My Wife Died Fighting for Her Life After Giving Birth to Our Twins. How I'm Keeping Her Memory Alive (Exclusive)

"She gave her life to give life," says Rabbi Jenn Weinstein

<p>courtesy the weinstein family,  faryl loew photography</p> Rabbi Jenn Weinstein with wife Andrea Termotto; newborn twins Hazel and Goldie

courtesy the weinstein family, faryl loew photography

Rabbi Jenn Weinstein with wife Andrea Termotto; newborn twins Hazel and Goldie

Rabbi Jenn Weinstein, 46, and her wife Andrea Termotto welcomed identical twin daughters on May 31. Moments after the birth, Termotto said she couldn’t breathe. She spent 10 hours fighting for her life, but doctors couldn’t save the 35-year-old mother.

Now home from the hospital with weeks-old preemies and their 3 ½-year-old son, Weinstein, Rabbi of Congregation Simchat HaLev, says her wife's love "will always be there" and their children will grow up knowing it.

Here, Weinstein shares her wife's story in her own words, as told to PEOPLE’s Wendy Grossman Kantor.

When Andrea was carrying son Ellis, born Oct. 26, 2020, she had COVID twice. She also had Hyperemesis gravidarum (HG), so she puked all day, every day, almost from inception. She was still puking the day that she delivered on the operating room table.

After he was born, she experienced postpartum depression and anxiety — and after going back to the hospital, just a few days after his birth, she became septic and almost died.

But Ellis was her world. She never wanted something more than to be a mother.

I know that anything she ever wanted, she fought for it, no matter what it would take. And in the case of our twins, she gave her life to give life.

<p>Faryl Loew Photography</p> Hazel and Goldie alongside a photo of their moms, Andrea Termotto and Rabbi Jenn Weinstein

Faryl Loew Photography

Hazel and Goldie alongside a photo of their moms, Andrea Termotto and Rabbi Jenn Weinstein

Related: Pregnant Woman Told Husband She Was Fine. When He Arrived at the Hospital, She Was Dead (Exclusive)

After Ellis came along, she wanted to have another kid — and I didn't want it, because I didn't want it for her. I didn't want her to be sick.

But I'm one of eight children, and she's one of four children. We couldn't imagine life without our siblings and we wanted that experience for him. So I gave in.

At the seven-week ultrasound in November, we learned we were having twins. To be exact, monochorionic, diamniotic identical twin girls, which means they shared a placenta but had their own inner sac — and had a higher risk of complications.

The doctor said, "This is amazing." But my wife was not over the moon. She went into research mode. She knew what could be great, and what could be terrible. It was a lot of tears, a lot of stress.

Still, the more we talked about it, the more she got excited. And when she did the 3D sonogram, she saw they look exactly like her — and our son. It's copy, paste, paste, paste.

<p>Courtesy of The Weinstein Family</p> Rabbi Jenn Weinstein, wife Andrea Termotto and son Ellis

Courtesy of The Weinstein Family

Rabbi Jenn Weinstein, wife Andrea Termotto and son Ellis

Due to the higher risk of complications, it's important to monitor the babies, and for the last three weeks prior to delivery she had weekly doctor appointments.

The doctors said Mono/Di twins get two problems, usually. One is twin to twin transfer, which has to do with nutrition. One starts to grow and grow and grow, and steal all the food, while the other becomes scrawny.

The other is called Twin anemia polycythemia sequence (TAPS), which is when one twin becomes anemic, because they're donating the iron to the other twin. That's what we started to have.

So the doctor said, "Listen, you're 33 weeks pregnant. I know you're scared, but these twins are safer on the outside, than they are on the inside."

A plan was made to deliver them on Monday, June 3.

But while we did a sonogram that day, Friday, May 31, all of a sudden the doctor came back in and said, "Listen, I'm not going to sleep this weekend if we don't deliver those babies. There's a little extra fluid. They're doing the transfer of iron. I don't want one to get too anemic. It's only two extra days, but I'm not comfortable."

So we never left the hospital. Instead, I put the scrubs on and they took her in.

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<p>Courtesy of The Weinstein Family</p> Andrea Termotto and wife Rabbi Jenn Weinstein

Courtesy of The Weinstein Family

Andrea Termotto and wife Rabbi Jenn Weinstein

Initially everything was okay and it was like any other c-section. But she kept saying, "I'm so scared, I'm so scared."

At 3:29 p.m. that day, they delivered our first twin, Goldie Chava. My wife heard her cry and saw her. About a minute and a half later, our daughter Hazel Valentina was born.

Within 30 seconds, my wife told me she was suffocating. I said, "Okay, let's try to take slow breaths.” But she still was telling me she was suffocating. So, I turned to the anesthesiologist, and I said, "She's saying she can't breathe."

Then her arms came flailing up. Her head was back, her tongue was swelling, and she said, "I can't breathe." And those were her last words. She flatlined while I was sitting next to her.

They paddled her chest. Fifty doctors came running. The other doctors are calling out the code, the babies are screaming. Thank God, they're alive. But this part of me, this angry, guilty part thought, "I didn't ask to have more kids. Now I have more kids, but not my wife."

Yes, they're a blessing. They are, of course, and they're her, but I wasn't able to grasp that at the moment. And I'm not all the way there yet.

<p>Courtesy of The Weinstein Family</p> Rabbi Jenn Weinstein wife Andrea Termotto's daughters, Hazel Valentina and Goldie Chava

Courtesy of The Weinstein Family

Rabbi Jenn Weinstein wife Andrea Termotto's daughters, Hazel Valentina and Goldie Chava

Related: Woman, 28, Dies 'Unexpectedly' Giving Birth to Her First Child: 'She Would Be the Best Mother'

She died. They paddled her. They brought her back to life. They tried to stabilize her for hours.

The doctors kept coming in and they start telling you things like, "She's really fighting, she's a warrior," all these things.

But I'm thinking to myself, “No one would want to live like that, but she is not that person."

When they put her on the stretcher for transport to another hospital, she started bleeding from everywhere. And an hour later she was still bleeding.

They used everything they had in the entire hospital, and I remember thinking to myself, "She would say, 'If I'm getting all of this, someone else is going to die in this hospital, because there's no product.' " It's just who she was — she would care about the other person. So, there was a point where the doctor came out, and I said, "Listen, Doctor, it's enough."

Related: Mom Who Died Just Days After Giving Birth Becomes 1 in a Million Organ Donor, Fulfilling Dying Wish

The doctor went back in, and then they all came out. We're talking about 50-plus physicians and support staff, with their heads down, feeling the sadness, the connection that they had to her, because they were fighting to save her life.

The doctors told us that she had an amniotic fluid embolism (AFE), and the embolism forced her into Disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC), which is basically, just bleeding from everywhere. Both of those things is what ultimately killed her. 

It's hard to imagine she's gone. But now I'm 46 years old, a single parent of three children, including two twins that are just three weeks old. And it's a lot.

I have an amazing village, I do, but at the end of the day, they go home.

<p>Faryl Loew Photography</p> Rabbi Jenn Weinstein and newborn twins Hazel and Goldie

Faryl Loew Photography

Rabbi Jenn Weinstein and newborn twins Hazel and Goldie

Related: His Wife Died After Giving Birth in a Coma. Now Their 'Miracle' Baby Keeps Her Memory Alive (Exclusive)

My wife was the go-to person for everything — no matter who you were, she made you feel like you were the only person that mattered in the world. And she was always an advocate to anybody she knew that was pregnant. She was raw about her experience, and real, and helped countless people.

After her death, I got messages from people, saying, "You don't know how she saved my life," or "You don't know me, but she was so influential in helping me advocate for myself."

And the people, the outpouring of love, all of those things are so great. And the twins are doing great, too — I think they, like her, are warriors. I want to make sure it stays that way, not only to keep her memory alive, but to be able to raise them right and give them everything they need.

The GoFundMe is there, but it's never going to be enough.

<p>Faryl Loew Photography</p> Rabbi Jenn Weinstein and twins Hazel and Goldie and son Ellis

Faryl Loew Photography

Rabbi Jenn Weinstein and twins Hazel and Goldie and son Ellis

Ultimately, what's important is her story.

Her story is that she gave her life to give life. And it sucks, but even that is who she is, and who she was.

I think that there are so many people out there that just need to hear her story, and just need to know of another rock star human that showed up for people in the world, even if it meant giving her own life.

"We can do hard things," is what she always said.

They day she died, I told our son. He asks hard questions, and it's really hard to answer them.

But as I remind him, and I will tell them, that we can do hard things together. This is our family, and this is who we are, and this is the way we're going to show up.

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