When you think of breastfeeding, it's usually a mom with a baby on her breast, but that's not always the case. Zadie couldn't even drink from a bottle very well, so direct nursing was out of the picture. Not only did her cleft palate make forming a seal in order to suck a bottle impossible, her small chin and tongue falling on her airway made everything even more difficult.
I did try to nurse her once, but she and I were too stressed out and I decided that it wasn't that important. What was important to me was that she got what she needed, however she got it. We attempted feeding her orally every day, just about every feeding, using a Haberman, or Special Needs Feeder. It has a special nipple which allowed us to squeeze the milk into her mouth while she tried to suck. We only tried for 30 minutes at a time, because after that, we were told that she would be expending too much energy. She was primarily tube fed for her first year. Once her palate was repaired when she was 11 months old, she really got much better at drinking.
I exclusively pumped for her for 18 months, and the majority of her nutrition for those 18 months was breast milk. She was eating very little in the way of solids, but I was continually reassured (by doctors and nutritionists) that my milk was all she needed at that age. We did transition to formula, with plans to further transition to a blenderized diet, but luckily for everyone, her solid food intake increased.
Flash forward to today, and I'm successfully nursing Zadie's 8 month old little sister, Beatrix!