I've had 5 c-sections, three scheduled, "planned", and two emergent. My recoveries have varied, but a few things have been typical of all of them.
First of all, I couldn't do much of anything for the first 4-5 days. I could walk slowly, get myself a drink or snack, feed the baby (I could change diapers, but standing that long in one place was close to the very edge of my abilities), but that was about it. So, any help you can get during that time is really important, imo...be it manpower, some meals in the freezer, or whatever. After my first, I went home, my ex went back to work (he was unemployed, we were flat broke, and he'd managed to get a couple of days of work, so he really couldn't take it off), and it was just me and ds1 for hours. At one point, I got stuck on the couch, and couldn't stand up when ds1 started crying to be fed (I'd put him down in the bassinet for a nap while I drank some water). I did eventually manage to stand up, but I've never forgotten how scary it was (ds1 is 19 in March!). For my next one, I was living with my mom and stepdad, and dh wasn't working yet. With my third, I was at my mom's until he was 10 days old, then we moved. That was a bit rocky, but ds1 was 12, and able to take dd1 to the playground and such to give me a break. Other than ds1, my biggest help that summer was actually the harness I used for dd1...I couldn't wear ds2 yet, so I'd put him in the stroller, put the harness on dd1, and go for a short walk. My fourth was kind of different (my son was stillborn, so I had no baby to look after, and dh was given two weeks off with pay to look after his family, including me, which got me over the first hump, physically). When dd2 came along, ds1 was 16, and he helped me out a lot, as her birthday was just before his summer break from high school.
I'm rambling, and not focusing on your questions. Sorry!
Basically, I'd say the first two weeks are the most crucial time, in terms of recovery. Don't push yourself to do more than you can (laundry, dishes, cooking, etc.). Cut yourself slack if you need to order in, or you/your partner end up fixing some processed meals or more sandwiches than you're really comfortable with, yk? It's really, really hard to be recovering from surgery while lookign after a newborn, let alone other kids. Keep to the absolutely necessary stuff. And, by all means, encourage people to help. Get a few meals in the freezer (whether you make them yourself or not).
The next four weeks (from 2 weeks to 6 weeks) are the danger period. You're quite likely to feel as though you're basically back to normal...but you aren't. I've hurt myself at least once in that period after every c-section, because I feel as though I'm more or less back to normal, but I'm still physically recovering. It's also really, really, really easy to misjudge my stamina, so i'll go to pick up a couple things at the grocery store, and then end up doing a biggish shopping trip, and be completely and utterly exhausted by the time I'm done. Try hard not to push too hard in that time, as it's very easy to get impatient, and you really will bounce back better if you don't overdo it.
I don't know if it's universal or not (but it was true for me, and, as far as I can recall, for every woman I've talked to about it who has had both), but I found that getting stitches instead of staples for the outer closure also made a significant difference in my recovery. I had both less pain, and more mobility, with the stitches than I ever had with staples. I really would have been much happier if I'd discovered that one sooner.
Everybody has a different experience with pain meds, I think. I prefer to use as few meds as possible, especially after the first day or two, because I'm far more likely to hurt myself if my pain is "managed". I tend to only take them to help me sleep for the first few days, and the first time I get out of bed and/or use the bathroom.
I also highly recommend drinking a lot of water after the surgery, and eating fruit - juicy fruit, by preference - as soon as you can. IME, it helps immensely with constipation, and being constipated with an abdominal incision is...not fun.