I settled myself in the window seat as the flight attendant began closing the overhead compartments and preparing the cabin for takeoff.

Suddenly, a young husband and wife, clutching a tiny baby, rushed in and took the seats next to mine.

“How old is she?” I asked the mother.

“Just a week and a day.”

“Wow!” I said, wondering what such a little baby was doing on this flight from Israel to the United States.

Watching them struggle to squeeze their hand luggage into the remaining space, I offered to hold the baby. I felt her tiny body rise and fall with each breath. She was so pure and innocent and beautiful. Inside me, I felt a huge desire to hold a little baby of my own in my arms. As the plane began to take off, I was almost jealous of this mother, even though I knew that it was completely illogical. I had a large family of my own that I had left behind.

I spent most of the flight resting and reading, but in between, I couldn’t keep my eyes off this baby. I was almost jealous of this mother, even though I knew that it was illogicalWas I crazy that I felt so pulled to her? My youngest was no longer a baby, and I should just be enjoying the space and freedom and luxury of a full night’s sleep, yet there was something so incredible about holding a newborn. I knew that this innocent pink bundle would grow into a food-throwing toddler, and then into a hair-pulling whining kid that needed to be dragged to play dates and school events. The teenage years were sure to be a winning combination of maturity and immaturity, and kids who learn to drive before they know how to step on the brakes of self-control. Still, a silent prayer slipped from my heart; please G‑d, at the right time ...

I returned home the next week to my busy life while trying to get past the jet lag. As I walked my kids to day camp, I looked at all of the children and was overwhelmed by the beauty of the Jewish people. I live in a community where children are treasured. Sometimes, people may think there’s some kind of external pressure—almost like a competition to have more and more children—but that’s not why there are so many little ones in the playground or why three, four and even five children crowd into the same bedroom.

I continued on to my exercise class. I was tired and really didn’t want to go, but I pushed myself. We were doing squats, sit-ups and planks. “You can do it! The instructor cheered us on. “Eight, seven, six ... it’s hard, but that’s why we’re here. We need to work hard to improve. If we stay at our comfort level, we’ll never really build any new muscle.”

There were days and weeks that I feel stretched—like I’m doing a 60-second plank again and again, but it’s worth it. Sometimes, I have to close my eyes and ears to the stresses of my children and remind myself that nothing good comes without challenge.

The choice to go from a large family to an extra-large one may be viewed by those on the outside as bordering on insanity. As a friend in the playground asked, “How can you manage, putting that whole brood to sleep? I have only three, and it takes me all night.”

I whispered my secret: “Sometimes, I can’t.” But go ask a mother of two or four or five if they can handle it all. I’m sure that they can’t. Ask a new mother with just one baby if she is managing. Chances are that she’ll say no.

We grow with ourWe grow with and through our children children and through our children. My desire to build and give through raising children is so powerful that it pushes me to want more, even when my hands and home seem already full. Having children opens my eyes to the miracles that G‑d grants once again—new life, health—and it pushes me to find within myself a higher level of belief that if G‑d can give me children, He can give me the money and the strength to raise them. Logically, it doesn’t make sense how families with many children can pay their bills and give each child the time and the love that they need, but I look around at my friends and myself, and I’m humbled to realize that everything is a miracle. If G‑d can help me raise one child, He can help me raise many more.

A friend once smiled at my children and at me, then said, “You don’t have to have, like, a million kids.”

I smiled back at her as I thought, “I know, but does a millionaire stop after he’s made his first million?”