January 22, 2017

Our last post was in September, where we began to track the early legacy of Abel’s earthly life in the waning months of 2016 and concluded with the announcement that Abel had a baby sister alive in Kelly’s womb. Now we zip ahead to 4 weeks ago with Kel deep into her 3rd trimester carrying Mayfield James, and we were preparing for the weekend of Abel’s 1st birthday: Jan 22, 2017. 
We knew we were going to hold Abel’s b-day loosely no matter what, but went ahead and thought through a handful of things we might like to do together as a family in remembrance of our 15 days out of the womb with him. And then, relaxing on Saturday the 21st and emotionally preparing for Sunday the 22nd, three weeks out from MJ’s February due date… the contractions hit.
From Saturday afternoon to Sunday early evening (yea, this guy learned ‘early labor’ can last over a day… sheesh) my wife rolled with the punches (or pangs) as they slowly increased in frequency & intensity. I mean she’s always pretty chill, but this was one exceptionally cool cat we’re talking about here. I kept being like ‘Hey is it time to go? Hey should we go? Hey how long?’ but this little birth doula was playing her hand methodically… right up until 7PM when she popped up off the couch and ran into the bathroom, believing her water to have broken. But this was not water, not by a long shot.
After some iPhone photography reminiscent of a Texas Chainsaw movie and a text thread with yet another level-headed doula (S/O Kiesha Baker) we were counseled not to drive out to our OB in Denton, but to head to the nearest hospital. For us, that is Baylor in downtown Dallas… the very place that Abel Paul made his debut. By 10PM the bleeding had let up slightly but not significantly, and the doctors had run several tests to try and learn why. We could confirm that Mayfield was doing alright in there, but we had no concrete answers about what was going on with Kelly… And so we were told that she could continue to labor (though she was only dilated to a 1 and ‘go time’ is at 10), or we could proceed to have another C-section ASAP.

Quick Side: You see, the reason my sweet wife decided to make 90min round trips to Denton is that she had hand-picked a Doc (Cummings) who is sort of ‘the guy’ when it comes to VBAC’s (which means ‘vaginal birth after C-section’ — acronyms have been a big part of my preggo education). This was something she felt strongly about trying to do. Hey, you deliver my baby, I’ll let you pick where and how. And Dr. Cummings just barely edged out her runner-up choice, Dr. Payne in Dallas (perhaps she was dissuaded by the name).

I share all of that to say that in spite of those ideal preferences, I feel like the Lord provided us with some really sweet peace & clarity surrounding our ultimate decision to eliminate some scary variables… to move ahead to deliver MJ by C-section while both she and her mama were safe. And
 who would be the Doctor-on-call to bring our daughter into the world? That’s right: Dr. Payne. And so at 11:34pm that night, we were introduced to yet another January 22nd gift — and in the exact same operating room as her brother, with the same doula & photography team as her brother, on the very same day one year after her brother, Mayfield James Crawford was born 🙂

The past month we’ve mainly been joyfully consumed by the beautifully exhausting round-the-clock task that is newborn care, but as we begin to slide into some semblance of a rhythm it begs the question — What do we make of all that? I can’t say we’ve really condensed & harmonized our initial takeaways from 1/22/17, but after talking together we both connected with 5 developing reflections:

1. Modern Medicine: We are grateful for the innovations & inventions that the Lord has enabled, and our privileged access to it here in Dallas. We came to find that Kelly had experienced a ‘placental abruption’ in which the placenta became 40% detached from the uterus along with the oxygen & nutrients that it provides to the child. (Excruciatingly, Labor of Hope had a client just a week prior who lost her baby due to a placental abruption which is how we had heard of it). So it’s worth noting that this birth story of ours could have had a very, very different outcome for both my daughter & my wife had we been born in another time or, more humbling, just another part of the world. We are the fortunate few, and it’s not lost on us.

2. What it Doesn’t Mean (For Us): Having Mayfield exactly one year later does not and could not somehow heal the wounds or fill the void of losing Abel. For that reason, I wouldn’t say we like having a healthy MJ referred to as a ‘rainbow baby’ (though I have zero problem with parents who are comforted and encouraged by that word picture). We do see Mayfield James as a perfect gift from God and a reminder of his grace & faithfulness, but we also see Abel Paul’s life as a perfect gift, despite the fact that our time enjoying that gift was tragically brief. So baby sister will never and could never be a substitute/replacement for Abel’s absence in our home. While Jesus is faithful to meet our deepest needs every step of the way, the reality that we are -1 will always be felt in this Crawford home, no matter how many other kids the Lord entrusts to our care.

3. Redemptive Reminders: That said, the beautiful manner in which the Lord timed Mayfield’s arrival to coincide with Abel’s just a year later is not lost on us.I say all the time that we feel like the story of our son points to the redemptive story of God’s Son, but truthfully we are just now sort of ‘coming up for air’ to apply that to 2017. Certainly God’s covenant promises from Scripture come to mind, as He has remained unflinchingly faithful to His people through the ages. Certainly the cross & empty tomb come to mind, as the gospel starts with a death but then ends with the fullness of life, both temporally and eternally. And certainly the second advent of Jesus comes to mind, as Word became flesh first to die in our place but will return once more to establish heaven on earth and reign in the absence of sin & death forevermore. 

4. Special Sibling Connection: So in a similar vein, the unlikely link that Jan 22nd has now become for Abel & Mayfield undeniably feels like a ‘wink’ from the Lord that brings a smile to our faces. MJ will come to learn about her big brother as she gets older, Lord willing, but their earthly lives will obviously never coincide for her to physically know him here. We hope that sharing this day each year with Abel can be something she comes to cherish… a glimmer of connectedness between herself and her brother. Also, on a related note that may sound a little ‘out there’ — if the Lord had ordained more than those 15 days with Abel, then THIS baby sister in all likelihood would not exist. I mean, a Crawford kid could have still been born in 2017, and it could’ve been a girl, and we could’ve even given that girl this same name… but it wouldn’t be THIS Mayfield James with her unique combinations & expressions of our genes, features, personalities, etc. Maybe that’s a reach, but we simply can’t imagine our first daughter being any other little girl than the one we are holding right now. 

5. The Point, Our Purpose: Every child the Lord allows us to parent, biologically or adopted, will have been created with a common purpose. Just like us, and I daresay just like any person who reads this post, our ‘chief end’ is to GLORIFY God and ENJOY Him forever… or as John Piper accentuates, to glorify God BY enjoying Him forever. While Abel’s ‘forever’ has begun in a manner currently incomprehensible to us, the truth is that for every person who has confessed their need for a Savior and trusted completely in Christ, ‘enjoying Him forever’ HAS begun. And as we strive, imperfectly, and trip over ourselves each step of the way, our fervent prayer is that we would experience & enjoy the LIFE TO THE FULL found in Jesus HERE & NOW (John 10:10). And in doing so, we pray that every one of our present/future children would come to cherish the redeeming One who is ‘full of grace and truth’ (John 1:14) — TRUE to Himself because our sin has been justly paid for, and yet GRACIOUS to us because Jesus paid the price in our place, and now offers salvation as a FREE GIFT (Ephesians 2:8-9, Romans 6:23). It is finished… the only question is whether we will reach out to accept it?

We are grateful for the way you continue to be involved & invested in our family, and the indescribable blessing that your prayers and encouragement and support have been over the past year and a half.

So one month belated…





and today, 2/22/2017.