I wouldn't describe either of my two c-secs (one emergency, one a failed VBAC) as traumatic, at all.
The first saved DD#1's life, no question about it.
The failed VBAC c-sec wasn't an emergency. It was extremely disappointing to discover that despite walking, visualization, mantras, and pit, I hadn't dilated at all in 30 hours, but it wasn't traumatic. If nothing else, at least it allowed me to have some of the things that hadn't been possible in my first birth.
If anything is traumatic, it has been having to constantly defend my first section to natural birth activists over the last five years. It is really hard to be told repeatedly that I must not have trusted my body or was uneducated or should have told my providers where to get off or that I somehow caused the situation that led to the emergency c-sec. It's really hard to have people who don't know the first thing about that pregnancy or my labor to immediately dump me in the "unnecessarian" pile or to hear comments like "if I had a dollar for every woman who thought the c-sec saved their baby's life." It's also difficult to hear other women comment that they should disabuse me of the notion that my child's life was saved for the sake of the cause (i.e., lowering the c-section rate, as if that can be accomplished by shaming women without any actual knowledge of the situation).
It's even harder to hear people who would argue that I didn't really "birth" my child, or that the c-sec somehow has hurt our mother-child relationship, or variations on that theme.
This time around, I've found that it's really hard to listen to successful VBAC stories, especially ones that started, as my birth story does, with their water breaking. I don't know why I didn't dilate, and unfortunately, I can never know if perhaps, eventually, my body would have kicked into labor. What I do know is that it had been 30 hours, I was tired, my BP was starting to go up, and that even if I continued to labor for hours or more likely, days more, there was no guarantee that I'd dilate. Heck, most women are already dilated a little bit by 36 weeks, so to be closed up tight after 30 hours of contrax really suggests that all the waiting in the world wasn't going to change the outcome. And yet, there's that little bit of doubt...and the knowledge that some women will judge me just because they can.
FWIW, if you look at the WHO's c-sec goal, 15%, then it's worth noting that about half of all the c-secs done in America ARE
necessary. That doesn't change the fact that many of us did not get the ideal birth experience, but hopefully it can give you some peace about how it turned out.