Meet Ethan Gardner

Meet Ethan Gardner

Well, in case you missed the announcement, we had a son! Ethan Scott Gardner came into the world on Friday, August 22, 2008 at 2:26pm weighing in at a whopping 9 pounds, three ounces! And now he’s almost two weeks old… how time flies.

Many thanks to all of our friends for your prayers, thoughts, visits, well-wishes and gifts for our little boy. The outpouring of love has been hard to even keep up with (especially with a newborn on our hands!) I’ve gotten more hits on his website in the last two weeks than got in the last three months! We’ll be sending out thank you notes in short order.

Today we visited Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia for Ethan’s initial evaluation with the cleft palate team there and we were able to get a better picture of how the surgeries will play out. Most everything they told us today was what we were expecting; it was just good to set specific dates.

The doctor will perform the first surgery—a lip adhesion—in November just before Thanksgiving. This will essentially recreate Ethan’s right nostril which will in turn help shape the cartilage of the nose and begin to guide the cleft palate together. This is a short surgery that should only take an hour or so and keep him in overnight.


The second surgery will take place in February and will actually close the cleft lip. This surgery will probably have the most dramatic effect on his appearance as the cleft palate is far less noticeable, and it will also continue to help guide the two halves of the palate together. (Much like braces do for teeth.) It will take a bit longer than the previous surgery—2 or 3 hours—and will also keep him in the hospital overnight. Full recovery takes about a week or so, though he will be able to begin eating again the next day.

The third of these three essential surgeries will happen next July and will actually close up the palate. The top gum will not be closed, but by this point his eating should not be impacted. This is also a longer surgery, but it should only keep him in the hospital over night and recovery time should be brief.

After those three major surgeries, nothing else is planned until Ethan begins losing his baby teeth (around six or seven years old), at which point they will correct the gum by adding a bone graft into which permanent adult teeth can grow.

Thanks again to everyone for your support. I wish I could adequately express to each of you how much it truly means to Jessica and me.

In the meantime, I’d like to share with you some photos that my friend Matt Beckwith shared with me of his beautiful daughter Emily. Emily had very much the same type of cleft lip and palate as Ethan does. Matt put these pictures together as a journey through the life of a child with a cleft palate, and I’ve found it (as did my wife and family) helpful beyond words to be able to watch Emily’s progression from infancy through each surgery and up into her teenage years. Thanks so much, Matt!