Hoda Kotb Received a Big Welcome Back on the ‘Today Show’

The Today Show sure knows how to welcome someone back. With a brass band, a famed choir, video of what she missed while she was gone, special foods and recipes to name a few, lead anchor Hoda Kotb got a full-blown celebration for her first day back at the news desk after maternity leave. The journalist shared her experience from her four-plus months away with her co-hosts and fans.

“Today Show’s” Hoda Kotb | Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic

What a welcome

Kotb opened the show with a familiar greeting. “Welcome to Today this Tuesday morning,” she began. “Can I say it again? … I missed saying that.”

Her co-host, Savannah Guthrie, was thrilled to have her partner back. “I can confirm she’s real; she’s with us. Hoda is back!,” Guthie said, according to Today. “And everyone is smiling so much just to see (her) face.”

The anchor also received a recorded ‘welcome back’ from celebs including Julia Roberts, Meghan Trainor, Blake Shelton, Carrie Underwood, Olympic gymnast Aly Raisman, and New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees.

Outside on the plaza, Kotb was treated to renditions of “Old Town Road” and “I Say A Little Prayer” by London’s Kingdom Choir. Her co-hosts also created a humorous montage of how what they missed about her while she was away. Chef Elizabeth Heiskell joined the Today team toward the end of the show to cook up some of Hoda’s southern favorites.

As if that wasn’t enough, a brass band greeted Kotb on her fourth hour show Today with Hoda and Jenna, as well as well wishes from the crowd complete with posters of ‘welcome back’ messages.

Time well spent

Kotb adopted her second daughter, Hope Catherine, in April, and has been enjoying her time off with her new baby and older daughter Haley Joy, whom Kotb adopted with boyfriend Joel Schiffman in February 2017. When she first announced Hope’s adoption, she recalled the day she was able to take her newborn home. “Joel and I were standing there when they hand you the baby… at that moment I was like, ‘My God, my heart just grew.’ ” she said, according to USA Today.

While the journalist missed her Today family, her time off with her family at home was priceless. “If there’s a window or moment in my life that has mattered more than anything, it’s right now,” she said on a previous Today video call. “I know it’s sort of weird that I’m taking this much time, but I just feel like, you know, sometimes in life you don’t know how much of your kids’ lives you’re going to be able see. You just don’t know. But I was saying to myself, ‘I’m not going to miss right now.'”

Kotb shared how the time off she took with Schiffman and her daughters was life-changing, calling it “the best summer ever.” The family of four just enjoyed everyday routines, with Kotb sharing how her daughters helped her rediscover life’s little wonders, like pockets and escalators. “I’ve had the best five months I ever could’ve imagined in my life,” she said. “I didn’t know what I was missing. And I was also excited to come back.”

She also acknowledged the length of time she was gone, realizing it’s not the norm for most women and she “felt a little bad about it.” In the long run, she was thankful for her decision. “In reality, life is a blink and you get this moment, so I decided I was going to take it,” Kotb said. “I’m 55 and I get to be with them… Who’s luckier than me? Nobody!”

‘Today’ is still on baby boom status

The baby boom on the morning program has created a sort of revolving door on the show, with Jenna Bush Hager out on maternity leave with her son, who was born in August, and meteorologist Dylan Dreyer expecting a baby boy in January.

Kotb shared some advice with Hager on taking the time to truly relish her maternity leave. “I said, ‘Just enjoy it. And know that this is like a moment in time and you get to live it, so don’t spend it looking around worrying about what’s ahead,'” she said on what she told Hager.

Fans of Kotb can now look forward to seeing her each morning on Today!