For Hoda Kotb, becoming a mother was a lifetime wish she almost left behind.
After battling breast cancer a decade ago, the Today co-anchor was no longer able to conceive. As someone who had always planned on becoming a parent, it was a difficult reality to face.
"One of the things in my life I've always wanted was to be a mom," the 52-year-old told People in the issue's cover story. "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."
Courtesy of Hoda Kotb
While she forged ahead, appearing each morning on Today with her contagious smile, privately Kotb felt someone was missing in her life and that "hole" was so great, she fantasized about leaving broadcast to become a school teacher or another post involving children.
So, as she recalled to the magazine, one day she brought up the idea of adoption to her longtime boyfriend, New York financier Joel Schiffman.
"I said, 'Think about it for a day or a week or whatever.' And he said, 'I don't need a day. Let's get this journey going.' At that point I blubbered like a baby," she told People. "It was like the dam burst."
Fast forward to February 14, her long-awaited daughter Haley Joy was born. While Kotb left Schiffman's name off of the adoption to make the process simpler, she told the magazine her daughter will call him dad. Now, the couple is knee-deep in first-time parental duties in their New York City home.
"We just stayed in the apartment and ate and slept and burped and took naps, and that's it. That's all," she said. "But it's fun!"
While it's only been two weeks since revealing her milestone news, Kotb is forever changed.
"It's one of those things where you think you've done it all, you think you've felt it all," she explained to the magazine. "But I just didn't know that this kind of love existed."
"I wake up sometimes and go, 'Oh my God, I have a baby!'" she joked. "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."