Friday, July 9, 2021

A letter to NajaDiamond, 10 years ago

(Photos from my very FIRST photoshoot for the blog.....awe memories)

It’s been almost 10 years since I hit publish on my first blog post. This milestone is truly blowing my mind. It's making me both proud and disappointed at the same damn time. 10 years I’ve been taking up space on this corner of the internet, 10 years I’ve been sharing my life and style journey. Albeit not the most consistent, it still remains a true passion of mine. Blogging sparked a love for sharing and inspiring others in me that truly brings me joy. When I’m able to be of service to someone else or contribute to their glow up or even wardrobe additions I'm happy.  

On the other hand, I’m pretty disappointed in myself as well. In full transparency, I’m disappointed I have not accomplished the many many goals I’ve had when I started the blog. In short, I’m no where near where I would have seen myself 10 years ago. This is mostly because I know what I’m capable of. I know what I can do and I know I have not given it what it deserved. If I truly tried but didn’t succeed it would be a far less blow than knowing I’ve wasted my OWN time. Imagine being at a job for 10 years and never receiving a raise or promotion. Instead you are in the same exact place you were on the day you started. Not because you weren't good enough but because you didn't put in the work you know it requires. Anything else I’ve ever wanted in life I’ve gone after it and ultimately accomplished it. Hello Zion! Why has this been different? 10 years of reflections and I'm pretty certain I have the answer. I attribute my lack of progress to several things, ALL of which I take full ownership of and recognize I need to change. 

If I could speak to the Naja that started this blog 10 years ago I would tell her the following:


—Don’t stop, just keep going

—When you don’t feel like you’re good enough….keep going

—When you don’t feel like you’re pretty enough….keep going

—When you’ve gained a little weight…..keep going

—When you get your first mean/nasty comment…..keep going

—When those close to you try to belittle your passion…..keep going

—When this industry exposes “friends” as “faux”……keep going

—When you don’t know how to do something, I.e. negotiate or write contracts…..keep going

—When you don’t know your worth…..keep going

—When you DO know your worth, and they won’t pay it…..keep going

—When coworkers from Corporate America find out you post pictures of yourself on the internet πŸ˜–…..keep going

—When you experience success…..keep going

—When you feel fear of success…..keep going

—When those close to you try to take advantage of your platform…….keep going

—When you say NO and someone doesn’t like it……keep going

—When you feel imposter syndrome creeping up……keep going

—When someone tries to shame you for living YOUR life in peace…….keep going

Lastly, this will be HARD WORK, it's fun and you love it but it will be more work than you ever thought it would.

At times this journey may seem surreal but know that you deserve this. You deserve nice things and to go to nice places. Celebrate your accomplishments and don't be afraid to promote YOSELF!! YOU are your biggest cheerleader. Those you think will cheer for you, won't and those that will might surprise you. You will inspire those that pretend to not see you. They might even talk about you or throw shade but trust me they will be the same ones asking how you did it or to show them how later. Be gracious but charge they ass! Your knowledge is valuable. Also, stop doing things for FREE. Even if it's friends and family. You will learn they will take advantage of your gifts the most. Love them but set healthy boundaries.  

This journey won’t be perfect at all. But living in your purpose and pursuing your passion will make it worth it. ALWAYS. Here’s to 10 years of living (parts of) life on the internet and continuing to do it for as long as I’m still passionate for it and to my fullest potential. 

If you’re an OG blog follower I thank you for still rocking with me, you a real one! I'm curious what would you tell your yourself if you could go back in time? 


Sunday, April 25, 2021

Zion Benjamin | 3 Month Update

3 Months with you. 

It’s been 3 months and one week since you arrived and changed my life for the better forever. 3 months of being a mom and figuring out exactly what that means to you. It’s been the best 3 months of my life thus far. I can’t remember a time better. You are now smiling and cooing at me, playing and attempting to watch TV. My new hobbies include holding your hand while you sleep and sniffing your sweet little baby toes πŸ₯° As I gear up to go back to work on Monday I wanted to sit here and compile my thoughts of the last 3 months. These moments go by far too fast and I’m afraid I’ll forget the details. Mom’s, tell me I'm not the only one that memory has gone to mush since having her baby. 

You are currently 10lbs, 13oz and fitting into 0-3 months clothing. Starting off at 4lbs 9 oz you are catching up nicely. You currently are bottle fed a mix of breast milk and formula. Mommy is working real hard pumping enough milk for you between that and the formula your doctor wants you on so you are growing like a weed. I would have laughed before if someone told me I would feel this much PRIDE from pumping 4 ounces of milk.  Pumping is a WHOLE full time job and easily the hardest yet most rewarding part of this journey but I love it nonetheless. I was super sad when breastfeeding didn’t work out for us but after spending 12 days in the NICU you were just too used to the bottle and didn’t want to work as hard for the boob juice, I get it. You’re a smart baby and know those calories will be better saved and stored. You still get all your snuggles and let mommy get all the kisses she wants, thank you for that, I know one day you want like them as much. 

Your favorite toy is certainly your Wubbanub and your hands lately. You have suckers in every color yet you prefer the wubbanub hands down. It makes me smile to know that. Everyday I learn more and more about you and consider it a privilege to grow with you. You have started to drool and I swear it’s the cutest thing ever. I stare at you constantly still in awe that you are all mine. The way you stare back at me makes me feel you are thinking the same about me. πŸ₯°πŸ₯° but who knows all I know is it melts my heart.

The statement “I can’t imagine my life before kids” never quite resonated with me before. Sure everything changes when you have a child but that becomes so clear when you hold your little human in your arms. I love him so much it hurts and can’t imagine life any other way. 

Here are pictures from his Newborn shoot that I just can’t get over. 😩😩 We took these after my little guy was released from the NICU and cleared by his doctor. This shoot was originally supposed to be my maternity shoot by the super talented Nafa of Judah Avenue but Zion couldn’t wait to join the party so we made it a Newborn shoot instead. My experience with them was great and certainly recommend them if your in the DC, Maryland, Virginia area. 


Wednesday, February 24, 2021

My Birth Story - Zion Benjamin

My son, Zion Benjamin, is finally here! Arriving to the party (literally, lol) early at 34 wks 6 days via emergency c-section. This is my birth story. 

It’s been almost 6 weeks since I gave birth to my son, and I’m finally ready to share my birth story. I want to share this details while it’s still pretty fresh in my head but also as a caution to other women that might be in my similar situation. I told myself I would document my journey more but did a horrible job throughout my pregnancy. Keeping these details to look back on is important to me so I promise to do better. 


I will start by saying that pregnancy is a beautiful and amazing experience. One that I was very very grateful and blessed to have experienced as a woman. However, it also harbored and created some of my biggest fears and anxiety. For me the fear of miscarriage was REAL! I prayed about it every single day and never mentioned it for fear that speaking it out my mouth would make it actually happen. Childbirth is the closest a woman comes to death and can very easily turn tragic if not cared for properly, not to mention the risk that black women face during pregnancy/childbirth. Obviously, the majority of pregnancies end in healthy and strong babies and mommies; but the ones that don’t kept me slightly paralyzed. Mix that with the fact that I’m high risk due to age, weight and race and throw in a sprinkle of pandemic and you have the mess that was me for 9 months. 

For the majority of my pregnancy everything was perfectly fine, the baby and I was healthy in every way. I was slightly over weight but we knew that going into my pregnancy and no other underlying health issues besides my fibroids that were being closely monitored. At about 32 weeks, I was told the baby hadn’t turned yet and was still in the breech position but had time to turn on his own. Because I’m impatient and honestly uncomfortable AF at this point, I decide to go see a chiropractor to help turn the baby and relieve my lower back pain. I see him a total of 3 visits and we try different non-invasive methods to turn my baby, no luck, still breeched. I thank God to this day we didn't try ECV (external cephalic version) to turn him for reasons I explain at the end.

Laying on my ironing board trying to turn my breeched, this was my daily "homework" 😩

At 33 weeks, I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes and started seeing a specialist and dietician.  This was a long back and forth struggle and I personally do not feel that was an accurate diagnosis but I digress. Just adding that fact for insight on why the decision was made later. 

Fast forward to two days before I gave birth at 34 weeks. I had my routine weekly Dr. Appt with my OB on Thursday where she notices my blood pressure is elevated for the first time. She runs tests then tells me to go home and do a 24 hour urine collection so they can check for proteins in my urine. The next day, Friday, I get an email that all my blood work has come back normal and good to go, “Have a great weekend and bring in your urine on Monday”, she signs. Ok, great. I was happy about these results because my baby shower was scheduled for the next day and that was the last thing I wanted to be concerned with. 

On my way to that appointment tired and swollen


My son crashed my baby shower! Well, technically it was HIS baby shower but you get what I mean. 

My Aunt and I had planned the cutest safari glam zoom baby shower in all the land and I was beyond excited to see all my friends and family faces, even if it was on the computer screen. I had a few family members at the house so my Aunt, Uncle and lil cousins had all arrived the night before. I woke up Saturday morning with a few things on the to-do list but feeling great and excited for the day. I woke up took a shower, shaved my legs, exfoliated and moisturized. The party was at 2pm and in hindsight completing that routine so early before an event is slightly odd for me. I like to do those things RIGHT before getting dressed so I would likely have taken another shower before getting dressed and doing my makeup. I'm sure this must have been the universe preparing me for what was to come. However, I do wish I put on a brow looking back at these pictures! Eeeekkkk 

I go downstairs to make a cup of coffee but first tell myself to take my blood pressure reading first. THIS WAS NOT MY NORM. They later told me this was my motherly instinct kicking in as I haven’t taken my BP this entire pregnancy but thank goodness I had a portable monitor at the house. I have been hyper vigaliant about it since my appointment on Thursday. Also, I should add that my Aunt is a longtime nurse and was aware of my Thursday BP readings. I sit down at about 9am to take my BP before heading to run errands and it says 189/99. Hmmmm that can’t be right. I’m no medical professional and not very astute on what any of these numbers mean for real but I DO know that seems not just high but very high. I call my Aunt into the room to retake it for me because clearly I’m working the machine wrong or so I thought. She retakes it and gets 175/90. Still high. Very odd but I feel fine and have things to do so I shrug it off and get to planning my coffee order. My Aunt however is not me. Lol, oh no. She very calmly suggests I call my doctor just to ‘let them know’ what my numbers were before we head out. In hindsight, I laugh and I thank her because she knew full well I would not be running any errands after those readings but she was simply not trying to alarm me. 

Up until this point in my pregnancy I had never called my doctor with any after hours issues so I didn’t even know what to do for real. Do I call the office on a Saturday?? Aren’t they closed? Should I have her cell number? Is this even an emergency, what if she’s busy? I even thought for a moment, does she have one of those pagers like doctors did back in the day. LOL, I was confused ya’ll. Anyway, the office has an on call nurse who took my call before determining if a call to my doctor was necessary. I told her my BP numbers and she told me to come to the hospital for monitoring. For what I ask?  I mean is this necessary I have plans at 2. LOL, yes ya’ll I’m still concerned about my damn party I have planned. Hahaha oh silly me. The nurse tells me very calmly but firmly, no it can not wait, they just want to make sure everthing is ok, she says, I’m sure it is fine but I expect you to be here in the next hour she added. So basically she nicely told me to stop playing and bring my a$$ on, NOW! Hmmmm well ok then. Good thing I’ve showered and shaved already I thought, I won’t have much time when I get back from the hospital to get ready for my party. YES….I’m still thinking about this baby shower y’all! LOL I glance at my Aunt and she looks calm but concerned and I ask it’s just routine right? She tells me that’s pretty high and very high for a pregnant lady so it’s best to head there to be sure. 


I put my shoes on, grab my hospital bag that was thankfully packed since 30 weeks (best to bring it JUST in CASE, I thought) and we pray. At this point my brain starts going a mile a minute like wait, what if something IS wrong, what if I have my baby TODAY?? No way, I’m not even ready yet, I still have a ton of stuff on my TO-DO list, my hair isn't even done yet and this is just a check-up. I hug and kiss my family and tell them what still needs to be done and picked up for the party and to continue decorating cause I’ll be right back…..or so I thought. 

As I type this out it seems like a very long story but it actually happened CRAZY fast! By the time my mom and I arrived to the hospital I was hooked up to a monitor right away where this machine took my blood pressure every 10 mins. I remember glancing at the numbers on the screen thinking hmmm that bottom number is still above 90 hun?? 🧐 Within about 30 mins my doctor had arrived (she was on call already at the hospital thankfully) and was explaining to me how dangerous my BP numbers were and that I had developed severe or extreme hypertension and pregnancy induced preeclampsia. From there the conversation went from we need you to stay here for two days to take steroids to develop the baby's lungs before we deliver your baby...... to sorry your high risk doctor doesn’t recommend that and we are going to induce you right now! That was in the span of 20 mins.....20 mins!! My next concern is oh no, the baby is still breeched what does that mean? I start to worry about a c-section because I have been planning for a vaginal birth and was scared to death for them to cut me. After a quick ultrasound to determine he was indeed still breech, she tells me that means you're having a c-section. *deep sigh....then tears* My entire birth plan is out the window at this point and I’m officially worried, in tears and trying to stay as calm as possible. 

The next, what felt like 10 mins, I was visited by the anesthesiologist, his assistant, another 2 nurses and was being wheeled to the OR to get an epidural. I am now being prepped for major surgery with dangerously high blood pressure and at risk for bleeding out due to preexisting fibroids. To say I was scared shit-less would be putting it mildly. I had two teams of people in the room, one for if I bleed out to monitor my fibroids, my OB another OB to assist, an entire NICU team to care for my baby and the anesthesiologist team making sure I don't feel anything or vomit everywhere. It was intense. My doctor was very reassuring and comforting to me and things went so fast I didn't have time to truly truly freak out. My son arrived safely at 12:59 pm, one hour and one minute BEFORE his party. I pray he arrives early for everything in life! πŸ™πŸΎπŸ˜Š He was born 4lbs, 9 oz and besides being early and tiny, he was just fine! We got to meet briefly cheek to cheek before they swept my sweet little baby off to the NICU and me off to recovery. 

From there I wouldn’t get to see my baby for 24 whole hours due to the medicine they had me on to bring my blood pressure down. Ya'll this was devastating to me at the time because I had prepared and researched a ton along side my doula team about delayed cord clamping and skin to skin and had a PLAN, damn it! At the time I was convinced my baby would lack developmentally because we didn't have those things. Now I'm just thankful he arrived safe and sound and I find comfort knowing he will be just fine.  I spent 3 days in the hospital and he spent 12 days in the NICU due to temperature control issues. He just didn't have enough body fat to keep his body warm enough. To say it was difficult seeing your baby in a incubator or warm him up would be a gross under statement. It hurt my heart every single day to leave my baby there hooked up to all those tubes. 😒 Also, NICU moms are the real MVPs! Driving 35 mins each way, twice a day to see my little man days after having a c-section while pumping around the clock is no easy feat. Other moms and babies had it much worst and was there much longer. And NICU nurses are ACTUAL angels from above, period!πŸ˜‡

Skin to skin with my little guy who had trouble regulating his body temperature. This was/is my favorite thing. πŸ₯°

I was very blessed to take my baby home and for him to be healthy and strong today. I can't imagine the ladies that didn't take home their babies after 9 months of pregnancy. My heart literally hurts for those families. I do remember them saying when they pulled him out that he was a miracle baby because the umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck 3 times. THREE TIMES!!! I can’t imagine what would have happened if I waited one more day to go to the hospital or if I didn’t take my BP that morning. Please ladies listen to your body and that gut feeling. Speak up. Ask questions. Take control of your journey and story. My pregnancy went from perfect to EMERGENCY in a matter of two days. I went from having a Baby Shower to having a Birthday in a matter of hours. I developed severe preeclampsia with no history of high blood pressure at 34 weeks with NO clear symptoms. This can lead to a variety of dangerous health issues including death for baby and mom, it is a big big deal and something that wasn't even on my radar. You can read more about hypertension and preeclampsia on this website HERE

I’m just so grateful to GOD, my instincts, my Aunt and my Doctor and hospital staff because my story could have ended very different. We are blessed beyond measure and I thank GOD for delivering me my little miracle baby safe and sound. I promise to cherish him and raise him in love. 

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