The Untold Truth Of The Little Couple’s Dr. Jen Arnold
Dr. Jen Arnold from TLC’s The Little Couple is quite the accomplished woman. For one, she’s a doctor — a neonatologist, to be specific — and the medical director for the Center for Medical Simulation and Innovative Education at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital (via the hospital’s website). That in and of itself is a lot, but Jen is also a wife, mother, and reality television star, as noted in her Instagram bio. So you know Jen is a busy woman!
Fans of The Little Couple have been following Jen, her husband, and their children for over a decade, an impressive run for any show, let alone a reality program. And during that time, fans have had an inside perspective on the Arnold family’s lives, including their ups, downs, and everything in between.
While you may feel like you know Jen pretty well, believe it or not, the cameras aren’t privy to everything that transpires in her life. So if you’re curious, keep reading, as this is the untold truth of The Little Couple‘s Dr. Jen Arnold.
Dr. Jen Arnold's earliest years were rough
Dr. Jen Arnold from The Little Couple is definitely living her best life. But despite her super charmed circumstances, Jen had a rough start in life, stemming from health complications at birth. “My parents were really young, 20 and 21,” she told the Tampa Bay Times. “I came out in a lot of respiratory distress and was transferred pretty immediately to the (Neonatal Intensive Care) unit at All Children’s.” That’s certainly a lot to deal with when you’re that tiny.
In order to stay alive and eventually thrive, Jen underwent multiple surgeries, starting in early childhood. “My first surgery was a cervical spine fusion because if I fell I could have been paralyzed from the neck down,” she continued. “That surgery was done by Dr. [Steven] Kopits and, interestingly enough, Dr. Ben Carson.” How’s that last bit for a random fun fact?
Since then, Jen has undergone 35 surgeries altogether and has even beaten cancer to boot. Talk about a survivor!
Growing up, Dr. Jen Arnold was a "Disney brat"
While Dr. Jen Arnold was born in St. Petersburg, Fla., when she was still a kid she and her family moved to central Florida. Because of that, Jen basically had a theme park for a backyard, something she very much took advantage of. “In Orlando, my mom worked at Disney for 30 years so I was a Disney brat,” she recalled in an interview with the Tampa Bay Times. “I got to go to Disney whenever I wanted.” That’s basically every kid’s dream.
For as much as Jen loved spending time with Mickey Mouse, however, her roots very much remained to the west back in St. Pete. “But my aunt and uncle lived in St. Pete Beach and I came to St. Pete every chance I could get,” she continued. “I really grew up there and on the beach. Every vacation and summer I was sent here.”
While Jen lived in Houston when The Little Couple started filming, she eventually relocated her family back home to her native Florida. She calls St. Pete her “happy place.”
Sometimes Dr. Jen Arnold watches herself on television
One thing you always wonder is whether or not reality television stars watch their own show. So do Dr. Jen Arnold and her husband, Bill Klein, tune in when episodes of The Little Couple air on TLC? “By and large, we don’t watch them until they air, so we see them the same time you guys do,” Bill explained in an interview with Glamour. “Sensitive hospital stuff that Jennifer needs to review before hand [is seen], but those are just little pieces.”
As for whether or not Jen and Bill binge marathons of The Little Couple when it’s on television, according to Jen, they won’t change the channel when they catch them. In fact, Jen said it would be a neat idea to go back and watch the program from the very beginning. “If nothing else, it would be fun to see how we were as a couple before we had Will because now I can’t even remember what it was like this morning,” she added.
Not all of Dr. Jen Arnold's scenes on The Little Couple are "real"
It’s an open secret that reality television shows aren’t exactly, well, real all the time. Whether it’s re-shooting scenes to get the best “take” or producers stirring the pot to create drama, most fans of reality programming know to take certain aspects of their favorite shows with a grain of salt (via E! News).
As for The Little Couple, Dr. Jen Arnold dropped a bit of a bomb when she shared that the celebrations you see on television may not always be the real thing. “We try to remind each other that dinners out with the cameras don’t really count and that we still need to have a separate celebratory dinner for us, for birthdays and anniversaries,” she revealed in a chat with HuffPost. “Even though we celebrate on camera, we do something separate as well.” And while that may be a bit disappointing for some, take heart: That just means everyone gets twice as much cake.
Dr. Jen Arnold first met her husband when she was 10 years old
Dr. Jen Arnold officially met her husband, Bill Klein, via a dating site for little people. However, that wasn’t their first time meeting — far from it. In fact, the pair saw each other for the first time when they were medically-fragile children in the hospital. “He remembers coming into my room and thinking that I was really cute and apparently I shooed him out of the room and my mom shooed him out of the room because I was, like, vomiting,” Jen recalled in an interview with the Tampa Bay Times. “But he was cruising the hall for chicks literally in his wheelchair and he remembers meeting me.”
While Jen and Bill didn’t stay in touch then, they did cross paths later in life on a professional level. “Then, when we were in college, fast-forward a few years, he shadowed Dr. Kopits the summer after I shadowed him,” Jen continued. And despite Kopits encouraging them to hang out, it wasn’t until Jen and Bill met again online that the sparks flew.
Dr. Jen Arnold is glad she shared her journey to motherhood with the world
Longtime fans of The Little Couple know what Dr. Jen Arnold and her husband, Bill Klein, experienced in order to have a family of their own. Because of Jen’s skeletal dysplasia, she and Bill decided to use a surrogate mother, as carrying a pregnancy could be dangerous for Jen.
When Jen and Bill learned that the surrogate was pregnant for the first time back in 2011, they were naturally over the moon. Alas, the surrogate had a miscarriage, and while that was obviously devastating, Jen doesn’t regret being public about their journey. “When we lost the pregnancy, we wondered how we were going to handle it,” she explained to People. “But by sharing our story, whether it be positive or negative, I think it can help others going through similar things.”
Sadly, Jen and Bill’s surrogate had a second miscarriage in 2016, according to their book, Think Big: Overcoming Obstacles with Optimism. That’s when they made the decision to adopt, and now they have two beautiful children: Will and Zoey.
Sometimes strangers knock on Dr. Jen Arnold's door
Since Dr. Jen Arnold and her husband, Bill Klein, are reality television stars, they’re pretty famous. So famous, in fact, that fans have figured out where they live and dropped by their house! “Everyone has been so nice, but when someone knocks on your door, you do wonder if they are well-intended or not and maybe get a little nervous,” she told Glamour. “So we do, of course, prefer when they send us a letter, since when we are at home that is obviously our private time.” People have even stopped by on Christmas Eve, which had to be pretty darn weird.
While Jen and Bill obviously hope that people respect their privacy, Jen understands that fans just want to meet them. “But seriously, everyone that has come to our door has been very well-intended,” she continued. “I do get it, though, because people watch us and feel like they know us!”
Dr. Jen Arnold lobbied for Medicare with members of Congress
Dr. Jen Arnold didn’t sign onto a reality television show just to get famous and maybe a little rich. Rather, she knew that what she was doing would have a real impact. “My goal of putting our lives out there is to raise awareness, so whenever I have the opportunity to use this platform … well, that’s why I put up with TV cameras in our house,” she shared in a chat with The Washington Post.
To that end, when Jen learned that Congress was considering cutting Medicare, she knew she had to act. So she and her family traveled to D.C. to explain to members of Congress how devastating that would be. “The BCRA is scary — it would cut $43 billion in Medicaid funding, which would more negatively affect kids than adults,” she continued. “We have to speak out.”
And that she did, although meeting with the Republicans who supported the bill was a bit daunting for Jen. “I guess I’m going to have to change their minds,” she added.
Dr. Jen Arnold almost became a marine biologist instead of a doctor
If you’re a longtime fan of The Little Couple, you know that it’s practically impossible to imagine Dr. Jen Arnold being anything other than a neonatologist. Not only does she visibly love the profession she’s chosen, but Jen is also clearly very good at what she does.
Interestingly enough, however, Jen almost followed a very different career trajectory when she was in college. “I love medicine and I love science, but I almost became a marine biologist,” she recalled in an interview with the Tampa Bay Times. “I went to the University of Miami and then I encountered something called physical chemistry and I thought, what am I thinking?”
While Jen never ended up taking that physical chemistry course, that experience caused her to re-evaluate her career goals. “I also realized I’m not much of a lab person, I’m more of a people person,” she continued. “So, I applied to med school.” And the rest is history.
Dr. Jen Arnold applied to over 30 medical schools
You don’t have to know anything about The Little Couple to know that Johns Hopkins Medical School is one of the best (via U.S. News & World Report). That’s exactly where Dr. Jen Arnold went to medical school, proving just how smart and capable she is.
But interestingly enough, apart from one other university, Johns Hopkins appeared to be the only medical school interested in Jen. “I applied to over 30 schools and only got interviews [with] two — and one of them was because I knew the president of the University of Miami,” she told the Tampa Bay Times. Of course, the other school that invited her to interview was Johns Hopkins.
Jen has her suspicions as to why few schools were courting her. “In my personal statement I said that I was a little person and that I had benefited from great health care and I wanted to give back to kids,” she continued. “I never know to this day if that’s why I didn’t get any other interviews but I feel like it probably had something to do with it.”
This is how Dr. Jen Arnold became a reality TV star
These days, there’s no shortage of reality shows about all kinds of folks, from little people to sister wives to parents with eight or more children. But when The Little Couple debuted back in 2009, the television landscape was very different. So, how did The Little Couple’s Jen and Bill end up on TV?
Dr. Jen Arnold and her husband, Bill Klein, actually turned producers down multiple times, as they were understandably hesitant. “But, at the time that we were talking about this whole series option I was shopping in Bed Bath & Beyond and a little girl who was probably about 7 or 8 came up to me and said, ‘Oh you’re a little person like Little People, Big World,'” Jen explained in a chat with the Tampa Bay Times. “At that time you never heard the term little person from someone who didn’t have a little person in their family.” Instead, folks used a more offensive descriptor.
Heartened by the changes she was seeing, Jen decided that maybe they could “do some good” by having their own show. So they filmed a pilot, it got picked up, and here we are now.
This is what Dr. Jen Arnold and her husband do when the cameras aren't rolling
With a successful reality show, Dr. Jen Arnold’s high-profile job, Bill Klein’s pet store, and two children, you may find yourself wondering if The Little Couple ever gets any alone time together. Well, wonder no more, as Bill revealed that they do, indeed, have their private time. “We do our thing, we cook dinners, we talk about the ups and downs of work and family,” he shared with Glamour. He added that they also binge lots of good television together, such as one of his favorite shows, Breaking Bad.
Additionally, as Jen tells it, she has a special way of making sure they keep the spark alive in their marriage. “The most important thing is to spend time together and plan a date night,” she said. “You have to go enjoy yourselves together and that definitely helps keep the love life alive!”
Dr. Jen Arnold says this is the best and worst thing about being on The Little Couple
As most of us understand in the Instagram age, being famous has its advantages and its disadvantages. As for what that looks like for Dr. Jen Arnold, she has experienced more of the former than the latter. “The biggest joy from the show is those moments where somebody sends a message or tells us that the show has helped them in some personal way,” she shared with Glamour. And that can be anything, from fertility issues to the adoption process to the physical and medical challenges of being a little person. “It’s a really cool thing and makes me feel happy and proud when that happens,” she continued.
As for the most difficult aspect of being a reality television star, Jen says it’s mostly when people stop her when she’s working, especially when she has pressing issues to deal with and can’t chat and take selfies. “It’s a good problem to have,” she added. “We’re so fortunate to have the following we have.”
This is Dr. Jen Arnold's favorite moment from The Little Couple
One nice thing about having a reality show about your family and daily life is having it all recorded and being able to revisit any moment you like with the push of a button. That includes birthdays (staged or not), anniversaries, weddings, and personal milestone occasions.
So, just what is Dr. Jen Arnold’s most cherished moment from The Little Couple? “My all-time favorite show is adoption day when we adopted Will,” she gushed in a chat with Glamour. “I talk about it and start getting teary-eyed.” That is so sweet!
Jen loves having this special occasion, the day she became a mom for the first time, forever preserved in real time. “It’s the most amazing home video,” she continued. “To have it all documented, is just, oh my gosh … it brings me tears.” Chances are Jen feels the same way about Zoey’s big adoption day, too.
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