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Miracle amidst imperfections: The story of a father’s love and acceptance when giving birth to a child with birth defects, touched millions of people.

“I knew from the beginning that I didn’t want to have a similar experience with this pregnancy when we found out we were expecting Sutton.” After the photo shoot, Morton posted a beautiful image of Sutton dozing on her company’s Facebook page, dressed in a flanking sash and a matching floral hat. Portraits of nine-week-old Sutton Gardiner went “iral” after photographer Shannon Morton shared the touching photographs on her company’s Facebook page last month. The Gardiners, who also have a three-year-old son named Asher, were told their daughter had a right unilateral cleft palate and cleft palate at her 20-week ultrasound. “So many smiling Babies in the studio recently! This is sweet Sutton, the cutest redhead! Morton wrote in the image’s caption.

The next day, she shared another sweet portrait of BeBé Sutton wearing a flower crown on her head while she slept with her chin in her hands. At first, Courtney was worried about how people would react to her daughter’s photos, knowing how cruel strangers can be online, but they received nothing but love and support from commenters. “Everyone was so kind and thoughtful, sweet messages just saying how beautiful she was,” the mother shared. “Some people started posting about how they had family or friends who had children with cleft lip and palate.”


Since Morton’s first post was shared on January 26, it has received more than 728,000 likes and nearly 7,000 comments. The Gardiners, who also have a three-year-old son named Asher, admitted they didn’t expect their daughter’s portrait to “smell” viral, but were “absolutely thrilled” by the positive reaction. Courtney and Gavin didn’t know what to expect when Sutton was diagnosed with right unilateral cleft palate and cleft palate at her 20-week ultrasound. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cleft lip and palate are tears or fissures in the upper lip and roof of the oca that occur during pregnancy.

She was so shocked that she burst into tears as questions and worries ran through her mind. The doctor couldn’t give them many answers and their fears about their daughter’s condition only increased.

“We didn’t feel like it was handled appropriately,” Gavin, 30, said of his daughter’s initial diagnosis. “It was like, ‘Okay, this is what it is.’” The Gardiners were referred to specialists at Texas Children’s Pavilion for Women in Houston, which is about an hour and a half from their home. “They were able to let us know how treatable it really is and how these kids can have wonderful lives and get through this because of their support,” Courtney said. Courtney started seeing an ostetrician in the hospital around 36 weeks of pregnancy and joined the support group for mothers of children with cleft palate and cleft palate on Faceook, where she was able to interact with other parents who understood what she was going through. .

“Being able to ask those mothers those questions and follow their children’s journey was something that gave me a lot of comfort and encouragement,” she recalled. After Sutton was born, she had to stay in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) for 18 days because her cleft palate made feeding BiBeron difficult. Gavin said the comments they received on FaceBook after their daughter’s photos were sniffed out were a “huge encouragement” to them after their NICU stay. Sutton is scheduled to have her first surgery to repair her lip in March and will undergo a second surgery to close her palate as she approaches her first birthday.

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