I had a c-section in October (private hosp) as my bub was transverse until the end (& I had many other complicating factors). I was therefore prepared and had lots of time to think about it.
The experience was brilliant. From the time I was put on the bed to be wheeled into theatre, it was only 20minutes later that I met my baby. It was the most amazing moment. From the first cut (sooo fine, there's NO pain so no concern) he was out within 5minutes and after being briefly attended to by the Paeditrician (I had GD) he was on my chest having cuddles. He stayed there the entire time I was stitched up & I don't even remember taking any notice whatsoever of that part as I was overwhelmed with my baby. All up that process (stitch up) maybe took 20mins and then I was wheeled into theatre recovery and had skin to skin and started breadtfeeding straight away (my baby took 20 secs to move himself up my chest and find my nipple and latch on like a pro!). I stayed in recovery for 45mins or so and from the min my baby was put on my chest he never left me again (Paed examined him in my room with me present).
Looking back on everything and now thinking about whether I will have another c-sect with baby no 2, I would be 100 times more scared of a natural birth. I had no labour and was so refreshed and not one ounce of pain.
Recovery was completely fine. I would describe it as a discomfort, not pain (only on first day, maybe the 2nd for some people. The most frustrating thing was not being able to lift heavy items or lift above head such as hanging washing (so would be very tricky with a toddler). I hated not being able to drive for 6 weeks but in all honesty I had visitors everyday so it was fine (& after week 3 you can get out for short walks.
Re pain meds. I was in hospital 5 nights/6 days & never needed anything stronger than the prescribed meds. I took a cpl of panadol here and there at home in the first couple of days.
Dont be scared of a c-sect - embrace it! There's a lot of positives to focus on.
P.s. my boy came out spotless (only the tiniest spot of blood on his leg. His skin was an amazing pink & he wasn't squashed or come head like). He was sooo calm (barely cried) & chilled out because no trauma for him of labour & squeezing through birth canal