My advice to help solve the contrast problem would be to print it on VC paper and burn in the highlight using grade 5, (yes grade 5) and then post flash it. If you have my book look at the image First Communion in Chapter 5 page 118 to see the effect and how to do it.
When you burn in so called blocked up highlights with grade 5 only the darker tones are affected by the increased exposure and an increase in detail is the result. The object of the post flash is to introduce a very delicate tone in an otherwise paper base white area of the image. I use this technique when I have a negative such as the one you describe.