UPDATE: When Hoda Kotb suprised the world this morning with news that she had adopted a newborn baby girl, fans near and far erupted with applause and celebration. To break the amazing announcement to her co-workers and family at TODAY, Hoda called in and shared a picture of herself cradling the sweet newborn in her arms.
The baby girl, born on Valentine's Day, is named Haley Joy, and is "the love of my life," Kotb said through tears.
A short time later, Hoda called back in to the show and shared more details about her new daughter with hosts Kathie Lee Gifford and Jenna Bush Hager, including the story behind her daughter's name.
"Haley is because of Halley's Comet and it was one of those things that I just picture her sailing through the sky," Kotb said.
And in keeping with tradition, H names are a popular alliteration in the Kotb family. Hoda's sister is Hala, and her neice is Hannah, for example.
The middle name was chosen because of the girl's sweet disposition, and for what she brings to Hoda and the family.
"She brings us joy," Kotb said. "She’s got a beautiful way about her."
So, what's in a name? Haley has an English derivation and, in its authentic form, denotes natural elements like hay, wood, or a meadow.
The name caught on in popularity in the United States in the mid-1980s, after Halley's Comet made news for breaking through the atmosphere and giving people around the world a glimpse at a rare astral event that only happens once every 75 years.
According to Nameberry.com, Haley ranked #279 in popularity in the US in 2015, after peaking at #28 in 2000.
Kotb isn't the only one who cherishes the name Haley (or its homonym, Hayley). Other popular Hayleys include English actress Hayley Mills, Paramour lead singer Hayley Williams and film actor Haley Joel Osment. Hayley Vaughn was one of the most popular soap opera characters to ever exist, and was portrayed by actress and talk show host Kelly Ripa on the ABC soap opera "All My Children" from 1990-2002.
Other celebrities who have given their children this same name include musician Pat Benatar, newscaster Paula Zahn, country musician Ronnie Dunn formerly of the duo Brooks & Dunn, and comedian Bill Hader, who named his daughter Hayley Clementine.
Recently, Kotb has been absent from the show, but remained active on social media posting inspirational quotes and messages, which may have left fans wondering what she was up to. One inspirational post read: "And suddenly you just know it's time to start something new and trust the magic of beginnings."
One of the most recent ones stated something far more special: "For all the things my hands have held, the best by far is you."
"I didn't know my heart could feel like this," Kotb shared with her TODAY family on the air this morning.
"With all the love I've ever had in my life, I never imagined that I could feel this ... it's like a warm hand on my heart. I'm over the moon."
TODAY.com - Congratulations to Hoda Kotb!
The TODAY anchor has become a mother after adopting a baby girl, Haley Joy Kotb.
"She’s a Valentine’s baby so she’s a little nugget," Hoda, 52, said Tuesday during a phone call to her TODAY family. "She is the love of my life!"
The arrival thrilled Hoda's coworkers, including her co-anchor Kathie Lee Gifford, who somehow managed to keep the news a secret.
"I’ve got the biggest mouth in the world and I’ve said zilch," she said. "Hoda, we are thrilled for you, sweetheart. You were made to be a mom."
So thrilled for @hodakotb and her precious daughter, Haley Joy!! She will be the best mommy ever! We love you, Hoda, enjoy every moment!????— Kathie Lee Gifford (@KathieLGifford) February 21, 2017
Matt Lauer agreed.
"This is such fantastic news. This little girl, Haley, is the luckiest girl on the planet," he said. "You are going to be one of the most fantastic moms I can ever imagine."
Carson Daly also chimed in.
"You are going to be an incredible mother," but joked, "You thought you drank a lot of wine before? You just wait."
Hoda called back in at the of the Fourth Hour, explaining that she picked her daughter's name after Halley's comet, which can be seen from Earth once every seven decades.
"It was one of those things. I just picture her sailing through the sky," she said.
The name also continues an alliteration Hoda shares with her sister, Hala, and a niece, Hannah.
Hoda said the baby's middle name reflects the emotion she brings.
"She brings us joy. She’s got a beautiful way about her," she said.
Last week, Hoda hinted at the reason behind her time off by posting inspirational quotes on her social media account.
"And suddenly you just know it's time to start something new and trust the magic of beginnings," read one. "For all the things my hands have held, the best by far is you," read another.
She posted one more Tuesday after sharing the news about her daughter.
Hoda's love for children is no surprise. She often shares with the TODAY audience stories about time spent with her nieces, Hannah and Ella, frequently showing pictures of her extended family on the air.
Last year, Hoda announced on her Sirius XM show that she had moved in with her boyfriend, Joel Schiffman. The couple have been dating since June 2013. Hoda was previously married, but has no other children.
It’s certain Hoda will be turning to her best example for her new role: her own mother, whom she describes as “among the strongest, most optimistic people I’ve ever met, because she believes anything is possible."
Hoda told her co-workers that her mother just arrived at her home a few days ago, greeting her daughter with, "Hi little Haley. We've waited so long for you!"
Hoda called her mother strict, but always steadfast in her support for her children.
“If I looked up at every sporting event, my mom was sitting there,” Hoda recalled in a Mother’s Day tribute. “Every crummy basketball game, every JV whatever, every time I rode the bench — there she was. She was sitting there, saying, ‘That was an amazing shot! I know you were only in it the last minute, but boy, that it was amazing.”