SACRAMENTO -- Little Kaylee Lolley started the summer bright and bouncy, wearing the excited smile of an almost-three-year-old.
She started August much differently - finally taken to the hospital ten days after suffering second and third degree burns while with her now jailed stepmom at her father's North Highlands apartment.
"Tylenol isn't just going to make that kind of pain go away. That's taking a lot of pain. She's my superhero," said Patricia McCoy, Kaylee's biological mother.
McCoy is fighting hard to keep her emotions in check as she speaks out for the first time about her daughter's battle to recover from an accident allegedly made worse by inattention.
"She could have died....yes...yes...if left untreated she could have died," McCoy said.
Sacramento County sheriff's deputies say Kaylee was at home with her three brothers and stepmom Karina Davis when she pulled down a bowl of hot soup right on top of her head.
McCoy and Kaylee's dad John Lolley - who's now facing child endangerment charges - split when Kaylee was two weeks old after 8 years of dating.
She fell into drugs shortly thereafter and their three children lived with him.
But she's kept her sons every weekend since getting clean last fall.
McCoy says Lolley limited her time with Kaylee and it was her own mother who saw the burned girl during a visit, prompting her to call child protective services.
They told her to call deputies, who then made a welfare check.
"[They] said she was fine...left her there. They called me and told me she was fine," McCoy said.
"Yeah that she was burned...but that it was minor."
CPS made a different determination the next morning - sending Kaylee to the hospital and seizing McCoy and Lolley's other kids along with one child of Davis and Lolley's.
Once Kaylee got in front of doctors, "...they did the grafting. They took skin from her back and went ahead and put it on her head," McCoy described.
As that was happening, Kaylee's father was on the run from a warrant and Davis was arrested.
Davis' relatives say she did monitor the child and applied neosporin to her burns, but according to McCoy, "she went to the hospital and she was really dirty."
Today Kaylee's smiling and healing and hospitalized - but far from putting the burn incident behind her.
McCoy also believes that over time Kaylee was targeted with food and in other ways because Davis harbored some animosity toward her.
McCoy and Davis used to be friends and now share children with the same man.
"My daughter was severely underweight. She was 19 pounds when she got to the hospital. For a three-year-old she looks like a one-year-old."
She says any adult issue should never been directed at a child.
And just becoming a mom again - this time to a baby boy - she'll never understand why no one took one of her other babies to a hospital right away.
"It's not real. It doesn't seem real."
Detectives with the Sacramento County Sheriff's Department were not available today to comment about why Kaylee was left in the apartment where she was burned for another night and without real medical treatment after their visit.
FOX40 tried to ask Lolley and Davis about the burn incident and their response, but they have been moved to a jail floor under construction where visits are extremely limited.