Why Hoda Kotb Is Making a 1-Day Return to the Today Show During Her Maternity Leave
Hoda Kotb is currently at home on maternity leave following the birth of her second child, daughter Hope Catherine
On Friday, the Today co-host, 54, will be making a return to the NBC morning program for one day only, the show announced Thursday.
“We’re officially counting down til tomorrow because @hodakotb is joining us LIVE to share a special update about her new book & life as a mom of two girls,” the show tweeted. “Be sure to tune in to TODAY!”
“Hoda has been really enjoying her maternity leave with her two little girls. Hoda, Haley, Hope and Joel have been spending time with her mom, her sister, her brother and nieces,” a source close to Kotb tells PEOPLE.
While “she’s loving every second of maternity leave,” the source says “she’s also looking forward to coming back.”
Kotb has already taken a longer leave with baby Hope than after welcoming Haley in 2017, and although her return date has not yet been announced, the source says, “she’s excited to get back.”
In mid-April, Kotb called in to the show to spill the news that she had welcomed her second child, Hope Catherine, via adoption, and phoned in once more later in the show to dish on a few more details about life since she, boyfriend Joel Schiffman and Haley Joy became a family of four.
“They are amazing. I was watching Haley with [Hope] and I didn’t know what that was gonna mean or how it was gonna work,” Kotb said of the girls’ sibling dynamic. “We walked in, and I gotta tell you guys, watching Haley with her … she literally wrapped her arms around this little girl.”
“I’m standing in the middle of my living room right now. [Hope]’s sleeping in the bassinet right here next to me and I keep looking, like, ‘She’s right there! She’s wrapped up like a baby burrito, she’s here!’ It’s the coolest thing ever.”
Kotb also went into more detail about choosing Hope’s moniker, explaining, “The name came because I think there are a lot of women out there who are hoping that their day is coming too.”
“I know the feeling of it not happening for a long time and I feel like sometimes if it’s meant to happen, it will,” she said. “They told me, at the adoption agency, to wait wisely. They said, ‘Don’t count the days, don’t wonder’ — and trust me, I feel like I’m overflowing with goodness.”
“[Joel and I] had already thought of a name … and ‘Hope’ is in my journal about 10 million times as I was writing for her,” Kotb continued. “Catherine is my best friend [Karen]’s daughter’s name. It just so happens this weekend — when [Hope] was born, when we got her — it was also John’s birthday, my best friend’s husband who passed, and they said that they promised him that they would come to New York and go to Yankee Stadium to a baseball game for him on his first birthday in heaven.”
“And so it was a very emotional time for all of us and I said to Catherine, I said, ‘You’re the strongest kid I know.’ So I wanted to name her after Catherine,” the journalist added, audibly emotional as Savannah Guthrie and Jenna Bush Hager pulled down tissues from a suspended box above their desk.
And while she’s on maternity leave, Kotb doesn’t have to worry about things going awry at work, as Bush Hager, 37, made her debut alongside the new mom of two as co-host of Today‘s 10 o’clock hour in early April.
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“We want you to enjoy every single moment,” said Bush Hager. “I know we just started a new show but you know what, who cares?! I’m not worried about it!”
“The show will be here,” Guthrie, 47, agreed enthusiastically.
“I’ll hold down the fort,” Bush Hager joked. “You will be missed, but enjoy every moment with that beautiful baby.”