"I can't believe it happened to me, so I treasure every single second," Hoda Kotb says of becoming a mother later in life

By Lindsay Kimble
June 19, 2017 02:30 PM

Hoda Kotb‘s daughter Haley Joy‘s middle name is the perfect descriptor for how the baby girl has changed her mother’s life in just a few, short months.

“There’s a line of demarcation: before Haley and after Haley,” Kotb, 52, tells PEOPLE. “Every day after Haley is better than every single day before.”

The Today co-host, who welcomed Haley in February, says she misses “nothing” about life before her daughter’s arrival.

Brian Doben

She admits, “It’s funny because I thought I had the most perfect life, and then I realized after her I didn’t. I realized that this is infinitely better. Every single day is infinitely better than before she came.”

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Kotb – who was left unable to conceive after a battle with breast cancer – says she had long accepted that motherhood wasn’t in the cards for her. The fact that she “almost didn’t get this gift,” makes Kotb’s bond with Haley all the more special, she says.

“I can’t believe it happened to me, so I treasure every single second,” she says. “Not every minute, every second.”

FROM PEN: What Hoda Kotb’s Mom Taught Her is the Same Thing She Wants to Pass on to Daughter Haley Joy

With new motherhood comes new concerns, with Kotb admitting of her 4-month-old, “I worry about her so much already, and she’s just a little nugget.”

Yet, even in the most trying moments of raising an infant, Kotb tells PEOPLE, “Joy trumps fatigue. If you are happy, it doesn’t matter how chaotic and crazy and exhausted you are.”

Adds the star, laughing, “The worst and most difficult day with Haley is better than the best day in Tahiti in a thong, in my life.”