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Watch New Mom Hoda Kotb's Emotional Return to Today

Kotb had been on maternity leave after adopting a baby

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Liam Mathews

Today is a new day for Hoda Kotb.

The new mom returned to work Monday for the first time since adopting her daughter Haley in February, and the 52-year-old first-time mother was very emotional in her first appearance, telling her co-hosts that Haley has changed everything about her life.

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"I didn't know this existed before now," she told Matt Lauer, Savannah Guthrie and Dylan Dreyer. "And I understand everyone who has kids, which is all of you guys, I understand what you meant, but it took me this long" -- that is, that she didn't know she could feel love like this.

Savannah Guthrie, Matt Lauer, Hoda Kotb and Dylan Dreyer, Today

Twitter/Today

Kotb can't stop crying tears of joy. "I felt like in my life I've had beyond what I could have imagined," she said in a video taped before she returned to the studio. "But this is beyond a dream. Like you have your dreams, and then this," she said, her voice trailing off. "I never believed in love at first sight until now."

She said she always wanted to have a baby, but after cancer and a divorce, she didn't think it was going to happen and kind of resigned herself to not getting what she wanted until she decided that there was no reason why not. She went to her partner Joel Schiffman and said she'd like to explore adoption -- and he said of course.

It's very sweet. She's going to have a hard time focusing on work, because her mind is happily elsewhere.