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The kids are getting restless and mamas are suffering from acute burnout. We want our world to go back to normal but we also want to keep our families safe. Many mothers are wondering if testing for coronavirus antibodies could give our kids their lives back.

Researchers are wondering this, too, and are working hard to answer this question. But right now, we still don't know enough about COVID-19 to say if antibody testing would allow people to occupy public spaces safely (or if the United States has the capacity to do that kind of testing).

There are a lot of unknowns here, but we do know that human bodies build up antibodies to fight this virus and that with some further study, patience and proper health care infrastructure this individual immune response could be the key to our collective pandemic response.

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Here are the answers to some common questions about COVID-19 antibodies:


Does having COVID-19 antibodies make a person immune?

With a lot of diseases (think measles or chickenpox) having caught it once does make a person immune, but lifelong immunity isn't 100% guaranteed in those cases and we don't know if it's guaranteed at all in the case of COVID-19.

"This to me is one of the big unanswered questions that we have," Jeffrey Shaman, a professor of environmental health sciences at Columbia University, told NPR. "Because it really says, 'What is the full exit strategy to this and how long are we going to be contending with it?' "

Without knowing how protective our own antibodies can be when it comes to reinfection, public health experts can't greenlight a return to work or school for those who have had it already without risking the lives of those people and others who have not yet been infected.

Simply put, we don't know if antibodies make us immune and until we know more the risks of assuming so are too great for many in public health to accept.

How accurate is COVID-19 antibody testing?

There are hundreds of coronavirus antibody tests that have been granted emergency authorization by the Food and Drug Administration, but can everyone get one and are they accurate?

One company, Roche, claims its test is 100% accurate, but many other tests have not proven their levels of accuracy and doctors are quite worried about the potential for false-positives in this Wild West of testing. The Roche test got emergency approval from the FDA, which sets it apart from the hundreds of other tests which only have FDA-authorization (meaning some paperwork's been done but serious study of the test's accuracy has not).

"Aside from this latest FDA-approved antibody test that we're hearing about that is highly accurate, I should also point out that we don't even know if most of the other hundred or so tests that are out there on the market are even close to being that accurate," says CBS News' medical contributor, Dr. David Agus.

Researchers at the University of Washington School of Medicine say another test, by Abbott Labs, is nearly 100% accurate and according to CNBC the company has shipped 10 million tests to hospital labs.

Still, testing doesn't make the spread of the virus stop and experts are asking even those who have been tested to comply with social distancing guidelines for now as they believe some tests are giving people a false sense of security.

Nikole Carlson Hartzell told USA Today that after an antibody test at an urgent care center in Brighton, Michigan, found she had "no active infection, no prior infection and no evidence of immunity" she felt like she was cleared, but soon realized she wasn't.

"Knowing I wasn't infected, I immediately visited my niece and hugged my sister," she explained, adding that she soon realized that just because she doesn't have active COVID-19 doesn't mean interacting with others is safe. "The novelty of it quickly wore off, as once I was home and saw my husband, I was no longer superhuman and could not guarantee anything anymore."

Can my family get COVID-19 antibody testing?

Many people who did not test positive for COVID-19 believe they have had and recovered from it, and if your family is among those you may be curious about getting tested. Unfortunately, it's still not easy for people to access antibody testing.

According to the CDC, you should "check with your healthcare provider to see if they offer antibody tests" but as the Mayo Clinic explains, "eligibility may vary, depending on the availability of tests."

"Typically at this time, most doctors only suggest a test to diagnose COVID-19 if you have symptoms or you've had exposure to someone with COVID-19. To get antibody testing, you have to be fully recovered from COVID-19. But in a limited number of communities, people who never had symptoms of COVID-19 are included in testing. Some have positive results, meaning they likely were infected by the COVID-19 virus at some time," the Mayo Clinic's Dr. William F. Marshall, III, writes.

Marshall continues: "Access to either test depends on where you live, test availability and whether you're viewed as eligible. In the U.S., collaborative efforts to make more tests available are ongoing. The nationwide goal is to test more people as more tests become available."

In short, you can call your doctor or pediatrician and inquire but right now there are a lot of variables regarding who can get testing. Hopefully, the barriers will be reduced in the near future but there are no guarantees presently.

Bottom line: Antibody testing could help us get back to school, work and our loved ones, but right now we don't know enough about the antibodies (or the tests) to declare this a victory over COVID-19.

When I was expecting my first child, I wanted to know everything that could possibly be in store for his first year.

I quizzed my own mom and the friends who ventured into motherhood before I did. I absorbed parenting books and articles like a sponge. I signed up for classes on childbirth, breastfeeding and even baby-led weaning. My philosophy? The more I knew, the better.

Yet, despite my best efforts, I didn't know it all. Not by a long shot. Instead, my firstborn, my husband and I had to figure it out together—day by day, challenge by challenge, triumph by triumph.

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The funny thing is that although I wanted to know it all, the surprises—those moments that were unique to us—were what made that first year so beautiful.

Of course, my research provided a helpful outline as I graduated from never having changed a diaper to conquering the newborn haze, my return to work, the milestones and the challenges. But while I did need much of that tactical knowledge, I also learned the value of following my baby's lead and trusting my gut.

I realized the importance of advice from fellow mamas, too. I vividly remember a conversation with a friend who had her first child shortly before I welcomed mine. My friend, who had already returned to work after maternity leave, encouraged me to be patient when introducing a bottle and to help my son get comfortable with taking that bottle from someone else.

Yes, from a logistical standpoint, that's great advice for any working mama. But I also took an incredibly important point from this conversation: This was less about the act of bottle-feeding itself, and more about what it represented for my peace of mind when I was away from my son.

This fellow mama encouraged me to honor my emotions and give myself permission to do what was best for my family—and that really set the tone for my whole approach to parenting. Because honestly, that was just the first of many big transitions during that first year, and each of them came with their own set of mixed emotions.

I felt proud and also strangely nostalgic as my baby seamlessly graduated to a sippy bottle.

I felt my baby's teething pain along with him and also felt confident that we could get through it with the right tools.

I felt relieved as my baby learned to self-soothe by finding his own pacifier and also sad to realize how quickly he was becoming his own person.



As I look back on everything now, some four years and two more kids later, I can't remember the exact day my son crawled, the project I tackled on my first day back at work, or even what his first word was. (It's written somewhere in a baby book!)

But I do remember how I felt with each milestone: the joy, the overwhelming love, the anxiety, the exhaustion and the sense of wonder. That truly was the greatest gift of the first year… and nothing could have prepared me for all those feelings.

This article was sponsored by Dr. Brown's. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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As mamas we want our babies to be safe, and that's what makes what happened to Glee actress Naya Rivera and her 4-year-old son Josey so heartbreaking.

On July 13, the Ventura County Sheriff's Department announced the 33-year-old mother's body was found at Lake Piru, five days after her son was found floating alone on a rented boat. According to Ventura County Sheriff Bill Ayub, Rivera's last action was to save her son.

"We know from speaking with her son that he and Naya swam in the lake together at some point in her journey. It was at that time that her son described being helped into the boat by Naya, who boosted him onto the deck from behind. He told investigators that he looked back and saw her disappear under the surface of the water," Ayub explained, adding that Rivera's son was wearing his life vest, but the adult life vest was left on the unanchored boat.

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Ayub says exactly what caused the drowning is still speculation but investigators believe the boat started drifting and that Rivera "mustered enough energy to get her son back onto the boat but not enough to save herself."

Our hearts are breaking for Josey and his dad right now. So much is unknown about what happened on Lake Piru but one thing is crystal clear: Naya Rivera has always loved her son with all her heart.

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