Like all marriages out there, Bill Klien and Jen Arnold have had their share of difficulties. Bill and Jen are just a normal sweet loving couple except for the fact that they both have a rare variation of dwarfism called Spondyloepiphyseal Dysplasia.
The couple has had over 50 surgeries between them, some were even emergencies for treating medical concerns brought about by the conditions. Most of the world cannot comprehend what it is like to live with dwarfism, but with the show, we've had a sneak peek. Bill and Jen were only glad to feature their differences in their own show, The Little Couple, to educate people on dwarfism.
The show first aired on TLC in 2009 and stars Bill Klein, a businessperson, and Dr. Jen Arnold, a neonatologist; a special kind of pediatric specialist who cares for preemies and ill newborn babies. After several unsuccessful attempts at getting pregnant, the couple finally decided to settle for adoption and that is how they got Will and Zoey.
The show was a hit from the moment it premiered. Countless fans have keenly followed the Klein/Arnolds as they have celebrated events and dealt with numerous surgical procedures related to their conditions, loss of pregnancies prematurely, cancer, and life-threatening illnesses. Despite all this, the couple has stood strong.
Here are some of the highlights of the show.
20 Jennifer Arnold Was Operated On By A Famous Doctor
Dr. Jennifer Arnold, who is a neonatologist, is no stranger to hospitals. Because of her skeletal dysplasia condition, she spent a better chunk of her childhood in hospital receiving treatment for various ailments. According to screenrant.com, Jen had 22 surgeries before she was 18 and the number has continued to go up.
One of her successful surgeries was somewhat special. Jen was lucky to be in the hands of one of the best neurosurgeons in the world, the famous Dr. Ben Carson. Jen had to go under the knife to have a cervical spine fusion at just two years old, which means she cannot recall much.
19 Jen Faced Discrimination When Applying For College
As if facing a series of surgeries while still young was not enough, Jen had to face discrimination first hand when she was applying for college. According to therichest.com, Jen had hopes of studying at the University of Miami but her interviewers had a problem with her height since she was less than four-feet-tall.
It was a bad thing to do and frankly, no one should ever have to go through such an experience. Fortunately, Johns Hopkins Medical School opened its doors for her. She started her journey towards becoming a neonatologist and never looked back. Jen is glad she never took that minor setback to heart.
18 Bill Klein Was Picked On When He Was Younger
Bill Klein who is famous for his uplifting outlook on life was not always positive. Just like other normal kids who are smaller than average, Bill was also picked on a lot in his childhood. The big kids did not understand dwarfism and therefore had a bad habit of teasing those they saw different from them. The mocking only got worse as he got older.
Other students called Bill all kinds of names and when he was in college, the ill-treatment really took a toll on him. According to kiwireport,com, he was very unhappy and had dangerous thoughts. Thankfully, he managed to get himself out of that dark period and he is now happily married with two kids.
17 Bill And Jen Briefly Met When They Were 10 Years Old
Even in bad situations, good things can still happen. Couple Bill and Jennifer had the opportunity of meeting each other long before they determine they were soul mates. According to newravel.com, when they were 10 years old, Bill spotted Jen in the hospital where they were both recovering from separate surgeries.
They never spoke to each other and Jen does not have any recollection of that day but Bill does. They later found each other online nearly two decades later. Prior to that, what was even funnier is that their friends had tried setting them up but things did not work out between them. Eventually, true love found its way.
16 Surrogacy Did Not Work For Them
Bill and Jen now have two adopted kids William and Zoey whom they love very much. However, adoption was their very last resort. Given their condition, the two struggled to get pregnant. Jen lost numerous pregnancies prematurely, so the couple decided to try having their own biological child via surrogacy before settling for adoption, as stated by therichest.com.
As if losing multiple pregnancies was not enough their surrogate lost their baby before term. Bill had to tell his wife the heartbreaking news while she was still at work. From then on, the two decided to stop trying other methods and opted for adoption, which gave them their two greatest joys.
15 The Show Had A Lot Of Staged Events
The Klein/Arnolds have always kept some of their life away from the cameras and because of that, a lot of special celebrations like dinners, anniversaries, and birthdays are staged because the family initially celebrates alone in private and then have to repeat it for the cameras.
While a good chunk of it is real, the producers come up with many scenes, for the sake of entertainment. According to thelist.com, Jen does not consider any celebrations in front of the cameras as real celebrations as much as they get to have double fun. Nevertheless, the occasions themselves are legit it is only the presentation that is staged.
14 Cameras Were Initially Not Allowed To Follow Jen At Work
Before Bill and Jen moved to Florida, they used to live in Houston, Texas. Jen used to work as a neonatologist in the Texas Children’s Hospital. When the show started filming, the crew and production team had a hard time following Jen at her workplace. In fact, the hospital was reluctant to allow them complete access for a while.
According to thelist.com, in an interview with Glamour magazine, Jen said they were hesitant because the hospital had a lot to lose and wanted to make sure that the show would paint them in a good light. After numerous meetings, the producers and the hospital came to an agreement.
13 Jen Had A Serious Health Scare
Jen has seen more than her fair share of hospital admissions. There was one time in particular when her situation was so alarming since she went through a series of premature birth losses owing to dwarfism. Soon afterward, doctors found out that she had a mass in her uterus and Jen had to undergo surgery to remove it, as reported by therichest.com.
After the surgery, she developed pneumonia, which complicated things further. Doctors diagnosed Jen with a rare cancer and she had to undergo chemotherapy. Fortunately, she recovered from all that and was given clearance by her doctors, this finally gave the family some peace of mind.
12 Their Relationship Has Rules
Just like other couples, Bill and Jen have their own relationship struggles. In the show, the two appeared to be a match made in heaven but they have also had their fair share of relationship disagreements. When this happens, they have rules in place to guide them.
According to newravel.com, some of these rules include; after an argument, they can never go to bed mad at each other so they have to resolve everything before they sleep. In addition, they have to share house chores and be considerate of whoever is more tired, and they have to communicate since communication is very important in their marriage.
11 They Had To Custom-Make Their Kitchen
When the couple moved from Houston to Florida, they had to buy a new home, but unfortunately, most house designs do not consider people with dwarfism. Nevertheless, they bought a beautiful mansion and even though it had a nice kitchen, they had to renovate it.
The kitchen for them was the hardest room to maneuver because of the height challenge and so they decided to custom make everything in it otherwise everyday chores would have been a nightmare. According to an interview with PeopleTV, Bill confessed that in their previous homes, they have had to deal with the stove's fire burning at eye level and water dripping down to their arms while washing dishes because the sinks were too high.
10 Jen Did Not Bond With Zoey Right Away
As stated earlier, one of the happiest moments for Bill and Jen is when they adopted both William and Zoey. After Will's adoption, he settled into life in his new home with ease and immediately bonded with his new parents. However, this was not the case for Zoey.
Jen admitted that she had a difficult time bonding with her when she first came to live with them. This was probably because of the change of scenery. According to screenrant.com, Zoey was from an orphanage in India and it took months for her to come around. In addition, this was the same period when Jen got her cancer diagnosis.
9 The Show Faced Legal Battles
Despite its good ratings, the show took a long break between season eight and nine because the company behind the production was facing legal battles. According to thelist.com, the battle was between Discovery Communications—the company that owns TLC—and LMNO — the independent production company producing the show.
There was a pending $7 million lawsuit, ongoing embezzlement, and an extortion situation and the stars of The Little Couple were in the middle of all this. However, the couple filed for compensation. The battle went on for two years until the two companies finally came to an agreement. The public never got to know what the parties agreed on.
8 Jen Has A Bad First Memory Of Herself
Many people hardly remember their childhood memories and if they do, most are usually happy thoughts. This was not the case for Jen. Jen’s first memory of her was not a happy one. She distinctively remembers being in an ambulance after a health scare.
According to therichest.com, she remembers seeing lights flashing and her parents tucking towels around her head to give her neck support. This must have been a bad experience for her, which she probably wishes she did not remember. Being a mom of two, she does not wish for her kids to have such experiences and bad memories of their childhood as she did.
7 Bill Struggled With Vices
Throughout his childhood, college years, and as well as part of his adulthood, Bill was a victim of being made fun of because of his height and condition. It was hard for Bill to get by given he is less than four-feet-tall which other people found amusing, but really made life for him to be very hard.
As stated by kiwireport.com, Bill turned to an unhealthy indulgence in order to cope with his troubles. He would try to take the pain of what he was feeling away. However, after a while, he realized that this solution was not helping him and he decided to turn his life around. Things also turned around for him, he now has a beautiful family and a great job.
6 The Show Does Not Feature Their Hardest Times
Fans of The Little Couple will probably tell you that Bill and Jen have a perfect life. They did not appear like they encountered normal couple problems or like they were struggling with parenting. In their second memoir, Think Big, the couple revealed that their most trying times are not included on the show.
As thelist.com points out, their memoir reveals that one of their hard times was when Zoey first came to the couple’s home with Bill, she wanted nothing to do with her new dad or new home. This was not part of the show and the two are glad they went through it without cameras on their faces.
5 The Kids Are Not Regulars On The Show
Will and Zoe have played a major role in making the show a success, however, they do not appear in the show as much as fans would like them to. Their parents want them to grow up in a normal environment without constantly having to mind what they are doing because of the cameras.
According to Glamour, Bill revealed that the kids do not care about the show. They sometimes even tell the crew to move if they get in their way. The parents have also confirmed that the majority of what the family does is off-camera so the kids cannot tell that they are part of a show.
4 Bill Buys Jen Movie Theater Popcorns
At just 27, Jen had to undergo hip replacement surgery on both hips because of her skeletal dysplasia condition. Joints for people with this condition wear out incredibly quickly and because her job entailed moving around a lot, it only made things worse for her. By the time she was 44, she had to get another hip replacement surgery.
According to kiwireport.com, this surgery was a success and when Jen was recovering, Bill remembered that his wife only liked movie theatre popcorn and decided to keep getting it for her as she recovered. Some of the employees at the theater knew him and did not give him a hard time. However, some demanded that he buy a movie ticket in order to get the popcorn.
3 Their Home Has Become A Target For Fans
The couple recently moved to Florida because Jen got a major job opportunity. Before moving to Florida, the couple used to live in Houston, Texas and most of the filming was in their home. According to an interview with Glamour, Bill mentioned that fans had started dropping by their front steps uninvited.
Some even left notes in their mailbox. As flattering as all the love and attention was, sometimes they got nervous about inviting people they did not know into their homes or in their compound. This was their only safe and private space but they had to put up with them as this was one of the cons of being on reality TV.
2 The Couple Received Criticism For Adopting Their Kids At Almost The Same Time
While the show had many fans, not all had positive things to say. Bill and Jen have received a lot of criticism, especially about adopting Will and Zoey. While some gave the couple encouraging feedback, others had an issue with the fact that they had adopted two small babies, one three years old and the other 19 months old, almost at the same period.
However, the couple defended themselves by explaining that the two adoptions were not in their original plan. They had already started Will's almost year-long adoption process when the opportunity to adopt Zoey presented itself. The call from the Little People of the US to adopt her took them completely by surprise. The couple had listed their names four years prior to the phone call, as noted by thewrap.com.
1 The Show Got Negative Feedback From People Living With Health Conditions
A lot of the negative feedback about the show came from people living with different conditions. According to thelist.com, one particular student from Armstrong State University who is also living with a health condition was concerned reality shows were exploiting people with medical conditions. According to her, Jen and Bill were normal people but the show tried to portray them as different.
The student went further to explain that reality shows portray these people as different from normal so that they can get ratings and viewership at the expense of the cast members. She added that the show might have good intentions of educating people about dwarfism but promoting dwarfism as a condition only makes people pity and objectify them more.
Sources: screenrant.com, therichest.com, kiwireport.com, newravel.com, thelist.com, people.com, glamour.com, thewrap.com