Having a premature and seriously ill baby is worrying at the best of times, but doing so at the start of a pandemic presents a whole new set of issues. Beauty brand founder Joy Isaacs' fourth son Jax was born six weeks early, just before the UK went into lockdown, weighing only 1.5kg after suffering from restricted growth in the womb.
"I felt extremely anxious, especially when there were unanswered questions as to why my baby was not growing," recalls Joy. "Lockdown hit when we were still in hospital. Initially, I was relieved to be able to stay with him but then it became a double-edged sword trying to keep myself safe from the virus and worrying if I did catch it would I be separated from him?"
When he arrived in the world, he was diagnosed with a rare chromosome disorder which causes a type of neonatal diabetes. With dangerously high blood sugar, little Jax was very dehydrated. Joy and her husband were told to prepare for the worst.
At the time, the NHS was not routinely using PPE and this added to Joy's concern, knowing the protection it could afford her and Jax, yet needing to accept their help even without PPE in place. Once lockdown was in place, PPE did become routine but visitors weren't allowed in. "Those were very difficult weeks stuck on the ward without much privacy and using the canteen and vending machines for food. My husband could drop essentials off at the front door of the hospital for me but he couldn't come in.
She couldn't see her other children either, three boys aged 11,16 and 17. "I missed one of my boys’ birthdays which was very difficult and sad and it was hard to field their questions around when I would be home as I really had no idea when Jax would be well enough for discharge."
"I remember one particular week in lockdown which was extremely difficult as Jax's condition wasn’t improving and after many tests the doctors said that they were at a dead-end," Joy says. "I felt helpless like there was no end in sight and nothing to hold on to. I had to stay grateful that I could be with him as there were other babies on the ward separated from their parents due to circumstances around Covid and the lockdown."
Joy and Jax lived in hospital for almost three months witnessing first-hand the physical and emotional toll the pandemic was taking on frontline staff wearing PPE. "Everyone we met was so caring and professional and without them, Jax would not be here today. There was one particular ward sister who even though she was drowning in the restructuring all the hospitals were going through to accommodate Covid19, she championed Jax’s case with tenacity and helped to get him into a strong position that allowed us to be discharged."
Jax is now home with his three brothers and is thriving. "We do hospital appointments via video conference and they are so pleased with his progress," says Joy.
While in hospital, Joy noticed to what extent the NHS staff's hands were suffering from the constant washing and sanitizing. As the founder of Argentum Apothecary a skincare brand with a powerful healing ingredient, she wanted to give back.
She set about gifting £1million worth of the brand's hero product La Potion Infinie , a day and night cream formulated with antioxidant colloidal silver which speeds up tissue regeneration.