I am Vera Tomassen - de Waal (38), I am Dutch and living in a small village in The Netherlands. My husband and I are the proud parents of two daughters. I became a special needs mom after our youngest daughter Bommel (6) was born. No genetic disorder has been found. Even after several DNA tests and other tests, she remains undiagnosed. However, we have come a long way in getting to know what is going on with Bommel. And as I am fighting to find my way in the special needs jungle, I write blogs and columns about our adventures.

I am also a freelance (copy)writer and a public speaker. I give talks and presentations about my personal experience as a special needs mom. My Dutch blog, which I started in 2013, is entitled Mantelmama. In this blog I have addressed for instance what it’s like to have an undiagnosed child, how our eldest deals with having a special needs sibling, hospital visits gone wrong, the impact of sleep deprivation on our family, undergoing medical (DNA) tests and waiting for the results, what it’s like having a kid with special needs in general and I have celebrated all the small victories along the way. Honest, straight from the heart and, most importantly, with a sense of humor. Mantelmama is not only followed by families in similar situations, but also by doctors, hospitals, therapists and specialists.  

So why an English blog?
I believe that, even though we may be countries or continents apart, a lot of what we experience in our lives with our special needs children is universal. As special needs parents, we all share doubts, fears, hopes, joy, worries, disappointments and a whole array of intense emotions. Stressful hospitals and doctors' visits, unnerving emergency situations, and waiting for tests results are all an intrinsic part of our lives. We sometimes struggle to find a balance taking care of ourselves, our special needs children and our other family members, wanting to do right by each and every one. And, once in a while, we are thrilled to get to witness miracles, small victories and giant steps that may seem tiny to others, but mean the world to our families and give us strength. We learn to value the little things in life, we treasure our children and try to help them the best we can. And first and foremost: we are not alone!

Blogging about our Dutch special needs journey helps me process the things that happen on our path. But I also aspire to share experiences and knowledge and to raise awareness, one blog at a time. Please consider subscribing to follow our journey and feel free to share yours on our Facebook page.

About Bommel
Here is what we know so far: Bommel was born with laryngotracheomalacia, hypotension (neck & torso), hypertension (arms & legs) and periodic breathing. She is one of approximately 15 children in The Netherlands older than 1, who is not a prematurely born infant, and suffers from periodic breathing. Usually this problem resolves within the first six months of life. Unfortunately this didn’t happen with Bommel. The reason why remains unknown.
Furthermore, Bommel has vesico-ureteral reflux which has caused kidney damage, a sensory processing disorder which results in severe sleeping problems. And she has a physical delayed development: Bommel cannot stand or walk. Also, she is mentally handicapped. Bommel can’t talk and her behavior is that of a 8-month-old child. During the first 3 years of her life, Bommel was tube fed. Thanks to NoTube we weaned her off the tube feeds which was a huge improvement and she is now tube free. Read our NoTube story here.
But first and above all, Bommel is a very sweet, adorable girl, who loves to cuddle and enjoys being outside with us when we take her for a walk or a bike ride, and I love my simply different little girl with all my heart!

Want to know how it all started?
Read my very first blog: How I became a Special Needs Mom.

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