After 8 long days in hospital we were finally discharged. After another two days in Rockhampton making sure I could feed and look after Montana’s NGT we were given to Okay to head home.

The first weeks of being home were a blur. They consisted of feeding Montana, expressing to feed Montana and sleeping. I’m so thankful I had mum to help me through those first few weeks, without her I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t of managed.

At three weeks old Montana went on her first Airplane ride to Brisbane. We met with the cleft team and I learnt more about Montana’s cleft and what she was going to undergo in the years to come. She will have at least three surgeries in the next few years and possibly a few more.

Walking into the room at the cleft clinic was daunting and over whelming. There must have been about 20 people sitting in the room. Plastic surgeons, Orthodontists, Speech Therapist and Ear, Nose and Throat specialists all taking notes and telling me about treatment in the months to come. At that appointment they also started taping Montana’s lip.

Taping consisted of a piece of steri strip cut in half with a band in the middle. It was placed from one side of her top lip to the other pulling the lip together. This stopped her gap in her lip getting bigger as she grew as well as stretched her lip to prepare it for surgery. When her lip is stitched it will be stretched so it wont pull on the stitches helping it heal easier. I was shown how to make the steri strips and reapply to her lip almost daily. She will have her lip taped until her lip surgery when she is around 3 months old.

While we were in Brisbane Montana also had her first Audiology testing. This is a two hour test that tests her hearing in depth. It tests her middle ear for blockages and also goes beyond her middle ear and tests her permanent hearing loss. It was confirmed at the appointment that Montana has blockages in both ears causing moderate to server hearing loss. At her lip operation the fluid causing the blockages will be drained and grommets will be put in her ears. Her permanent hearing looked good but will be tested again at her next audiology appointment.

After the first cleft clinic I learnt so much more about Montana’s cleft. It was a whole new world learning about Montana’s condition and how it was going to effect her in the years to come.

Every day with Montana I learn something new about being a mother and caring for a baby with a cleft.

By Casey Hancock

A Whole New World