Pamela Fiori, editor-in-chief of Town & Country, says a brood can be a prop for a photo-shoot-like lifestyle. “Some people are looking at their children as accessories,” Fiori says.

Even in the heartland, supersize families have taken root in gated communities. The cars are massive SUVs. The houses are fully loaded, with movie theaters and game rooms and huge, restaurant-quality kitchens.

Jay Lewis lives in a neighborhood of McMansions outside Cincinnati. A few years back, Lewis, 45, quit his job as an IT executive to care for his four children while his wife practiced medicine. In some ways, he admits, he’s a stereotypical “yuppie, who drives a Lexus SUV to the country club.” But unlike the superrich, Lewis and his wife have had to forgo a few luxuries to live on one salary.

In fact, for those with merely vast resources, not titanic ones, having many children can be rough. “I make a great income,” says James G., 39, who works in the pharmaceutical industry and supports five children and a wife in a New York suburb. “But it doesn’t feel like such a great income around here, where so many wealthy people live. I really bust my balls for what I have, and I need more, because if I don’t get more, I can’t keep up . . . .”

That said, no one is giving their children back. Ari and his wife go into withdrawal when two of their five go off to summer camp. “I can’t be in a house that only has three kids,” Ari says. “The silence scares me. Three kids is so weak. It doesn’t feel like you have any.”