The new mom — who recently adopted daughter Haley Joy, now 8 weeks old — returned to the NBC morning show on Monday, and co-host Matt Lauer immediately placed a box of tissues in front of Kotb as he and Savannah Guthrie welcomed her back.
“I’ve been a mess,” Kotb, 52, said. “I’m a little bit afraid I might explode into tears.”
She added that she had cried upon seeing various members of the cast and crew again.
“I saw everyone and I’m blubbering like a baby,” the anchor shared.
Although she was clearly getting emotional, Kotb said that they were tears of joy.
“I’m feeling great. I mean, I don’t think I’ve ever been this happy,” she said, giving in and grabbing a tissue.
Fans at Rockefeller Plaza welcomed the new mother back with hugs.
Kotb revealed that although it was hard to leave her baby at home, she was thrilled to return to work.
“There’s something about when you look into the eyes of people who are just happy for you that makes me explode,” she said. “I feel so blessed to be able to have this great family and a little girl at home waiting for me.”
In a clip from the Today show from before her return, Kotb spoke about how her life has changed since adopting her daughter.
“When I look at her, I see forever — I see past me,” she said through tears. “I see the future … which I guess I never saw [before].”
Kotb is raising her baby girl alongside longtime boyfriend, 58-year-old financier Joel Schiffman, whom Haley will call “Dad.”
The new mom adds that she just wants her daughter to feel love from all around her — something that is definitely already happening, and as such isn’t anything Kotb will likely ever have to worry about.
“I want her to know that she is loved by me, by my family,” she says, wiping away tears. “And by everyone who’s held her.”
Continues Kotb, “I don’t think she’s gonna know what to do with all the love.”
New mom Hoda turned to YouTube for parenting tips: 'I didn't know how to hold her'
This morning on TODAY, Hoda Kotb returned from maternity leave and shared her emotional journey to motherhood. She’s still on cloud nine, two months after adopting her beautiful baby daughter, Haley Joy.
The moments that led up to her introduction to Haley Joy were obviously filled with happiness — and nervousness, too.
Hoda recounted that very special meeting on SiriusXM’s TODAY Show Radio this afternoon. To keep the adoption process private, her longtime boyfriend, Joel Schiffman, did not accompany her, but her best friend did.
“I’m in a room and I can hear (Haley Joy) crying from behind the door,” she said. “And I’m just standing there. And Karen is looking at me, and we’re both standing there, and she’s like, ‘Should I take video or pictures? My hands are shaking! I’m taking video! Who’s taking pictures?’ I’m like, Oh my God! It’s like you’re having a meltdown.”
The doors opened and Hoda saw a woman holding Haley Joy. “I almost fainted,” Hoda said through tears.
Mother and daughter instantly bonded. Hoda thought to herself, “If anything is a perfect fit, this is. ... Nothing felt more right than her in my arms.”
Before she took Haley Joy home, the adoption agency offered her a quick tutorial on parenting. For example, she was taught how to hold a child and eat a sandwich at the same time.
“I didn’t know how to hold her. I was literally YouTubing how to change a diaper, how to give a bath, how to burp. How do you know? I didn’t know,” she admitted.
Not only that, but she had to eat an egg salad sandwich, and she doesn’t even like egg salad!
Hoda also changed Haley Joy, and, she said, she had “never been happier than right then.”
After she was given a bag of diapers and formula, Hoda and Haley Joy were off to begin their new lives together.
How did Hoda come up with the name for her child? Let’s just say she received a sign from above.
“Halley’s comet was visible during that time,” she explained. “Everything was crazy. Everything was right.”
There's no question that Hoda is right for Haley Joy, and vice versa.
“I must have had a tiny hole in my heart that Haley filled perfectly,” she said.