Naperville’s Edward Hospital takes part in NICU Read-a-thon

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Shanna and Anthony Ward welcomed their first child Amelia into the world on Sept. 7. They’ve spent the last four days with Amelia in Edward Hospital’s Newborn Intensive Care Unit (NICU) after complications.

“Pregnancy was really kind of easy until about the last week before having her, and I got diagnosed with pre-eclampsia,” said Ward. “Basically high blood pressure and could be very dangerous, so they went ahead and said (she) should (be) delivered early.”

After being delivered at 35 weeks, Amelia is healthy and heading home soon. 

“(I’m) nervous and excited at the same time,” said Ward. “Relieved that she didn’t have to be here for very long.”

Reading to babies in the NICU

Shanna and other parents with babies in the NICU have been passing the time by taking part in the NICU Read-A-Thon, a friendly competition between NICUs around the world that encourages parents to read to their babies.

The event runs from September 11 to 21. It is co-hosted by Babies with Books, a student-led organization that promotes NICU reading.

“(Parents) didn’t plan to be in the NICU, so this is one of the activities that they would probably be doing at home,” said NICU Manager at Edward Hospital Julie Brazell. “Some of these babies are here for months and months and they don’t have that special time. So it’s very important for the babies.” 

This is Edward’s second year taking part, with the NICU nurses getting on the book bandwagon as well.

“We have a little ticket that each time they read to the baby, they can put it in a box,” said Brazell. “And at the end of the event they will get some sort of prize.”

Brazell is excited to see both nurses and parents in her unit getting a chance to share the worlds of Dr. Seuss and many other children’s authors with the newborns.

“It’s important for brain development, to have that connection,” said Brazell. “Just hearing the books, but mainly for parent bonding, that’s important too. That’s a nice opportunity for the parents to hold the babies and read to them.”

Shanna has enjoyed connecting with Amelia through books, and hopes to make reading a big part of her life.

“We always plan to read to her,” said Ward. “We had people bring books instead of cards for our baby shower, so reading was always going to be part of the plan.”

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