When I found out there was a little bean on the way, I didn't mentally prepare myself to it, I didn't start shopping and I didn't make a plan.
I assumed the deal was done, I had seen plenty of babies in my family and taken care of them. I knew what they needed and it seemed to be only one way to do things. I also was pretty broke and trying to get only the basic things. I kept making my list smaller and realized how many things babies don't actually need.
Then Little Guy came. He twisted my world around in 2 days and made me realize I was going to do things my way, and not my family's. He wouldn't sleep in his bassinet, and I started co-sleeping just because I needed to rest and it was the only way. I felt bad, I felt I was spoiling my kid for life. Then I got across the famous (and infamous) dr Sears' Baby Book and that opened a whole new world for me. I saw the "cult" inclination on it and tried not to fall for it, but found there were different ways of approaching parenthood and that what I felt was right was what counted.
But I also discovered the other side of the coin. A group of moms that do things the other way and try to claim that theirs is the only one. They will snob you if you don't co-sleep, don't breastfeed til they children are 5, and don't wear your baby. And I found there's a war between these 2 types of parents and that they will urge you to take a side, and tag yourself.
So, what's my tag? I think I belong a little more to the co-sleeping extended breastfeeding cloth diapering type, but I do have a deep respect to moms tagged in the other spectrum, and to any mom that manages to rise any human being into a healthy respectful adult, regardless of the method.
But more than being tagged in that group for all the "benefits" of doing things the way I'm doing it, I should be tagged into the "easy lazy mom" group. I do things the way I do because it makes my life easier. Taking care of a baby in any situation will turn your life around, and we always try to rest and have breaks. So no, I don't co-sleep because of the great bond, I don't cloth diaper because of the ecology and I don't breast-feed because of the antibodies. I do those things because they are the easy choices according to my own situation and my own lifestyle.
So I may need less things than other moms, or more, to that effect. Realistically, all babies need is food, love, a place to sleep and a way of dealing with their mess. So feel free to buy all the extra stuff because it makes your life easier and because it's awfully cute. I won't tell you what to buy or not, I will only tell my experience with the stuff I have. (Oh, yeah, you didn't need my approval in the first place)
Being a parent is a learning process that never ends, my best advice: enjoy the ride.