Kate Sulovski went viral after revealing how much it cost to bring three babies — two of which required time in the NICU — into the world
There are many surprises that await new parents on the road to growing their families.
The first surprise for Kate Sulovski and her husband Pete came shortly after they tied the knot in July 2021, when she became pregnant just before they'd agreed to start trying.
"We were very grateful. We didn't know what our journey would look like. You never know," she tells PEOPLE.
The next surprise came at her doctor's appointment when Kate and Pete learned they were having twins. "That was a shock, but we're like, 'Okay, we can do this. Two hands, two people, this will be okay.'"
But that's far from where the surprises ended. At a follow-up ultrasound, they discovered that the couple's twins were actually triplets.
"They thought that we were having something called mono-chorionic mono-amniotic twins (mono-mono) twins, which means the babies would be sharing one placenta and one amniotic sack, which is a very high-risk scenario. So we were then sent to a specialist, and these specialists discovered baby number three."
The discovery was "the shock of a lifetime" for the couple, with Kate explaining to PEOPLE, "We went from, 'Hey, let's try to start a family,' not knowing how long that would take or how difficult that would be, to, 'Oh my Gosh, we're having triplets,' all within the span of a few months."
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During her pregnancy, Kate began finding community on TikTok and Instagram. "I was able to connect with other moms of multiples who provided me advice and supported me throughout my journey," she shares.
As her community grew, her babies also arrived. Kate shared glimpses of life with her identical triplets Peter, Nico and Luca. She also shared her experiences and fielded questions from other moms, which is how someone came to ask her how much her hospital bills were for her triplet birth.
In a now-viral TikTok, Kate breaks down the costs. "$1.7 million is what the hospital billed us for myself and my triplets' stay."
"That $1.7 million was only for the duration of our stay in the hospital. So my 7-day duration, as well as my boys who were in the NICU — one for 20 days and one for 23 days. That doesn't include any of my prenatal care, any of my high-risk specialty visits, nothing. That is strictly for our hospital stays."
"One of our boys was roughly mid-$600,000. Our other two boys were roughly $500,000 and I was roughly $100,000."
Kate tells PEOPLE, "When I initially got the question, I was like, 'That's a really good question. Let me go back and try to tally everything up and see.' "
Kate got "quite a mixture" of responses to the "astronomical number."
"There were a handful of other moms, whether they had a single baby with a NICU stay or multiples like myself, that were like, 'Yup, that sounds about right.'"
The mom of three was also met with surprise by "viewers from a lot of other countries who were like 'This is wild. This is what health care looks like over there?'"
Kate also makes sure to acknowledge her privilege of having "very good insurance" to help with the costs. "It was a situation where you feel very thankful to have good insurance."
For as much value and discussion driven around Kate's videos, she does acknowledge that naysayers occasionally pop up.
"People can be negative or give their opinions where it's not necessary sometimes. It's challenging to navigate in the moment, but I stick to what's become my catchphrase, 'It is what it is,' " she shares.
"I have these three kids and they're healthy and they're here. I've got to keep pushing and do what I can and do my best for them. Keeping in this positive mindset is something I really learned throughout this journey. It's so important."
"It's all relative," Kate notes. "At the end of the day, I don't know what it's like to have just one baby or three kids of different ages. This is right. This is my norm."
As her kids get older, Kate hopes to continue sharing their lives in ways that make sense for her family and relishing in the community she's found comfort in.
"It's a very different beat when you have multiples and other parents I connect with can really validate my feelings about that in a different way," she shares. "My husband and I have spoken about phasing out our children or thinking harder about what I'm posting and sharing as they get older, but right now, they're still kind of ambiguous."
"But as they start to develop more into themselves and are more away of what's going on, we will pull back on how much exposure they have, but still continue to share our journey and knowledge and support."
Recalling her frantic searches for answers during her own pregnancy, she says it can be the "basics" that people need reassurance on.
"I looked up, how do you get them in the car? How do you feed them? How do you bathe them? And I was struggling to find answers that resonated with me as a visual learner. So when we did have our boys, that kind of was the route my content ended up taking, just showing the logistics of our day."
The triplet mom is in a new stage now as she navigates the toddler years, but she's soaking up every minute.
"I think the biggest joy right now is just watching their relationships with each other. They turn to each other for comfort and do silly things and giggle together, give each other hugs and kisses. Watching that blossom has been the coolest thing ever for me."
And with that comes one of the biggest challenges, particularly for multiple moms.
"I try to be very cognizant of them all getting equal parts of me as a mother, that all their needs are being met in the same way. 'Am I enough for the three of them?' has been a trending challenge since I had them. Some days somebody might need extra love, but I try to make sure that the brothers are all getting their needs met, even when it's easy to feel like I'm being pulled in three separate directions, especially as a first-time mom."
Other moms share their experiences, but Kate does find value in the fact that "I don't know anything different."
"Had I had a single child prior to the triplets, I might have found that more challenging for us. Which is not to say it hasn't been challenging, but I just don't have any other perspective to go off of."
Kate and Pete are grateful to have a support system of family and friends that help make their days with the triplets a bit easier where they can, something she also finds it important to be transparent about.
"I think in the grand scheme of things with social media, it's easy to look at other people's lives and think, 'Oh, they've got it together.' Because other people maybe make it look easy, we find ourselves judging our own experiences. There's a lot of comparison and the biggest thing I try to communicate with other moms is that your experiences are your own. Looking at somebody else should never invalidate what you're feeling or what you're going through. We're all just doing our best and being the best for our kids, so don't read too much into social media."
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