Are you familiar with the phrase “seeing is believing?” Business coach, brand strategist and podcaster Amber Lilyestrom knew she wanted to live out her oldest dream of being a mother and expanding her family. Yet when her fertility treatments continued not to pan out, all evidence seemed to show that her dream would never become reality. That’s when she had to cultivate her relentless trust, optimism and blind faith to continue striving in order to achieve what she wanted most in life.
On this week’s episode of On Your Terms, host Erin King and Lilyestrom discuss how you can shed identity blockers and make peace with yourself to move forward—whatever your challenge may be.
Lilyestrom’s journey to becoming a mom of two
Lilyestrom and her husband conceived their first child, a daughter, through fertility treatments. As they were successful on their first try, Lilyestrom said she didn’t take on the identity of someone who had really struggled with their fertility. A few years later, they began trying for another child, hoping to conceive naturally—but not in a rush. They eventually sought out fertility treatments again, and were still unable to conceive that second baby. One day, Lilyestrom found an adoption consultancy on social media, and was drawn to it. She and her husband built out a profile, but took their time with the process as they felt very tender-hearted about their unsuccessful efforts over the past few years.
Lilyestrom again began to feel discouraged and developed a fear-based block over why or how a family would choose she and her husband to parent their child. After reading the book Spirit Babies: How to Communicate with the Child You’re Meant to Have, Lilyestrom shifted her perspective to remove doubt from the adoption process. Instead, she chose to believe that everything was about divine timing and that she would get her much longed-for second child.
She began asking for signs to help her on her journey. When she spoke to her doctor, who mentioned the possibility of additional fertility treatments, her body responded in such a way that she felt immense clarity that that path was no longer the right decision for her. Lilyestrom and her family went to Florida in March of this year, where she felt herself receiving a few signs, but was still a little skeptical that her dream would actually become reality. But within a day of returning home, they received an email from the adoption agency that a baby had been born that day and needed a new family immediately. The birth parents had already named the baby Alexander—the name, Lilyestrom said, she would have chosen for her first child had she been a boy. Lilyestrom wrote a letter to the family that night, and 24 hours later learned that the birth parents had chosen them to raise Alexander. Now Lilyestrom has a family of four.
Shedding your identity
A month before her son came into her life, Lilyestrom started skiing again for the first time in 10 years. She imagined that she was the version of herself that used to ski before her daughter was born, who didn’t have infertility, who just knew she was meant to be a mother. She began asking herself questions—what would it be like to live in your body without this story that governs how you function and feel about yourself? What if your life was meant to be this way? What if Lilyestrom was meant to adopt a baby?
Dreams are like prayers
Lilyestrom knew that her dream of motherhood wasn’t over, even amid the fertility treatment cycle, but so much of the world was giving her negative signs that contradicted her belief. Lilyestrom returned to the magic of the dream, and let go of the expectation that achieving it would require her to follow a certain path. She now feels she learned so much from the overall experience and became the person she was meant to be after navigating infertility, her adoption journey and her first pregnancy with her daughter. She had to go through that period of darkness and grief to feel the depth of how important it was to her to not give up on her dreams.
Make peace with yourself
Inner work can be quite challenging, but being honest with yourself can help you find new opportunities for deeper healing, soothe your central nervous system and change your thought patterns. You must make a truce with yourself to no longer punish yourself or give yourself the starring role as the villain in your own story. You might feel discomfort at first, but getting super honest about what’s going on and what the roots of any issues are can help provide you with pathways to greater liberation and freedom. Give yourself permission to feel your feelings, then get back up and try again.
Jill McDonnell is a Chicago-based content writer and communications professional. She has a bachelor's degree in magazine journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia and a master's degree in public relations and advertising from DePaul University. She is currently at work on a psychological thriller novel.