(Camden as Deadpool’s sidekick, Deaddrop. This is a character he made up after seeing Deadpool on a kids Spider-man cartoon. No adult showed him the movie Deadpool with Ryan Reynolds).

​Today is this guy’s birthday. Camden Lee Neidig Crawford was born on June 6, 2010, weighing in at 6lbs, 13oz. and being 18.5in in length. Our other two boys were both well over 8lbs and 20.5in. Cam is our little guy, the runt of the litter, if you will. In fact, his 4 year old brother is often mistaken for his twin, although, to be fair to Cam, Ryder is off the charts in his size and Cam is average. However, Cam is anything but average.

The story of Cam’s birth is, like my own, predicated upon someone else not being here. A year before Cam was born, my wife Trisha and I were ecstatic to learn that she was pregnant. We figured that this pregnancy would be like the first, where Trish was sick as a dog but there were no complications until the actual giving of birth, where my oldest would not come out and she had to have a C-section. However, within a week she started having pain and, well, it’s a blur to me, but she lost the pregnancy. We would later reveal that she had a hormone deficiency that was the likely cause (and would require future pregnancies to be more watched over and more work). 

About four months later, we were pregnant again. This time we were doing what we were supposed to. And, of course, I had to make a trip for a conference to Baylor, where I was presenting a paper on some esoteric topic. The day I was to give my paper, my wife called in pain and scared. So, I delivered my paper and turned around to drive the 18 hours back to Plymouth. It was a false alarm, but it echoed how scared we were and how much we leaned on each other during this time. 

These were during my “good times.” I was writing my dissertation, writing articles, had boundless energy, took care of my oldest, taught multiple courses, and pretty involved in our church band. It was also when I found out I had my first herniated disc in my back (L5-S1). My mental state bounced up and down. After I was really down, I went to my physician for the first of a series of attempts to get my depression under control by giving me meds that don’t actually work on me. Trying to manage the above commitments while get ready for a baby may have also been a problem, but boundless energy means boundless projects.

We got to Cam’s birth and he was so different than our first: Brody was big and strong and cried loudly and had my squinty eyes and a full head of black hair that never fell out. Cam was small, didn’t really cry, I actually cut his umbilical cord (never again), blonde, had huge light eyes. It was such a contrast. And for the first weeks he was born, he would stay with me as I held him at night, letting mom sleep. We stayed up late often, watching Netflix movies and shows. He is still my night owl.

As my mental illness has gotten worse, more out of control, Cam has been a constant blessing to me. A word I often used in my research was called “attunement.” Cam is attuned to those around him when he wants to be (or when he is not on a piece of technology). He is the one that rubbed my back while I lay on the floor crying, know I had to go to the hospital. He often comes into my office and simply does or says something funny, like the above picture of Deaddrop. He shares my enjoyment of the Grateful Dead and the Beatles, as well as enjoying some George Clinton and P-funk (Cosmic Slop has become a favorite while we drive around).

Overall, Cam is the child the most like me and the least like me. And it scares me. God forbid he grow up to have bipolar disorder or an anxiety disorder, although he already displays some very introverted tendencies (the questions, “why does everyone in all these churches have to touch me?” has come up more than once). But he is also happy and joyful and finds the greatness in life (as I write this, he is quite excited we have Frosted Flakes for his birthday breakfast). 

Anyway, I was just thinking of Cam last night and how he is often a light in my life and how that light shines and wanted to write about it a little. I will do the same with my other children, although their stories are so different because of the circumstances surrounding their life.