Family’s first cuddle with baby Evie will have to wait as date for return home moves into 2016

Baby Evie will be celebrating Christmas with parents Daniel Compton and Sharon Halls in the Dominica

Baby Evie will be celebrating Christmas with parents Daniel Compton and Sharon Halls in the Dominican Republic as she is unable to fly home until she has grown more - Credit: Archant

It will not come on Christmas Day, it probably won’t happen in December or even this year, but the best Christmas present for Sharon Halls and Daniel Compton will be when they can finally board a plane with tiny baby Evie to bring her home to Britain for the first time.

Baby Evie with mum Sharon Halls

Baby Evie with mum Sharon Halls - Credit: Archant

The trio from Ipswich will spend Christmas day itself in a small apartment adorned with home-made decorations as they continue to wait for the news Evie – born 12 weeks prematurely in the Dominican Republic on September 28 – is big enough to make the journey home.

Their story gained national attention after being published in the East Anglian Daily Times and Ipswich Star when Sharon and Daniel feared their insurance company would not pay for their medical costs following the early birth, brought on when Sharon contracted an infection while at a friend’s wedding in the country.

But with this now resolved, and Evie doing well as she continues to grow, the couple are playing the waiting game until doctors give them the all clear to fly home.

Now 5lbs 2oz, having been born weighing just 2lbs 10oz, Evie needs to be around 7-8lbs before she is strong enough to cope with the conditions in a pressurised aeroplane cabin.

Tomorrow, though, the proud parents will be celebrating Christmas with their daughter in a very untraditional way – apart from their families and in a strange country.

“It will pretty much be like any other day for us unless we get invited to spend the day with someone here,” Sharon said.

Proud dad Daniel Compton holding baby Evie meeting Father Christmas in the Dominican Republic

Proud dad Daniel Compton holding baby Evie meeting Father Christmas in the Dominican Republic - Credit: Archant

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“Here it is mainly celebrated on Christmas Eve and gifts are typically given on January 6 by the three kings rather than Santa, so it will be rather fitting we will not be exchanging gifts to one another on the day.”

A Christmas dinner is also out of the question as there is “never enough gas” to light all the rings on the cooker in their apartment.

However Sharon and Daniel have managed to put up some decorations, albeit unusual ones.

“We have not decorated the apartment in the traditional manner, mainly because it is an unnecessary cost and we would not be bringing it home with us,” Sharon said.

“But having nothing was very depressing so I have fashioned a Christmas tree and Christmas lights using the many empty bottles of formula milk Evie has gone through.

“Every little bottle signifies Evie’s struggle to gain those all important ounces.”

She is still able to find time to be a mum though – already preparing the obligatory embarrassing baby photos for Evie’s teenage years.

“I knew when I had children I would want to dress them up at every given opportunity in an outfit of some kind, at least until they were old enough to have a say, so I could embarrass them when they were older,” Sharon said.

“I would have liked Evie to be Santa’s little helper or maybe a Christmas pudding.

“But no one seems to dress their children up here and looked at me extremely funny when I even suggested it.

“So not to be defeated I have done the next best thing and put my child in a flower pot. Poor little Evie.”

All of this is just trying to make the best of an unfortunate situation though, with the family initially told they could be home in time for Christmas before new advice suggested otherwise.

Sharon said: “To be told she was required to be at least two weeks over her original due date as this was when any healthy full term baby could fly was disappointing.

“However Evie’s safe return is our priority and if this means waiting until new year then what is a few more weeks?

“Christmas is just a day that can be celebrated on any other day and that is what we intend to do with our families when we return whenever that may be.

“It will not stop us being thankful on the 25th for our little miracle, with or without all the trimmings, and we plan to Skype our friends and family to have a virtual Christmas instead.”

Back in the UK Daniel and Sharon’s family cannot wait for to meet the newest addition to the family to get home..

And they are even preparing to relive Christmas when the trio eventually fly home so they do not miss out on the festivities.

Suzanne Compton, Daniel’s mother, said it was wonderful to see her granddaughter doing so well in the pictures sent home from the Dominican Republic.

“We get so excited when the photos come through showing how she’s growing,” she said.

“I think Daniel and Sharon have done a fantastic job. My sister sent a text saying ‘Great parents have been made’. We are proud of them both.”

Mrs Compton said Christmas was ready and waiting for the young family when they got back to the UK.

“We have got presents here. I am hoping they are going to want a Christmas in January or even February.

“We’ll keep the decorations up or even if we taken them down we’ll put them back up again.”

It will be the first time Mr Compton has not celebrated Christmas with his family, his mother added, as it is also his father’s birthday.

But she said there would be a lot of attention surrounding their arrival with everyone keen to see Evie for the first time.

We have got two granddaughters and they keep saying ‘When is she coming home’,” Mrs Compton said. “They don’;t seem to understand she is not strong enough to come home yet.

“They are really looking forward to meeting her. I can’t wait for that first cuddle.”