Hoda Kotb opens up about the health crisis that put her daughter Hope in the ICU

Hoda Kotb and her daughters
Monica Schipper / Stringer/Hoda Kotb/Instagram

Last February, TODAY anchor Hoda Kotb faced a family emergency when her youngest daughter, Hope, spent several days in the hospital and ICU. Now, Kotb is opening up about her “vibrant” daughter, now 4, as she navigates the complexities of parenting a medically complex child.

Kotb, 59, is not sharing specifics about Hope’s diagnosis due to her young age, but she is discussing the “scary stretch” she faced, telling PEOPLE, “Any parent who’s been through a scary thing with their child understands.”

“It’s like you just can’t believe that your child’s sick,” she adds. “You can’t believe that there’s nothing you can do. You can’t believe that no matter what you do, you can’t will it away or protect her, or all the things that we’re supposed to be doing as parents. And it’s a position I’ve never found myself in.”

Hope requires round-the-clock care, with Kotb hiring extra help upon bringing her home. While she says Hope’s condition has “stabilized,” she’s “now trying to make everything normal,” both for Hope and her eldest daughter, Haley, who is 7. “It’s really tricky, because I don’t want Hope to get labeled. She’s a kid who is so vibrant, and most days everything is totally fine. I don’t want people to look at her differently.”

Of course, Kotb’s ability to hire additional care is something not accessible for many parents, but any parent who has had similar experiences will relate to Kotb’s desire to shield her own anxieties and fears from her two children. “I’m not going to put my worry on her. It’s too much for a kid to carry,” she says. “Even just always saying, ‘How are you feeling? You feeling good today, honey?’ is saying, ‘I’m worried,’ because you’re not saying that about your other child. I’ll be discussing how it’s going with the nanny, the nurse, whoever, and if she’s there, she’s like, ‘Am I okay?’ I’m trying so hard to let her be a kid and not have all of the grown-up worries.”

Kotb admits that she rarely sleeps soundly through the night anymore as she’s listening for the sounds of Hope’s health monitors, but she relies on the support of her care team, family and friends, as well as ex-fiancé Joel Schiffman to get her through the tough moments.

The proud mom also gushes about her little one’s strength, telling the outlet that Hope “is just intuitive and smart, and I’ve never seen someone who’s quite as generous.”

“She’s the kid who gives away her last blueberry,” she adds. “If your toy is broken, she’ll give you her new one. She is that person.”

And even though the family is not out of the woods with Hope’s health concerns, she knows these experiences will prepare her for any future challenges that might come her way. “I look at her, and I think, ‘Wow, you blossomed into this incredible kid who is so resilient and well-equipped for her whole life despite this stuff that has happened to her,’” Kotb says, tearing up. “She just demonstrates that when you have whatever she has inside of her, this will, this fight, this everything… She can withstand anything. This child is going to have the easiest adulthood because she’s had a tough go of it early on.”

We’re wishing Hope nothing but good health and all the love to the family as they navigate their new normal. It sounds like she’s got endless love and support around her, which is what all kids (and parents!) deserve during life’s tough times.