ST. LOUIS – The quintuplets are coming home in style today – in a limousine.
"It'll be a good ride. We wanted to do something special," said Pete Ferrill, who will be traveling to St. Louis this morning and returning to Danville along with Jenny and the three boys, Layne, Drayden and Landyn, and the two girls, Kieran and Irelyn.
The whole family will be together in the back of the limo, car seats and all, leading a caravan of relatives in vehicles filled with bassinets, cribs, baby swings and a multitude of other things from their temporary living quarters in St. Louis.
A few days before Christmas, Jenny Ferrill gave birth to quintuplets, none of them identical and each weighing around 3 pounds. Jenny and her mother, Karen Butikas of Westville, have lived in a Ronald McDonald House apartment near St. Louis Children's Hospital, where the quints have made good progress in the last several weeks. Each of them weighs around 6 pounds, and they're going home earlier than originally expected.
Last week, Kieran was the first to be released into Jenny's care, but was readmitted briefly at the end of the week when she developed a cold. She was re-released after some cautionary tests, and her three brothers joined her on Sunday. And last but not least, Irelyn was released Monday afternoon, clearing the way for Pete and Jenny to bring their family together under one roof.
"It's a relief," Pete said Monday after spending a hectic weekend making last-minute preparations for the homecoming.
Butikas and Pete's mom, Fran Ferrill, have been in St. Louis helping Jenny, who's had to split her time between caring for the released babies at the apartment and the babies still in the hospital.
Both grandmothers were baby-sitting Kieran and the three boys at the apartment Monday afternoon when Jenny went to the hospital to pick up Irelyn.
"She's going on four days without sleep," said Butikas of Jenny. "She's going on a surge of adrenaline."
Butikas said it's been hectic but wonderful.
"I cannot tell you what a joy it is to hold each and every one of these bundles," she said, "listening to them breathe and make their baby sounds."
Personalities are emerging already.
Drayden is a real smiler, Butikas said, adding that Landyn makes the cutest faces, while Layne is peaceful and Kieran's intent on making sure she doesn't miss anything.
Though doing well, the babies will continue to be monitored and already have a doctor's appointment scheduled for Thursday in Urbana.
Other follow-up appointments will be in Indianapolis, Butikas said, saving the Ferrills from traveling all the way back to St. Louis.
When they do travel, the Ferrill Five won't always be riding in a limousine, however.
Before they found out they were expecting quintuplets, Pete Ferrill said he bought his GMC Yukon with the intention of filling it with kids, but at the time, he was thinking two or three.
"We filled it all at once," he said.
Butikas said everyone in St. Louis has been wonderful to them during their temporary residency, from the hospital staff, to the Ronald McDonald House staff to the community in general.
"The people of St. Louis have been so kind and generous. The people have just really touched our hearts – people we don't even know who have sent notes and prayers that have all been answered," she said.
The Ferrills received some donations while there. Ronald McDonald House donated bassinets for the babies, and JC Penney donated cribs.
Although packing everything has been a chore, Butikas said she's looking forward to going home today.
"I can't wait, I know Pete can't wait, and Jenny can't wait to be home," said Butikas, who also can't wait for her father, George Lipousky of Westville, to see the quints for the first time. Butikas' mother, Rose Lipousky, was able to make the trip to St. Louis.
"He hasn't seen Jenny since October either. It will be a true gift for him," she said.
Butikas, the Lipouskys, Pete's parents and extended family and friends are on call to help as much as possible beginning today.
"But Pete and Jenny need privacy, too," Butikas said. "It's a blessed event, but at the same time, they want to be parents and want to do things how they want to do them. Fran and I will be there when they need us."
Pete said it was Butikas' idea to go home in a limo, so he contacted their friends, Chuck and Julie Sergeant, who own K.C. Express limousine service in Danville, and asked if they transport quintuplets home from the hospital.
"They've been with us through some of our milestones, and we wanted to include them in this," Pete Ferrill said.
"It's going to be a very interesting, fun-packed day," he said. "It will be nice for Jenny and I to be in the limo with the" babies.