For Small Woman and Tall Man, Size Doesn't Matter

At 2 feet 9 inches tall, Christianne Ray, 20, is the average height of a toddler.

"I can't reach anything in the refrigerator," she said. "It's a pain being a little person. It's a pain in the butt."

A rare kind of dwarfism, spondyloepiphyseal dysplasia, severely affects Ray's spine and limbs.

She grew up in a small town near Seattle and said that her friends and classmates always accepted her as just one of the kids. Outside school people, would gawk, but her schoolmate, 6 feet 4 inch Jeremy Bowden took charge.

"Most people would look and then stare for a while," Bowden said. "And then I'd say something to 'em like, 'What are you looking at? You don't need to stare.'"


At first, they shared one class together, but over time the two friends bonded over more than just schoolwork.

Jeremy, now 19, was different too. His mother had died from cancer when he was 12 years old, and he had struggled with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. A sensitive, compassionate high school senior, his friendship with Christianne became even closer.

"He just, he kissed me, once … one day when we were, it was … at night, and … we were sitting on the piano," Ray said. "I literally saw fireworks when he kissed me."

"I just … decided to lay one on her," Bowden laughed. He had a reputation as something of a ladies man, but he fell in love with Ray because of her personality.


"She's never down in the dumps or anything, she's always out ... making me happy and stuff whenever I'm mad," Bowden said.

Personality was a big factor for Ray as well, who said Bowden is caring, and helps her out a lot. And his good looks don't hurt.

"Yeah, he is good-looking too. And he's tall," she said. "I like tall guys."

Bowden's height and strength come in handy for Christianne, who can't walk far or lift heavy things.

Unexpected Pregnancy

It's a very physical relationship, in every way. Ray told "20/20" that the sex is "great." Bowden blushed.


"We get in positions that people can't even think of," Ray laughed. "Trust me. There is stuff that we can do that no one else can do."

When Ray found out she was pregnant, she felt conflicted, and scared.

"I kinda was like, 'Oh, I should get an abortion, I don't know what I should do, I'm too young for this, I'm too short for this. I don't know if I can carry this baby. I don't know what Jeremy's gonna think, I don't know if Jeremy's gonna leave me.' Well, actually, I didn't think Jeremy would leave me but I didn't know what Jeremy was gonna think," she said.

She was just 19 years old, and Jeremy was 18: one unmarried teenager about to tell the other that she was pregnant.

She decided to break the news after she and her mother picked up Bowden from his job.

"I started patting his knee and I go, 'Hey. Don't freak out on me now,'" Ray remembered. "'Seriously, don't freak out, when I tell you this … I'm pregnant.' And then he goes … 'What?'"

The first obstetrician Ray visited strongly recommended an abortion, and said that carrying the baby could kill her.

Ray said she and Bowden cried for about an hour. Eventually, she decided that if there was any question as to whether or not she truly wanted an abortion she wouldn't go through with it.

Ray found a new doctor, Edith Cheng, a specialist in high-risk pregnancies at the University of Washington Medical Center.

'His Face Lit Up'

The pregnancy went well, and they planned a C-section one month early.

On April 24, Krysten Elise was born. Bowden was elated upon seeing his daughter for the first time.

"It's hard to explain, it's amazing," Bowden said.

"I've never seen his face lit up so much," Ray said.

And now these strange bedfellows move on to the greatest challenge of their young lives: Ray with the probable distinction of being the shortest mother in the world, and Bowden doing the heavy lifting.

"I got a lot more responsibility, and, it actually calmed me down quite a bit," Bowden said.

Jeremy's dad Gene agrees, and even though Jeremy is a high school dropout, Gene is moved by his son's transformation.

"He dotes on that little girl," Gene Bowden said. "He has gone beyond my expectations on how he cares for Christianne. I mean, it's obvious that there's a genuine love between the two of them. "

A New 'Normal'

Ray hoped her child would be normal "so that she wouldn't have to go through the same thing that I went through." But 9-month-old Kyrsten is only the length of a newborn and her growth chart mirrors Ray's. She might not be quite as short as her mother, but will certainly be a little person.

Jeremy says he's prepared for the newest little person in his life, and all of the upcoming challenges.

"I'm used to it 'cause when I was younger my mom had cancer. So I helped my mom out, a lot," he said.

This summer, the couple plans to marry, and Bowden has begun thinking about what he'll tell his daughter about life as a little person: "That your mom went through it all. That you can do it, too, and you also have someone there to help you."