Scarred by a cup of tea, Brooke’s girl hasn’t let her differences hold her back.
Here, Brooke Burns, 27, tells the story in her own words.
Watching videos, I bounced my girl Sophie, 21 months, on my knee.
I just hoped the weather would brighten up. Jye and I were getting married in four days’ time. Sophie couldn’t wait to be flower girl.
Setting her on the floor, I walked into the kitchen to make some tea. Grabbing a cup, I put it on a tea towel on the counter. Once I’d topped it up with steaming water, I turned to click the kettle back on the stand.
That one second I averted my eyes was all it took.
My precious girl grabbed the edge of the tea towel dangling off the counter – pulling my cup of tea with it.
In the blink of an eye, Sophie raised her arms to protect her face while horror filled my heart. As the tea poured all over her she didn’t make a peep.
Silent, Sophie stood shaking as steam rose from her long-sleeved shirt. Grabbing her, I ran to the bathroom. Fully clothed, I cradled my girl under a lukewarm shower.
‘Jye!’ I screeched. ‘Sophie’s been burnt!’
Running into the room, he immediately dialled Triple-0. Sophie was still silent and quivering as I undressed her.
Lifting her shirt over her head, layers of skin peeled off with it, leaving behind bright red patches on her arms, face, back and neck.
‘Everything will be okay,’ Jye soothed. When the paramedics arrived, they wrapped Sophie in a foil blanket to stabilise her temperature.
Racing to hospital, I called my mum Leeanne, 44. As doctors assessed Sophie, I wouldn’t leave her side. Why did I sit the cup on the towel? I tortured myself.
Doctors explained Sophie suffered third-degree burns on 20 per cent of her body. When they’d finally finished swathing my baby in bandages, I barely recognised her.
All wrapped up, my girl looked like a marshmallow. But when I held her hand, she smiled. She’s my little fighter, I thought.
Walking out to meet Mum, I stopped to warn her. ‘It’s not good,’ I said, welling up.
Staring into Sophie’s cot, Mum broke down. And that first night in hospital was the worst.
Scared, Sophie couldn’t sleep. Carefully picking her up, I placed her on my chest and she instantly dozed off.
‘You can’t fall asleep,’ the nurse said. ‘She can’t roll off.’
So, sitting up all night, I watched Sophie’s little chest rise and fall.
The next day, she wanted to send Mum a video. ‘It’s alright Nanny, I’ll be better soon,’ she promised. ‘You’re such a brave girl,’ I told her.
Discussing our wedding, Jye and I decided our guests should still have our reception without us. ‘Enjoy the food and drink,’
I told them. ‘Everything is paid for.’
Our focus was on our girl’s recovery. Then, three days later, the doctor had news. ‘Her temperature has stabilised, so she can go home,’ he said.
Set to get married the next day, we sent out messages to all our guests. The wedding is on! we wrote.
Given pain medication, Sophie was eager to attend. She was all wrapped up and sporting a neck brace as we gently slipped on her gorgeous dress. Then we placed a flower crown on top of her bandaged head.
‘She’s perfect,’ I smiled, trying to hold back my tears. Walking down the aisle with Mum and Sophie, there wasn’t a dry eye in the room.
Afterwards, Sophie had to wear a pressure suit for 16 months and had a series of skin grafts on her back.
As it healed, it was itchy so she wanted to rub it. ‘She’s like a bear on a tree,’ I told the doctor, explaining she split her skin graft yet again.
Thankfully, over time, it improved, but she has been left with scars scaling her back, neck and arm.
Throughout it all, our girl loved dancing and always had a smile, especially when her little sister Evie was born.
Now Sophie, four, dreams of being a model. ‘I want anyone who is different to not be afraid to dream,’ she says.
We started an Instagram page for her, @sophie.the.brave. Waving her arms, exposing her scars, she poses in front of the camera, wearing T-shirts with inspiring messages like, I am brave, I am strong, I am beautiful.
Sophie wants to show people that even after an ordeal, life can be happy and joyful again.
Read more in this week's issue of that's life, on sale now.