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On My Mind
January 2013

The Birthday Party

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliation: Division of Critical Care, Department of Pediatrics, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, Tennessee.

JAMA Pediatr. 2013;167(1):7. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2013.440

I followed the sounds of singing to the birthday party. Taped to the wall was a banner with a rainbow of colorful letters: H-A-P-P-Y-B-I-R-T-H-D-A-Y. Everyone in the room was singing with enthusiasm. A baby boy in the center of the room was adorned with a bright yellow Winnie-the-Pooh birthday hat—just like the ones everyone else was wearing. His was much too large for his tiny head. In a corner sat the baby's wide-eyed nurse, also singing and wearing a hat. She looked more than a little uncomfortable and seemed to be trying to blend into the wallpaper. I saw no cake or presents, just family members gathered around the little birthday boy who was wrapped in a white blanket, nestled quietly in his mother's arms.

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