14 Shocking Revelations From The Little Couple’s “Life Is Short (No Pun Intended)”
Since 2009, Bill Klein and Dr. Jennifer Arnold have been sharing their lives with the world as the stars of TLC’s The Little Couple. For over eight seasons, the pair has become two of the most popular reality stars out there, because their show isn’t about unnecessary drama or exaggerated fights, it is about their real, honest life. The couple have shared a lot with fans who have welcomed them with open arms but in 2015 they decided to share more than ever before with their first ever book Life Is Short (No Pun Intended) which focused on their childhoods and their life before TV stardom. In case you haven’t had the chance to check it out, here are 14 of the most shocking revelations from the book:
14. Jen’s Arrival!
In an effort to give fans the full story of both of their lives, Jen and Bill started right from the beginning. The first chapter is all about Jen’s arrival and childhood and gave shocking insights on how difficult it was for her family to get the proper diagnosis and what that meant for Jen growing up. Jen’s parents had no idea that they were going to have a baby with health issues, and when she was born it took quite some time before doctors were able to correctly diagnose her with her specific type of dwarfism – spondyloepophyseal dysplasia (SED), type Strudwick. As a result of her SED, Jen had an incredibly difficult childhood and had her first surgery at two years old and revealed by the time she was 18 she had undergone more than 22 surgical procedures.
13. It’s A Boy!
Bill’s arrival story was just as intense as Jen’s and he shared a theory as to why he was born with SED. Bill explained that his father served in the war in Vietnam, and wrote, “It has been speculated that my father’s exposure to Agent Orange while serving in Vietnam was a contributing factor to my short stature. The exposure, which can result in flu-like symptoms among other things, is now known to denature the sperm’s DNA, causing random mutations,” Bill wrote but added there is no way of knowing for sure his father’s exposure had anything to do with Bill being born with SED. Unfortunately for Bill, his unexpected stature caused many problems at the hospital with his delivering doctor leaving the room, never to return, and the medical team deciding to keep him from his mother for days before bringing him to her. As with Jen, it took some time before Bill’s family became connected to the right doctors at Johns Hopkins Hospital, and at 14 months he was finally diagnosed with SED. Bill’s parents welcomed two more sons after him, Tom and Joe, but even though he was shorter, he was always the big brother. “I was built like a Mack truck, and I always fought my battles aggressively […] That was kind of the way it went. My brothers were younger than me, and even though they were taller as well, they were not stronger.”
12. Childhood Challenges
While fans are well acquainted with Jen and Bill’s lives now, what we never got to see was their childhoods, and luckily their book filled in those blanks. Although being the only child in their respective schools with SED was challenging, they never let it hold them back. They participated in groups like Cub Scouts and sports, and Jen even did dog-showing! What is most surprising, however, is the amount of time that they couldn’t fully enjoy their childhoods because of the constant surgeries they needed which often resulted in a partial or full body cast. “I would be out of school for two to three weeks for the surgery, then up to three months to heal in the cast at home, and then six to eight more weeks for inpatient physical therapy at the hospital,” Bill explained, with Jen going through quite the same routine.
11. Very Different Experiences
Life is Short had Jen and Bill writing individual chapters about their lives and how they experienced things, and one of the most surprising aspects was how differently they were treated because of their differences. Despite missing class time because of surgeries, both Jen and Bill’s parents made sure they never fell behind in school thanks to tutors, and it eventually came time for them both to choose where to go to college. Jen chose the University of Miami with the intent of becoming a marine biologist, while Bill went to NYU as a biology major, and while college was a great experience for Jen, the same cannot be said for Bill. “Going to bars was easy, my friendships were new, and the landscape was very fresh and exciting. But the attitude most people had about my stature wound up being eerily familiar to me — I was often rejected, just like in high school,” Bill wrote. Although Jen’s very first day at the University of Miami included being caught in Hurricane Andrew, the rest of her time was not nearly as lonely as Bill’s. “I had reinvented myself and was becoming more self-confident, more outspoken, and happier than I have ever been. I had developed even closer friendships than I had in high school,” Jen detailed about her college experience.
10. Bill’s Depression
Those who have watched The Little Couple over its many seasons know that Bill Klein is jovial, kind-hearted and absolutely loves to crack a good joke, but in Life is Short he revealed one of the darkest times of his life which is incredibly heartbreaking. In his chapter “Brains Over Brawn,” Bill detailed an incident in which eight “ignorant classmates” hurled small objects at him while yelling “midget” as he was crossing campus, and explained that while he tried to let these incidents go, the feeling of being excluded and feeling inferior built up and led to one very dark night. “One night, all these feelings finally pushed me to the brink. I lived on the third floor of the dormitory, my room facing the Fourth Street side of the building […] I decided I was tired of hearing the word ‘midget.’ I was tired of being in a group and somehow excluded. I was tired of the stares, the pointing, and the laughing, and I was tired of being alone. I wanted a companion, a girlfriend, someone to fool around with. I wanted comrades who didn’t make me wonder whether they were sincere when they said they were my friends. I opened the window and I stepped out onto the ledge.” He went on to explain that in the moment when he contemplated suicide he thought about what would happen if he just hurt himself and didn’t die, and then began to think about his family. “And then I realized that I had a lot more to live for than fleeting relationships and being accepted by a few people I hardly knew. I began to realize that I’d miss it. And I took a step back from the ledge.” Fortunately, he added, “things got better after that night on the ledge. Now that I had decided to live, I worked harder at doing things that me feel good. I even got a girlfriend, my first real relationship.”
9. Unbelievable Success
While Life is Short documents the challenges and obstacles both Jen and Bill had to overcome in their lives, it also details their incredible success which is one of the most amazing aspects of the book. Both Jen and Bill’s aspirations and achievements are astounding not just because of the challenges they had, but astounding in general as they both have done things many never could. While at the University of Miami, Jen was not only an RA and then PA for two years, which required a significant amount of commitment, she did it while maintaining a more than 4.0 GPA and when she decided marine biology wasn’t for her, she focused on medicine resulting in her completing a minor in marine science and getting a double major in biology and psychology! Similarly, Bill’s school success was off the charts and after finishing at NYU and deciding on whether to apply to medical school he was offered an internship with Dr. Kopits at Johns Hopkins. Of course, they both went on to even more accomplishments with Jen becoming a lead doctor in medical simulation and Bill taking the entrepreneurial route by starting his own companies.
8. Getting Together
There is no doubt that Bill Klein and Jen Arnold are an amazing couple, but the story of how they ended up together had more than its fair share of coincidences and missed chances. Bill recounted a time during one of his many surgeries as a child that he wheeled into the room of a girl who had just had surgery as well — and it was Jen! Unfortunately, Jen doesn’t remember the brief meeting, but Bill sure does. Then, while doing their separate work at John Hopkins in their early twenties one year apart, Dr. Kopits’ nurse practitioner Diane decided they would be a good match and told one another about the other, but nothing ever happened from Diane’s cupid attempt. Years later Bill went on DateALittle.com where he sent Jen a message but never heard back from her until a few months later. While drinking some wine, Jen’s friend encouraged her to message someone on a dating site to try to spark the personal lives, and the man she chose to message was Bill! Before long the two were talking almost daily and in March 2006 they had their first real date.
7. The Note
Since both knew right away they wanted to be with each other, it wasn’t long before Jen began looking at a position close to where Bill lived. Unfortunately, on the week of her interview when Bill really wanted to show her how amazing Long Island was, things didn’t go as planned. Bill took Jen to the Smith Haven Mall so she could get the one last piece to a perfect interview outfit, and when they got out Bill instantly noticed a group of teenagers paying attention to them and soon enough he heard the word “midget.” While he let it go and walked away from the teens when the two returned to Bill’s car later they found a note on it that read “Die midget die.” “I was stunned. I stood by my car holding the note looking around the parking lot in complete disbelief. I wanted Jen to love Long Island like it was a dream come true, and now someone was taking the rude but benign comments to a new level with a real threat.” Despite their anger and disappointment over what had happened, Bill added, “Moving forward was what we did best.”
On November 3, 2006, only eight months after they met, the beloved couple became engaged! In the book Bill described how he picked out the diamond and asked Jen’s parents if he could marry their daughter. He booked a flight to Pittsburgh, gave Jen a separate itinerary, and set up the big surprise. “I put roses and candles everywhere — rose petals on the bed, on the doors, on the floor, and a single rose that I set aside to give to Jen when she walked in the door. I dressed in a tuxedo and put on some cheesy Frank Sinatra music that I had burned on a CD […] ‘Is this really happening?’ she wanted to know. I got down on one knee, opened the little box with the ring, and asked her to marry me. She quivered for a moment, then said yes!” They then took on the challenge of not only planning a wedding but planning a wedding in a completely different state as they chose Florida and as it turned out Jen’s board exams were only five days before her wedding! While they got their gorgeous starfish-themed wedding, the day included a minor accident, then a major accident that closed the bridge between the church and their reception location, and they forgot their marriage license at their hotel! Unfortunately, their Bora Bora honeymoon also got off on the wrong foot as a pilots’ strike caused them to lose a day and half of their vacation, but once they made it, it was nothing short of amazing.
5. Jen’s Loss
Jen’s story included a lot about her family pulled together to help each other, and Jen of course, after her diagnosis and two of her best friends were her aunts Barbara and Chrissy. Jen then revealed that not long after her and Bill’s wedding, she lost her beloved Aunt Chrissy in a tragic suicide. “She suffered from major depression, and I knew big family events were very stressful for her. Sadly that was one of the last times I saw her happy. It would be less than a year from that day that she committed suicide. I wish now I had had more time with her that day. I wish I had known life would soon never be the same. The pain of losing Chrissy, especially that way, is something I still struggle with every day. I’d rather have a million surgeries than to have lost my best friend that way. But on this day, my entire family was happy, and nothing can ever take that away.”
4. Becoming “The Little Couple”
It is incredible to think that along with their careers, moving to Houston and building their dream home that Bill and Jen would even think about taking something on a TV show, but as it turns out the production company was persistent. After Jen did an appearance on Good Morning America about having SED and maintaining a career as a doctor, a few months went by and then they got a call about LMNO Prodictions, Inc, which was a leading producer of network and cable reality shows. The company said they wanted to deviate from the normal drama and conflict of most reality shows and offer an “upbeat and true-to-life story.” Although they refused for quite some time, it all changed when Jen was out shopping and heard a young girl say, “Look Mommy, that’s a Little Person like on Little People Big World.” In that moment Jen realized how the show was breaking down barriers and educating people about people with differences, specifically skeletal dysplasias. Around that same time, Bill explained he realized how much sharing Jen’s accomplishments with the world would mean, but they had no idea how successful the show was going to become when they finally agreed.
3. Will’s Adoption
After finally finishing their dream home and moving forward with the show, Jen and Bill decided it was time to expand their family and when a doctor recommended they not get pregnant because of Jen’s restrictive lung disease, they opted for a surrogate. Sadly, their surrogate Cindy had two miscarriages in a matter of months, and the pair decided to refocus on adoption instead. While they expected the process to take years, it was only three months after their surrogate’s second miscarriage that they were presented with the possibility of adopting a young Mongolian boy who had been born with skeletal dysplasia. On March 14, 2013, Bill and Jen went to get their son William, who they named after Bill but kept his given name Ri Jin as his middle name.
2. Zoey’s Adoption
Although Bill and Jen knew they wanted more than one child, they had no idea how quickly it was going to happen. As the paperwork process for going to get Will was wrapping up, the pair discussed expanding their family one day and somehow predicted their own future. “I forget which one of us started talking about how many kids we want to have, but half-kidding, I proposed, ‘Wouldn’t it be awesome if now we could just find a little girl in India?’ knowing Jen’s love of Indian culture through her many Indian friends. ‘We would be all set!’ Only two days after their conversation, a woman from Little People of America contacted Jen and said that her and Bill’s names had come up for the adoption of a little girl from India. “In January 2012, we had been reeling from our second miscarriage and unsure of how we would proceed with our family plan. By the Fourth of July that year, we were waiting for the Chinese and Indian governments to allow us to come pick up our children.” In October 2013, they travelled to India to get their daughter Zoey Nidhi.
1. Health Scares
Although the adoption process was stressful enough, during their trip to get Zoey, Jen began experiencing serious health issues which included heavy vaginal bleeding. Although Jen tried to brush it off at first, her doctor advised her to come home immediately, leaving Bill to finish Zoey’s adoption process. Although Jen assumed her medical issues were in relation to a surgery she had following a surprise molar pregnancy, she wasn’t ready for what would come next. “I had a malignancy in my uterine wall, the direct result of the molar pregnancy. It was this tumor that was causing the bleeding. But the news was far worse than that. The problem was that the cancer had already spread to my lungs, and I needed to start aggressive treatment right away,” Jen recalled. At the same time, Bill was experiencing serious back pain that was going to require surgery, and of course they had just become first-time parents to two kids within that same year! Through all of Jen’s chemotherapy and hospital visits, the two remained a team and came out stronger than ever which was one of the best yet at the same time hardest years of their lives. “All in all, the year was an unbelievable one for Bill and me. We adopted two incredible children, Will and Zoey, and I beat cancer […] While we began 2013 as a couple, we ended 2013 as a family of four, gathered together from far-reaching countries and now home. The journey to get here was unlike anything we could have predicted.”