My first was an emergency c-section after laboring all day - it was honestly a relief (finally out of pain, able to rest, etc.). I don't remember much because the long labor and pushing really knocked me out.
My second was a scheduled c-section. There was a long wait after we checked in that morning (about two hours), but once they prepped me, the actual surgery does not last long at all. Maybe 30 minutes (if that), from the first cut to stitching/stapling.
It feels like there is a longer "clean up" time than surgery itself because my husband goes with the baby (at my request) so I'm in there just staring at a curtain while they finish.
Impressions that really stuck with me (keep in mind that it's been a few years since I've had my kids):
Lots of pulling/tugging. I have a high pain tolerance and I don't remember any pain, just a lot of pressure. They usually warn you when they start to pull the baby out, but it's just a release of pressure after some back and forth tugging. Uncomfortable and very odd, but not painful.
You don't hold the baby until you're out of recovery, so I always got the first kisses from my kids.
When they are sealing you up (internally) they burn off something (still not sure what), but that was a little alarming when I first saw smoke rising from the curtain - nothing to worry about though.
An anesthetist or anesthesiologist will be at your shoulder to administer more medication if needed. I've never needed it, but don't hesitate to tell them if you start to feel any type of feeling that is not numb! He also keeps an eye on mommy - my heart rate started climbing with my second surgery and he soothed me by rubbing my forehead.
You go into a recovery room for a while (time varies, but anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour) and then they'll move you into your room.
I remember shaking A LOT in recovery because the medication was going out of my system. My in-laws thought I was freezing - I wasn't. With the second one, I learned to relax as much as possible and it minimized the shaking - don't fight it if it happens to you, just take deep breaths and relax.
They want you to get out of bed and walk around fairly soon after surgery. THIS HURTS! Do it anyway. Your recovery goes so much faster and easier if you force your way through that pain in the first two days. I would always walk to the nursery on the second day, to really speed up the healing process (but make sure someone walks with you).
They will come in and massage your stomach to get your uterus back in shape - this hurts too, but the pain doesn't last long and it's for the best.
Chances are, your baby will throw up a lot of fluid in the first days (my oldest did in the hospital, my youngest did at home). Again, normal, but scary! The reason is that the baby is not squeezed through the birth canal, so all that fluid is not squeezed out and comes out naturally later. It will be alarming because of the volume, but it usually only happens once or twice.
You'll go back a week after leaving the hospital to have your incision checked.
Keep in mind, your experience may vary slightly since it's different hospitals and policies! It really isn't a bad process - just a little nerve-wracking and dealing with the pain of the incision afterward, but the more you walk, the better it is.
If I remember anything else, I'll come back and let you know. In the meantime, good luck! And enjoy it - with a scheduled c-section you get to take in more details, so listen for that first beautiful cry and the first glimpse of the baby when they put him/her over the curtain! And don't forget to demand those first kisses ;-).