cook Children’s is a wonderful place. I love the nurses and doctors, but you always know you are in a hospital.”
But for a little while, Burman finds a sense of normalcy at Mirror Mirror.
“When I walked in here, I really felt like I could cry because I’ve felt so lost and helpless lately,” Burman said. “To come down here for a few minutes and not listen to monitors and be stressed at every little moment has been wonderful. But yet I’m still close enough if something should happen I can be right there. It’s a chance for me to come and relax for a little bit and feel special for a little while.”
As Galbreath listens to her first customer talk she marvels at Burman’s amazing story and feels a sense of duty to make her stay at Mirror Mirror special.
“It’s really rewarding,” Galbreath said. “It’s very heartwarming. I feel honored and blessed that I can be that person for her to let her escape and let a big breath out while she relaxes.”
The opening day of Mirror Mirror on Sept. 16, 2015, is the culmination of three years of planning.
Erica Garza is the manager and brings with her 15 years of industry experience, including owning her own shop. She also has experience with Cook Children’s.
“My son was a patient at Cook Children’s for the first five years of his life, so this place is very near and dear to my heart,” Garza said.
Mirror Mirror is open to all Cook Children’s patients and visitors. Garza said the salon is perfect for moms like Burman, as well as patients.
“I started at Cook Children’s in October of last year and I would hear different patients and families ask in our gift shop for shampoo or conditioner,” Garza said. “They would say they needed a haircut. I was talking to some nurses who were saying how grateful they are that we have opened. They have patients who start to lose their hair to chemotherapy and the nurses were cutting the kids hair. A lot of the patients have special requests like Mohawks or putting yellow in their hair. They are about to go through something that may not be so fun, so this gives them a chance to be creative and have some fun.”
While the staff’s skilled at their jobs, at no point did Garza lose sight of where the salon was located during interviews. “It was the biggest thing we asked,” Garza said. “’Do you care about these kids?’ We wanted to make sure everyone was here for the right reason.”
Every person hired has experience working at Cook Children’s or working with children with special needs.
But this is a full service hair and nail salon and with that comes a special skill you expect from your stylist at home – the ability to just listen.
“It gives people a chance to just get away for a short amount of time and get their mind off of everything that’s going on,” Garza said. “And sometimes people just want to talk about what they are going through and we are there for that too.”