LOVINGTON -- Jesse and Kari Burnett are still getting used to life with the four little bundles of joy they brought home this summer. Their quadruplets, Jace, Jianna, Jacoby and Jaleb, now 6 months old, make their daily routines a little busier and a lot more interesting.
"I'm pretty sure we have the best babies we could have," said Kari Burnett.
She recalled the surprise of finding out she was pregnant with quadruplets in November, 2011.
With four cribs, four highchairs, four swings and cabinets devoted solely to baby formula, bottles, bowls, spoons and other items, reality has definitely set in.
An average day for the family consists of four bottle feedings, two baby food feedings, diapers, naps, playtime and everything in between, said the parents, whose family also includes a little boy, Jansen, 2, and a girl, Lexi, 10. Sticking to a strict routine ensures that everything runs as smoothly as possible.
"Now we're down to 16 bottles a day," Kari Burnett said, adding that at the beginning, the babies went through 32 four-part bottles each day.
The quadruplets' little personalities are starting to appear, their parents said.
Jace, the firstborn of the four, is a ticklish, observant baby, said his mom and dad.
"He studies everything," said Kari Burnett. "He loves laughing."
Jianna, next in the birth order, is the only girl in the bunch.
"She is an attention lover," said her mom. "She loves to be talked to, played with."
"She thinks every person is their own little party," said Jesse Burnett.
Jacoby has already exhibited a fun-loving attitude.
"He is just a lighthearted, fun, easygoing, carefree, playful one," said his mom.
Jaleb, the youngest of the four, will likely be the first one to get into everything, they said. He was the first one to roll over and will probably be the one who climbs out of the crib, his parents said.
"He is the feistiest," said Kari Burnett.
The four babies, born at 33 weeks, spent 26 days in the neonatal intensive care unit at Carle Foundation Hospital to make sure they were eating properly and ready to go home.
That stay came after their mother had to spend a month at the hospital, 50 miles from the family's home, because of the high risk for complications with her pregnancy and delivery. It was the safest place for Burnett and the babies to be, she said.
The day the quadruplets were born, Burnett's water broke at 1:50 a.m.
"Since I'm a labor and delivery nurse, I knew as soon as I hit my call button and told people that, that they would be whisking me. So I called everybody that I needed to call -- like my husband," she said.
Jesse Burnett, who happened to be up with Jansen, headed to the hospital. He got there after his wife had already gone under anesthesia for the C-section.
"Whenever I woke up, then my husband was there," said Kari Burnett.
Jesse Burnett said he watched each baby get wheeled out in an incubator. He met each little one for the first time and then went to see his wife with four sets of footprints inked on his arms from his wrists up to his shoulders.
The couple then set to work assigning the four names they had already chosen. They settled on names starting with the letter "J" to match Jansen's name. The parents had had a little trouble picking out the 2-year-old's name, and he went for two days without one.
"We already had the names picked out. We just wanted to make sure," said Burnett. "Trying to pick out names for four kids was going to be hard if we used A through Z, so we decided to just go with one letter."
The first day the quadruplets came home, the couple was nervous about getting to all the bottle feedings and diaper changes on time and without a hassle. It only took the parents a couple of days to get the routine down.
"The thought of doing it might have been overwhelming, but once we were actually here, you just did it," said Kari Burnett.
Some friends and family members haven't had the chance to meet the babies yet. Their parents have been careful about letting people into the home -- especially during cold and flu season.
"They're all completely healthy, but we just don't want them getting sick," said Jesse Burnett.
The quads' grandparents have been helping out in the home.
Kari Burnett said she belongs to a group for mothers of quadruplets in the United States and Canada. There are 160 or so families represented in the online forum.
"We all talk a lot," she said of the postings, which represent all different stages in life with quadruplets. " . It's a great thing. It makes me feel like I'm not by myself."
She said the posts have made her look and think ahead to such milestones as having friends over and how her children will interact as they get a little bit older.
"I'm pretty sure that they're going to be just close," she said. " . I think they're going to have a pretty strong bond."
Jansen has taken to being a big brother, and he does his best to help out with the little ones, his parents said. He usually tells each baby good morning and gets to work helping with their first feeding of each day.
"He just thinks that everybody gets four babies," said Kari Burnett.
At the beginning of September, she returned part-time to her job as a labor and delivery nurse at Decatur Memorial Hospital, taking on two 12-hour shifts each week.
"It's a change of pace," she said of her return to work, adding that she knows the quadruplets are in good hands during these times with their dad and grandparents.
She said being a mother to all of the little ones at once was unexpected, but it's the best thing that could have happened.
"Really I feel like so lucky that I got the opportunity to do something like this," she said. " . I feel blessed that this happened to me."