For eight months, Julie Locke beamed with the joy and promise of pregnancy.
Julie Locke's story. **dax's mother**
Suddenly, news of complications triggered fear and anxiety and flashbacks:
Her 2-year-old son's struggle with leukemia sparked global support for the lad and St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital before he died late last year.
"I can't do this," she told herself. "It can't happen again."
This time, a family medical crisis ended happily for Locke and her husband, Austin. Via an emergency C-section, a premature Madeline Elizabeth Locke entered the world Oct. 29. After a stretch of extra care in the hospital, baby and mother are now at home and in good shape.
"It was weird," says Julie Locke, 28. "I brought her home and there was no med list, no IV poles. All she takes is food. It's quite simple, compared to Dax."
A year ago, with their home filled with medical supplies for the boy, the Lockes hoped for a miracle. Leukemia had put Dax at St. Jude's in Memphis, Tenn., for 15 months. In October 2009, doctors there said they could do no more for the boy, who had just weeks to live.
So his parents took him home just before Halloween. To ensure he could enjoy a last Christmas, his parents put up yuletide decor inside and outside their home early. Neighbors followed suit. After a story here, CNN picked up the tale. People all over the globe joined the effort and posted photos on a website dedicated to Dax, who enjoyed the on-screen pretty lights. Meanwhile, fundraisers of all sorts began springing up as folks all over came together in Dax's name.
Dax made it to Christmas, but died five days later.
"It seems like yesterday for me," Julie Locke says. "The memories are very vivid still."
The couple had no other children. Late last winter they discussed whether to have another baby, and considered waiting. But Julie's motherly instinct started screaming, so by March she was pregnant.
All check-ups went well until late October - which is becoming a scary season medically for the Lockes. Doctors told Julie about unforeseen complications. She declines to talk specifics, but says there was blood around the baby's head. She was advised to get a C-section right away.
"I was nervous," she says. ". . . They just decided it would be safer to take her."
On Oct. 29, she was admitted into OSF Saint Francis Medical Center. The baby came out at 19 1/2 inches and 6 pounds, 1 ounce.
"She looks just like Dax!" Julie Locke exclaimed at the time.
The girl got her name from two sources. "Madeline" was simply a moniker Julie Locke had loved since her childhood. And "Elizabeth" was the name of a sweet girl Julie Locke met while at St. Jude's with Dax; the gal, who'd had the same disease at Dax, died four months before he did.
Meanwhile, newborn Madeline had trouble regulating her own body temperature. So, she went off to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. Julie Locke had to recover from her own complications, so she stayed at St. Francis, too.
The sight of her needy baby left Julie Locke crestfallen. An IV poked into her tiny arm, while a feeding tube snaked through her nose and into her belly. Meanwhile, wires and more wires ran from Madeline's little body to multiple diagnostic machines.
"Dax always had that," the mother says. ". . . It was really scary."
But Madeline improved quickly. Mother and baby were discharged last Saturday and returned home. That's where Julie Locke plans to stay as a stay-at-home mom.
"I don't want to leave her ever," she says. "You don't want to waste a minute. You don't know when that minute could be your last one."
She says she has learned the true meaning of the motto she adopted during Dax's struggle, "Cherish Every Moment."
"I remember with Dax, with a first baby, you're so tired and don't appreciate it," she says. "I appreciate it with (Madeline). Every feeling is sacred."
Meanwhile, she keeps tabs on plans with her Cherish Every Moment foundation (http://cherisheverymoment.org/). She hopes to raise $1.6 million for St. Jude, enough to operate the hospital for a year. So far, she has reached $250,000.
That sum could get a big boost from Home for an Angel, a new house in Washington made of donated materials and supplies. The house is likely worth a little less than $300,000; if that price is met, she hopes the foundation can get maybe $100,000. The first showing will be Dec. 4; after that, the home will go to the first person meeting the asking price.
Meanwhile, Julie Locke is itching to put up decorations at her house - the same displays that triggered the outpouring of support to Dax. Eventually, Madeline will learn that back story of her brother. In fact, Julie Locke can't wait to tell her about Dax.
"Oh, man," she says with a broad grin. "That will be one of her first words."