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When tragedy strikes, it’s normal to want to turn inwards and shut out the rest of the world. But while focusing on the challenge ahead is important, it is also important to remember to stay open to receiving medical and emotional support to care packages… and even unexpected friendships.

When Mattea was in the NICU, and I was in the thick of adapting to this life-changing event, Joann Martyn came into my life. Her baby boy, Theo, was also in the NICU, but it was her life that had truly been at risk when a severe and rare form of preeclampsia (a hypertension disorder) threatened to take it.

Joann is a lifelong friend of mine and a true source of inspiration. I couldn’t be happier to share her best advice on, as she puts it, “finding the magic in the mundane.” She is not only surviving the challenges life throws at us but also growing through them and thriving. Having survived a series of five brain stem strokes which have a 97% mortality rate, she is living proof of this.

Since we met, she’s worked her way up to being the Director of Online Learning at DePaul University, where she helps her students navigate the world in really beautiful ways. And her “baby” boy, once considered a micro-preemie, is now a 5 ’11 happy and healthy 13-year-old teenager.

Life has thrown every imaginable challenge at her, but it’s how she has mastered being present in her day-to-day life, accepting life as it happens, serving others, and letting others serve you in times of need that makes her a true force to be reckoned with.

You’ll hear Joann’s best advice on navigating life at the hospital/NICU (for yourself or your children), finding hope and happiness through challenging times and giving yourself permission to do what you enjoy doing most.

There’s a good chance this episode will give you the best kind of goosebumps, and I hope it lifts you up and inspires you whenever you need a boost.

Key Takeaways with Joann Martyn

  • How the hardest days of your life can leave you with important lifelong lessons, and even friendships.
  • Tips for navigating life in the NICU, especially while holding a full-time job or parenting other children.
  • Letting go of birth plans and expectations through pregnancy complications.
  • The importance of opening yourself up to receiving help when needed, and how it can teach you to serve others even better.
  • How to accept each day as it comes, and be grateful and present when possible.
  • Advice on giving yourself permission to do what you enjoy most, from someone who has had several near-death experiences.
  • Romanticizing your life to make the best out of your ordinary daily routines.

Joann Martyn Tweetables

  • “I like having things planned and structured. But when it comes to the NICU, there is no manual for how to get through a biography-changing experience. Having no plan forced me to be a little more easygoing as a first-time mom.” – Joann Martyn
  • “Tomorrow is tomorrow, yesterday already happened. We have today, and we’re going to go with what we have today.” – Joann Martyn
  • “After my near-death experience, I ate dessert first, for months. I gave myself permission to do what I enjoyed, to find the joy in this complete craziness going on around me.” – Joann Martyn
  • “Find the magic in the mundane, every day. Make it magical.” – Joann Martyn
  • “In order to serve others, sometimes you need to receive. Let grace happen, and that will get you through whatever you’re going through.” – Joann Martyn


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