My 1st, two years ago, was breech and my OB recommended a c-section. Whilst he had delivered a breech baby vaginally before, he felt there were too many risks, especially since I was an older mother and had GDM. My 2nd (7 weeks ago) was not breech but I required a c-section after hoping for a VBAC.
Whilst I cannot compare with a vaginal birth, I found both my c-sections to be fairly good experiences on the whole. Maybe it was due to the expertise of my OB but I didn't suffer any major ill-effects other than the usual soreness post op, tenderness and recovery period. My wounds have healed well and the region around the scar (they use the same incision if you have more than one c-section) is fairly smooth.
I had no issues with the epidural but I did find the post-op pain medication a bit tricky to navigate. Whatever I was on 1st time didn't go well with me (some opiate based drip) and I didn't like the physical limitations of being hooked to a drip, so I asked for some other medication that didn't leave me so groggy and spaced out.
This time round I was on something else administered through the epidural drip rather than hand catheter but it fell out so I relied on Endone. That made me so nauseous I needed an anti-nausea injection. They then changed me to a different pill called Tremadol which was much better but made me quite high (I think). Thankfully, like the 1st c-section, I was able to manage the pain from day 4 onwards just with 2 panadols. I took them for about 10 days before going off all pain meds.
The 1st few days after a c-section are more awkward (pain, tubes, catheter) than what I've heard from a "smooth" vaginal delivery where you can get up and almost get back to "normal" physical movement immediately. But they are only a few days and whilst I was a little concerned about this awkwardness for my 2nd, knowing what to expect from my 1st, it only lasts a few days.
Breastfeeding was a little tricky but it can be normally despite the discomfort of your wound. The most painful was the getting in and out of bed and up from sitting. But I think that went away after about 3 weeks or so.
I feel totally fine 7 weeks on, similar to my 1st experience, and given the all clear by my OB at the recent 6 week checkup. I know everyone' experience is different and I think that sometimes comes down to your doctors and reaction to pain meds. There is no reason you cannot try a VBAC for your 2nd pregnancy even if you have a c-section now.
I guess how you cope depends on what sort of birth experience you want and expect. Some mothers want nothing but natural all the way, others want assisted with some pain relief, others want an elective c-section. I don't believe there is anything "wrong" with what you go with. My philosophy? The most important thing is a healthy baby and healthy you.