When I've pictured my journey of young motherhood, I see myself in an ocean of water, treading as best I can, trying to stay above the water line, gulping for air as I can. Every so often, a wave comes up and douses me, pulls me under and I kick and kick, hoping for a lifeline from somewhere so that I can keep surviving. Every single time I found myself under the water, I got a lifeline. Mostly from my husband since his proximity made it very convenient. He'd swim with me and hold me up and many times, he'd put me in a lifeboat and tread for me for a short while, and put me back in the water when I was strong enough again. But sometimes he couldn't help. He'd be working or dealing with his own ocean or be just as weary as I was. Many times, my family would throw me a life raft but more often than not, it was another mother who was treading water not too far from me. She'd be riding a high wave and from her vantage, could throw me a line when I was going under, such as a meal, a few hours of adult talk, a completed chore. And I quickly learned that even though I was exhausted, I too could throw a line to another when I had a chance. When I began motherhood, it became quickly apparent I had a gift to give, a lifeline for other mothers, and the demand for my gift was very high. I was able to produce much more breast milk than my babies needed, increasing with each baby as well. And so I gave. And gave. And gave. With my first child, I didn't keep official track, but I pumped about 9 ounces a day for a year, for about 3,285 ounces. With my second, I pumped exactly 4,380.5 ounces, and for my grand finale, my last baby, I pumped exactly 5,259 ounces. That's a grand total of about 12,924.5 ounces or about 101 gallons. I know that's a mere drop in the bucket to what I've seen on social media, but it's the best I could do. I helped over 50 mamas and their babies. When they asked me for a lifeline I gave it as I could. I had heard about breast milk jewelery a few years ago and was intrigued and a couple months ago, when a friend reposted her picture of her ring of breast milk, the stars aligned. Not only did I have a few ounces in my fridge already from my day away from my nursling, but there was a promo code too vintage mother of the bride dresses ;) . So as a gift to myself, I had my own ring made to remind me not only of the incredible gift I gave to my own babies for what will be a total of 6 years (and since my last baby is down to one session a day, our end is so near), but to all the babies and mothers I helped. It also reminds me of the many lifelines I received from other mothers when I needed it most. I'm surviving. I'm thriving, even! Thank you, mamas. Thank you. Keep treading. Keep throwing those lifelines to each other. The effort is worth it.