“It’s one of those things where you think you’ve done it all, you think you’ve felt it all, but I just didn’t know that this kind of love existed.”
Kotb, 52, met her new baby, Haley Joy, on Valentine's Day and said she nearly gave up hope of becoming a mother.
“One of the things in my life I’ve always wanted was to be a mom,” she admitted. “Sometimes in your life, things just don’t work out for whatever reason, so you say, ‘Well, I wasn’t meant to have that.’ But it was really hard to come to terms with it.”
Kotb became emotional while talking with People about her breast cancer battle a decade ago. The treatment she received left her unable to conceive. She received a second blow when her two-year marriage to tennis coach Burzis Kaanga ended in divorce less than a year after she ended treatment.
Kotb’s on-screen co-host, Kathie Lee Gifford, also commented on Kotb’s desire to have children..
“Hoda is such a grateful person. She’s not a whiner or complainer, so she rejoiced in the blessings she had, and she loved being an aunt and found great joy in that,” Gifford said. “It seemed like that was enough for her. She never let on that (there) was something missing in her life.”
Fans of Kotb might be surprised to learn she once considered leaving her career to start a job as a teacher or operating a summer camp.
“One of the reasons was because I couldn’t have children,” Kotb said. “Finally I said to myself one day, ‘Why can’t I? Why not me?’ I had this ache in me that I couldn’t push away anymore.”
With the support of her boyfriend, Joel Schiffman, she used a New York-based adoption agency to find Haley Joy. Schiffman’s last name was left off to simplify the adoption process, but Kotb insisted that “Haley will call him Dad.”
Within a few months of working with the agency, Kotb found her baby girl and flew to another U.S. city to pick her up after her birth on Feb. 14.
She admits that the sudden and drastic change is a bit unnerving at times.
“I wake up sometimes and go, ‘Oh my God, I have a baby!’ ” People reported.
“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.”