Melissa Hebeler / E! Illustration
Melissa Hebeler / E! Illustration
Happy, happy birthday to you, Hoda Kotb!
The Today Show host turns 53 today, and while she will surely be showered in gifts, cake, candles and wine (obviously), nothing can beat the gift that's been the last year of her life.
There's no doubt about it: Hoda just experienced one of her best years yet. She's welcomed her daughter Haley Joy into her family alongside Joel Schiffman all the while continuing to reign supreme in her career and maintain her close-knit relationships with her friends and family.
As we celebrate all her years of bringing a little more sunshine to the world, let's take a look back at what made this year so particularly wonderful:
Courtesy of Hoda Kotb
Haley Joy Was Born: Hoda announced the adoption news in February after welcoming little Haley into the world on Valentine's Day.
She shared a sweet photo to Instagram, holding her baby girl and writing, "And then my soul saw you and it kind of went, 'Oh there you are. I've been looking for you.'"
She Dove Headfirst Into Motherhood: Though she admitted she's been "exhausted" after welcoming Haley into the world, motherhood has fulfilled one of her lifelong dreams.
"One of the things in my life I've always wanted was to be a mom," she told People in March. "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."
Despite moving forward in her career and in her love life, she still felt a "hole" missing in her heart without a child. Needless to say, Haley Joy has filled that.
"She is the love of my life," Hoda told her Today Show co-hosts.
She's the Happiest She's Ever Been: Upon returning from her maternity leave, Hoda couldn't help but gush over motherhood.
"You think that by a certain stage in your life, I've had every experience I'm going to have, and then all of a sudden she shows up," the new mama said. "I felt like, in my life, I've had joy beyond what I could imagine, but this is beyond like a dream. Like you have your dreams, and then this."
She continued, "When I look at her, I see forever. I see past me. I see the future, which I guess I never saw,. I want her to know that she is loved by me, by family, and by everyone who's held her. I don't think she's going to know what to do with all the love."
And Literally All Her Friends Are the Happiest for Her: Every person in Hoda's life has commented on how over-the-moon they are for her.
Not to mention, everyone from Al Roker to Savannah Guthrie to Meredith Viera took time to visit Hoda and Haley shortly after her adoption, and so many people sent her adorable and thoughtful gifts and congratulations.
She Has a Great Relationship: Hoda's boyfriend Joel is also one of the sources of her happiness. In fact, he was the one who told her to go through with the adoption and has taken on daddy duties with Haley.
Hoda recalled the moment Joel agreed to adopt with her on the Today Show, explaining, "I said to Joel, 'I want to ask you something, and this is a big deal. I want you to think about it. I don't want you to answer right away.' I said, 'I would like to explore adoption with you.' He said, 'I don't need a minute. I'm in.'"
Essentially, Hoda told E! News in April, "I have the best man and the best baby. What more does a girl need, come on!"
And She Moved in With Him: Before all the baby news, Hoda had checked off another big box in her life: She moved in with Joel in October.
"Joel and I are getting an apartment together," Hoda shared on The Hoda Show at the time. "It's a little weird to be in your 50s and we're like 'Hey, we're moving in!' It's like you're kids. It's so weird. I was afraid to tell my own mother that I was moving in with my boyfriend. I was afraid. I don't know," she said. "I know it sounds weird—I've been married. It's like, 'Whatever!' But it's weird. It's a little odd."
Needless to say, it worked out pretty damn well!
They Just Celebrated Four Years Together: In fact, things have been going so well the couple recently rang in their 4-year anniversary in June.
"4 years together and getting better every day," she captioned this sweet photo.
Her Health Is Good: Hoda battled breast cancer in 2006—a victory she's often spoke about and admitted humbled her in the best way.
Today, she remains healthy and cancer-free, often partaking in charity events to help raise awareness around the disease and funding for cancer research.
And She's Still Doing Everything She Loves: From traveling to Nashville and drinking wine with Kathie Lee Gifford to holding dance parties in the morning for the Today Show summer concert series to visiting her favorite beaches, Hoda is on top of the world, doing everything she loves with everyone she loves.
Happy birthday again to you, Hoda! Cheers to many more wonderful years!