1) You know that advice to nap when your baby's napping? DO IT. Seriously. That's probably the #1 thing I wish I would have done differently. I'm not really sure what I was doing when Asher was napping: tidying up, pumping, showering? I honestly don't know, but I do know that it would have benefited me in multiple ways to be catching up on sleep. Don't feel guilty. Just do it. Because when you have a second baby you won't get the chance because you'll be keeping an eye on your older one!
2) Don't feel bad or guilty if the birth doesn't go exactly how you planned. I felt a little guilty having gotten an epidural, but I'm so thankful I did because it was only after that that the nurse was able to get a good read on Asher's heartbeat and discovered it just wasn't high enough. And yes, I didn't get to deliver naturally, I had to have a C-section. It was a little depressing, but in the long run it doesn't really matter. We got a healthy baby out of it, and avoided a possibly life-threatening situation. So just go with the flow and listen to your body. Try not to be too bummed if it's not picture perfect. (Although, I'm not sure I would want pictures of that anyway!)
3) All the pain, stress, and hormones are totally worth it. Nothing compares to having a baby. Of course it's scary and nerve-racking, but many of the best things in life are. Once you see and hold that little guy/gal your world will change, but in a marvelously wonderful way.
4) Take help when it's offered. If someone wants to bring you a meal, do your laundry, sweep your floors . . . Let 'em! If they minded, they wouldn't offer in the first place. Most of the people offering to help have probably been there and want to make your transition into parenthood as smooth and easy as possible. There's no shame in accepting help . . . I need to remember that myself! :)
5) Don't be afraid to ask for help. If you have someone nearby, don't be afraid to ask if they'd come over for an hour just so you can take a little bit of time for yourself. Your baby will be fine, and most people are more than happy to snuggle a newborn. It might just give you time for a nice, long shower without worrying that the baby will wake up 2 minutes into it. Long showers definitely became a luxury after Asher was born, so when I got the chance for one I definitely took it.
6) Just enjoy your baby. They change so, so quickly. It's like seeing a miracle developing before your eyes. You won't enjoy every minute of course, that's insanity! But, most parts are pretty awesome: that first real smile, how quickly their little personalities develop, how they recognize mommy and daddy so easily (I love that part!), and how everything they do seems to be the most amazing thing you've ever seen.
Hopefully this post was encouraging to new, or soon-to-be parents. I know my sister (due with her first in a couple weeks) was pretty freaked out with Part 3 of Asher's story, so I felt kind of bad. I was going for informative, but may have missed the mark. :) So, I'm hoping this remedies that a bit because having a baby is terrifying in a lot of ways, but incredibly miraculous in a million more.