Though the infant isn’t flawless, its parents will always think the world of it.pink

Science shows that approximately 1 in 2,000 people are born with a rare genetic disorder, highlighting the incredible diversity and complexity of human biology. This fact emphasizes the importance of support from loved ones, as demonstrated by Courtney and Gavin Gardner, parents of a daughter born with a cleft lip, who share their inspiring journey on social media to help other families facing similar challenges.

Courtney and Gavin welcomed their daughter, Sutton, who was born with a cleft lip. During Courtney’s pregnancy, a 20-week ultrasound revealed the condition, causing initial shock and concern for Sutton’s health. Cleft lip and palate are rare conditions affecting 1 in 1,600 babies, occurring when a baby’s lips or mouth do not develop normally during pregnancy. This can result from various factors, including genetics and environmental influences.

Determined to capture every moment of their daughter’s life, the Gardners enlisted photographer Shannon Morton to document Sutton’s early days. A photo shared on social media quickly gained popularity, receiving over 10,000 likes within hours and eventually amassing 750,000 likes. The positive response encouraged the Gardners to create a Facebook page, “My Cleft Cutie,” to support other parents and share their experiences.

Courtney notes that comments about Sutton have been overwhelmingly kind and encouraging, with many people praising her beauty. This online support network has inspired other parents to share their stories and photos, fostering a sense of community and understanding.

Despite concerns about Sutton’s health, the Gardners are grateful for the hospital’s support during this challenging journey. Sutton’s cleft palate made bottle feeding difficult, leading to her spending the first 18 days of her life in the neonatal intensive care unit. She is expected to undergo the first of several surgeries soon, with another planned when she turns one. Intensive speech therapy will also be necessary.

Courtney emphasizes that while the initial period may seem daunting, cleft conditions are 100% treatable and manageable. Sutton is described as a social, lively, and happy child, especially when her older brother is around. The Gardners hope that one day, Sutton’s condition will be just a memory of the past, a testament to their resilience and the power of love and support.

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