Victoria Rexach had previously had two cesarean sections, and her doctor—a high-risk specialist—wanted her to have another when she gave birth to her twin girls. But when the 30-year-old went into premature labor on Aug. 28, before her pregnancy had hit the six-month mark, doctors at Richmond University Medical Center in Staten Island proceeded with a natural childbirth instead, and Rexach and both babies died two minutes after the birth, NBC New York reports. The family believes she would have survived had she been given a C-section, and according to News 12, they say the hospital knew she could not deliver naturally.
"She screamed, and then she was just holding my hand and then her eyes closed and I kept smacking her face, telling her, 'Don't fall asleep on me, don't fall asleep,'" says Tafari Brathwaite, the babies' father and Rexach's common-law husband. "She looked at me and said 'OK' and then closed her eyes, and that was the last time I saw her." The medical examiner is still investigating and no cause of death has yet been determined, but family members say Rexach lost a lot of blood and suffered cardiac arrest; the hospital, in a statement, calls the twins "non-viable fetuses." Brathwaite plans to sue the hospital, the New York Post reports. "She told them she couldn't push, but they made her push and they let her die," says an activist who is working with the family. (This mom and this one say C-sections were forced upon them.)