Kotb announced on the Today show on Feb. 21 that she adopted her daughter, Haley Joy Kotb

By Charlotte Triggs
March 09, 2017 11:39 AM

After cancer left her unable to have a child, Today’s Hoda Kotb opens up about the emotional road to adopting her daughter. Subscribe now for the exclusive interview – only in PEOPLE!

It’s been three weeks since Hoda Kotb adopted her adorable baby girl, and she hasn’t wanted to leave her side since welcoming her home.

Kotb, 52, revealed Feb. 21 on the Today show that she adopted a daughter — Haley Joy Kotb — who was born on Feb. 14. “She’s a Valentine’s baby,” Kotb gushed, calling in to the NBC morning show to announce the big news. “She is the love of my life.”

Brian Doben

To help with the adjustment, Kotb’s mother, Sameha, stayed with the Today show anchor for the first week since Haley arrived home in New York. Now, Kotb gives her babysitter a ring when she needs an extra set of hands for the care of her newborn daughter.

“I said, ‘Can you just come here and watch, and if I need to go to the pediatrician, will you tell me?’ ” Kotb says in this week’s issue of PEOPLE.

And to be near to Haley’s side, Kotb admits that she drags an air mattress into the nursery every night so that she can sleep close to the baby’s bassinet.

“For now, I just really want to do the whole thing,” says Kotb, who doesn’t mind the loss of sleep. “I’m not sleeping, and I don’t even care.”

Brian Doben

FROM COINAGE: Which Is Cheaper — Disneyland or Disney World?

For more on Hoda Kotb’s emotional adoption journey, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday.

A decade ago, Kotb battled breast cancer, which resulted in her being unable to conceive because of the treatment. But the desire to be a mom remained, and she pursued her interest in adoption last year when she moved in with her boyfriend of three years, financier Joel Schiffman.

Though 58-year-old Schiffman’s name was not on the paperwork (as a means to simplify the adoption process), Kotb says, “Haley will call him Dad” and gushes about her boyfriend: “He’s such a great dad and a great influence.”

Brian Doben

Within the past month that the Today anchor has taken time off from her position on the morning show to bond with Haley, Kotb admits that there have been moments of disbelief that she is now a mom.

“I wake up sometimes and go, ‘Oh my God, I have a baby!’ ” she says with a laugh. “But it feels totally real. I guess if you’ve been waiting this long for something, and you wish for it, pray for it, hope for it, wonder if it will ever be, and then it happens, nothing’s more real. Nothing.”