Ashley Hunter can only imagine what it would be like to get a proper, fivegeneration, family photo after the birth of her daughter.

Annalise McPhail was born February 29, three months premature, requiring an extended stay at hospitals. By the time she could finally go home, the world had changed because of COVID-19, meaning much of her family could not meet her in-person.

Hunter planned to get a photo of five generations of women from the Gooderham-area family – including her mother, her 77-year-old grandmother, Sharon Stoughton-Craig, and her 94-year-old great-grandmother, Myria Stoughton. For now, it’s impossible due to COVID-19, and she’s left with attaching separate photos together.

“My great-grandma’s 94 now. Time’s ticking,” Hunter said. “She’s pretty special in my life.”

“We’re all a very close-knit family and a lot of people don’t have that today,” Hunter’s mother, Shelly Hunter, said. “People are busy. They live here, they live there, and they don’t have the connection that we have in our family because we all live here in this area.”

The new mother said it was difficult to go through the weeks visiting the hospital for her daughter as the pandemic hit. They started out in the Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto before being moved to Peterborough, where she experienced the beginning of new safety protocols, including more limited visitors.

“It was hard because you want your mother there, you want the baby’s father,” Ashley Hunter said. “You heard about the first patient coming into the building, there’s somebody with the virus … It was super crazy.”

“It’s a miracle she survives coming into the world a few months soon,” Shelly Hunter said. “And to survive this nasty virus.”

They came home April 24, but social distancing measures were well into place. Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health has advised all people over age 70 to selfisolate. McPhail had to meet her great- grandmother and great-great-grandmother through windows at their respective homes.

“It’s just hard. The first person I wanted to take her to is my great-grandma and I can’t,” Hunter said. “I just wanted them to touch her … You want to touch her; you want to kiss her and hug her.”

“She (Stoughton) wanted to come right out,” Shelly Hunter said. “It’s hard for her to realize what’s going on. She still lives in her own home.”

For now, the family is taking photos apart. But as soon as possible, they plan to take a proper photo together.

“First thing on the agenda, that’s for sure,” Ashley Hunter said. “When you can’t see them and you want to, it’s pretty hard.”

“What a lot of people are learning over the course of the virus is how important family is,” Shelly Hunter said. “Maybe a thing coming out of this virus, people may get closer with their family members. They’ll realize how important that is, because they could be gone tomorrow.”

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