Three months after welcoming her third child, Jenna Bush Hager officially returned to the Today show from maternity leave on Monday, Nov. 11. Returning to cheers from the audience, Bush Hager joined co-host Hoda Kotb, who returned to the show in September after welcoming her daughter, Hope, along with Savannah Guthrie, Craig Melvin, Al Roker, and Dylan Dreyer.
“We're looking for someone named Jenna. Jenna from Texas?" co-host Hoda Kotb told the audience outside of 30 Rock on Monday morning. “Y'all, if you didn't know, Jenna Bush Hager is back from maternity leave. Today is her first day on the 10 o'clock show."
“We’re reunited! We haven’t been on the show together but five days!” Bush Hager joked of her new co-host during her Monday return. “It feels like it’s time.”
According to Kotb, she was so excited about Bush Hager’s return that she “called Jenna at 4:45 this morning, just to say, ‘It’s time! Wake up!’”
“She was my alarm, and I have to say, what a positive way to wake up — being surrounded [by] y’all!” Bush Hager said.
According to a source who spoke to Page Six, prior to Buh Hager’s official return, Kotb had welcomed her back with “a scavenger hunt around Rockefeller Center.” The duo, “dressed in “identical blue hoodies and ball caps,” participated in challenges such as faux figure skating, flossing in front of strangers and serenading a tourist. The scavenger hunt ended at a surprise party at 30 Rock, where Kotb toasted her co-host by saying, “this is where you belong.”
Hager’s return came after she went on maternity leave following the birth of her son Henry “Hal” Harold with husband Henry Hager on Aug. 2. The couple are also parents to Poppy Louise, 4, and Margaret “Mila” Laura, 6.
Bush Hager had been absent from the show ever since aside from a surprise appearance on the Today show for Halloween, where she dressed up as Frances “Baby” Houseman from Dirty Dancing. During the appearance, she announced when she would be officially be returning.
“We have a big announcement on this program," Kotb said. We rarely break new here. We rarely do, but this is called home cookin' good news."
After a drumroll, Kotb said, "We're letting you know that Miss Jenna is coming back November 11th."
“I can't wait," Bush Hager said, adding that her return would “be like a whole new start.”
Bush Hager was named as Kotb's new co-host for the fourth hour of the Today show in February, taking over after the departure of longtime host Kathie Lee Gifford in April.