Jen Arnold's Struggles: From Tough Childhood to Cancer Battle and the Hardships of Adoption
Being less than 4 feet high has not been an obstacle for this girl to become a television celebrity immediately after her show aired in 2009.
Dr. Jennifer Arnold (45) and businessman Bill Klein (44) are a couple well known for their TLC show "The Little Couple." Their lives are an open book on TV and for more than 10 years the audience of their reality show has seen the two get married, raise a family, enjoy happy moments and sometimes even enduring hardships. But there is more to Arnold's life than what we see on TV. Let's take a look at her life story.
FIRST YEARS OF HER LIFE
Arnold was diagnosed with Spondyloepiphyseal Dysplasia Type Strudwick at an early age. She has undergone multiple surgical interventions. In fact, her oldest childhood memory is from an episode involving her early health troubles.
It is not exactly a happy memory; she was in her room, on her bed, with her parents surrounding her and looking down at her. She remembers that towels were placed at the sides of her head to make her feel more comfortable. Also, she remembers clearly the flashing lights of the ambulance she rode.
Two years after that episode, Arnold had to be intervened for cervical fusion, with the man responsible for the surgery being no other than Dr. Ben Carson, former presidential candidate and a prestigious doctor. Not everybody can brag about this.
Most people have pleasant memories of their childhood. For Arnold, it has been a little different, because of her physical condition, skeletal dysplasia. She was subjected to teasing and discomfort from her classmates while she was at school. Not only was Jen going through a treacherous time socially, but she was struggling physically as well. In her lifetime, Jen has gone under the knife over 30 times.
And, according to therichest, a good chunk of her childhood and teenage days were spent in and out of the hospital, forcing her to miss a lot of schoolwork. Alas, Jen managed to catch up, excelling at her work, and eventually becoming a successful doctor.
A MATTER OF FAITH
Curiously, Arnold and Klein actually met when they were both 10 years old. They had both undergone an operation and recovered in the same hospital. While Klein remembers that moment clearly and says to have been impressed by her, Arnold has no recollection of this.
A SMART GIRL
From a very young age, Jen showed love and passion for studying. She knew very early that she wanted to go pursue higher education. However, after facing discrimination because of her height during the admission interview at the University of Miami on her first attempt, she decided to switch to John Hopkins Medical School in Baltimore.
After graduating as a neonatologist with excellent grades, proving that her ability as a student has nothing to do with her height, Arnold met Klein online, with a mutual friend playing cupid for the two.
This friend was convinced that they were the perfect match for each other. Unfortunately, each one's personal circumstances did not allow an appointment to be made at the time, so for a few years, they developed an online relationship that soon evolved into a romance.
After finally meeting in person, the love began to grow between them. By the time their show debuted, they had already formed a solid marital bond. They were a truly happy couple.
THE STRUGGLE FOR HAVING A CHILD
It is not a secret that Arnold and her husband have had severe problems conceiving. After Arnold consulted a fertility specialist and had several studies done, they tried assisted fertilization, following several spontaneous losses.
It was painful enough for the couple having to endure these losses, and it didn't help that the surrogate mother who carried Arnold and Bill's baby suffered a miscarriage. They came to believe that it wasn't in the odds for them to become parents.
In the midst of this ordeal, they both talked and decided to give some time to the idea of having a baby and began the necessary procedures to adopt. After much paperwork and bureaucracy, William was adopted from China and Zoe from India.
RAISING TWO CHILDREN AT A TIME
At first, Klein felt worried about not being able to love a child who does not have any genetic ties with him. However, as soon as he saw a photo of William he fell in love with the little boy and the connection between them was complete when he had him at home.
Due to her age and the change of scenery, little Zoe has found it particularly difficult to adapt to her new family. Much crying and refusal to pay attention or do something have been frequent. But it seems that little by little the love from her new parents is winning her heart.
TREASURING THEIR PRIVATE MOMENTS
Arnold and Klein know that even if their lives are exposed on television, it is important for them as a couple and for their children to maintain certain traditions to celebrate important dates, birthdays and anniversaries in private.
So, although for the cameras, the family goes out to dinner and celebrates birthday parties and other special occasions on the little screen, they carry out their "true" celebrations intimately, when the cameras are not rolling and the production team and crew are not around.
RULES FOR A HAPPY MARRIAGE
They have also done this for difficult times. Arnold's relationship with Klein is authentic, and, like with every couple, they have disagreements. However, the couple has established two rules within their marriage to protect it.
The first is not to go to bed without having resolved the differences they may have, even if that means that either of them should say "I'm sorry." The other is that whatever happens they will make sure they talk to each other and have communication.
As a couple, Arnold and her husband are aware that their relationship takes place in front of the cameras, but this does not mean that they are going to air their most darks moments in front of millions of people.
Arnold is a doctor in neonatology and before moving to Florida, she spent a lot of time working in the hospital, and the production team wanted to take the cameras there to follow her in her daily life as a doctor.
Unfortunately, the hospital was reluctant to allow the cameras to enter its facilities. After numerous meetings and negotiations, the hospital would eventually allow some filming to take place.
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While living in Houston, Texas, Arnold worked at Texas Children Hospital until 2017, when she left for Florida.
FIGHTING FOR HER LIFE
Throughout her whole life, Arnold has struggled with various conditions that have compromised her health and well-being. At 27, she had to undergo replacement surgery on both hips. Fortunately, she recovered fully and continued her work.
In 2013, while dealing with another failed pregnancy, she had to undergo one more surgery. While in the hospital, she got worst due to pneumonia and then underwent several chemotherapy sessions. She had been diagnosed with a rare type of cancer, as she shared in an official, heartbreaking statement:
“I have recently been diagnosed with a rare type of cancer and am currently undergoing treatment, including surgery and chemotherapy. I am very fortunate as the prognosis is very good.
While there is never a good time to get news like this; getting it just as we are building our new family is tough in many ways… but being surrounded by the love of my husband and our two beautiful children is actually in many ways giving me the strength to fight it even stronger.”
Happily, in 2014, she was declared cancer-free.
Arnold has received some criticism by people who dislike "The Little Couple" since they believe the show is a modern version of the "Freak Shows" where they exhibited people and exploited them because of their differences.
But she believes the series can show the world that they are simply normal people living normal lives. As everyone has times of difficulties and times of happiness, her life is one of struggles and victories, something that motivates her followers to move forward. "The Little Couple" will return for its 12th season on August 6.