According to scientific research, around 1 in 2,000 people are born with a rare genetic disorder. This statistic underscores the incredible complexity and diversity of human biology.
This story serves as a powerful reminder of the importance of support from our loved ones. Courtny and Gavin, parents of a special daughter, generously share their inspiring journey through social media to help other families navigating similar experiences. Their goal is to provide guidance and encouragement, particularly to families with babies born with a cleft lip.
Courtney and Gavin Gardner joyfully welcome their daughter, Sutton, into their lives, but soon learn that she was born with a cleft lip. Concerned for their second child’s well-being, Courtney spends the entire night after Sutton’s birth filled with worry and prayer, hoping that everything will be alright. During Courtney’s 20th week of pregnancy, an ultrasound reveals that the baby has a cleft lip, a condition sometimes referred to as a “rabbit lip.” This revelation comes as a shock to Gavin.
“The ultrasound focused on her face, and that’s when the specialist said, ‘Oh, she really has a cleft lip.’ It’s something that can occur,” shares Courtney.
Cleft lip and palate are rare conditions affecting approximately 1 in 1,600 babies, characterized by abnormal development of the baby’s lips or mouth during pregnancy. These conditions can be caused by various factors, including the mother’s intake of certain foods or drugs, but they can also have a genetic predisposition.
After the Gardners welcomed their first son, they regretted not doing a special baby photo shoot with him. When Courtney became pregnant again, she knew she wanted to capture every moment of her newborn daughter. Photographer Shannon Morton takes the photos, which the parents later share on social networks. One of them quickly gained popularity and collected over 10,000 likes within hours. Over the next few days, the number of likes increased to an impressive 750,000.
Courtney expresses that all the comments about her daughter have been kind and encouraging, with most people complimenting her beauty. The post has inspired many individuals to share their own stories and photos. Motivated by this, the Gardners have decided to create their own Facebook page called “My Cleft Cutie” to support other parents facing a similar diagnosis with their children. One mother commented on the Facebook post, “My little princess was born with a bilateral cleft. Fortunately, her palate was intact. Daddy and I assure her every day that she is the most beautiful girl in the world, and her personality is amazing.”
The parents are concerned about their daughter’s health but also extremely grateful to the hospital, which has been providing them with invaluable support throughout this incredible journey. Sutton’s cleft palate has posed a significant challenge to bottle feeding, and she spent the first 18 days of her life in the neonatal intensive care unit. The little girl is expected to undergo the first in a series of surgeries in just a few days, with the next one scheduled when she turns one. Specialists strongly emphasize the need for intensive work with a speech therapist.
“Although things may seem scary and challenging during this initial period for little Sutton, it’s important to know that this condition is completely treatable and manageable,” assures Courtney. Sutton’s parents describe her as highly sociable, lively, always smiling, and genuinely happy, especially when her older brother is by her side. They hold onto the hope that one day this story will become a distant memory of the past.