Jenna Bush Hager Made a "Very Emotional" Return to 'Today' After Maternity Leave

Samantha Vincenty
Photo credit: Today

From Oprah Magazine

Jenna Bush Hager returned to the Today show on Monday, November 11, and opened up to someone who knows exactly what post-maternity mixed emotions are like: Her co-host, Hoda Kotb. Hager's mom, Laura Bush, also called in with some kind words on her first day back at work.

As reluctant as Hager felt to leave baby Hal, who is just over 3 months old, she told Kotb that she's grateful to work somewhere she's actually happy to return to.

"I evidently am very emotional, but that's no surprise," Hager said, tearing up. "It feels so good, and I hope you all have these places in your life where you want to go back to. Because I wanted to come back, y'all didn't have to drag me!"

Hager told Kotb that she held Hal "a little tighter and cried on his little head" the night before, even though she was excited to start working again. But she said her husband, Henry Hager, pointed out to her, "'it's the passing of time. Something's come to an end, and all things come to an end.' And I'm like no, do they have to?!'"

Both Hager and Kotb melted at the adorable photos of Hal that flashed onscreen. "I can't believe that he's here and I get to be his mom," Hager said, her voice cracking a little as she laughed, "what is wrong with me?" She added that life is more hectic now that she has three kids. "Live television is easier than being a mom sometimes!"

Hager's first day back included a phone call (complete with hilarious technical difficulties) from her mother, former first lady Laura Bush. "We're glad you're on the whole hour so Dad and I can keep an eye on you," Bush joked. "But I'm especially happy for the reason she was gone—baby Hal."

Recent photos Hager has shared of Hal on Instagram—including a Halloween post featuring the baby getting squish-snuggled by his sisters, Margaret and Poppy Louise—have prompted some fans to say he resembles his grandfather, George W. Bush.

"Sooo cute😇. He has your dads smile😀" said one commented on a picture of Hal propped up on a couch, while another said, "Oh my! He looks like Grandpa W!!!"

Hoda Kotb returned from her own maternity leave in September after welcoming adopted daughter Hope Catherine in April. Kotb's other daughter, 2-year-old Haley, got to hold baby Hal Hager not long after he was born in August.

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