Hoda Kotb Tears Up as She Shares Moments From Her Maternity Leave

The co-anchor returned to the Today show after five months home with her new baby.
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By Laurie Ulster, Contributing Writer
Published September 4, 2019
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Image: Raymond Hall / Getty Images

Not everyone who comes back to work after maternity leave gets greeted by a marching band—but that’s what was in store (and more!) for Today co-anchor Hoda Kotb, who celebrated her first day back on the job yesterday after five months at home with her new baby.

This past April, Kotb adopted her second daughter, Hope Catherine, making her first child, 2-year-old Haley Joy, a big sister.

When Kotb sat down with Maria Shriver to talk about her time away, Hoda became tearful, overwhelmed by the warm wishes of her colleagues and her appreciation for the time she got to spend with her family before her return. “I don’t know what is happening in the world. I missed it, and I missed it happily,” she said in a video that documented her five months away.

She said she was grateful to be able to take so much time off and really make the most of it. “I’ve done nothing but watch and soak it in, every second,” she said, talking about Hope’s first moves towards an official rollover, and Haley’s fascination with being a big sister (along with some occasional and understandable jealousy).

Kotb said it was Haley who helped make the transition easier for her the night before her return. She always reads her daughter a bedtime story, and that night, for the first time, Haley laid her head on her mom’s heart while they read. “I was reading her the book and I couldn’t believe it. I thought, 'I wonder if she knows how calm I feel, like how at ease I feel about … my time off and my time back to work,” Kotb said, getting emotional again.

While the rest of us might not find videos from Julia Roberts or tweets from Jimmy Fallon welcoming us back from maternity leave and offering advice, we can still identify with all the feelings that rush to the surface when you head back to work.

At the day’s end, Kotb tweeted her gratitude, saying, “It’s bedtime at our house… the girls are asleep … and I want you to know I am putting my head on the pillow with a heart that is overflowing. Your kind messages are more than this girl can take. Thank you … didn’t realize how nice it was to be missed. ”

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