This is something I decided to write early this summer, but wanted to wait until the three year anniversary to post. Today November 15th marks three years that something downright unbelievable happened, this is the story.
Where do I start? I’ve struggled with writing this for the longest time. But here it goes. Brace yourself this may take a while.
My wife and I have been married for over eight years now, during those years we have had struggles like any other marriage. But what really tested our faith was our struggle to have a baby. Seven years of trying came and went before we were blessed with our perfect little girl Zoe. During those years of trying we encountered a very pivotal moment where I truly believe God spoke to me. But before I get ahead of myself I’d like to give a little background.
Both my wife and I have grown up in church, we met at church, dated while in the youth group at our church, got married and now serve in various ministry’s at our church. We followed the natural progression of things. We were ready to grow our family, then it seemed like we hit a wall.
We were happy being husband and wife, but more than anything we desired to be mom and dad.
It wasn’t just the waiting that was challenging, we had a few moments where it looked like it was finally going to happen and then as quickly as our hope grew, it was gone. We would go back to praying and trying to believe. Trying to stay patient, trying to trust God. Still praying nightly before bed for God to Bless us with a little girl, a little girl named Zoe.
Our biggest setback came December of 2011, it was very early on in our process of trying to conceive that we had a miscarriage. It was only a few days before Christmas. My wife, Heather was feeling funny and went to the doctor. They said she was pregnant but it was very early in the pregnancy, they would need to do another test to make sure things are progressing. The results from the test came back a day or so later, revealing that we had lost our baby. Though it only lasted a very short time. We only knew we were pregnant for just over a day, the news hit very hard. As we laid down for bed that night and came together to pray, the words were more than difficult to get out. If I’m being honest it was one of the moments that I felt like my prayers were falling on deaf ears.
One of the difficulties we had to overcome was my wife being diagnosed with PCOS. Polycystic ovary syndrome, The main symptom that caused issues with fertility is that with PCOS the ovaries may develop numerous small collections of fluid (follicles) and fail to regularly release eggs. with PCOS right off the bat the doctors said it would be difficult but not impossible to conceive. Especially since we had already conceived and miscarried. The doctors continually told us you are young, be patient, it will happen. We tried a few different things to help battle the PCOS, but it felt like with everything we tried nothing seemed to help us conceive.
We finally decided to meet with a fertility doctor in 2014 and we made arrangements to start an IUI treatment. With an IUI they give you three chances to conceive, and after those three chances they recommend moving on to IVF. So we went did the first two IUI treatments to no avail, and then our last treatment. We got family and friends together, we prayed, we did the procedure, and still no baby.
After we got the news that our last try with the IUI procedure didn’t produce a pregnancy I was mad at God. All I could ask was Why?
Why can’t we have a baby? Why are people who don’t want kids having baby’s? Why are people getting pregnant and having abortions? We were ready, mentally, physically, financially. Every-time someone we knew announced they were pregnant I would become upset, I was happy for my friends and family but I was mad at God. I was excited for those close to me starting the next chapter of life but I couldn’t figure out why not us? Why isn’t it our time?
The IUI procedure took such an emotional toll on us both. We decide we would try for a while without the help of fertility doctors.
Mother’s Day and Father’s Day would pass year after year, Reminding us that it’s been yet another year and we still aren’t parents. To this day I don’t know how my wife brought herself to go to baby shower after baby shower.
Years past and we tried our best to be faithful. we stayed committed to our work at church, we continually tried to encourage each other to be patient, we still prayed every night for God to bless us with a little girl named Zoe.
Now this is the point where things get weird, it was Friday November 13th 2015. Just an ordinary Friday in my book, I went to work, ran some errands, came home. We had plans that night to meet up with some friends for diner, but after diner I had to teach my friend Kayla how to drive stick. So we dropped my truck off at my parents house and picked up one of our work trucks with a manual transmission. Drove up to meet with our friends for the night and ended up watching tv for a bit before we left for diner.
As we watched we saw what was happening in Paris at that time, there was terrorist attack with active shooters and suicide bombers that claimed the lives of 130 people and wounded an additional 413. I am no stranger to these types of tragedies, I’ve studied active shooter scenarios, and train for them on a regular basis, but for some reason this one shook me to my core.
We went to diner, news of the attack was playing on the TV while we ate, my mind was flooded with thoughts and prayers for those affected and I began to pray for the safety of my family. After spending some time teaching Kayla to drive stick it was time to go home.
We drive to my parents house to pick up my truck, and as I’m standing outside my parents house something tells me to look up at the stars, the sky was clear and the stars were bright as can be. I stood there for a moment getting lost in the vastness of the stars in the sky and I just felt like God was trying to show me something. We came home and I got ready for bed, and for the first time in a long time I blew off my daily devotional that I was currently doing. I Decided I just didn’t want to read it.
The next day, Saturday, I was almost overwhelmed with anxiety. I couldn’t stop thinking about how helpless those people affected by the attack in Paris were. All throughout the day I couldn’t shake this feeling of fear and anxiety. I was hurt for those in Paris but for some reason I felt afraid for the safety of my family.
I spent the night alone, my wife decided to sleep over at a friends house with some of the other girls from our church. I sat home alone on a Saturday night watching breaking bad, when all of a sudden I felt the urge to stop what I was doing and walk outside. It was 10:30 at night, I put on my shoes and took a walk around my neighborhood. All the while staring up at the stars and talking to God about what had happened in Paris and asking for his protection for my family and I. At this point I truly knew God was showing me the stars for a purpose I just didn’t know why. Around 11pm I decided it was time to go in, again for the second night in a row I put off my devotional reading for the day and went to bed.
Little did I know how life changing that short devotion would be.
Sunday morning came, I did what I do every Sunday, I got to church at 7am to do security. Cleared the building, made my rounds and acted like everything was fine. As I went about my day on Sunday, the attack in Paris still resonated in my mind. The entire day I felt like I was on the edge of having a panic attack. I did my best to keep myself together. I handled my duties at church, went to lunch, and spend the evening with friends all the while fighting this fear that was inside me. I can remember the drive home that night so vividly. My wife and I drove separately to church. Having to bring both cars home, I was alone in my car. No music, just driving silently, thinking and praying for my family.
I parked my car and stood looking at the night sky for what seemed like forever. My wife pulled in, parked, got out of the car and saw me standing there looking at the stars. She asked me what’s wrong? And for the first time I said it out loud to someone else.
“I don’t know, I just feel like God is trying to show me something with the stars.”
I shook it off and walked inside. I began to get ready for bed, starting to feel frustrated with God and frustrated with myself. I was angry at God for the five year journey of trying to have a baby. I began to speak to God saying I know you have promised my wife and I a child, but give me a sign, give me something concrete to know that you will bless us with a baby, and protect me and my family. As I readied myself for bed, I remembered the devotion I’ve put off for the past two days.
I went into the other room, sat down and started the devotion and it said… Gods promise to protect and bless Abraham.
Immediately I knew that this was a word from God, this was the sign I had been asking for. The devotion took me to Genesis 15
(1 Some time later, the Lord spoke to Abram in a vision and said to him, “Do not be afraid, Abram, for I will protect you, and your reward will be great.” 2 But Abram replied, “O Sovereign Lord, what good are all your blessings when I don’t even have a son? Since you’ve given me no children, Eliezer of Damascus, a servant in my household, will inherit all my wealth. 3 You have given me no descendants of my own, so one of my servants will be my heir.” 4 Then the Lord said to him, “No, your servant will not be your heir, for you will have a son of your own who will be your heir.”)
Then my eyes fell on verse 5, as soon as I started reading this verse I began to sob. To this day, I cry every time I read this scripture.
(5 Then the Lord took Abram outside and said to him, “Look up into the sky and count the stars if you can. That’s how many descendants you will have!”)
I sat there crying for a few minutes before heading back into my bedroom and sharing all of this with Heather. When I say that moment sitting alone reading that scripture forever changed my life, I mean it. My mind still has a hard time wrapping itself around the fact that God used the covenant he made with Abraham to illustrate the promise he had made to me and my wife.
Perhaps the most humbling thing about this entire situation is when I told this story to one of my close friends, he said “it’s crazy to think that when God was making his covenant with Abraham he was thinking about you Nick.”
Now most stories would end with, “and then a week later we found out we were pregnant and we lived happily ever after, the end.” However, It was a full 18 months after God gave me this word that we got pregnant. We ended up going through the IVF process. During those 18 months between receiving our promise and conceiving, there were moments when I still felt that we would never be blessed with a baby. However every time I felt the doubt begin to creep in I would think back to the stars and be filled with an overwhelming hope.
On September 5th 2017 we received a phone call from the IVF doctors. I sat there in the living room, my wife on the phone with the doctors… it seemed like my heart stopped while I waited for a reaction from her. As she started to cry I thought it meant we had to go back to the drawing board. But the tears weren’t tears of pain, sorrow, frustration, or anger. They were tears of joy because after all the years of trying, the miscarriage, the failed attempts, God finally did it!
Almost 8 months later on April 29th at 1:58am
Gods promise arrived. Zoe Nicole Stanko 6 pounds 7 ounces. Our perfect little girl was welcomed here after years of prayer.
I felt the need to share this because it was truly life changing for my wife and I, and I know that there is someone out there reading this that has been waiting on something from God. Someone who is frustrated with God and feeling like their prayers are falling on deaf ears. I wanted to share this as proof that when you feel like no one is listening and you will never receive what you have prayed for, don’t be discouraged, don’t give up hope. God’s timing is perfect, I never understood how true that is until now.
One last note.
As I prepared to write this, I spend some time in prayer. One last time I asked God why? Why did you choose Heather and I to go through what we went through to have Zoe. I felt something inside me say “because you could handle it.” If you are struggling with something, if you are waiting for something, if you are facing challenges it’s only because you can handle it.