In November 2011, TLC’s “The
Little Couple” Jennifer Arnold and Bill Klein saw their world shatter when the
surrogate carrying the couple’s unborn child suffered a miscarriage. This wasn’t
the first stumbling block the couple has faced on the road to parenthood.
Both Klein and Arnold, a
neonatologist at Texas Children’s Hospital and assistant professor of
pediatrics-neonatology at Baylor College of Medicine, have a genetic condition
that causes dwarfism.
“We both have a genetic condition, a rare form of skeletal
dysplasia called Spondyloepiphyseal Dysplasia, that results in dwarfism
and many orthopedic complications,” explains Arnold. “We opted for surrogacy
because we wanted to avoid the possible risks and complications of carrying a
pregnancy given my short stature and small size.”
In addition to the physical risks to Arnold, the odds of a
healthy baby weren’t in their favor.
“If we have a child biologically we have a 50% chance of
having a child with the same skeletal dysplasia as us; a 25% chance of having
an average sized child; and 25% chance of having a child that may not survive
past infancy. We understood and were ok with these risks for surrogacy,” she
Coming to terms with
In addition to the health
risks of Arnold carrying a baby, she’s battled a degree of infertility, too.
Her ovaries were not normally placed in her pelvis, making the egg retrieval
procedure required for surrogacy challenging for Arnold’s doctors. And her body
wasn’t producing the expected 6 to 8 eggs per menstrual cycle, even though she
was on medications to stimulate her ovaries.
As a result, the couple had
to wait over a year for the doctors to be able to obtain only two eggs, which were fertilized
with Klein’s sperm to become embryos.
women experience side effects of drugs aimed at stimulating ovaries like
nausea, feeling full, vomiting or mood swings.
“Thankfully, I did not really experience anything extreme. I
had a sense of fullness that was sometimes hard to deal with given my small
size,” says Arnold.
While physical side effects were side-stepped, Arnold has experienced
a lion’s share of heartache. In addition to the emotional toll of her
infertility, Arnold and her husband had to deal with the gripping loss of the
She says she came to terms with her fertility challenges and
made it through those tough first days with a lot of support.
“My advice for other women facing fertility issues is to never
give up. Speak to family and friends for support and don’t forget to take care
of yourself during the process,” she says.
The emotional toll of infertility has yet to dampen Arnold’s
spirit. Or shake her marriage.
“Couples in this situation need to stick together and stay
calm. I have found the
support of my husband and family invaluable. The end goal is to
become parents, but remember that first you fell in love with each other and
that is what matters most,” she says.
says she and her husband aren’t abandoning their dream of becoming parents.
an adopted little bundle to their loving nest is something the couple is
considering. “It’s always been on our radar,” says Arnold. “Naturally, if we adopt, we are thrilled to adopt a child
with skeletal dysplasia."
while miscarriage and infertility are difficult to deal with, Arnold refuses to
let it get her down.
to keep going and trying in order to be at peace. The goal is to become a
parent and there are many ways to do that, I just need to hang in there until I
found the way it would work for me,” she says.